By Jean Valjean Vandruff
This website was set up in the year 2000 and the following articles were given to Eleanor at her 80th birthday party. Thus the present tense context throughout.
From the moment I set my eyes on her, it has been an ongoing romance. She was more than I had ever dreamed of: unique beauty with the highest moral standards, humility, poise, talent, great personality, self-confidence, home-centered with great love for children, good Christian family. Name every good attribute, and she had them all together. She was God's answer to my fervent and rather specific prayers. I've always believed our marriage was created in heaven.
Most unusual, we had everything in common - same interests, morals, ideals, and goals. Both of us were Christian believers who didn't drink, loved music, nature, photography, with very little interest in sports. We both wanted to create an old-fashioned family in which I would make the living and she would be the homemaker, a great cook, a good seamstress, an expert in hospitality, loving and caring as a wife and mother.
Her relatives told me she was a good singer, but I never heard her sing until we returned from our honeymoon, when she sat down at the piano I gave her for a wedding present. Fantastic!! Incomparable!! She sang on radio, TV, political gatherings, etc. and eventually settled down to being featured church soloist for 25 years.
Since I'm the one who has been with Eleanor longer than anyone else this side of heaven, I should have the most to say about her. There are many words to describe Eleanor, but let's settle on four: Breath-taking, charming, beautiful, exquisite, gorgeous, lovely, fascinating--that's one word!
The second word I think of with Eleanor is faith. Her Christian faith has always been up-front, solid, unwavering, a living faith. The wonderful life that she has built on this foundation has encouraged others and been an example to many. I praise the Lord that all of our four sons and "adopted-in-marriage" daughters are sound in the faith and filled with the same love that Eleanor has.
After faith is love. I don't know if the word "Eleanor" has a meaning, but in her case, it means love. She loves everyone, immediately forgives wrongdoings, has never carried a grudge, and reaches out to anyone within speaking range. People gravitate to her like a magnet, and she never loses friends. She prays for and stays in touch with hundreds of friends all the way back to her childhood.
And then comes trustworthiness. I know her 100%, and she is the ultimate model for "the real thing." Always faithful, dependable, and true. How wonderful it is to have a mate who has never flirted, teased, or played games--never given one reason for jealousy or bitterness. Eleanor is always affectionate and caring with everyone, but never creating any question about her Christian moral standards.
Eleanor came from a big family of "givers." She gives constantly, never expecting anything in return. She sings a song called "Others," both with her voice and life. This is one of the essential joys of her life, and she has passed it on to her four sons, who have learned it well. Their generosity is astonishing and so pleasing to see. Giving was the fifth word, but I am on a roll--let's add one more.
I'll end with stability. She has to be the most emotionally stable person that I have ever known. Never once in 48 years have I ever seen her get upset! She has never complained, never demanded anything, and has been happy and contented whether she had a little or a lot. Her only extravagance, if you could call it that, has been food. Good food, very good food, beautiful food, nutritious food, has always been her top priority; and a multitude of people have feasted on the fruits of her long labor.
Now eighty years old, and after a short 48 years of marriage, Eleanor is still my precious sweetheart, the light of my life. As I look back, I appreciate my "honey" more with each passing year.
Jean Valjean Vandruff
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