Before boarding a plane from Boca Raton to Los Angeles for their sister Natalie Cole’s funeral, twins Timolin and Casey Cole, 54, spoke to PEOPLE about how much the later singer loved Christmas Eve, and how they were all together that night as a family in Los Angeles.
“Christmas Eve has always been a magical time for Natalie because she looked forward to the season and being surrounded by loved ones,” Timolin says.
Timolin, Casey, and nephews Robbie, Sage, Haleigh and Teo, 3, flew to Los Angeles to be with Natalie that night. “We had a wonderful evening where we reminisced about holiday traditions of the past and present, including decorating every inch of her Hancock Park home with vintage Christmas ornaments and finery,” Timolin adds.
The twins are thankful that the family was able to spend their sister’s last Christmas together. Natalie died of complications from an ongoing medical condition on New Year’s Eve.
The family memories are helping them deal with the grief of losing their sister during the holidays. “Christmas has always been a special time of the year for the Cole family because it is the time we most vividly remember our father [Nat King Cole], his music, and our early holiday traditions,” says Timolin.
The twins agree that what is most important to the family now in their time of sadness is that music lovers never forget Natalie’s contributions to her art.
“As our sister Natalie is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on her death, but will be on the countless moments of joyful music that she leaves for us all,” Casey says.
She adds: “We join her son, Robbie, in expressing our gratitude for the support we have received from her friends and fans that she loved so dearly.”
While the sisters mourn the loss of a “beautiful mother, sister, aunt, songstress and humanitarian,” they also promise to celebrate her remarkable life.
“We hope that her passion for music serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard and make their dreams come true,” Timolin says.
She continues: “To that end, we will continue our family’s commitment to music as we provide music education to children with the greatest need and fewest resources through our nonprofit organization, Nat King Cole Generation Hope.
“We are honored to carry on the Cole family legacy that Natalie so passionately embraced.”