Monday, May 13, 2019

A Tribute to Ellen Mellen

This is a tribute to a dear friend that I wrote and read at her memorial service. It was from all of us in her group and from the heart.

We are Ellen’s small group - a First Parish discussion group that has met once a month for about 10 years. Some of us have been in the group longer than others and there are some here who were with us in the past. We all treasured Ellen’s presence and participation.

Every group meeting starts with a check-in and we go around the circle to talk about what has happened in our lives since we met last. Ellen’s check-ins often included stories about her grandchildren and how amazed she was at their accomplishments. She was very very proud of them. When it got close to Spring, Ellen itched to get to the Gloucester house and her beloved porch where she could watch nature. 

Every month we choose a subject to discuss and, no matter what the topic, we all hung on to every word Ellen said. Sometimes she didn’t say much; she preferred to mostly listen and ponder. When she shared her thoughts she commanded our attention, simply and quietly, with her wisdom and thoughtfulness. 

As a group, we walked with her after Roy’s death. She described her time after Roy as one where she was walking on an unfamiliar and uneven path. She would have been okay, she said, if he had been there to steady her. But without him she felt like every step was treacherous. We were there for her during this time but she was also there for us by modeling a journey that some of us will have to walk ourselves someday. She taught us strength, and self-compassion, but most of all, grace.

Ellen hosted us at her Gloucester home every summer. We would bring our lunches and she would make us cookies for dessert. We would sit on the porch and she would tell us stories about her time there through the years. She would educate us on the changing tides, the birds, the gardens. This was her happy place and she loved sharing every bit of the experience with us. 

We are sad that we will never sit on that porch with our beloved friend again and feel the cool breeze on our faces. We will miss her stories and her kind heart. Her intellect and her warmth.

Ellen understood and accepted the ups and downs of her life just as she did the rising and falling of the tides on the Annisquam. Her love and awe of nature and its laws were something she knew applied to her as well. And probably why she treasured her life so very much.

We know the tides wait for no one but we will miss her as we walk that unfamiliar and uneven path without her to steady us.

Godspeed, dear friend.