And Then There Was Ellyn… (part 1 of 4)


Lately I’ve been writing a lot of family and friend posts – everything from the joyous day when my twin sons were born to the heart-breakingly sad deaths of several very special people in my life. To lose dear ones, no matter if they had a long, fruitful life, is very bittersweet. We don’t want them to suffer but we can’t have them with us forever, either. At least not right now. And the older we each get, the more losses we will have.

To turn that around, we need to be grateful for every day we have. Rain or shine or alone or in a crowd. Never miss a chance to enjoy a friend… or say a kind word… or laugh with a child… or hug your pet… or do a random act of kindness. You can never know what a difference it makes.

And of course it is always fun to remember the most heartwarming times of your life. As long as you have your right mind… or at least part of it… your memories are your treasure. You can call them to mind any time you like and enjoy them again. No one can take them away from you – no-where… no-how. And isn’t that the best thing in the world? It is to me!

I happen to have a rich memory file in my brain. I may have embellished it a bit over the years, but I won’t apologize for that. I am an artist, an artisan, a writer and a storyteller. I’ve grown into these things with practice… over time. And I love being able to re-create a time and place that happened just yesterday – or a month ago – or 40 years ago. If I can share the laughter, the tears, the every-day-ness that is so special upon looking back… then I have preserved something timeless. And that’s why I write and sketch on this blog. It may not last forever, but it is very fun to share for now with so many friends.

Now let me get hold of myself here and get on to the subject at hand…

Main Article

I’m still being reflective over the recent losses of dear ones in my life. But I know I need to be present and talk about more good times than bad. We all need that. And like I said, I related the story of when my twin sons were born. It was a grand event in my family. However, I had another child after that. She didn’t get near the attention as the commotion those twins caused, but she was every bit as precious to everyone in the family. And she still is, of course. That’s why I say…

And then there was Ellyn.

Ellyn has been… from day one… a force to be reckoned with. She is a spitfire. But a very kind and caring one at heart. If you get to know her.

And here’s how all of that came about…

When the boys were about a year and a half old, I felt pretty in control. We had our routines down pat, I had a great amount of help with them and things were going along well. My husband pitched in fully to take care of the babes and both my mother and mother-in-law were always available. The Driver family, who lived across the street, were crazy about the boys and took them all the time.

Dale and Kathy Driver would actually knock on my door and say, “hey, can we take the boys for a while?” They would either take them back across the street and sit out on the porch swing with their own 3 kids gathering around (Rick, Roxanne and Robin) or they would take the big old double stroller off the porch and walk them all over the place.

And between the Driver kids and all the Daubenmire cousins, we had plenty of babysitters on call. So I never felt too burdened down with the boys at all. Plus both boys were mild-mannered little guys who were close to each other and never caused too much of a fuss.

So I felt fully ready to have another baby. Truth is, I wanted a girl and then I would be done with my family. I figured I was pretty tied down already with the two, so what was one more? Just get it all done with at once!

Sure enough, I was expecting a short time later and was happy as could be. Except I had an overwhelming feeling it would be another boy. Now I didn’t mind that so much, but my husband Bill and I didn’t see exactly eye to eye about it. He didn’t mind the thought of another boy, either, but if it was… then that was going to be IT.

I simply could not concede to this. I wanted a girl. Desperately.

We fussed about it. A lot. And the main reason was financial. You see, I insisted on staying home to raise my own children and Bill would have preferred that I had a full time job somewhere. We TOTALLY disagreed on this point. In fact, we had discussed it before we were married but something got lost in translation. Now here we were expecting baby number three. Another mouth to feed no matter if it was a boy or girl. Bill wanted to be sure that’s where it would stop since he was the sole breadwinner. I was oblivious.

Whenever the subject of this being “the last baby” would come up, I would balk.

“If it’s a boy, I want one more,” I always said. And then I would finish with, “I know that means I will probably have 4 boys.” Which was how I really felt. I truly did understand his concern but I had to fight my fight for a girl child. Bill honestly didn’t care one way or the other.

By the summer of 1975 I was sporting a pretty good “bump.” I was due the beginning of November so we decided on the things we wanted to do before baby #3 arrived. I wanted to take an art class that had caught my eye and Bill wanted to go to Myrtle Beach for a week. Somehow we managed to do both.

Bill’s parents, Bill and Betty, took the boys for the week we went down south. It was the first time we ever left them and after a few days we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves. Soon we had our wallets out looking at photos of the boys and talking about them… and arguing over whether babe #3 would be the last. “Only if it’s a girl!” I declared. And I stood my ground while Bill took a long puff of his cigarette and looked off into the distance.

The week went by pretty fast and we were back home in short order. Before long, it was time for my art class.

I was anxious for this workshop because it was taught by a beautiful young woman from Europe named Ele. She was a natural platinum blonde, living with her artistic college professor husband in rural Fairfield County. The class was on their property and they opened their home to all the students. We also got a tour of the farm.

Ele raised chickens in a small shed her husband had built but they weren’t ordinary chickens. They were quite exotic because they had feathers on their feet and laid all manner of colored eggs. In fact, that was why Ele chose them! I had never been around a chicken in my life so I was infatuated with this organic lifestyle.

zinnias-sue-zimmermannAnd the paintings! Inside the house hung numerous paintings done by Ele – a lot of which were of zinnias. A flower very dear to my heart because it reminds me so much of my favorite grandmother. I was smitten by the whole thing… the house, the chickens, the coop, the paintings and Ele’s bright hair and infectious smile. I went home thinking how much I loved her name. Maybe I would use it for my new baby if it was a girl.

It wasn’t long before I had my baby-name books out looking through the E-section and that’s when I saw it…


Spelled with a y.

It struck me just the way it looked on the page.

If only I could have a girl baby.

I would name her Ellyn with a y.

I surely would.

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