My dear friend Miss Elodie Ling has died. I was invited to make a few remarks at her funeral. Sadly I am abroad and unable to attend so my eldest son, Felix, will stand in my place and address the congregation with the following words……
I clearly remember the afternoon I met Elodie. She bristled into Ocean View, little straw hat perched on top of her head “Je m’appelle Elodie” she said in French, holding out her hand to me, which was a strange first encounter, if you consider she was English and not French. In fact I never heard her say another thing in French.
Elodie had been school teacher on Harbour Island since 1963.
But we became friends, bonded by our circumstances of being strangers living in a strange land. Elodie would join us for children’s birthday parties, driving erratically over our grass, rudely poking my dogs with her walking stick when they came to meet her. “Speak up child” she would say threateningly to the children if they did not greet her correctly.
She would join us for Christmas tea, not because she wanted company but because she wanted the Christmas cake brought by my mother from England. She would pass by on a Sunday morning, feeling devout after early morning mass. “Coooooeeeee” she would call from downstairs as we tried to sleep upstairs.
Elodie once invited herself to stay with me in my parent’s house on Windermere Island. She persuaded a bus driver to allow her to ride down Eleuthera on the school bus to the settlement of Savannah where she then walked to the church, asked to be shown to the local priest’s house, where she woke the priest up and explained that he should drive her on to Windermere.
It was an impressive entrance.
Elodie was an inspiration, a survivor and above all a woman of courage. I visited her in Nassau only a few weeks ago. Bedridden and unable to move, only her eyes blinking “I have been round the world twice, in my mind” she said as I held her thin frail hand in mine. “And I plan to go again”
I will miss Elodie.