Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Memories – Estella, Claudia, Elsie

Estella, Claudia, Elsie

When Calvin and I walked into Nephi and Charlie’s reception, these three immediately came to hug and greet us. I grew up under these great women – first they were my church teachers, leaders, and mothers of friends, but then they became my friends.

Estella was always our nurse at girl’s camp and slept in our cabin. And even though I sneaked out of our cabin one night just to prove I could do something stupid, she never got mad or clucked in disappointment. She was quick to smile and slow to condemn . . . always. Estella sat straight and proper on the church pew with her feet carefully crossed. She never squirmed or moved or whispered during the meeting; she just quietly sat and listened . . . and smiled. Estella canned quarts and quarts and quarts of applesauce.  She taught me which apples make the best sauce.  She was the first woman I ever knew who was a step-mother and her step-children and step-grandchildren respected her. That was a great example to me later in life and she gave me lots of good advice. She also implanted the idea of a cousins’ camp (she and her husband Ken would take all of their grandkids camping each summer for a week) which Calvin and I plan to do with our grandchildren.

Claudia lead the music at church for decades. Nearly a dozen of us girls played the piano through those years – some of us were good, but most of us weren’t. They ran out of players when I was in the eighth grade so I had to start playing. One time my beat was off so badly that Claudia had to stop the congregation so I could start over. She never ever got frustrated with me. She let me pick the songs one Sunday each month and challenged me to learn new songs on the other three weeks.  I'm still benefiting from knowing most of the songs in the hymnbook today.  Claudia makes people feel like they are important to her; no one hugs quite as tight as she does, and she still sends me a birthday card each summer.  I loved to go to her home and spend the night and play with her kids – we rode motorcycles, swam in the canal, slept on the lawn in sleeping bags, and ate sticky caramel corn. I also went camping with them; somewhere in the South Hills is a tree with Jane + Brad carved in it.

Elsie was not only the young women’s president through most of my high school years, but she also babysat me when I was little and Mom went to town or had a new baby. It was at her house I first tried brussel sprouts and her son taught me that it was much easier eating ham and beans if you sprinkle sugar on top. Elsie had three sons and I was good friends with two of them, in fact I went to the prom with one of them; he was shorter than me at the time too. The weekend before Calvin asked me to marry him I’d gone home to speak at a friend’s funeral. I sat by Elsie at church the morning after the funeral and she whispered she’d heard I was dating someone and wondered if it was serious. I whispered back that it was and I suspected he was going to ask me to marry him soon. She asked what my answer would be and I confided that I planned on saying yes. Until that moment, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. She was the first and only person I told, but just saying it out loud helped me to sort things through.

Sleeping Beauty had Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather and I had Estella, Claudia, and Elsie.

Who was one of your good fairies?


Gwen said...

I loved this post, of course! I'm lucky to call all three of these ladies family, but it's so fun to hear stories about them from someone else. Thank You!!!

P.S. I could write a similar post and JANE would be at the top of my list for my examples growing up!

Deidra said...

Just reading the words "South Hills" makes me smile. I've been soaking them up this past week!

melanie said...

They almost look like Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. They have such happy faces. What great women to have in your life. Certainly, you are a good fairy in mine.

Emily Aston said...

Thanks for this post, Jane! It's so fun to see my grandmother on the internet. I second what Gwen said. Besides these three sweet ladies, you are another of the ladies I look up to from home!

Emily Aston said...

Thanks for this post, Jane. It's so fun to see my grandma on the internet! I second what Gwen says. Besides these three sweet ladies, you are one of the women I have looked up to for as long as I can remember!