I am one lucky girl. I am one lucky girl to have had a friend like Elinor. For this blog posting, there will be no pictures so you will have to use your imagination. I will do my best to describe her well. Who is Elinor? She was my friend, a real friend, a true friend. Unfortunately, my friend passed away. She passed away exactly a year ago but nobody wanted to tell me because they knew how upset I would be. I found out yesterday. She was 80 years old.
Elinor was my neighbor. She hated everyone in the neighborhood, except me, because we had the same name, just spelled differently. Our name started a 12 year friendship. She was intensely private so I want to respect that and not give too many details except for a few.
She and her sister had the best house in the neighborhood. They have the best taste I’ve ever seen. Real taste. Family heirloom taste. I have so much taste, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone taste. They knew gray walls were chic before it was chic. I was only invited into the house after I proved our friendship for at least a good two years. I could hardly believe my eyes. I could barely concentrate on what Elinor was saying to me. My eyes were darting around like a freaking junkie. It’s like I was trying to soak it all up in case I was never allowed back in. I cannot tell you what it was like because that would be an infringement on her privacy, but trust me, I want to tell you everything. But I can’t. She wouldn’t want me to. So I won’t. Take my word for it.
Although Elinor was privileged, she had challenges. Physical challenges. Polio, I think. Her physical impairments never ever stopped her from enjoying her life. She loved flowers, she loved animals, she loved to eat, she loved television, and I think she loved me. I know I sure loved her. Elinor and I would have tea together nearly every week. She would never come to my house empty-handed. She would sometimes bring a bouquet of roses from her garden with tinfoil wrapped around a wet paper towel at the end of the roses. Sometimes she would bake homemade persimmon cake for me from the persimmons on her tree. Usually on Wednesdays, she liked for me to take her to Chinese food. She did not like it when I brought Gracie with us because, like I said, she only liked me. We never ran out of things to say to each other even though there was a 40 year age difference between us.
She liked for me to go to church with her. She liked for me to take a walk with her which we did a lot. I was always worried about her. She used a walker but I was still worried that she would fall which she did. But she got right back up and kept walking. She wore a floral dress every single day that I’ve ever known her.
Elinor loved her dogs. Loved her dogs with her whole heart. Gypsy, Frosty and Clementine. When one of her dogs passed away, she told me that she had to see a therapist because she was so depressed. These dogs were like her children, the children she never had. She told me I was not allowed to have a dog because I wasn’t responsible enough. She never minced her words. She hated the other neighbors because they did have dogs. She hated the neighborhood Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, she hated the neighborhood Aikido dog and she hated my dog. She loved animals but she was afraid of these dogs, afraid they would knock her over on her walks.
She was never married, no children and I don’t think she’s ever had a driver’s license. But it didn’t matter, because her life was full. She taught me by example that no matter what life throws at you, see the positive and not the negative. Not a day in her life was easy because of her physical challenges but she never expressed any “woe is me.” She never complained. She never ever ever complained. She was bold, confident, brave and did not give two cents about people staring at her as she walked down the street. She also didn’t care that I had ALS. We never spoke about it but once. She wanted to talk about her favorite TV shows, or the lemon cake she had just made, not the fact that I was now physically handicapped like her.
I went to the local church and bought a red rosary that the nuns make out of rose petals for Elinor. Her sister is going to put the rosary at her grave site. Elinor would like that. I went into the church to light a candle for Elinor but I couldn’t do it because all of the little votive candles were electric. De mauvais gout. Elinor would not have liked that.
We can all take a lesson from this remarkable woman. “When life gives you lemons, make a lemon cake.”
I will miss you, dear Elinor. I hope you are somewhere beautiful, by the sea, with roses and your dogs and you are walking with ease. I will miss you, my friend.