Saturday, June 15 2024

I met Elina one autumn afternoon in 1980, when I was 30 years old. I was
excited preparing for my trip to the USA but before leaving I decided to
attend -for the first time- to a talk for women that was to be given in a
city near my own. I was eager to learn more about Opus Dei. She was sitting
at the head of the table and I was lucky enough to sit to her left. I was
impressed with this very charming and joyous woman who said such wise and
important things. She was an incredible woman. One of those that, when you
meet her, you thank God for having put her in your path. I could never know
her age; she was so lively, so spontaneous, so full of strength, joy,
eloquence, patience… that her age, even with the passing of the years,
looked always the same.

Her dresses were always elegant, simple but stylish: white shirts worthy of
the best couturier, pearl necklace and earrings, short hair and painted
lips. She was a lady, with a permanent enticing smile, listening to anyone
and making you feel that you were always her best guest.

Elina was strength: she was a dynamo, she was boundless energy, she was
life, she was expectant of everything you told her, she laughed out loud.
Always with a smile, whenever tou talked to her she made you feel like you
were the best woman there was, and she constantly repeated: “Have you
realized, how much God loves you…?” Another phrase of hers was: “Be
always well-dressed and be confident, with your head held high, make your
way with the pride of knowing nothing more and nothing less than
you are a Daughter of God… !!!!”

Many years later I learned that she was a great Chilean businesswoman, but
I never knew it from her, who kept all her wealth in the utmost discretion.
And being Chilean, she had those idioms of her country, which made her even
funnier. When you spoke to her, she listened to you seriously, with great
attention, but when she answered, her face transformed into joy. Whoever
knew her, never forgets her, nor will ever forget her.

She marked me with fire. She spurred me, pushed me to achieve greater
goals, with an amazing supernatural motivation. I owe to Elina my solid and
deep spiritual formation that has allowed me to overcome life’s setbacks
with optimism. For more than 15 years she was my relentless teacher and my
high level consultant.

In those years the way to communicate among us was the letter. And you had
to decipher her handwriting… large but sometimes illegible. I used to
tell her that she wrote “with hurried handwriting”, which made her laugh a
lot. Then the e-mails replaced letters, and everything was easier. I keep
some of them: reading them is like listening to her talk.

In May of this year, I learnt from herself that she was ill. She had an
incurable tumor. I traveled to Buenos Aires in the middle of the pandemic
to see her. She received me at her home. She was splendid. She was the same
Elina I had always known: funny, witty, vital, never standing still, the
years had not left their mark. She listened to me attentively, I told her
about my projects, she gave me advice… and she repeated again what she used
always to tell me:

“Diana, go ahead! Go ahead…!!!! Let’s fly like eagles…!!!!!”

And before we said goodbye he took out of his hand a ring and told me:

“I want you to have it…”

That gesture of giving me the ring (I confess I never wore rings) has a
deep meaning for me. It was as if she was giving me a thousandth part of
her baton. She, a great among the great; I, a simple Christian. I could not
follow in her footsteps, but perhaps, with God’s help, I could be a shadow
of her shoes… I put it in my finger and I will never take it off.

She kept that joy until her last days. He told me, for example, that he
would show up at the meetings at her home with a different hat every day (

NT: instead o wearing a hairpiece as a result of hair loss caused by
the tumor

), drawing strength from where there was no more, but always without
complaining, minimizing hes illness, spreading smiles.

Her last whatsapp, as if nothing serious were happening in her life, was on
November 2, 2021. And 12 days later, on Sunday 14, she went to Heaven.

Elina Gianoli Gainza: “Your life has not been sterile, you have been
useful, you have left a legacy. You have lit the roads of the earth, with
the light of Christ that you carried in your heart…”.

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