Monday, February 17, 2014

This is How You Live

Last week my best friend of 46 years lost her mom, Elsie. Elsie was the epitome of everything I think is wonderful and cool… and she passed those amazing qualities to her daughter—who put the last 1.5 years of her life on hold, to take exquisite care of her mother.
Elsie didn’t like me much when we first met in 1968. She thought I was too fast for Renee, and she was right. I was. It didn’t take her long though, to see that I tried to keep Renee out of trouble, rather than lead her astray. I spent every day at their house. They fed me, and treated me like family.  (Yelling at me when deemed necessary.) They welcomed my sister and later even my mother into the family fold. I have never met a family like them since—a family that gave so much and asked for nothing in return.  
Elsie was dignified. A proud American woman  of Mexican and Irish heritage who was always a lady, and handled life—and all the horrors that come with it, with more class than anyone I have ever met.
When her grandson tragically passed away at 4 years old, I heard Elsie cry. It was a primal cry, and one I’ll never forget. It was a cry from the most broken soul and I thought for sure she would never recover from that loss. But, she did and, she laughed again eventually and loved more grandchildren and a few great–grandchildren.  Later she lost her beloved husband, the love of her life, and shortly after him her oldest daughter – both to cancer. And dotted here and there the loss of friends and family. Life was not particularly kind to Elsie, but her dignity prevailed. Her witty humor prevailed. Her passion for life prevailed.
She could be sweet or tough, and quite candid with a few of us. None of us liked being on the receiving end of those tough conversations, but I see now that she was trying to toughen us up—so we could get through life and not cop out to this problem or that problem, to not say life is too hard I don’t want to do it. .
Elsie was a bastion of strength, dignity and generosity. We won’t ever forget her and I am going to do my best to follow her lead when it comes to dealing with whatever life hands me. I’m going to try to pay forward the love and generosity so freely given to me all these years—and try to be someone Elsie would be proud of.  
Adios Madre xox

This is how you live… Elsie Style.