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 .

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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.

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18 Comments

  1. Rebecca

    August 30, 2009

    I feel blessed to know Ellen and call her my friend. I will always remember her as the first person to welcome us to the Arlington Ward, and she had to wade through our deeply flooded apt. parking lot to offer that welcome. I love that Ellen is friends will all…married, single, old, young, and everyone in between. Her love for NE has made living here a fun adventure for so many of us! I love you, Ellen!!!

  2. rolana

    August 30, 2009

    There can be only one EP. I, too, will not forget her dropping by and welcoming us to New England. Inviting us over, sharing goodies, antiquing, taking incredible photos, the list goes on. I will always look up to this talented woman and feel lucky to call her friend! Thanks Ellen! *hugs*

  3. Laura

    August 30, 2009

    I feel like I’ve known EP for years. People would talk about her and how AMAZING she was–never did I know she was single, just knew that she was FUN, GENEROUS, a PHOTOGRAPHER and a friend to all!!!
    I finally met EP last year and LOVE every minute I’m with her. SHE is surrounded by FAMILY, she is a sister to all! And is a great example of how to enjoy life to the fullest! I could go on and on…
    EP you’re the best!!!!

  4. nita

    August 30, 2009

    Thanks for your great post and example of how to live as a sister as well as one who is single.

  5. traci

    August 30, 2009

    I have never met you in person – but I remember an article, I believe here, about the experiences with your brother and his family. I have always remembered that – I hope I always will.

    I was single the first 49 years of my life – never identified myself that way – time has it’s own mind and fulfillment.

    Thank you for sharing your life – it is appreciated, even by those thru the net like me!

  6. Kevin Barney

    August 30, 2009

    What a terrific attitude! Blessings upon you, Ellen.

  7. Jenny

    August 30, 2009

    Love your perspective on your life… you exude happiness!
    xoxo

  8. Melissa M.

    August 30, 2009

    Ellen, it was so fun to see you here on the Segullah blog and to hear about some of your adventures! Don’t know if you remember me, but I lived at Roman Gardens when you and Robes did—I was Melissa Knudsen back then, roommates with Karen Wilford (who is a lurker on this blog) and Tammy Hall, etc. You were so fun and outgoing and a great example back then, and it looks like you haven’t changed. I was so sorry to hear about Robes’ death—he, too, was so fun to be around and a wonderful person, and I know you two shared a close bond. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all zoobies together.

    Anyway, it was great to read your post. Wishing you all the best in Boston!

  9. Michelle L.

    August 30, 2009

    I love this post. I love your way of seeing singular opportunities.

    I’ve never met you, but your legend reaches across the country. I have heard that you are the social center of the church in New England. Thanks for being part of Segullah today.

  10. Annie

    August 30, 2009

    The world needs more EP spirit, that’s for sure! I think of you often, Ellen, and hope to become as good a friend/sister/lifelover as you are. Thanks for the great post today (and for the continued example).

  11. Leslie

    August 30, 2009

    Amen to the above. I think that spirit applies to all- whatever your situtation, find the benefits of it. There are things each of us can do given our current situations we are suited for! I for one have had my mailbox filled on more than one occasion with cards, homemade napkins and other things from EP and that spirit of personalness and thoughtfulness will always stay be an example to me. Nothing like a great woman, be she single, married, or anything else!

  12. friend

    August 30, 2009

    Yes. Ellen is wonderful. She certainly has won the heart of our family and dozens of others. Our life wouldn’t be the same with out her. She is our family. We love you ep.

  13. m&m

    August 30, 2009

    Fabulous post. Thank you.

  14. Debbie Buttars

    August 31, 2009

    Ellen. Soon that name will be in the dictionary under examples of service, friendship, fun, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, positivity and more. I am happy to say my family and I were greeted at our home in Van Nuys in 1984 by Ellen, a home-baked pie, and a handsome guy. The handsome guy turned out to be her younger brother! LOL From that day forward I have counted my friendship with Ellen as one of the greatest blessings in my life. Love you, Ellen!

  15. Kay

    August 31, 2009

    Wonderful. Who we are, the kind of person we are, is so much more important than what we are.

  16. Becky Orton

    August 31, 2009

    LOVE this lady! I feel lucky to call her friend (and sister). Her talents are inumerable. She’s an amazing woman who will have a special place in heaven – right alongside her brother.

  17. jane maynard

    August 31, 2009

    ellen, this is why I love ya. you are amazing, positive, caring, kind…no matter the situation. thanks for being YOU! and I’m happy you shared this with so many people, such a good message.

  18. Kristine d.

    September 4, 2009

    Wow, Ellen! What a great post! Your attitude on life is always so positive and uplifting. You are a woman with many talents and let’s not forget how funny you are!! I am amazed at how much you do.

    So glad we met up for dinner the other night.

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