Kim Elaine Ve’a

October 17th, 1955 – July 16th, 2019


image of Kim Ve’a

Kim Ve’a

On a cold autumn day in Fairbanks, Alaska a little baby girl was born. It was October 17th, 1955 when Susie and James Dale Peterson welcomed their second child into the world. They named her Kim Elaine. She spent her childhood growing up in Alaska with four siblings: Dale, Tresa, Keith and Ron.

In 1974, Kim left Alaska and traveled the country a bit before ending up in Los Angeles to find her father, who had left when she was four. Not only did she find him; she also found the love of her life. Once reconnected, Kim went to work at her dad’s business, Akai Stereo. One day, Kim got a ride with another employee to a company softball game. Unfortunately, after the game there was car trouble and Kim was without a lift back. Overhearing this, a handsome young man named Galu offered her a ride. Kim was a little hesitant – after all this big, strong guy was a stranger. But she needed a ride so Nalu went to get his car. Sure he’d be driving some kind of big burly muscle car, Kim was relieved when he pulled up in a…pink Cadillac! Anyone who would drive that car is surely a sweetheart, she thought. And she was right.

Galu drove them to town and soon they were strolling up the street, holding hands on their way to a bar for a drink. When Galu asked Kim her age, she decided to have some fun with him. “Sixteen”, she replied. He dropped her hand like a hot potato. She was just playing with him – the two of them were just six months apart in age. Nevertheless, she wasn’t quite 21 so the two of them headed to the beach where they played guitar and sang together all night.

The two of them decided to get married several months later, though they did hit a snag in their plans. For some reason, the minister they’d hired wasn’t able to perform the wedding on their original date, so their ceremony was postponed by a week. Sadly, this meant that Kim’s sister Tresa who had flown in for the wedding couldn’t stay. Other than that, this bit of bad luck didn’t have any effect on the happiness or longevity of the marriage. Kim and Galu were married for 42 years.

Kim and Galu welcomed their first son Laulli into the world in 1978, followed by son Rowe and then twin girls Oritana and Betina in 1980. A natural from the beginning, nothing made Kim happier than being a mother. She was patient, loving, kind-hearted and absolutely dedicated to family. And for Kim, mothering and nurturing didn’t end with her biological children. There were countless kids over the years – friends of her sons and daughters, kids from the neighborhood, kids in trouble – to whom she opened up her home. And in 1996, she and Galu adopted son Rawmoan after taking him in when he was only a month old. Kim offered a safe haven, a compassionate heart and unconditional love. There were long talks where she’d listen intently, without judgment. To be in the light of her love was to be seen, heard and loved for exactly who you were. After spending time with Kim, your burden was a little lighter and things seemed more hopeful. She was a bright spot in the lives of a lot of young people, some of who are here today. To many, Kim was simply known as “Mama”.

Music was a lifelong passion that began in childhood. Kim and sister Tresa would save their lunch money so they could buy the latest 45 by the Monkees, Beatles and other bands. Throughout her life, she had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, rattling off which year a song came out on which label and what was going on in the world at that time. In fact, Kim’s steel-trap memory extended far beyond music. A highly intelligent person, she aced Pictionary and other word games. Everyone agrees she would have been a formidable contestant on Jeopardy… She was also creative – a writer of poetry and a beautiful singer and guitar player.

Patient, attentive and intuitive, Kim was a natural-born teacher. Before all of her children entered kindergarten, she made sure they knew their numbers, letters, colors, etc. In 2009, she went to school herself to become a teacher’s aide. Her dream was to becomean elementary school teacher. Sadly, the symptoms that began in 2006 related to pulmonary hypertension worsened and kept her from finishing her certification. In 2010, Kim’s health problems landed her in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. The doctors put her in a medically induced coma in an attempt to save her life. Despite their best efforts, they didn’t think she would make it. Then, after several days, with most of her family gathered around, the doctors removed the ventilator and she took a very deep breath. On the exhale she opened her eyes and said, “hi”. Rather than that being the end, Kim lived for another eight years.

Whether it was her native heritage as an Athabaskan Indian or just who she was as an individual, Kim had a strong connection to the spirit world. Daughter Betina recalls her mother casually reading her palm when she was in 6th grade, telling her she was going to be in an accident but not to worry – she wouldn’t be harmed. Somewhat horrified, Betina snatched her hand away and refused to believe it. Sure enough, not long after she was in a minor car accident with her uncle Dale but was unhurt.

Kim was what you might call an “untrained medium”. Before her nephew Kaid passed on, she meditated intently so she could communicate with him. He was indeed able to see her and told his parents Kim had been there. And in the days before she passed away, she regularly saw her own mother, who was keeping watch over her and guiding her onward.

The way she died is something of a mirror of how she lived, surrounded by family, friends and people she’d mothered and nurtured. Again, she surprised everyone by living a week longer than she was expected to. This was an incredible gift to her and her community as she was able to say goodbye to so many. On July 16th Kim took her last breath on earth and her first breath in Heaven.

One Response to “Kim Elaine Ve’a”

  • Laauli Ve'a says:

    Very well written.
    Well hello out there, don’t know if anyone’s listening,lol, but I would like to say we all love and miss you very much Mama .Hope you’re doing well with all the family in heaven. Please keep watch over us. Love always, your son. Please say what’s up to Uncle Dale, Kaid, Atex, and all other family and friends.
    Not a day goes by we don’t think or speak of you. Your presence and love is dearly missed.

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