Elaine Crossed Over the Rainbow Bridge

By: Peggy Willms


(3 min. read)

Last week, Elaine raced her wheelchair right up to the Pearly Gates and likely screeched, “You made me miss the Pink concert.” Seeing Pink was one of Elaine’s most significant bucket list items, but it never happened as she was hospitalized two days prior. Sadly, Elaine passed away last week from a debilitating and painful infection.

When Michelle told me she passed away, I saw an image of Elaine standing up, tossing her wheelchair aside, and, with her beaming eyes and gigantic smile, asking how in the hell she was going to catch the Kansas City Chiefs game.

Except for a wave or quick hello from across the street, we didn’t get to know Elaine and Michelle until 59 days after we moved into our new home. It was the day Hurricane Ian slammed our town, and all of our neighbors met in the street to assess damages. Living through nine hours of a 156 mph hurricane changes you forever. But as I wrote in my four-part blog series last year (archive: https://allthingswellness.com/atw-blogs/), positive outcomes do bubble to the top even when you experience such horrific events. And their friendship was one of them. I mean, it started off pretty damn good, being that Michelle ran an extension cord across the street to my house so I could use my Keurig to make coffee. We didn’t have a generator, so until the power returned four days later, I received a text at 8 AM stating, “The power is on. Now, drink your coffee.”

I am probably referred to as the “Woman in a hat who drinks a lot of coffee and is OCD about her lawn and flowers.” We referred to Elaine and Michelle as the Campground Hoes. And, yes, they know why.

Once the hurricane settled, they invited us over for a BBQ. We exchanged stories as you do, and after dinner, we left their home with their nicknames. Back in the day, they moved from campground to campground. During this conversation over burgers and veggies, Dana and I intermittently looked at each other and giggled. About five minutes into the conversation, we couldn’t handle it, and I blurted, “Campground hoes. That is so funny.” Greeted by their bewilderment, I soon realized we may have misheard them. “We were campground hosts, not hoes,” Elaine shouted. We all laughed. The name stuck.

Before Elaine got sick, she rode up and down the sidewalks in her speedy wheelchair. She often zoomed over to us as she and Dana loved talking sports. Over the last few months, Elaine became more ill and ultimately homebound. Yet, she remained delightful and bubbly. Michelle not only worked full-time, one hour away from home, but she also became Elaine’s full-time caregiver. As all caregivers do, Michelle grew weary, but she never complained. They had been a couple for over two decades and were the epitome of “until death do we part.”

Last fall, once we got to know them better and they learned of my profession, I confessed to wanting to make a TikTok video of them when we first moved in. But I didn’t. To this day, it is one of the funniest experiences of my life…

My office faces their house, and though I am NOT a Mrs. Kravitz, it is difficult to ignore when a neighbor takes out the trash, leaves their garage door open after driving off, or tries to pull down a tree. After the storm, many of us had damaged trees. And one day, I peered from my office window to see a bit of a commotion in their front yard. Michelle had tossed a strap over a large oak tree branch, and Elaine had grabbed hold of the straps and thrown her wheelchair into reverse. Those two most unlikely lumberjacks pulled that damn thing down. 

That image of her smiling, laughing, and winning the battle with that tree will make me giggle for the rest of my life. Trust me, that TikTok would have gone viral.

I am so grateful to have met her. And though I am very sorry for Michelle’s devastating loss, we both would say Elaine made a positive impact on this Earth, and she damn straight will have the Arch Angels in stitches.

Rest in peace, Elaine.  

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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