Friday, September 4, 2009

Now the Day Is Ended

Another of my older neighbors is gone. Not a native, but a newcomer like myself, about ten years ago Eileen and her husband moved 'next door' into a lovely new-built log house on the adjoining property where her son and his family lived.

A charming little lady in the steel magnolia tradition, Eileen was resolutely cheerful in the face of trouble. She'd been an Army nurse in WWII and later, nurse at Queen's College. Eileen had stories to tell and a lively inquiring mind -- always reading or listing to her beloved collection of classical music.

Eileen adored her son and her grandsons and she adored her log house in the woods. She had quite a few happy years there, even after her husband passed away. She fed the birds, sat on the porch and wrote poetry, and had a number of friends who dropped by for tea now and then.

But as age began to take its toll, she could no longer live alone. Firm in the face of the inevitable, she decided to go into a nursing home. I adopted her old dog Molly and Eileen made the best of institutional life.

I visited as often as I could and she was always eager for news of Molly and news of my alleged career. Her window sill had been turned into a bookshelf --"At least I can still read," she said often.

It was about two weeks ago that I saw her -- cheerful, though it was obvious she was in pain. Most of her days were spent in bed, due to her osteoporosis. But she didn't want to talk about that. She had her memories of her happy times.

Eileen passed away Sunday night -- pneumonia, 'the old person's friend' it's sometimes called. I can't be sad -- what was sad was seeing such a vital spirit trapped in a failing body.

Goodbye, Eileen. You were an inspiration.

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10 comments:

Eleanor said...

A lovely tribute to Eileen. It makes me think of the kind of neighbours we had when I was growing up and the kind of relationship that my mom had with them. I loved running errands to people similar to Eileen to hear their stories and share a cookie. So pleased you could have looked after her old dog when she had to leave her home. I suppose Molly preceded her mistress to a happier world?

Pat in east TN said...

I'm sorry to hear of your friends passing ... she sounded like quite a lady.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely tribute to Ellen. I know she would be pleased. How wonderful that she always remained cheerful - it is my wish.
Sam

Vicki Lane said...

Eleanor -- Molly is still very much with us, deaf as a post and creaky with arthritis, but like Eileen, mentally sharp and always sweet.

Thanks, Pat and Sam -- yep, she was the real deal.

Tammy said...

So sorry to hear about Eileen. When we make a deep connection with someone it's very hard to see them go, but sometimes even harder to see them lose ground. I too am happy that you were able to adopt Molly and keep Eileen updated on how she was doing. I'm sure that meant so very much to her (and Molly). Take care, Tammy (that first photo looks like an oil painting...)

willow said...

Beautiful tribute to your dear neighbor. My thoughts are with you in the loss of your friend, Vicki.

Miss_Yves said...

A very moving tribute to your friend, illustrated by beautiful pictures...
I think this lady gave you (and everybody)a great lesson of life.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks to all of you -- cheerful in the face of hard times -- not a bad epitaph!

Victoria said...

Vicki, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. Miss Eileen sounds like she was a real treasure. Your tribute to her was so beautiful.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Victoria -- it's such a small thing to do in the face of the immensity and finality of death. But somehow it seems necessary.