Saturday, December 3, 2011

Elanore

                    “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”  Proverbs 18:24 (KJV)

I stood behind the counter of the Pavilion Flower Shop where I worked near Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, Florida.  It was just a short distance from the very exclusive, upscale homes that lined the beach and the surrounding area.  I liked my job, and I enjoyed having the responsibility of running the shop pretty much by myself.  I was only 17, but the owners had placed their trust in me to be there alone most of the time.  I was learning a little about flower arranging, but mostly, my job was to assist customers and run the cash register. 

One evening, it was almost closing time, and I heard the bell ring on the front door as it opened.  I looked up to see a well-dressed older lady coming in.  From first appearance, you could see that she was distinguished and refined, and there was no doubt that she was used to the finer things in life.  Our eyes met, and she said, “Come outside!  You have to see this!” 

I came from around the counter at the back of the store, and walked with her to the sidewalk outside.  There we stood, two strangers side-by-side, gazing at the most beautiful sunset…one of the prettiest I had ever seen.  We hardly spoke, other than to say how beautiful it was.  When the moment was over, she followed me back into the store, and she began to talk.  I could tell she was very lonely and just needed someone to listen.  So, I did.

She told me her name was Elanore, (spelled just this way), her husband of many years had recently died, and she was trying to get used to being a widow.  She had two daughters, who lived on the other coast of Florida who were busy with their own lives and families. 

As time went by, Elanore would come by the shop when she needed to talk about her deceased husband, Eddie.  I found out that he had been a very good husband and made sure she was left in a very comfortable financial position.  She loved to tell me the story of how he had bought the land she lived on near Vanderbilt Beach for $32,000 many years before.  At the time I met Elanore, it was worth well over a million dollars. 

She invited me to her home for visits, and a friendship developed that spanned many, many years.  It wasn’t long before I realized I needed Elanore as much as she needed me.  Things at home were very shaky and unsettled, and I needed someone in my life that was a stable force of security.  We were having severe financial difficulties, and a lot of expenses were falling on my shoulders.  I found that Elanore had a caring soul, and as I opened up to her, she worried about me and certain things I was going through. 

I remember one time in particular that I got into a real bind, financially.  I needed help in order to be able to keep up with my car payments and other expenses.  It took everything I had within me to pick up the phone and call my dear friend to see if she could help me out.  She answered the phone, and very nervously and apologetically, I asked her if I could borrow $150.  Without the slightest question or making me feel like less of a person, she simply made plans to meet to loan me the money.  When I got there, she handed me an envelope.  I very gratefully thanked her, and we parted ways.  When I got into my car and counted the money, there was $300 in the envelope!  I was so humbled by the trust she had placed in me.  It made me determined to live the kind of life that would merit that trust.

Elanore never asked me to sign a promissory note, and she didn’t even want me to make regular payments.  She said I could just pay her back as I had extra money.  Over time, I made what payments I was able to make.  One day I went to her house to drop off a payment, and I will never forget what she said when I got there.  “Cheryl, you don’t need to repay me anymore of the money.  All I ask is that someday, down the line, you help another young girl who needs help.”  Her words struck a chord deep within my heart.  It instilled a desire within me to help anyone I could along life’s way. 

One day, Elanore came by the shop with a gleam of happiness in her eyes that I had never seen before.  She couldn’t wait to tell me her good news.  She had met a nice gentleman, and they were getting married!  I was SO happy!  Soon, I got to meet Howard, her new beau, and I found him to be a true gem. 

As years went by, I moved away, went to Bible College, met Kevin, and we made plans to get married.  We decided to marry in Naples, and Elanore and Howard were there…so happy, simply because I was so happy.  Time moved on, and Kevin and I settled into our newly married life.  Every now and then, I would miss Elanore, so I would pick up the phone and give her a call.  Every time I did, it would make me feel so special, when Howard would say, “Elanore!!  Pick up the phone!  It’s Cheryl!”…like I really mattered and was someone important.  I would hear her say, “Oh!!” and shuffle towards the phone as quickly as she could.  We would talk and reminisce and she would tell me how very happy she was for the happiness I had found. 

We moved out of state when Zachary was only 8 months old, without being able to let Elanore see him.  The following year, we went to Naples for my niece’s high school graduation, and we made it a point to spend some time with Elanore and Howard and enjoy a meal together.  I noticed she was looking very elderly, and it shocked me how frail she had become.  I hated to leave her that day, and somehow, in my heart, I knew I was seeing her for the last time.

I continued to call her when we got home.  Her hearing deteriorated to the point that she could barely hear my voice, but still I would call.  One day, I called, and Elanore’s daughter answered the phone with the sad news that my dear, old friend had passed away.  My tears fell like rain, and my heart ached with the sense of losing someone and something very precious.  She had been there…through so many of the storms of my young life, and now she was gone.  I know I will never forget her, nor will I forget her kind, generous heart and the lessons she taught me about believing in others.

We must have seemed like an unlikely pair, the two of us….she a very energetic, spunky, financially-secure 60 some year old when we met, and me a young, insecure, struggling 17 year old.  But, somehow I know God put us together.  We needed each other, and there were needs in both of our lives that the other was able to fill.  I am glad I took the time one day to sit down and pour out my heart in a card to her telling her how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her and our friendship. 

Friendship really knows no limits of race or age or status.  It happens deep within the heart, and it is a force that will sustain and comfort us in the worst of times.  If we will only look beyond the outside, if we will stop prejudging others based on their outward appearance, if we will learn to open our hearts to see the hearts of others….who knows what we will find.  I learned so much from Elanore, and I still find myself hearing her advice when I hear of someone who is in need.  It taught me to give without ever wanting to be paid back. 

2 comments:

  1. What an awesome and geniuneness this person had. I find myself thinking about those people who have touched my life and left a mark within my spirit as I read this. Your blessed to have had Elanore. Precious is the gift of freindship and it really does make a difference. I also take heart in that whereever you are God will find like minded invidiuals to pair you with regardless of their age. We are blessed. I am in a new environment, new church, new home, and find that even though new its like God was here waiting with the right people to assist me on this journey. People can make a difference in our lives and we can make a difference in theirs...Amen

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments! God bless you!

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