Elinor is just a gem of a person. She steps a bit slower than before, but is still sharp, curious, fun, loving and a joy. She even still lives at home, with a caregiver.
Her birthday was actually on Thursday, which was Thanksgiving. As she put it, "I love that the entire country celebrated my birthday." As so they should. The party was a charming, affectionate affair largely put together by her daughter Janice. (My favorite comment was when Janice noted that whenever her mother was at some place that required giving her birthday, she always phrased it as "11/26/15." Never mind that the "15" in question was a century ago.
By all rights, Elinor almost shouldn't have made it. I don't mean to 100, I mean to five. During the the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, between 20-50 million people died worldwide. Her son told about how Elinor had gotten sick with the virus when she was four years old, but she made it through. It took more than a pandemic to stop her.
Probably the most fun speech came when Elinor's granddaughter Kara spoke with a microphone in one hand and juggling her brand new baby -- and a written-out speech in the other. Being a doctor, she's adept at such things, like calming bewildered babies, though she raced through her speech so hilariously fast, to make it through before any crying started that someone had to finally shout out in hopes of understanding more than every third word, "Slow down, Kara!!!" At a somewhat more normal pace (somewhat...), she almost did make it through, though eventually had to hand off Elinor's great-grandchild to her husband.
For all the fun of the day, it's odd to say that the hit of the afternoon may have been the birthday cake. Really. That's because the frosting had embedded in it an edible photograph of Elinor when she was five years old. For those of you without your pocket calculator, that was 1920.
Okay, sorry, but I have to include one other cake picture. This isn't really at all what it seems to be. There are only about 10 candles actually on the cake, not 100, but because of the way the flash worked out, this comes across sort of how most people probably think a birthday cake for someone who is 100-years-old looks like, with the fire department on alert.
A few Elisberg relatives were there, my Aunt Joan and Dick, and my cousin Susie, among the 100 or so guests, but I was most-pleased that Marion Simon could make it. Another first-cousin of my dad, Marion is 97. I suspect it was a treat for her to be at a gathering where compared to the guest of honor she's just considered a kid. Marion is sort of a doyenne of the Chicago arts scene, and even wrote an autobiography about it all, The Show Must Go On.
Here she is with some guy who likes writing about such things.
It will not likely surprise you that the elves back home were very jealous, since they had to stick around taking care of the homestead and missed out on the gala. It sort of served them right for being so generally-snarky, though I'm sure they would have loved it. Even if they didn't know Elinor. After all, to meet her is to love her.
One final note, somewhat unrelated to the occasion, but of popular culture interest. The somewhat-related part is that where Elinor lives in Winnetka, a north suburb of Chicago, she's surrounded by a tight-knit group of people who just love her, and watch over her, and who raised their kids with her, quite a few of who were at the party and made lovely speeches, including of the kids. They tend to be known as The Ladies of Lincoln, which makes perfect generic sense, but it's really a unique, very adoring group.
The unrelated popular culture part is that this below is a photo of one of "The Ladies" who made a speech. You'll excuse me, but I'll keep her name private, for a reason that will be clear.
In a bit of ethereal whimsy, last night after the party, it turned out that the AMC channel showed -- yes, Home Alone. I like to think it was intentional and an homage to Elinor.
She deserved it. And hey, the entire country celebrated her birthday on Thanksgiving, so why not?!