I met Ellen within days of moving to Munday. She was a very attractive person and had a bubbly personality. The first time we met she said, “I’m so glad you’ve moved here – now I won’t be the only OLD mother at Pre-K.” See, Ellen and I were both in our 40’s when our youngest sons were born. Her little boy, John, was smaller in size than my Lee – they were one year old when we met. John had a great head of curly brown hair and you could tell that he was the apple of his daddy’s eye. Ellen and her husband both had other children that were already grown and out on their on when John suddenly came into the picture.
John and Lee became friends through church activities as they grew. They really got along well and I never worried when Lee was at John’s house and I believe that Ellen felt the same way when John was over here.
Ellen, however, was not a well person. She had chronic pain that was extremely disabling and she spent literally years of her life fighting the pain and going to a variety of doctors who tried to figure out what they could do for her.
With Ellen ill so much of the time we would try to help out by having John over regularly. He was (and is) a great kid, well behaved and very smart. Every Halloween for years we would take John trick-or-treating while Ellen and Jeff stayed home to answer the costumed wonders who came to their front door. Ellen and Jeff would always dress up and enjoyed treating the children but I’m sure Ellen would have rather gotten to witness John trick-or-treating.
One summer John decided to play baseball on our little team. He wasn’t very athletic and he struggled with baseball but I was thrilled that he was taking part with all the other boys in their age group.
I remember Ellen coming to watch John. She was frail and it was a struggle for her just to dress and make it down to the ball park. Once there I know she wasn’t very comfortable but I was so glad she was there to cheer John on. I remember one time when John struck out she looked over at me and said, “Well, that’s OK. John might not be good at baseball but he can out-think most of the kids on that team!” I agreed.
When the boys were in the second grade Ellen’s conditioned worsened and she was also diagnosed with cancer – she was given only a short time to live. I remember one day when she called me from the hospital to talk about what music she wanted at her funeral, etc. I promised Ellen over the phone that I would always try to help look after John, if necessary.
Ellen’s funeral was one of those that was extremely hard to attend – everyone in the church had a hard time looking at the handsome little boy who now had no mother.
Jeff has always been right wherever John is and he is great to teach John things like hunting, 4-wheeling, and other fun “boy things.” In fact, Jeff remarried just a few years back and I’m so thrilled that John has a step-mother. She (Jan) is so very good with John and she’s always at all his activities. I love seeing John with Jan in the grocery store, at pep-rallies and ball games. I know that John is well loved and well looked after.
But everytime I witness John at some sporting event (like now – the boys are playing junior high football) I feel the urge to cheer a little louder and little stronger for John. I think that Ellen would want me to do that.
I’ve also noticed that John’s grades are beginning to take a climb. It was hard on him for several years after Ellen died but now he’s on the A/B Honor Roll. And even though John is still small in stature and has had a few health problems he puts his all into sports. He’s a very good basketball player and he even runs on the track team. Ellen would be so proud.
So, at every sporting event I cheer for Ellen – she is the angel that leads him. I hope that when he’s playing if he detects a shout of encouragement I hope he knows its his mom resounding thru me.