i lost my mom ellen, in 1993. suddenly. she was just 50 years old. she went to the beach, and never came home. she suffered a brain aneurism. right there in her beach chair. just went to sleep for the very last time. healthy. happy. whip smart. a woman who changed the lives of all she met.
she had talked to each of us that day. went to sandy hook to enjoy a day off from her exceptional career as a realtor. her beach bag was filled with a receipt for her favorite santa rosa plums (pounds of them) and a trashy super market novel. the beach was probably her favorite place and salve. we alway say while it was far too soon, she may have written this ending.
she was pure magic. left an indelible mark wherever she walked. but there were few things she left behind for us to remember her by. she was far more doer than collector or keeper. she was so busy soaking up life, we usually had little to almost no gas in the car. “lean forward girls, we’re running on luck”, she’d say. last at the mall finding the perfect dress. closing down carvel for a cone with sprinkles.
finding memories like a rare wedding photo, while recently spending time with my dad, is like little unearthing love letters from her. we have always called her grandma ellen, though she never lived to know that her daughters had four wonderful kids between us. she would be so damn proud. fucking proud. the cashier at any store would have had an ear bent with stories of their stunning accomplishments. she knew the minutiae of our every days, and she would have surely known theirs. what a kick it would have been for her to be a grandmother. we have taught all of the kids at least one or two of her famous camp wicosuta songs (we went there too), i adore a good bad word or few as she did (proud sailor mouth), and my sister is her spitting image. we buy discount in her honor. we catch ourselves in mom moments and say, “ok, ellen”.
we continue to tell her story, and live her lessons every damn day. because that is how you go on. with a little bit of her in your soul. and a ladybug sighting, or day at the beach. just when you need it most.