|Arleen and I ~ 2010|
We were 46 years apart in age but she was my "kindred spirit". She was my mentor, my friend, an honorary Grandmother to my children. She was simply the dearest and kindest woman I have ever been blessed to have had in my life.
Last night Arleen passed away. Her 99th birthday was on Valentine's Day. Yes, she was a Valentine baby. How befitting a woman of such love! In all honesty, I never ever felt she would pass away. She skipped when walking, she danced and gestured with her arms in a lady like way.
She wore little black Mary Jane style shoes with little heels. She was about 4.5 feet in height. She was gentle and soft, and when she hugged me I felt such comfort.
She is gone and my Love and I are beside ourselves with grief. The loss is not only for her but the loss of an era of friends and family that were the salt of the earth. She'd been through the depression and WWII, she saw progress in ways that were truly visible and grand rather than hand held devices with little chips.
Last night when her Granddaughter called us to give the news I felt like my heart would dissolve. I could hear sounds around me but they were muffled. I couldn't think. My Love and I clung to each other crying into each others shoulders and necks. Hot, painful tears that welled up in disbelief and yet knowing that she could not live forever.
We felt selfish for our wanting to keep her alive for us. Oh, in my heart, I wanted to see her in Clark's arms, her husband of 64 years who passed away in 1998. His loss was as hard to take those many years ago. I wanted to know that they were together again in loving embrace. I wanted him to say "Lady, I have been waiting for you...and here you are".
Arleen and Clark were dear close friends of Papa's. Arleen's family and Papa's had come from Illinois to settle into the Yakima Valley in Washington during the depression years. A farming community still small with deep roots for those families. But they are almost all gone that group.
A story I heard....was that Arleen and Clark eloped. Papa, wanting to congratulate them slipped a note under their hotel door only to find out he had slipped it under the wrong door. They never got the note!
Memories like a door opening to a room in my head, popping in, going to another room another memory....
Arleen making me Floating Island because I read it in a book and was curious. She surprised it on me once when we went to their home for dinner. Do you know what Floating Island is? It is meringue floating on creme anglaise and it was divine!
Arleen and Clark at K's. birth where Clark tells me K. waved to him as she was wheeled by in her incubator. They stayed for hours and hours while I was in labor as support for my parents.
Arleen teaching me to bake her recipe for white bread. She needed to stand on a bench because her kitchen counters were too high for her.
Arleen making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the my girls and deviled ham for Clark and I on Pepperidge Farm bread, thin slice. Having Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies afterwards because Clark liked them.
Arleen driving her car where she was barely visible above the steering wheel. She may have driven slow but she always used her signals!
Arleen reading to one of my girls while sitting on the floor or on their bed in their bedroom. This was her time and I never intruded. Magic was being made...
Untitled from Ellen F. on Vimeo.
Arleen and Clark walking us through their garden. Most suburban neighborhoods people had lawns in the backyard but not them. They had paths where you could wander amongst flowers, and we would eat raspberries and strawberries fresh from the vine. Beans and tomatoes, ....more magic....
Arleen quilting. She made large squares of X's and O's, for hugs and kisses, to make a quilt for their bed. Could that be any more loving?
Arleen and Clark playing at the park ever so many times with our family.
Going to the ballet with my mom and K. to see the Nutcracker.
Arleen and Clark hiding Cheerios in a special little black box they would set on their bookshelves for K. and her sister E. to find....which they sought out every time we went to their home.
Coloring with Clark at his big desk while Arleen made Butterscotch cookies. Crayons or colored pencils spread out .
Day books...Arleen and Clark kept yearly day books that they wrote down important things that might have happened. They could look up any given date and tell you exactly who came or called them.
Going to the Seattle Zoo.
Going on the ferry to Bainbridge Island to sightsee.
Going to Seattle Center to the Amusement Park. Is it still there?
Arleen's ever so light on her toes skipping walk.
Arleen the dancer. I know this because I sat on her sofa and looked at old photo albums where she had photos of her in costume dancing.
Arleen holding my girls as babies, with Clark wanting to hold them just as much. They had to take turns those two.
Remembering Clark and Arleen dancing....when I saw them dance together, how he held her, that was love.