Leslie Ellen, to distinguish her


My sister Leslie was born less than two years after I was. I have few specific recollections growing up, aside of being in class, in which she was not at least tangentially involved.

One of the truly odd things my parents did was to name my sister after my father. This was occasionally a pain for both of us. For me, since people knew there was someone named after Dad, they assumed it was me. I got cranky when some people, primarily men of our church, would refer to me as Little Les. Eventually, we needed something to distinguish between the two Leslies. Dad was generally Les anyway. My sister became Leslie Ellen.

I seem to recall introducing her to my classmates on the first day of school. Because I started school in February and she in September, we almost never had the same teachers in elementary school. She had one named Miss Coddington in the fifth grade. Miss Codfish, as some of the kids referred to her, really seemed to have it in for my sister. I don’t know if it was racially motivated or if the woman was just a bitter human being. Quite possibly, it was both.

She’s a saint

And while the name “Leslie Ellen” could be a bit weighty, it was convenient when she converted to Catholicism during Holy Week of 2018. While Leslie isn’t a saint name, Ellen/Helena is. Helena “was about sixty-four years of age when she received the light of the Gospel.”

Sadly, one of her oldest friends was quite bothered by Leslie’s conversation. Her reasoning, in the letter I read after Leslie’s bicycle accident, frankly baffled both of us. It was a general evangelical anti-Catholic screed that wasn’t tied to any position of the church, failings by priests, or the like.

Leslie is having another birthday, which is a good thing. After that 2018 bike wreck, every birthday is a bit of a miracle.

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