10/14/09, 11AM: There are dolphins in the river, rolling their way back to sea. There is something magical about them, something peaceful and soothing. We often saw them in Dunbar Creek before we sold the house and moved back to Macon. Several times, while we were out on the jet ski, they would surround us, playfully diving under and around our boat. Elaine even petted one.
Elaine was one of the wonderful people who came into my life when I married Clint. They were friends from high school, and she was less than 5 feet tall, and had the blackest hair you ever saw and she never shut her mouth. Their lives had taken different directions but they rekindled their friendship in the summer of 1994, when we stopped to visit in Vicksburg before we took off across America. You can see from the photo how tiny she was. She was standing on the hearth while his feet were on the floor, and she still only reached him at about eye level The other girl in the photo is Peggy Sue, another high school friend who has also become my friend. I can't remember when that photo was taken, but it was at least 12 years ago. (Peggy, Robert, Greth, and Kristy, do yo you remember)?
Elaine died of breast cancer in 2001. She fought it with homeopathic treatments for years and finally had a mastectomy after I met her in 1994. She was of Lebanese heritage, and Clint told me more than once that her family taught him to show affection. Every time he walked in the door of Elaine's house, one or both of her parents would grab him kiss him. It was different at Clint's house. His father was of German heritage, and he never overcame his Teutonic DNA.
Elaine was a writer and a teacher of writing and one of the most courageous women I ever knew. When I met her in 1994, she ordered me to begin keeping a journal, and I did it and still do. She had that effect on others, not just me. She lived and loved in the moment. I so envied her that ability. We were in a little restaurant called Claud's in Greenwich Village in 1996, and after she cleaned her plate and had dessert, she went into the kitchen and sang to the cook, whose name was Bill. That was darling Elaine. I miss her, still have her letters and emails. She and Clint loved one another so dearly, then she and I fell in love with one another, and we had a little family of sorts. When we bought our house on he creek, she came to stay with us a while so she could rest, and nothing would do, and she wouldn't shut up about it, until we went to the nursery for her to buy a Sago palm for our front yard. She said to remember her every time we looked at it. And we did, and we loved it. The last time we drove by the house, it was still there, healthy and growing. I often think about that plant, even though I live in Macon.
How good I feel after writing about Elaine. I have other stories for other times. Without Clint, I would never known this phenomenal woman. Now they are both gone, but I am learning to tap into those magical memories. It feels good.