Today’s post comes from Ellen Patton, born and raised in Van Nuys, California and moved to Boston 21 years ago sight-unseen. She has loved living in New England since that first day when she said, “this apartment is OLD”. Her hobbies are late-night baking, antiquing, reading books and magazines, sewing, quilting, exploring in New England, spending time with friends, writing letters, watching movies, and photography. She owns a loft condo with 18 foot ceilings in a converted high school. During the day she works as an assistant to the President at MIT, and has word processing, photocard, and photography businesses on the side. Ellen has 3 brothers, 11 nieces and nephews, and a bus fleet of friends. She currently serves as the RSP in the Arlington Ward. She is a daily blogger at Big Red EP .
Ten years ago this month I went to China for two weeks with my good friend when she adopted her second daughter. (She said she invited me to go because I was good in groups and she knew I wouldn’t tell her what to do with the baby.) There were seven families from Boston traveling in our group. I spent time on the Great Wall, visited two orphanages, took a boat ride along the Li River, witnessed the families meeting their daughters for the first time and enjoyed traveling for two weeks in an amazing country (we traveled to Beijing, Nanning, Guilin, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.) I captured the two-week trip on 55 rolls of film–it was a memorable experience! I don’t think my friend would have invited me if I had had my own family (and I probably wouldn’t have left a family behind to travel to a third world country).
When my older brother, a sportswriter living in Florida, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age thirty-seven, I saw him a dozen times during the eighteen months before his death. His becoming a hospice patient coincided with a timely layoff from my job, and I flew from Boston to Florida and spent two months; caring for him and helping his wife and three children with the day-to-day duties of their household. I would not trade that time in my life for anything. For all the sad memories that I have of his struggling as his mind and body stopped working correctly, I have many sweet memories—of his recognizing me after his first brain surgery, feeding him jell-o in the middle of the night, asking him sports trivial pursuit questions, and talking about what life after death would be like.
Twice I have served as the president of the Young Women for a total of five years (in my wards in California and Massachusetts). I enjoyed attending the sporting events, concerts, and plays that the girls were in and tried to visit each girl on her birthday with a card and balloon in hand. I have many fun memories of a summer filled with only outdoor activities; a fall where every activity was service related; temple trips to Washington, DC, and Toronto; and many personal stories and experiences shared by the leaders and girls each Sunday reminding us of the seven Young Women values. I will never forget how touched I was when the Laurel class presented me with a quilt they made with each of their handprints on it; I was speechless and tearful. That quilt is a reminder of the many young women I have worked with and the many blessings I enjoyed while serving in that calling.
My life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would but I have always worked hard not to identify myself or my options in terms of being single. I simply believe that I am blessed – blessed with a great family, blessed with wonderful friends, blessed with a loving ward, and with many opportunities to connect with everyone I meet, every day, wherever and however I happen to be.