Ellie was SonnyeBoy's daycare provider. She took care of him from the time he was two months old until he was 14, so I could work. She was his third grandma and raised him just as much as I did, yet she always made me feel that I was his mother and that no one could replace us, his parents.
She was a tiny lady, under 5 feet tall, but her heart was huge. She took care of several kids, including my sisters' three, and kept up with all of them long after they left her care. SonnyeBoy didn't want to leave -- at one point, I had a vision of him driving himself to daycare after school. Her end tables and walls were crowded with photos of all the children she cared for.
She never took a vacation; she never got sick. Not once in 14 years. We tried to give her a raise; she wouldn't take it. She gave each kid a birthday party, complete with decorations, cake and ice cream, and presents.
Christmas was a special holiday for Ellie. The decorations went up right after Thanksgiving. Everybody got presents, parents and kids alike. She never spent much on them, but we knew they came from her heart. After the kids were in high school, she'd have a little Christmas party for all of us so that we could exhange gifts, have a Coke and a brownie, and catch up on all the news.
She took care of her neighborhood too; she even swept the street in front of her house! She fed the neighbors' pets and checked up on the old folks.
She didn't have a car. She walked or took the bus. On Friday nights one of us would give her a ride to the local mall where she did her shopping. She zipped through that mall like a dart; then she'd manage to get herself home.
She kept in touch after SonnyeBoy left her daycare, calling to give us the news and get the scoop on us. She always asked after Mom and we always ended the call with an "I love you."
Finally, a few years ago, she fell ill. Her son took her in, but she insisted on moving home when she got better. It didn't last very long, although she did have one last Christmas party a couple of years ago. When she could no longer take care of herself, she moved into assisted living.
On Saturday, at age 85, she died.
Rest in peace, Ellie.