I love Ellen

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on October 1, 2009
Stacy (left) and Ellen at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles
Stacy (left) and Ellen at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles

I don’t know if it’s even possible to remember something that happened when you were only 15 months old. So call me a liar, but I think I remember the day my newborn sister Ellen came home from the hospital. I remember being in a back bedroom of the house taking a nap when my grandmother opened the door and poked her head into the room to tell me I had a baby sister. I remember being so excited I jumped up from my sleep and began trampolining up and down on the old, springy, twin bed. I even remember what the wallpaper looked like in that room.

Could a 15-month-old kid really remember such a thing…or even be capable of jumping up and down like that not long after learning how to walk? Why wasn’t my grandmother at the hospital with her daughter (even though it was the fifth child at that point)? Could this be some kind of manufactured memory that has morphed in my mind with another similar memory — like the time Ellen came home from the hospital when she broke her leg on the swingset as a little girl? Or the time I pushed her down the basement steps by accident and she came home from getting patched up after that?

Maybe so. I will embrace all reasonable doubts about this story. But in the end, I’ll stick with my original version. I’ll just say I remember when Ellen was born.

Me and Ellen

Me and Ellen (as kids)

Anyway, you wouldn’t think a guy with a big sister as wonderful as  Kathleen and big brothers as great as Tim and Brian could ever hope to have a little sister as cool as Ellen. But that’s how lucky I am. Ellen is the coolest. She’s always been smart and beautiful and tough as hell. That time I (accidentally) pushed her down the steps, she came up smiling with two black eyes. When we were kids, she was a better athlete than most of the neighborhood boys and she could beat many of them up. Ellen and I were best pals when we were little — whether it was riding our tricycles around on the back patio or sneaking down to the basement to listen to our older siblings’ rock-music singles at 45 revolutions per minute. As we grew older, I also enjoyed the benefits of having a little sister with loads of babelicious friends in high school and college who were always game for hanging out with me, Brian and our buddies. Ellen has a great sense of style. Any piece of clothing she’s ever bought for me is something I hang onto for years — because it’s always something someone of my limited fashion tastes would never have conceived of buying, yet somehow fits my personality anyway. (Most recently, for example, she bought my Bad Ass bandanas. She has not yet thought of anything to buy for Crazy Ass.)

Speaking of babes, that one in the picture at the top is Ellen’s partner Stacy — who is (almost) even cooler than Ellen if such a thing were possible. They live in L.A. and are both huge baseball fans. When Stacy was a teenager, she once struck a perfect 7-iron from around home plate in Dodger Stadium to a small target somewhere out in center field to win a golf-shooting contest that was held at a Dodger game. The crowd went wild. Today Stacy helps manage lots of things — including a beautiful garden — at the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Los Angeles. When I got sick, she went to the center and did some chants for me to help me get well. I think they worked, especially when combined with the prayers of the Baptist Bible-study ladies in Mount Vernon, Ky., my Mom’s Catholic “Holy Roller” group in Independence, Mo., and my friend Judy Doyle’s singing of the Jewish prayer for healing (Mi Shebeirach) at her synagogue here in Orlando at the beginning of Yom Kippur.

Speaking of when I got sick, my sister Ellen jumped right on a plane and flew across the country to be at my bedside on July 25 — the day after I was admitted to the hospital. She sat with me for hours in my room and in ICU after my brain surgery to help me remember what the nurses all were telling me. Last night she jumped on another plane; a red-eye flight from Los Angeles that is scheduled to land in Orlando around 6 a.m. today — right about the time this blog post goes up.

That means she will be sitting right outside the radiation room later in the morning when I get my final treatment. Unfortunately, my head will be bolted to the table at the time. Otherwise, I’d jump up and down like a 15-month-old boy who just found out he had a baby sister.

(Photo of Stacy and Ellen by Sean Holton, aka me. I’m not sure who took the older photo, since it’s cropped from a wider shot that included every living member of my immediate family in the early 1960s. Some weirdo may have been stalking us.)


10 Responses

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  1. patd said, on October 1, 2009 at 6:43 am

    with your head bolted to the table, if she’s anything like my siblings, her first words of loving greeting will be “he’s alive! he’s alive! the monster is alive, dr frankenstein!”

    and thank god, allah, the glue that keeps us together, and all the above, you are. another great story, lard.

  2. RebelliousRenee said, on October 1, 2009 at 7:58 am

    YES!… it’s here…. the last day….

    gee…. your family sounds like a dream… can I join….

    Rick and I are getting on a plane early tomorrow morning to go to Ellen’s state…
    we’re going to San Diego… I bet by the time we get back you’ll be feeling like a million bucks…. well… at least like a million pennies….

    Take Care!

  3. Sue Holton said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:24 am

    When I commented on your blog about Kathleen I wanted to stick to the topic at hand but what I wanted to add to that was …. the second most nurturing person I know would be Ellen. It would be a toss up as to who could tend better to your every need when sick. I have great first hand experience with Kathllen since we llived mere blocks from one another in Chicago but I have come to see the way Ellen is with my kids and she is a close second.

    Ellen is great at pampering you and making you feel special. Sean I am so happy to know Ellen is now with you to take care of you as you rest and get your strength back. I am sure there will be plenty of laughter too.

    One other thing I must add is that she’s got the coolest collection of shoes I have ever known. Each time I see Ellen I am not sure if I am more excited to see her or her shoes.
    It is so easy to Love Ellen.

  4. Sue Holton said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Congratulations Sean!!!! As I write this you should be done your last radiation treatment and have rung that finishing bell .
    Thank you for keeping us all up to date with this blog on this adventure. Many of my relatives and friends read you daily and only have hope and admiration for you.

    Enjoy your sleep and relaxation!!

  5. Nancy Pate said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Congrats on last treatment and having a cool sister to celebrate with.

    I’m with you on the fatigue thing; it’s rapidly boring. I call them my “high maintainence” days because it’s all you can do to maintain. But soon you’ll bounce back like a kid!

    I’m off to Edisto Oct. 19 for three months. Let’s get up enough energy to grab the Commander and do Vinh’s between now and then.

    Keep well!

  6. Paul Lester said, on October 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Sean, you have an amazing family. Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories. Congratulations on your last day of treatment!

  7. claudine hellmuth said, on October 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    big congrats on your last day!!!! So glad Ellen is there with you to celebrate!

  8. Tim Holton said, on October 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm


    You have finally reached the Atlantic buddy.Congrats. Now you rest in knowing you fought like hell to get where you are (just like you did 12 years ago). I know its hard to top having Ellen there at your side (just like she has been for almost five decades).
    But knowing you have crossed the finish line has to be the most satisfying feeling in the world. You are one tough SOB (as well as being a crazy ass). AND YOU WILL WHUP UP ON THE BIG CASINO.

    I love ya man,

  9. Lois Grebowski said, on October 1, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I love the pic of your chubby cheeks… too cute.

  10. Patty Noland said, on October 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I’m so glad Ellen can be there with you! Yes, she is the coolest. I’ve known her since we were about 5. She used to pick me first for her kick-ball team at Korte when it was her turn to be captain. (Usually, I was the last one picked 🙂 Wayne and I missed Ellen at the O’Hara High School class of 1979 reunion last weekend, but she was there in spirit. Ellen and I call each other “baby sis,” a nickname I cherish.

    Delighted to hear it’s your last day of treatment. YEA!! Sean, I love you and your whole family. Mary Cate is going to Rockhurst Homecoming this weekend with a nice young fella and Peter is going, too, with a lovely date named Kayla. I’ll reminisce about our homecoming date, Sean, back in 1978.

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