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)