Emeline It’s been so long. I have been away. Life happened, grief happened. The weather got cold, I caught a cold, my sister turned 60. Once a week blogging went down the drain when things got rough. I am back again and feeling the need to share, wanting to hear from the wise people in my life who keep life interesting and full. A friend passed away October 15th, actually my employer, but I considered her a mentor, sage and friend. My partner Richard and I had the pleasure of being with her and helping out the last month of her life. What a gift it was. We both got sidetracked in a good way. When my mom was dying of Alzheimer’s disease she was 2,000 miles away and she couldn’t give me advice on what to read and how to lose that bulge around my middle like Emeline did, “you know if you would stop eating meat that bulge would disappear.” Uh, thanks Emeline.  Some how that time with Emeline seemed like a time with my mother, it gave me a chance to care for someone  that  I loved and wanted to spend time with. She was sharp, witty, read the New York Times daily, knew what was going on around Seattle politically and had her opinions which she shared generously. I wish I could remember which columnist she suggested I read in the New York Times. I wish we had more time together. I wish she could have lived so we could have gone to Mt Rainier together to see the wildflowers or visited the shop downtown owned by her former employee. I wish we could have talked more about her mother and her early life and why she changed her name to Emeline later in life. I wish we had more time for her to teach me how to live out this time of my life when my kids have grown and some of my dreams have died. She was always inspired and looking forward to the next adventure. She taught design at the college level after her five boys had grown up and moved away and after her divorce. She lived in Greece for 6 months just because she wanted to, she had her own design business and then launched Caldwells, a store in University Village at the age of 62. Whew, what a successful ride it was. There was recurring cancer which from an outsiders view seemed she took in stride. I don’t know any particulars because she didn’t talk about it and I didn’t ask, even when I was driving her to her radiation appointments. She was a tough cookie and incidentally did love a good one or chocolate or a delicate pastry here and there. She took delight in  tempting me with these goodies, especially when I was dieting.  I loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her. At the age of 82 she could still put anything from her closet together; a floppy hat, a designer skirt, an oversized blouse and striped socks and look like a page from Vogue. She kept the same shoes till they looked like the dog dragged them in and then spray painted them silver after I told her a good friend of mine  painted hers kelly green,  but that is another story. Emeline appreciated the small things that make life beautiful like a few stray Japanese maple leaves splashed in autumn colors blowing gently through the entrance of her store, or collecting nettles to make soup in the spring. She loved her shy cat Coo Coo which she doted on till she could dote no longer. She loved to read and tell stories that would spellbind anyone near enough to hear. One of her favorite lines to her customers in the store was “Are you doing okay all by yourself?” which always made me secretly giggle or feel guilty I wasn’t there beside her. So the late summer garden vegetables were made into meals for Emeline, she loved the last of the little red strawberries Richard picked for her. She appreciated the kale, fresh pulled carrots, green beans and anything else grown organically in our garden. She told me a few weeks before she passed how she loved a hearty French stew and where to find the recipe. I did make her an American pot roast with carrots, potatoes and onions from the garden. She didn’t feel well that day but she had a few bites before the hospice worker rang the doorbell. The last month of her life she lived with one of her sons and his wife, their daughter and a young exchange student who was attending high school in Seattle for the year. Emeline was so grateful they invited her to stay and live there during this rough time in her life. The living room where she spent her last days was lined with windows overlooking the tops of trees leading down to Lake Washington and had the feel of an elegant treehouse. She recounted her nights her son would answer her calls for assistance without complaint. She felt loved and cared for and that is the perfect way to end a long life, even if one is not quite ready to go. Her memorial was filled with old and young alike who expressed their love and admiration for Emeline. Not one, sugar-coated their stories, Emeline was a little prickly at times but she was an excellent teacher of how to live your life till the end.  She had a way of making me feel important and that was such a gift. Spending time with Emeline turned out to be the best gift I have ever received and she will always have a very special place in my heart.


"I might not know good, but I know terrible"