Saturday, April 16, 2016

Everyone was there

The book party/ 98th birthday celebration was fantastic. Ellamae was in her element, with well over one hundred guests celebrating her and her book. Her niece and grandniece and four stepdaughters came from DC, Denver, Columbus, New York and Chicago, and her godchildren were all there, too. So were former colleagues at Kaiser, and former patients, and a cohort of women doctors who she mentored. All her friends from the retirement residence and the Bay Area also showed up. It was clear that Ellamae is so very loved, and she basked in it.

Even when she was exhausted towards the end of the festivities, she still refused to be taken downstairs to her apartment. She had signed every book, almost 200 of them, beforehand, and at the end of the afternoon, they were all gone. Some she signed with her first name only, some with her full name, some with her initials circled, and a couple she signed with her former married name, as if her first husband was whispering to her. She didn't seem to realize she'd signed that name, and her niece and I just looked at each other and let it pass. At 98 years, she can sign whatever name she wants.

A photographer took pictures, which I will soon have a link to, so maybe I'll share some here. In the meantime, here is one of my favorites of the afternoon, when Ellamae and an old friend greeted each other. They put their hands on each other's cheek and just stared with so much love into each other's eyes. All through the party, whenever I came near, Ellamae would reach out and take my hands in hers and kiss them, then press them to her cheeks. I think she was happy with how our work together turned out. I also think I caught her at the right moment, when she could still tell me her stories. Ellamae isn't using her words much anymore, but her eyes speak her heart.

There is so much more I could report, but I seem to have come down with something buggy on the plane ride home. My eyes won't stop streaming and I've been in bed all day, mostly sleeping and reading when my aching head allows. My son leaves for a three-week jaunt with a friend around Scandinavia and Europe tomorrow, so I'll pull myself together and go for the ride to drop him at the airport. Oh, to be young and footloose, with a sense of adventure calling you. In other news, his firefighter/paramedic dreams are a few steps closer to coming true.

17 comments:

  1. Bliss and blessings.
    Yes. You were there at the exact right time and you were the exact right person. What an amazing day.

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  2. I have just been reading some excerpts from the book on Amazon UK. It is very " readable", though as it is only just published, the price is rather high! I shall wait until it is a bit cheaper before I buy it. Will it be out in paperback later? She sounds like a remarkable woman. Is your son coming to England on his travels?

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    1. Frances, she truly is a remarkable soul, but I get that the book is a little pricy due to the whole self publishing thing. At 98, she didn't want to mess around with the protracted schedules of traditional publishers, but she also wanted hardcover, which is more expensive to print, so economies of scale dictated that pricing. Amazon usually discounts its books after awhile, though there's no telling when. And no, my boy isn't going to England this time, though he has many friends there. He's starting in Helsinki and ending in Prague and stopping in any number of places in between. He has a heart for adventure, that one.

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  3. Sounds wonderful. I hope your head feels better very soon! and safe travels to your son and his companions. :o)

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    1. Hannah dear, thanks for the good wishes on my son and friends, and I think I'm on the mend today.

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  4. What a wonderful tribute and celebrations. You have every reason to be so proud of it all. Safe journey to your boy, Europe will be good to him, promise.

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    1. Sabine, Europe will be good to him, yes. Thanks for that.

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  5. What a beautiful picture of the Doctor and her friend. And the one of you and her yesterday. I am looking forward to reading her story. Ninety-eight years old ... amazing.

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    1. jenny_o, she has had such a fine life, one in which some rain certainly did fall, but it never made her bitter. i do find her amazing.

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  6. sounds like such a beautiful moment. congrats!

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    1. Candice, there was a wonderful sense of accomplishment, for both of us. Thanks!

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  7. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate being 98.

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  8. A once in a lifetime experience for you. Best wishes to you both and I hope your son has some wonderful adventures. Glad to know you're the mend.

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  9. Congratulations for bringing this to fruition for the good Doctor. I am glad the party was successful and she was happy and everyone important was there. You are such an inspiration. Keep feeling better. Happiness and adventure to your son and his pals too!

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  10. I'm glad to hear it all went so well, and thank goodness you worked with Ellamae when you did, to gather her recollections and record them for posterity. I hope you're feeling better soon, if not already!

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