Wednesday, August 31, 2011

elaine (lyn)

Elaine was big in every way.  Big physically, big in personality, and in possession of a very big heart. 

My parents have always had a lot of friends.  But their two closest were Elaine and Eddie.  My mom grew up with them, and when she married my dad at age 19, they readily accepted him.

My sisters and I called them “Aunt Elaine” and “Uncle Eddie’” until we were in our teens.  That’s when we were told that we were not blood relatives, though the truth did not alter the relationships.  Elaine and Eddie and their three daughters (all close in age to me and my sisters) were family.  They lived about twenty miles from us, but we saw them often.

In July of 1965, our families rented a house together in Dennisport (on the Cape and right on the ocean).  It was a big old house and perfect for the ten of us.  It didn’t matter that the weather that summer was horrid.  I don’t think we had one sunny day.  But Linda (the oldest among the six girls) introduced me to John Demeo, and it was instant love on my part.  During the day we would all drive down to Marconi Beach where I would watch John surf, and attempt it myself.  At night, we'd all pile into Linda’s Volkswagen Bug, and I would beg her to drive by the Howard Johnson's in Yarmouth so I could see if John was working that night.  Such were the activities of youth back then.  I don't think I wore shoes or sandals once the entire month.  It was a magical time for a 15-year old.

 My parents bought their house on the Cape in 1978, and soon after, Elaine and Eddie bought a house on the Cape too.  While the two houses were about ten miles apart, they used the same builder and the houses were mirror images of each other.  Later, Elaine and Eddie moved to another house directly across the street from my parents, and for a few years, they were neighbors.

My dad is an expert with his hands, and while Eddie had many talents, fixing things was not one of them.  My dad built a cedar closet in his basement.  Eddie had someone build his.  When Eddie’s closet cost five times as much and was embarrassingly big, he hid it from my father, knowing the endless ribbing he would get (and later of course did get) when my father saw it.  I never saw my father laugh harder than he did when Eddie was around.

Elaine was the person I’d go to when I couldn’t talk to my parents.  In 1988, when my younger sister was getting married, and I was living in New York feeling unloved and poor, it was Elaine I confided in.  I was lucky to have Elaine and Eddie as my second set of parents.

Eddie died of lung cancer in 1992, a few days before Sally was born.  Soon after, Elaine moved to Florida where two of her daughters were living.  I don’t think I saw her after that.  But my mom talked to her daily, and their friendship remained unchanged.

Early today, my mom called to tell me that Elaine died last night.   It was not unexpected as she’d been sick for a long time.  She was 82.

Now she can be with her beloved Eddie.  But the world has lost a warm and wonderful person, and my mom has lost her best friend.  

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