She was five feet one, and on a good day weighed eighty-five pounds. Her petite body belied her feisty personality. She reminded me of a beautiful sparrow. By all accounts a tiny unassuming bird until someone tries to disturb its nest. Then, watch out world! Ellen was the same way.
Her worn-out Bible accompanied her everywhere. She and I had excellent conversations, about God and many other topics. Ellen was brilliant and had the greatest sense of humor. It was dry and over- the- top.
She’d look someone in the eye and say, "what the heck do you want? Can't you see I don't want to talk to you?" The person the pejorative was aimed at would have incredulity painted on their face. Until she'd let them off the hook, "it's okay, I'm just joshing." Her laugh was magical, authentic, and never forced.
She knew all the answers on Jeopardy, and solved Jumble in seconds. Her mind was sharp, her hands gnarly and twisted with rheumatoid arthritis. Twinkling light brown eyes set off prominent cheeks bones, especially when she smiled. I grew to love her so much; she was one of my favorite people. My job was more like a visit to a "family member." It was an infinite honor to sit with her daily.
She shared so many things from childhood, snow-filled winters, to the stew she’d cook over the fireplace in a black kettle pot. I learned all about Mr. Peabody, her Calico cat that lived for twenty-two years. I heard about Maguire, her Pekinese pup who loved to nestle in her lap while she did her crossword puzzle on Sundays. And, about Rocky, the squirrel she fed peanuts to.
She loved apple pie straight from the oven drizzled with caramel in a zigzag pattern. Of course Earl Grey tea was her beverage of choice with the pie by the fire in the living room. She drank it in a delicate white cup and saucer, with a red-rose pattern.
She loved animals, children, and taking care of the less fortunate population in her area. She sang in the choir, and her favorite scripture in the Bible was Colossians 3:15. Ellen’s favorite song to sing while playing her piano was, How Great Thou Art. She was gifted in so many ways. I loved listening to her sing, speak, and laugh.
In her china closet alongside her white red-rose pattern dishes, sat one golden cup. I always wondered about it. It may have been the only thing we never discussed. Somehow, I always got sidetracked and never inquired about it. She was in my life for eight years, and it was a memorable and blessed time.
Sadly, I did find out what the cup was all about while attending her funeral. Her daughter, who lived three thousand miles away, thanked me for loving her mother. She was grateful her mom had someone in her life and even envied our relationship.
In a quiet voice she explained, "Mom wanted you to have this. She received it when she was a little girl from a wise lady in her neighborhood. This cup was given to her because the lady said Mom had a heart of gold for God. She called me the night before she died, and instructed me to give it to you. She said, you too have a heart of gold for God. She wanted you to continue the tradition, eventually giving it to someone else who has a heart of gold for God. She loved you," she sniffled as tears broke free, handing me the cup with quivering hands saying, “God bless you.”
That gold cup is a constant reminder of my patient, friend, and sister in Christ. She was one of a kind, and I’m positive she’s singing and playing the piano in heaven for our Lord, and all of the angels to enjoy.
I know for certain that she has a new gold cup filled with Earl Grey tea at this very moment…
Based on a true story. Ellen lived in the assisted living part of the nursing home.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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