I'm in California this week with my sister Alyx. For the last three days we've been in Santa Barbara. We're visiting our deceased mother's oldest and dearest friend, Elinor, who will be 92 on Sunday. Elinor lives with her niece, Becky, and Becky's family. She has a caregiver during the day. As with many elders, Elinor is growing more and more frail, and her sharp mind sometimes takes a break into forgetfulness or even confusion. But she is still present much of the time.
Aunt Elinor knew my sister and me before we were born. She and our mother were wives of young Marine Corps officers, and for a time 60-plus years ago, they roomed together while their husbands were overseas. Our two families shared many Thanksgivings and fourths of July. Elinor had two sons, Robert and James, but she calls us her "girls".
We've had a quiet time the last three days. We've taken Elinor's wheelchair and strolled at the Santa Barbara marina. We've worked in the kitchen as Alyx helped make Aunt Elinor's famous coleslaw. We've chatted after dinner about the past. We've looked at pictures of years gone by and of people who are no longer with us.
Tomorrow we leave for three days in Lake Arrowhead. Alyx has a house there that's for sale, and we're getting the last of the boxes out of the attic and the basement. It probably won't be such a quiet time. But it will be good.
4 hours ago