By Bob Poczik
Let me introduce you to the smartest and classiest 101-year-old woman it would be your good fortune to know. Her name is Eleanor Eaton, and she has now taken up residence in an apartment at Montabaur Heights in Clarence.
A mutual friend who visited her there recently noted that her apartment is the farthest one from the elevator on her floor. When asked about it, Eleanor pointed out that it gives her the most exercise. Did I not say she is smart?
Eleanor invited that same friend and several others to a lunch in the lovely communal dining room in the residence. After a very delicious meal, Eleanor asked the waitress to “Please tell the chef that everything was excellent and met all expectations.” I told you she was classy, didn’t I?
Her life and the life of her ancestors intersected with historical events and figures. In that sense, she is sort of like a female Forrest Gump. A distant great-grandfather served as a major surgeon on George Washington’s staff during the Revolutionary War. A great-uncle was the first mayor of Abilene, Kansas, when it was little more than a cow town, and his deputy was Wild Bill Hickok. Her mother went to school with Dwight Eisenhower, and her father was the first Rhodes Scholar from Kansas.
As a young girl, Eleanor observed the ticker-tape parade that welcomed Charles Lindbergh home after his solo transatlantic flight. We’ll never know for sure, but she believes to this day that she caught Lindbergh’s eye and that he waved to her. One evening, when her family lived on Long Island, they met a woolly-haired Albert Einstein and his wife walking along the road, when Einstein was working on the development of the atom bomb.
Eleanor’s mother had a huge vegetable garden at their home on Long Island. This started Eleanor’s commitment to eating healthful foods, including fresh vegetables and whole grains, and Eleanor always had a big vegetable garden wherever she lived.
Her son Bruce remembers breakfasts of homemade yogurt when it was not yet sold in stores, along with wheat germ and fresh fruit. He remembers being the first kid at his school to eat sandwiches made from whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter, when the only peanut butter without artificial ingredients was bought from a man who sold it from the trunk of his car, as if it were contraband. She and her children would go to a freshwater spring and bring the water home in plastic jugs. You might say she was ahead of her time.
It is certainly reasonable to think that Eleanor’s long, good health and energy has something to do with her healthful eating, her commitment to an active life and daily exercise, a lifetime of being engaged in the world and maintaining long, rich friendships. You might say that she pretty much did everything right.
Eleanor was involved in civic and community groups all her life, often in leadership positions. At one point, she was the president of two different antique groups. Whenever she served on a board or as an officer, she expected that involvement to make a contribution, to make a difference. And she not only asked it of herself, but of others also.
Her past life, her personal history, is long and rich, but she is very much alive and engaged in the present. Recently Eleanor was given the honor of releasing a monarch butterfly. A friend who was there said that she had such a look of wonder and joy on her face when the butterfly took flight. Eleanor herself is a butterfly in flight, and I look upon her with wonder and joy.
Bob Poczik, who lives in Clarence, is proud to know Eleanor Eaton.