Remembering Lainie

This is the Eulogy my sisters best friend gave at her funeral service.

When Stu asked me to share a little about my friend, Elainie, I was honored.  Lainie and I had always joked about when we’d be old  and oh, the stories we could tell!

We first met in 2nd grade – two precocious 7 year olds – and together we navigated our growing up years.  Through Brownies and dance lessons, cheerleading and school work.   Lainie was my first “sister” friend – someone I could share everything with.  And we did share everything – we could talk about boys, parents, makeup, hair styles…

I remember once, just before our senior pictures, Elaine was going to trim my long hair.  I ended up with the first A-Line hair style – you know, where it’s shorter in back than on the sides?  But it wasn’t by design – she just kept saying, “Let me just even it up a bit….”  Fortunately the back of my head didn’t show in the pictures!

Sometimes on Friday or Saturday nights we’d come home from our dates and sneak over to each other’s house and sit up all night talking.  Once I fell asleep over there and my mom called in the morning saying I wasn’t at home, was I over there?  Lainie’s mom went to check and came back to the phone and said “Well, there’s someone in bed with Elaine and I sure hope its Sue!

And then there was the time we got arrested for being out after curfew.  We pulled the classic stunt of telling our parents we were each spending the night at the other’s house.  Our friend, Rich Elliott’s, parents were out of town for the weekend and they’d left him the car, so we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz for breakfast. 

It was about 4:00 in the morning when we got pulled over and all three of us were taken to the Santa Cruz City jail.  They put Elaine and me in one of the holding cells while they arranged transportation to the juvenile facility.  While we were waiting we carved our initials on one of the bunks in the cell.  Yeah, we thought we were really tough — till our parents showed up to get us! That didn’t go so well.

Following high school, Lainie got a job at the phone company in San Jose and rented a little cottage there.  I was taking classes at Chabot College in Hayward and met this guy in my Humanities class.  He asked me out and said he had a friend who could double with us if I had a girlfriend who was available.  So I called Lainie. 

The date didn’t really go as planned – I liked the friend better than the guy I was with – and Elaine like my date better than his friend.   I don’t remember what happened to the friend – Bob something – but that night was the beginning of a 47 year romance between Stu and Elaine that has truly been a pleasure to witness!

Once we started having our families, instead of boys, clothes and hairstyles, Lainie and I shared parenting ideas, household tips and recipes.  Even today, some of the recipes that I got from her are still favorites with my kids and grandkids – I think of Lainie every time I make Sloppy Joes and apple/raisin/celery salad!

We used to spend Thanksgivings together when Stu and Elaine lived in Las Vegas. Lainie and I would fix the traditional turkey dinner with 5 or 6 little ones under foot. And we had our own routine – one of us would start cleaning up after dinner and the other one would get the kids bathed and ready for bed.

Then we’d stay up till all hours talking and sharing our experiences of raising kids and finding our way in the world.  I’d never had a friend I could share so much with…. And she was FUNNY!  She could put a humorous spin on anything – and we’d just laugh! That’s one of the memories that will stick in my heart forever when I think of Lainie – the talking and just laughing about life!

Over the years I moved around a lot – New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, Colorado.  Lainie and I used to send cassette tapes to each other full of our thoughts and experiences.  But as we got older and our lives got busier our correspondence dwindled to birthday and Christmas cards and the occasional email.  Our kids grew up and we became grandparents.  The last Christmas card I got from her she signed “I have always loved you, Sue”.  I remember thinking “That’s odd – I know that!” But I wonder now if she had a premonition of what was coming and just wanted to say it to me one more time.

To Lainie’s boys – Damon, Brian, Kevin and Jonathan – I hope I haven’t shocked you with these stories of some of our escapades.  I just wanted you to know that when she was young, before she became your mom, she was daring and adventurous, funny and fun-loving, with a bit of a wild streak! She was so eager to see what life would hold for her.

For you Stu, you two had quite the love story! For me you were an example of what a happy marriage could be. Witnessing your love for one another over the years, through all the ups and downs – and especially how lovingly you cared for her over the last several months – is truly the epitome of your vows “to love and cherish, for better or for worse”.  As much as I will miss Lainie, I draw comfort from knowing that she got to be part of such a relationship with you and that she was loved so dearly.

Thank you Sue for sharing this with me.

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