Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Elena has come home. 
Marc, Lise and I brought her back to this center of her world, her life: her favorite spot next to the fireside, me, her son and daughter and their families.
Elena taught me not to dwell on the end of events but on the events themselves. To her, it wasn't the end of the weekend that counted, but the rest of the weekend. It wasn't the last day of a vacation that mattered but what we experienced in that wonderful new city or place. It wasn't the sadness of the day our children packed up their belongings and left home to establish their own careers and families that lasted but our memories of while they were with us and our confidence that they had learned to be fine and responsible adults. 
To Elena and me life is not a series of events with ends but an evolution through phases that flow seamlessly into each other, a flow that began before us with our ancestors and which, with the modifications we made, will continue to flow through Marc and Lise and their families. Everlasting life is not a mystery, an abstract concept but this very tangible stream of characteristics, behaviors and traits evident in our family, a stream that Elena has influenced so lovingly, so greatly and so well.

This is Elena's favorite baby picture. Deliberately tongue-in-cheek, she labeled it "Sweet  Baby". She knew that she was being anything but "sweet", trying hard to pull off the cap that she was being made to wear especially for the photograph on that hot day, just for the occasion. That gesture would be symbolic of the person she always has been, a person who rejected any sort of pretense in herself. 
Fortunately for me she could tolerate pretense in others because, she later revealed, she had taken an instant dislike to me when our paths first crossed accidentally. She thought I was putting on an air of intellectual superiority.
Elena's self-image as a woman, wife, mother, professional, friend, was never diminished in spite of the consequences of the numerous serious disappointments, obstacles,  accidents, illnesses and surgeries she endured, any one of which could have devastated a person who was not focussed on the essential qualities of those roles. 
Material things and ceremony didn't mean much to her. What she valued most were her family and friends and the enjoyment, knowledge and experiences she gained from travel, books and more recently, from her unique talent in using information technology.
She could look back on her life and justifiably be satisfied with the way she chose to live it and with the decisions she made. She was especially happy and contented with how she and I have grown together, with the way our son Marc and daughter Lise turned out and with the way they are maturing and raising their families.
As I hold your urn I wish you were pretending now, Ellen, Elena, Honey, Mom. 
We love each other now, Elena, as we have for forty-six great years.
And we always will.
Louis, Marc and Lise
(Elena and I always signed our notes and cards with this coded message.
Te Quiero Mucho Elena
I love you so much Elena)


Pak Idrus said...

Louis, thank for sharing those beautiful moments you have had with Elena and sharing your thoughts of love on Elena. Love is what sharing one's life with one another that made the marriage works. It is also love that made us have kids and nurtured them with love and because of that we saw the kids grows and became someone beautiful as well. They then proceed to have their own family and with that came the bonus; The grand kids. They say that God cannot be everywhere so He made Grandma and in your case it was Elena who became the grand kids's adorable grandma. And
I believe like all grandma, Elena love for those around her were priceless.

Well, she is no longer around but her presence would surely linger in our minds. That Louis is what love is all about. Love for the family, Love for friends and and Love for living.

Take care.

Lise said...


I've always recognized as special the bond you and Mom had. It was just one of the many life lessons you both shared with me: find someone who makes you feel joyful and loved, and then don't let them go (unless they're your kids... they can go and come back with grandkids). I was moved to tears by your touching entry.
I mourn Mom and all of the nevermores - calls on the phone, hugs, "grandma's special waffles" and more. But I celebrate Mom, too, for all of the forever mores: that I will always have memories of her incredible strength, courage, humor, love, intelligence, joie de vive and generous sprit. That she helped guide and shape my character. That she instilled in me lessons that I can now pass down to my girls. That she had time to share her love with my girls and to help guide them by her example. I miss you Mom, oh so very much. I'm so glad that your love for us will remain as alive as our love for you.

Pat said...

From what I've learned of Elena, through you, I know she would've been so happy with you for this post. It so perfectly says who she was, and what was important to her. She sounds like she was a special person, and I am sad that I never got to meet her.

That you know her so well, speaks of your love for her. And those forty-six years were surely good years.

My heart fills with tears when I read your lines, and those of Lise, but they are good tears. I wish that when it is my time, I will be remembered with such love, and be held in similar esteem.

This is a beautiful post, Louis. You've done Elena proud.

louis said...


I will add your delightful saying about why God made Grandmothers to the other ones you have relayed to me. Elena would have loved it.

Thanks so much for your very comforting reflection on love.

louis said...


I don't think this post would have gotten Elena's permission, she being a very private person. I appreciate very much your characterization of Elena. As a completely biased person in this case I do agree with you. Thanks ever so much.

louis said...


Let's concentrate on the evermore's. That's what Mom would do. As you know she hardly ever looked back and she would be the first to tell us to overlook the nevermore's.

Retirement gave Mom and me the opportunity to reflect, often the last thing we would do before going to sleep. That reflection was pure contentment, with Mom's recurring theme of her satisfaction with you and Marc and your families. Sometimes I was included in that contentment, but not as often as you guys.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Louis, forgive me for I cannot stop crying after reading this post.
I will come back later when I can think more clearly.

louis said...

Oh, Co'78, please wipe away your tears...Elena would scold me for having caused that: she preferred to look reality in the eye and move on.

Thanks so much for your sympathy.

Jeffrey Chew said...

Uncle Louis,
We will all miss Aunt Elena....

Love always
Carol, Jefferson, Cornelius and Jeffrey

louis said...

Thanks for your sympathy and love, Carol, Jeffrey, Jefferson and Cornelius.

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