Eleanor had lived a very rich and exciting life, filled with interesting careers, hobbies and extensive travels. She had lived on the northern west coast of the U.S., where she was a breeder of sheep. In Manhattan, New York she worked for a scientist and performed experiments on lab rats. Eleanor had raised three successful girls, each of them successful in their own specific talents - either academic or artistic. She was also married to three successful men, had happy marriages and had been left a widow all three times. Eleanor had traveled the world over....Europe, Asia, South America and numerous cruises throughout North America, the Mediterranean and beyond. Eleanor had survived melanoma, having one of her eyes removed. She had also survived breast cancer, had a full mastectomy and survived ovarian cancer. She had been hospitalized and rehabilitated after being kicked by a horse, and another time after being run over by a car. Still, this lady could run circles around the most energetic people I have ever known.
Eleanor's project in this little Appalachian town was her two houses. She spent years remodeling and decorating, making the houses into comfortable homes - inside and out. Always catching me up on her project of late, Eleanor has shared with me her design ideas, furniture purchases and the orders of flowers and trees to enhance her properties.
In December, when my dad fell quite ill and was hospitalized and than sent to a rehab facility, Eleanor made a trip to take him a healthy salad and pay him a visit. Not knowing how she would be received, I tried my best to discourage Eleanor, practically begging her not to go. This lady would not take "no" for an answer and by lunchtime, she arrived with salad in hand. I was not present for this visit, but was later told by both my father and Eleanor that they spent the afternoon in conversation and playing bridge on his IPad. To this day, my dad talks about the angel named Eleanor who came to visit.
About six months ago, Eleanor decided the houses were too much for her. At eighty-nine years old, she was tired and wanted a more carefree lifestyle so she purchased a condo in a retirement community, about 30 miles south, in more metropolitan area where she would have easier access to the necessities of her generation - groceries and medical facilities. The community where she was moving was very upscale and had all the necessities and luxuries you could imagine, including a beauty salon and hairdresser. Despite the convenience, Eleanor has continued to make the 30-mile-each-way trip to continue her appointment schedule with me. She has filled me in on the details of her new life so vividly, that I can just about picture her condo and facility and the new friends she has made since she has been there. Eleanor seems happy with her new home, inspire of talking longingly of her homes in the mountains.
Eleanor kept a standing appointment for a shampoo and style every week until a month ago. She called to cancel just one day before her appointment with bad news. She had been having some episodes of numbness and lack of movement of her arms and legs. It got so bad one day, she drove herself to the hospital. Only a few hours later, she was told she had two tumors. One in her brain and the other in her lung. Her treatment protocol was very quickly composed, and within a couple of weeks, Eleanor was calling the salon to set up an appoint,net for cut and color.