Elva Scott was my first Twisp pal, my Canyon Street neighbor when I moved to the valley in 1999. She and her husband, Ed Dunkin (she took back her maiden name after Ed’s death), became my fast friends. When I’d call on the phone, Ed called out to Elva, “It’s Sally down-the-street.” And so I became part of the Twisp community.
Elva Scott didn’t wake up from her afternoon nap at Harmony House in Brewster on Sept. 14. She would have been 79 on Sept. 18. I want to believe she is off on another remarkable journey.
I wish I had recorded Elva’s story. She shared her tales about her mother, her father and grandparents. Her happiest stories were about her four daughters. I was the East Coast schoolteacher, who had lived a fairly conventional life. Elva seemed the central character in an Oprah novel; her childhood seemed romantic, the stuff of popular memoirs.
I told Elva all my secrets, my story. Those childhood days were gone for both of us, and for Elva, her continuing intellectual and spiritual goal was a search for the answers to life’s big questions. I wasn’t there yet, but I was drawn to Elva’s calm and her ability to live in the moment. (When we all get together to remember Elva, other friends will share stories about Elva’s spiritual life.) I was, as I said, Elva’s pal, and we shared a fondness for more mundane things.
We didn’t miss one of Jane Orme’s students’ melodramas at the elementary school. Sometimes I threatened Elva that I would move to another seat if she couldn’t put a lid on her laughter. We shared books. Elva read both literary and popular fiction, but her bookshelves were filled with self-help, spiritual and metaphysical titles. Elva loved to go to the school Christmas concerts in the gym at the high school, always telling me how, during her mother’s last years, she had taken her to those concerts. We went to TOPS meetings and misbehaved, socializing until Marian Court rang her bell to calm us down. We went to plays at The Merc Playhouse and attended Thanksgiving dinner at the Methow Valley United Methodist Church. Elva was great company. Until 2015, Elva came here to my house for Christmas brunch with my kids. She was the friend I asked to drive me to Wenatchee the night before my early morning neck surgery. She was a dear friend to me.
Five years ago, Elva and I went to Spokane to see the live performance of “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor. That was the first time that I saw my good friend confused and anxious. She suffered several periods of illness, including a recurrence of shingles, before she was ultimately diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Those of us who love Elva watched her lose her abilities to care for herself. At Jamie’s Place, she and I were still able to communicate, and she shared stories — some that I had heard before, some new. We even went to Omak to see a movie together a couple of months ago.
A friend said that I have been losing Elva for years. That’s true, but death makes the loss final. Elva was a dear friend to me.
My heart goes out to Ronda Moore and Rob Ruffridge of Twisp and to Elva’s other three daughters, her granddaughter and her brother and sister-in-law.
Read the book and join your friends at the Twisp library for a discussion of The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills. Copies are available at the library. The book is the 2015 selection for Columbia River Reads, sponsored by North Central Regional Library. The program is on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. Bring along your copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman to share your ideas about those books as well.