My Elanor was primarily named after Eleanor of Aquitaine (who was a powerful medieval woman who was the Queen of France and then England…fascinating character, if you’re into that sort of thing). The spelling comes from Elanor the Fair, who is a minor character in The Lord of the Rings. But she’s also named, at least a little, for my Great Aunt Eleanor.
When I was little, I hated visiting Maine for the most part. One of the notable exceptions was when we saw my Great Aunt Ellie. Aunt Ellie had a cool, old house. She had a room with a ton of baby dolls that I was allowed to play with. She always had a bunch of animals around, especially a few cats (I desperately wanted a cat when I was a kid, but my grandmother wouldn’t let me…I didn’t get Lady until 4 years after she’d passed) that I would pet and follow around. Aunt Ellie was kind, funny, and one of the people I couldn’t wait to see.
When I got older and we stopped visiting with most of my extended family, Aunt Ellie was also someone I didn’t see. But I was a self-involved teen and then an adult. I’m not particularly close to my family, so while I might think of her every once and a while, I didn’t make a real effort to do anything about it.
After E was born, I reconnected with her (as I said, primarily E wasn’t named after her, and the spelling was different, but I wouldn’t have given her a name of a relative I didn’t have super fuzzy feeling for) and she got to meet E two or three times. She loved Elanor, making her a quilt and giving her one of her small porcelain tea cups.
I found out on Facebook today that Aunt Ellie passed away yesterday. I was planning on seeing her in a month, when I go up to Maine for the weekend to see my cousins and my grandfather. I hate that I found out that way, but I’m not close enough to warrant a phone call. I’m worried for my grandfather, who saw her nearly every day (she was his brother’s widow) for coffee. I shared the news with my parents via email, because calling them now would mean waking them at 2am.
I am sad, but I have many wonderful memories of my Great Aunt. I’m far more sad that Ellie will have to rely on stories and pictures. Yet another great lady (along with my grandmother) that Ellie will not know personally.
Ironically, I always planned to call Elanor “Nora” before she was born and “Ella” after she was born because “Ellie” was reserved for my great aunt. How ironic, then, that she picked Ellie for herself.