Ella: A Wise Woman

Ella--from Greek Helen meaning light and Old English meaning elf, beautiful fairy woman.

I met Ella when I went to work for her in one of the college offices where I was attending college. I learned so much from her in the years I worked there. Lifelong skills which didn't require opening books, passing tests, and receiving a grade to achieve a degree. In the process of getting that degree I also took from those years knowledge and experiences which centered around this tiny bundle of energy and love.

Ella may be elfin in stature but giant of heart. She offered light in my life when other parts of it were dark with despair and unhappiness. She helped me again see the joy in life and in the constants I always had in my life: my children, my family, my friends, my mind. Since I was a newly divorced woman at a time when divorce wasn't usual and in a family where it had never happened, Ella gave me a vibrant example of a great working marriage. I built on that once I decided to marry again.

From her I learned to always appreciate those who support you, whether it's a typist, an aide, a family member or friend. She had standards which she stated clearly, explained how to do them, then expected you to follow through. If you bungled, you got another chance. If you bungled once too often, well, she could be ferocious in maintaining her standards, too. In what was right or wrong. I've followed her example in the classroom and in my personal life.

With her dark chocolate eyes which most often held a twinkle, her lovely face which usually had a smile and her lustrous dark hair, she was a beautiful woman in the classic Italian sense.

She could be mischievous and enjoyed throwing a party. Holidays, birthdays, or a generally good reason meant we all brought in goodies and celebrated. And oh, the goodies she would make. Always proud of her Italian heritage, she cooked and baked many traditional dishes. What her family didn't eat, she brought in to work. How lucky for us. She taught me much about cooking and baking and I use several recipes today which have become family favorites—all because I listened and learned from Ella. From eggplant to lasagna made her special way, from the wonders--new to me--of Italian cheeses, to biscotti and cannoli, cooking and eating would never be the same.

I have so many reasons to be grateful this bright sprig of a woman came into my life and taught me so much. I don't see her much anymore but the wonders of email keep us in touch. How lucky is that for me. Ella is a white-haired elf now, but her voice still carries the joy in living she feels and the world is made brighter for her presence in it.

"A friend is like a rainbow. They brighten your life when you've been through a storm."

"The most important single influence in the life of a person is another person...who is worthy of emulation."
Paul D. Shafer