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Ode to Elinor

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.



  1. I see YOU in ELINOR.Just a tad bit!Although you would have loved her child had she had one.What a beautiful story to share with us......your readers.I can see the inside of the house now........covered with BEAUTY and grey walls!(I'm in the process of painting my BOYS room dark grey.The color is called PALAIS ROYAL by Ralph Lauren.Do you think I was influenced by the name just a wee bit!I love how you MADE IT into the house after two years of standing on the curb?You knew to keep the conversation rolling.............and your right she would HATE the fact the candles are electric!I think you should go out and buy one of your favorite candles and call it the ELINOR LIGHT and let the flame flicker at night.Me thinks she would adore to be in PARIS with YOU!This way she can find YOU in the city of LIGHTS............XOXO

  2. A lovely and heartfelt tribute to your friend and the friendship you shared.

  3. She was such a unique woman to observe. She had such purpose when I would see her out walking. I saw her fall once. So amazingly determined and had such grace in her Elinor way.
    I would have died to have seen that house. Wish you had pictures you could just share with me. :) Marietta

  4. Obviously I never knew Elinor but your wonderful words made me feel as if I did, if even just a little. If she read them, she'd probably be a little embarrassed outwardly, but pleased inwardly.

    And gray walls? I haven't been reading you long enough to know that you liked gray walls. I LOVE gray walls - and am planning on painting my living room walls gray when I move into my new apartment - but I thought I was the ONLY person to like gray walls! Glad to know I'm not entirely freaky.

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us. How lucky you both were to have found each other and to have formed such an enduring friendship.

  6. Two amazing women in one post. It felt cinematic to read. The interiors and the costumes would have been beautiful and the dialogue whip sharp and cracking!

  7. I get so excited everytime there's an email letting me know there's a new post to read in "Have Some Decorum." Every day I get to read your blog is a day made a little brighter here in Charlotte, NC. My best friend has just published a memoir where I am written about with a horrendously tacky psuedonym. I come across slightly harsh and very honest, and a wee bit mean, but I think she means to describe me with humor and love. I can only hope that once in a while I affect her the way your friend, Elinor, did you. I'm so grateful to read your beautiful and candid posts every time you write them. Even on your bad days, your words bring me joy, because I can feel what you describe and feel a part of something bigger than myself. See, I'm not always harsh and mean, sometimes I'm just sappy. :)

  8. I loved reading this blog... well, all of your blogs. Your sentiments for Elinor remind me of mine for my Granny Phyllis. As we both get older, I want to soak up her approach to life. She is my favorite family member. I tell myself that I am hers as well, although she is too classy to have a favorite or at least to let me know that its not me. Thank you, as always, for sharing.

  9. my friend monica shared this with me today and I am so happy she did. we are neighbors on the street where elinore lived and we too really loved her. she would walk by our house almost every day. our dog was old so we would take slow walks around the block and usually run into her. levi (our dog) would walk up to her so she could pet him and I'm pretty sure she loved him. she always said he was such a nice dog. I always tried to imagine what the inside of that beautifully interesting abode there on the corner. lucky you to have ventured so deeply into her heart that she welcomed you in. it's sad that she's gone, but I'm sure she's in a happy place being her happy self now. thanks so much for sharing this... xo