It began simply enough, with a swim in the pool and an invitation to dinner.
She was a gracious host, this woman, with the time worn face and proper accent.
Conversation flowed between us, the 19 year old girl and the woman who was then 79
After dinner, she invited me to stay. The guestroom, she said, held a bed to which I was welcome. I was fascinated by this woman who had lived a thousand lives and known the famous people I'd only watched in movies. I decided to stay.
She placed a fresh cut flower in a vase to welcome me and to brighten my room.
I noticed she had taken the time to turn down my bed.
The simple things really do make one feel welcomed.
I was greeted the next morning with freshly squeezed orange juice - fruit she'd picked herself from the tree in the yard. Toasted English muffins, with orange marmalade were her favorite, she revealed with a smile, and the only thing better than having fresh orange juice - in her opinion - was when it contained Moet' & Chandon.
"We must get some later on Daahling," she'd added.
There was an unmistakable gleam of mischief in her eyes, this one.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, between the woman who had entertained royalty - and the girl she treated as such. I worked as her companion from that day. Little did I know, the impact this spunky woman would have on my life.
We became family, my Eleanor and I. For the next 12 years we shared our lives.
She often pointed out that we were "growing up together". We traveled to Paris where showed me a big wide world. We enjoyed the simple, and the not so simple things in life. Midnight swims, Parisian cafe's, sunset in the evening, fresh squeezed orange juice, holidays, and birthdays - we enjoyed all of life's celebrations together over the years.
She welcomed me into her home with a simple flower in a vase and fresh squeezed orange juice. With her zeal for life and her mischievous spark - she simply stole my heart.
At 91 years old, she died in my arms - where she was always welcomed.
In her last moments, though she could no longer speak, she managed to flirt with the pastor who came to her bedside. She batted her beautiful eyelashes, and smiled that special smile. It was later, I discovered she'd lied to the man about her age . . . . . . .
and that - Daahling - was my Eleanor.
fresh squeezed orange juice - orange marmalade - sharing stories of my life with my boys and with you - old memories that bring a smile - midnight swims - sandy toes - remembering the simple things - welcoming friends - twinkling eyes - fresh cut flowers