By Mark Kouri VanDruff
Written about Eleanor on her 80th birthday, 9 years before her death.
If I could only use one word to describe my mother, it would be "hospitality". Her capacity to love is vast, but it inevitably manifested in some form of hospitality.
The only time I can remember not having "guests" over on the weekend was when someone had the flu. In order for "guests" to qualify as "company" to mom, the total number of guests had to outnumber our family. And she didn't just invite the "popular" people. Sure, we had the guest pastors, missionaries, musicians, friends and relatives, but there was always the poor, the homeless, the outcasts, the brokenhearted, and the lonely somewhere in the mix. To mom, hospitality is ministry.
Growing up, she always cooked for 20. That made it easy--no, imperative, to make sure there were enough people around to insure that great food didn't go to waste. And it almost never did. My friends used to beg to come to our house, just to get some of mom's food. She would cook late into the night, and as we got older, our friends would just happen to "stop by" on their way home from (whatever), just to say hi and have a snack. They would do this even if none of "the boys" were home. We truly had an "open house," with the giant 4-foot doors remaining wide open till sometimes 1:00 in the morning. I also remember mom never sat down to eat. She was busy serving, making sure everyone felt like they were the most important person there. Everyone, without exception, knew that my mom loved them. Really, everyone! She never worried about money (during the hardest of times), always trusted God to come through (when things were tough), and stayed focused on loving others. It was not something anyone could miss.
This in no way encapsulates the beauty of who my mom is. A strikingly exotic and beautiful woman, her inner beauty always overpowered her physical beauty, even in her youth. She's lost little in the aging process, because of who she is - because she loves first, and without expectation of anything in return. Her legacy will be passed on to my children, and I trust, many future generations.
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