Elfi is from Stuttgart, Germany. Her life as a child growing up in a larger metropolis in Germany was one that was filled with great opportunity. Her education was a good one. Stuttgart offered her the best of the arts, a zoo, various festivals, botanical gardens, museums, and of course, Porsche.
For all that she had in Germany, Elfriede wanted more. Germany was...boring. She wanted to see the world. She wanted to explore and experience. So, she did.
In her early twenties, Elfi walked, back-packed, and hitchhiked her way through Europe. The people she met, and the places she saw were unbelievable. She was experiencing life to its fullest.
After a while, she began to experience a nagging feeling. The sense that she needed to do something with herself. Her time traveling the world was over. Now it was time to focus on her career.
Elfi had always been very good in science, so when the time came for her to pursue an education, it was no surprise that she went into nursing.
After she graduated, she looked to focus on pediatric nursing. She applied to schools and hospitals across the globe. She was accepted into an internship at Rome Memorial Hospital, in Rome, NY.
One day, the hospital was having problems with their phone system. By late morning, the phone company had a woman there to work on the phone lines. At one point, the woman (Maryanne) was in an office where Elfriede was working. Maryanne asked for Elfi's assistance. In the short time they worked together fixing the phone line, there was a chemistry that neither woman could deny. Maryanne gave Elfi her number. Elfriede was quite smitten, though she wanted to play it cool. So, she waited for a couple of days before calling Maryanne.
When they went out on their first date, Elfi just knew that Maryanne was the one for her.
After her internship, Elfi was able to land a position at RMH, and soon thereafter, she moved in with Maryanne.
Life was good for the two women. They both had jobs they loved. Elfi loved the old farm house she shared with Maryanne. Life was good, stable, and peaceful.
One horrific night changed all of that.
On her way home from work, A drunk driver ran into Maryanne head-on. When Elfi got the call, it was unknown whether or not Maryanne would live. The medical staff was very guarded about her prognosis.
Like any dutiful spouse, Elfi sat next to Maryanne day in and day out while she lay in a coma, completely unresponsive. It was all she could do.
After about a month, Maryanne awoke. It was miraculous, but it was also obvious that she had a long way to go.
She went through extensive therapy and rehabilitation in order to live and function as a normal person. Elfriede was by her side as much as she could be. There were days when Maryanne made phenomenal progress. There were days when she couldn't recognize Elfi.
For all that Maryanne was enduring, this situation was incredibly taxing on Elfi. Not only did she have to work, she had to take care of the house and chores by herself, she spent as much time as she could to be with Maryanne, and no one seemed to care about her feelings, or how deeply this affected her. Elfriede stifled her emotions as best she could, but for when Maryanne didn't even recognize her, the pain cut right through her.
Finally, Maryanne was able to come home. Things had changed, though. Her memory loss was severe enough that she could no longer work. She recognized Elfi, but her memory of her time in the hospital and in rehab was fuzzy at best. She didn't fully understand - or remember - everything that had transpired.
When she first arrived, it was a wonderful time for the couple. They were both relieved to have her back home. Elfi did all that she could to keep Maryanne comfortable and happy.
As time wore on, things began to change. Maryanne, who had always been so jovial, was suddenly dark, angry, and bitter. A great distance came between them. Conversations always seemed to turn into arguments. What was once a happy home was now a house filled with tension and turmoil.
For as difficult as things wore, Elfi could not let go. She loved Maryanne, and she wanted things to be as they once were. She often told her that Maryanne had her undying love; now it was time to prove it.
The divide simply grew and grew, until Elfriede couldn't take it any more. She loved Maryanne, but she couldn't continue to live like this. She finally had to bring her to one of her doctors for a kind of intervention. Elfriede wanted to save the marriage, Maryanne, and even herself. With the help of one of the best doctors in upstate New York, Elfi was able to remind Maryanne of what truly happened.
Maryanne became incredibly frightened at the "intervention." She had no idea what her life or future would be. Elfi wanted her to know that she would always be there. She loved Maryanne, and she loved their life together. Elfi was willing to do whatever was necessary to save them.
Elfriede is an incredibly strong woman. Her resilience, her dedication, her selflessness are all amazing. She is the kind of woman we should all aspire to be. Through thick and thin, Elfi is completely committed to Maryanne. She was - and is - a true hero.
Favorite quote from Elfriede: “Honey, I love you.” I know this has been very difficult for you. I try to help you, but I am not doing well at it. You need help and I need to know how I can help you more. That is why we are here today. I want things to be the way they were. Or as close to that as we can get.”