I’m lucky to have two big sisters who love me unconditionally and have always taken good care of me, who kept the family history, family photos, family reunions, family recipes, family secrets, and were generally keepers of all things contributing to the true meaning of “family.” Thank goodness for them.
Elaine was my big sis’ and a wonderful role model. She assumed the role of being the eldest sister, after Erdene unfortunately passed away years ago. When I was a little girl, I was so proud to report that my sister had an important job in the Air Force; and she brought me exotic dolls from all over the world in her travels. Whenever she came home, she brought me Golden books each time, contributing to my becoming one voracious reader from an early age. I cherish photos of us in the snow, and the zoo, and the Dairy Queen where I spilled melted ice cream all over my new dress. I know I worried her and everyone else, when I rode my tricycle off the front porch and split my head open, then hid under the bed so I wouldn’t have to go to the doctor’s for stitches, and again, when I bounced off a brick wall and lost my front teeth. Elaine told those stories over and over. I was a bit of a tomboy but I also had my nose in a book, both. It is who I am. All my big sisters contributed to who I am, and have supported everything I’ve ever done.
She taught me a love of cooking & baking, and to follow Gourmet magazine even if I couldn’t always follow the recipes. She even took me to cooking school with Chef Skip on my birthday. We stirred up a fabulous wok dish, and lots of laughs along with it. To this day, some of my favorite authors are food writers.
Elaine was such a big fan of my running. She and Dave, and her best friend Pat made sure to be there when I was receiving an award at the 100th Boston Marathon anniversary. In fact, she and Dave came to all my awards ceremonies and graduations, come to think of it. My proud sisters and brothers-in-law were true blue loyal fans. It means the world to me.
My friends remember Elaine too. In fact, Elaine recently saw one of my old friends after what had been decades. Elaine actually remembered back to our college days, when she had us over for dinner and Dave barbequed steaks for us. . . only to hear my friend announce, “oh, we’re vegetarians!” before I could kick him in the shin to hush him.
No wonder Elaine remembered that one!
My best friend in life, Leal-Ann, remembered the times she and I were guinea pigs for the scientists over at UCSB, where they ran us on treadmills and tested everything imaginable about running including the “effects of high temperatures on performance in running.” Basically, we ran on treadmills in one room after another, each one set at temperatures in various temperature settings, that reached as high as 110-degrees, while they tracked our core temperatures. Core temperatures? How, you wonder? Don’t ask. Dr. Drinkwater thought of everything. And yes, that is her real name. I could not make that stuff up. My friend, Leal, remembered going over to Elaine & Dave’s when it was over. She asked me the other day if Elaine was the one who raised rabbits. She remembered a male rabbit named Samson, the only male rabbit in the bunch of females, who was always exhausted and slept a lot . . . . so we sent him a Father’s Day gift. Leal has a great sense of humor. Elaine did too.
One day I rescued a dog, it was love at first sight; and I named him Dipper. I thought the perfect home for him would be Dave & Elaine’s. They’d always had dogs around, and recently had lost their pair of dogs. I presented them with, what was in my mind a perfect match — which they graciously accepted, but did let me know they weren’t looking for replacements, they were looking to getting their landscaping back! The love between them has worked both ways all these years, and I think anyone who has met Dipper would agree.
I love Santa Barbara, I love Goleta, and I love Elaine and all her family. I love morning walks around the lagoon and along the coast at West Campus, in UCSB. And I will continue to do so whenever I have the chance. I just love the drive up the coast. But it will always be different now. So I will reflect on what Elaine meant to me in my life, with much gratitude; for I have much to grateful for. She was one-of-a-kind and she was my sister, and I will always cherish her.