Remembering Eleanor (1944-2021)

Eleanor Lupescu was one of the few people I knew who had proper recipes, the kind that were written down and repeated and shared.  My mother cooked delicious meals, but most of it is in her head from decades of practice and improvisation. The same for my grandmothers—except for the cases when someone captured the ingredients and instructions for them (which a few of my aunts thankfully did).

Now, more than twenty years later, when I meet others who painstakingly print their signature dishes or scribble their measurements and notes, I understand that food is one of their love languages. Food was one of Eleanor’s love languages. 

When we had a family dinner at the Lupescu house, I often saw Eleanor’s careful shopping list beside her handwritten menu of what would be served. Don was her partner in hosting and meals, and he would greet guests, make sure everyone had a beverage and was comfortably seated, and he stood by to help Eleanor with serving and clean-up. (Mark absolutely learned from his parents how to be a good cook and host.) When Eleanor’s Parkinson’s began to rob her of her dexterity, Don became her hands in so many ways. They worked together with Eleanor overseeing. He was her partner and best friend, their love was real and multifaceted and true. 

When I was a young mom visiting their home, I watched with awe as Eleanor always seemed so calm and collected as she sifted any lumps from her gravy and put the finishing touches on her dishes. Dressed beautifully, her hair carefully curled, I can see her so clearly in the kitchen of their house in Darien, eyes bright, an easy smile for her guests, and the kind of bubbly laughter that’s infectious. Eleanor was beautiful inside and out.

For my bridal shower, Eleanor gave me a recipe book with a few of her favorite handwritten recipes, among them: Strawberry Ice Cream Jello Mold, Kolachke, Skewered Steak and Mushrooms, M&M cookies. If you knew Eleanor, you have very likely enjoyed at least one of these. Written in her pretty, leaning handwriting, those recipe cards are such a treasure,

I have slowly added cards of my own to it over the years, and those cards from Eleanor are always a touchstone among the others. It makes me happy to see them when I leaf through looking for something. They are a reminder of her love and care. They will always be a reminder. There is an intimacy to a handwritten recipe card that I really appreciate. It tells you a lot about the type of person Eleanor was. Thoughtful and generous, Eleanor treasured her family and friends. She and Don were at the heart of so many parties and gatherings and reunions, bringing the people they loved together. 

There’s much that can be said about the life Eleanor lived and the things she loved. She was well-respected and well-loved. Eleanor was strong and protective, elegant and creative, curious and kind. A supportive mother and aunt, a devoted sister, an enthusiastic grandmother, a trusted friend, Eleanor was one of the most beautiful women I have known, and every moment shared with her—all the beautiful memories with her family and her grandchildren—are such a blessing.

Eleanor loved the choir at church, often choosing the Mass time according to which one had the choir. She also loved Don’s singing. I remember one day when we were all in the kitchen, and I had only known them a short while. Eleanor turned to me and said, “Don has such a nice voice, I love listening to him sing.” Then she turned to Don and asked him to sing something, and he did! His voice was indeed beautiful, but what struck me was the way she looked at him then, with so much love in her eyes. There was always such a bright, burning love in her eyes.

Eleanor passed away on Friday, July 23, 2021. There are no words to describe the loss in our lives, the hole she leaves behind in our hearts, but it is a comfort to think of Don and Eleanor together again. I like to think Eleanor heard a choir of angels when she crossed over. I like to think of Don singing to her in his beautiful voice, Eleanor laughing that joyful, infectious laugh of hers. Vichnaya Pamyat. What is remembered, lives.

Sunday, August 01, 2021
2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Conboy-Westchester Funeral Home
10501 W. Cermak
Westchester, Illinois 60154

Funeral Mass
Monday, August 02, 2021
10:00 AM

Divine Providence Church
2550 S. Mayfair Avenue
Westchester, IL 60154