Do you have a person in your life who is not related to you by blood or marriage but who has shown you so much love that it was almost as if you could not contain it? I did.
I had a wonderful woman in my life who for almost 10 years was my rock and my lighthouse. I know it’s cliché to compare people to angels but to me she was an angel who brought a little bit of heaven into my life. She was not my wife, mother, aunt, or any kind of familial relation but she was more than that. Her love to me is as follows:
L: She was a life-long learner. She was a woman who spent the better part of four decades teaching others and making a difference in the lives of others. She may not have been famous or popular but she has shaped the landscape of Ontario with her influence of young minds since 1969 until today. She always encouraged me to keep learning. She would give me books or old magazines to read or DVDs to watch. She would always encourage me and wherever she went she encouraged others too. It was not uncommon to see her at her favourite market talking with vendors and giving them a DVD to watch and telling them with a smile, “I’ll be asking you questions on it next time.” She was like that with everyone. She genuinely wanted to see you learn something new or she would share an interesting fact. She was always reading some new book on history or the arts or science.
O: She was a lady who could only be described as an eternal optimist. She always had a smile to share with you. She told me times before that a smile is free and when you give it, you receive more. I rarely smile but in her presence, I could not help but smile. I remember one time she giving me one of her loving motherly talks and she told me a mutual acquaintance had mentioned to her that Vaughn never smiles. She agreed with the person and said that I do smile once in a while but she told the person she would have a talk with me. I remember her patting me on my chest that day as she told me that I should smile more and that I would brighten up the lives of those around me. As she patted my chest she said, my heart would be better when I allowed more smiles to come out of it. She helped me see that whatever else was going on in my mind, people needed to see a ray of sunshine instead of a stern face. Because of her, whenever I walked the hallways of that particular place, I consciously tried to put a smile on my face. And she was the same way with my wife. She was like a mother hen who dutifully watches over her chicks.
V: She was a virtuous lady who inspired virtue in you. The thing with living a long time is that you might have offended folks in your life intentionally or unintentionally. Yet, she was a woman who tried to live a life of virtue. And in the years that I had known her, I feel as if I got to see the best of virtue shine through her. She was kind without strings. There was nothing she was trying to sell you or upsell you. She only wanted you to reach your full potential and be the best person you could be. I remember years ago, I was having a moment of discouragement with my business and I asked her how did she do it in her business life. She told me that she had a few tough years too. She remember back in those days feeling sad and disheartened but then she would ask herself, “could I do this one more day?” And her answer would inevitably be yes. And so she did it one more day, and another, and another, and it made four decades go by. She had been a warrior in her youth and had her battle scars but it only made her more virtuous in the latter part of her life. She was a true friend and you knew her friendship originated from a place of love. She genuinely cared about others. She was dutiful wife, mother, educator, mentor, and friend. Anyone could look at her and see an example of what a good person should be like or how a good person should live their life.
E: She had an energy that seemed to be eternal. She was never giving less than 100% in your presence. She was always willing to sing a song too. You’d bring up a point with her and suddenly she’d burst into a song that was related to the theme. She had a beautiful voice and she knew songs from the 1940’s, 50’s and more. She loved classical music too. My children enjoy classical music because of her influence in their lives. When my wife and the boys would accompany her to her market, she would teach them all some fun children songs. As my wife drove, my boys and this beautiful lady would be singing fun songs and laughing and giggling. My oldest still sings one of the songs she taught them. A verse from it goes, “make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold. Just like a circle that never ends, that’s how long I want to be your friend.” She was also a talented artist who could draw and paint. I remember her drawing with my kids when they were little and they would be excited looking at how her drawings. And when they made drawings for her, she would appreciate those drawings like they were made by a master. She told me that she had my son’s drawing hanging on her wall next to one of her expensive art pieces. My boy’s drawing didn’t cost her as much as her expensive art but she valued his drawing a whole lot more. And whenever people would visit her house, she’s talk about the original artwork she had gotten from a local Canadian artist and ask them if they wanted to see it. Maybe they were expecting to see some expensive new artwork she had acquired. She would show them my son’s drawing that was valuable to her. Then she would show them any other art piece she had acquired. She was always trying to open our minds and inspire us with the wonder of the world we live in. Her energy was infectious. You would be more energetic in her presence.
I’m sobbing as I write these words. I remember a funny story my wife told me. My wife and this lady were going to the market one time and the lady needed to get her stuff out of her husband’s Tesla. Jenny and the lady walked out to the car with the keychain and they stood by the car looking for a way to get in. The lady spoke to her husband on her phone and asked how do they open the Tesla. He told them to touch the roof of the car. So Jenny and the lady stood at the Tesla for almost five minutes touching all over the roof of the Tesla trying to get it to open up. Finally, they called the husband again and he told them, touch of the roof of the car on the keychain. The Tesla car on the keychain is the remote to open the real Tesla car. Jenny and the old lady laughed as the lady rolled her eyes in a “see how men need our help” kind of look. They got her stuff and then went off to the market.
Eleanor, was the nicest person in my life and I will miss her now that she is gone. I always thought there would be more time to spend more time together. I wanted us to have more chats, to hear more words of wisdom from her, to hear her sing a funny song. Even though those things are no more and dear Eleanor has moved on from this life, in my heart I know she shared with me A Love That Never Leaves.
Until next time continue to learn and grow.
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