The youngest of six children, it was Eleanor’s goal in life to make everyone else happy. She learned that making people happy actually made her happy too. She was amiable and willing to do anything her parents asked of her, so she tried on and subsequently shed a line of sports and activities like hand-me-downs that didn’t fit quite right: soccer, t-ball, piano.
She received her first film camera as a gift on her eighth birthday, and after that she scoured flea markets and garage sales for more, amassing a whole collection of quirky cameras in varying states of disarray and potential. She’d round up her dog, or pack her hamster in a carrying case, and take photos of them around the neighborhood. She did this for years, and photography became the activity that stuck, maybe because her dad loved it and she wanted to be just like him, or maybe because it was something she could do alone. She and her dad dreamed of someday creating a dark room together in their basement.
She visits her beloved 94 year old grandma Shirley at her nursing home and they knit together, scarves and hats to donate to the Hunger Task Force. She often wears a bright orange hat that her grandma made. It looks like a pointy cone because after all these years, her grandma doesn’t always finish hats off correctly.
She packs up her old dog Patty and they hike in Lapham Peak or Grant Park, winding down trails together and exploring. She wants to show him all the interesting sights and smells while he has time left.
She’s been dating her boyfriend for five years and they often talk about having a family someday.
She has seven children: two are adopted, a few have flaming red hair, and they all are noisy and opinionated. She is the kind of mom who is the steady glue her children don’t realize they are fastened to as she whirls them to soccer and art class and dance recitals. They live in a Victorian house with good bones, a yard for their dogs to run and plenty of projects to keep them busy every weekend.
She is happy because they are all so happy.