My godchild Elizabeth Bellamy Brown — Ellie — graduates this year. There are all sorts of reasons why I love Ellie and not just because she’s my godchild. Mostly, she’s generous, funny, and has no filter. She says exactly what she means, which is what most of us long to do. She also has Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD, which, if you read my recent blog “Our Battle With OCD,” makes me love her that much more.
Since I live in New Hampshire and Ellie lives in Tampa, I often miss the big occasions in Ellie’s life. This week, however, I performed in Orlando and scooted over to Tampa to see Ellie so we could celebrate her upcoming graduation. Her mother Heddy and I thought the three of us could go have dinner together. Heddy told Ellie that I was coming over especially to see her and that we were all three going out for a meal. Ellie’s response: If she’s coming over to see me, why are you butting in? Classic Ellie.
We had a lovely afternoon going to Yogurtology and the bookstore. A voracious reader and gifted writer, Ellie loves books. Two of her favorite subjects are sports — her knowledge of sports trivia is unparalleled — and dogs. Ellie loves dogs, as do I, and we talk often about my dog, Andy, and her dog, Buster (full name: Buster Brown), the funniest bichon frise who literally smiles at you when you meet him. But Ellie’s love is not limited to dogs — she connects with all animals.
A recent English assignment aptly combined her writing skills and love of animals. The students were asked to write about a favorite movie and pull several quotes that captured the film’s spirit. Ellie chose Dolphin Tale, a true story about a heroic dolphin named Winter, who loses her tail in a crab trap and learns to swim again with the aid of a prosthetic tail. I asked her the quotes she picked, and she rattled them off. Here are the ones that I remember:
- Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you’re broken.
- He’s going to be okay. You both are.
- Winter and I are family now. And family is forever.
- That dolphin’s taking us all somewhere. We just haven’t figured out where it is yet.
Ellie not only captured the spirit of the movie but also herself — full of compassion, loyalty, and adventure. She’s off to University of South Florida next August for a year of study and to determine her next steps. Who knows? We might be looking at the next Temple Grandin or possibly an NFL sports statistician. But one thing’s for sure: Ellie will keeps us laughing and honest. Happy graduation, Miss Ellie! You are a gift.
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