Some thoughts about Eleanor Mondale

I have to admit that most of the time, I don’t miss “home” very much.  I rarely think about the past because right now I am very busy creating new memories.  But sometimes, like when I heard that Eleanor Mondale died, http://www.startribune.com/130015258.html, I did wish I was back in Minnesota for a day or two.  Just to be able to commune with colleagues and friends and to talk about shared experiences.

I do believe the last professional work Eleanor did was narrate the documentary I made about her dad, former Vice President Walter Mondale.  Working on the movie with her was such a joy because we both knew (but never said) that she was giving her dad a very special gift, one that would allow her to live on in a unique way. When she showed up at my office with a bag full of old family home videos, I knew that she trusted me with this mission. When she recorded her voice over for the movie, she did it with great passion even though she wasn’t feeling well.  Her husband, musician Chan Poling, composed a beautiful score for film. I remember that as I was wrapping up production, I would send him finished chunks of the movie each night and in the morning he would have another beautiful score and I would call him, crying, saying how perfect and passionate the music was and we both knew (but never said)  that this was a gift he was giving Eleanor and the Mondale family. So much unspoken emotion.

So the night of this news that Eleanor had lost her battle with brain cancer, Mark and I went out to to a  cafe an Blagoevgrad and toasted Eleanor’s feisty life and her love for her dad.  I cried a few times, the unspoken emotion welling up inside of me.  I remembered how Mr. Mondale lit up during interviews when talking about Eleanor.  It was those moments when he was most himself – just another dad who loved his daughter.

Today, I received an email from someone in the family thanking me for making the movie. “I  watched it today and was able to see Eleanor and I really appreciate that you gave us all a way to see her whenever we need” and then added that the documentary would be “cherished forever.”   I can’t tell you what a difference it made to feel connected to “home” by getting that message. How grateful I am that I had the opportunity to give the Mondale family this gift.  How lucky I am that I do what I do.

My heart goes out to the Mondale family and all those who loved Eleanor Mondale Poling.   RIP Eleanor.

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