Anybody who has ever hung around a diner knows there are charismatic regular customers who stand out in a crowd.

Elaine Vandament of Mattapoisett could always be found at her favorite stool at Pandolfi's Mattapoisett Diner, or helping wipe down a table, pitching in, because she loved helping people. Owner Brian Vose knew she needed to be helpful more than he needed the help, and she became part of the diner family.

"The diner gave our mother purpose and a reason to get out of bed. She considered everyone there just like a second family," said her daughter, Veronica Brockwell. Brockwell and her brother Scott Vandament moderate the popular "Mattapoisett Life" Facebook group, and it seems as though the entire community is mourning the loss of Elaine after she passed away unexpectedly on January 3 at the age of 84.

Her diner family will certainly miss her as well.

"She loved Brian, and she loved all the girls who work there," Brockwell said. "When she was younger, she stayed very busy running her own business. When she retired – and then lost our father – there was something missing, and the diner filled that space."

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Vandament was born in New Bedford and lived in Marion in her earlier years. She was the proprietor of Elaine's House of Designs for over 30 years, manufacturing specialty lamps and gifts sold across the world. After her husband Richard passed away, she spent the rest of her life living with Brockwell at her home, Cedar Rock Farm.

That led to her eventual meeting with Vose, who put his feelings into a Facebook post earlier today, recalling his first encounter with Elaine when he bought the Mattapoisett Diner in 2019.

"I met the amazing woman who I would later call my second mom," he wrote. "Elaine would come in everyday two to three times to be exact with her sidekick, 'Porgie.' Not only was she my favorite food critic, she was the best person you would ever meet. Everyday, I would poke my head out and say, 'Good morning Mom, are you punched in?' and she said, 'Hi son,' and the next thing I knew, I would see her walking, around sanitizing tables."

She will be revered with the addition of a new item. Originally a daily special, "Elaine's (Mom) Special" will be added to the permanent menu, Vose said, in honor of the woman who became his second mom.

"Elaine would come in and get the same one egg scrambled with bacon bites. Or, a small blueberry pancake, sometimes a veggie omelet," Vose wrote. "But it was her lunch she loved. American chop suey or a turkey wrap. Elaine would rave to everyone you got to try the homemade whiskey sauce."

The special menu item will feature the one egg bacon scramble with one small blueberry pancake and a coffee, combining two of her favorite breakfasts. On the menu, Vose wrote "Forever in our hearts! We love and miss you" under the description of the meal.

In addition, the diner is also retiring her favorite stool for the week, as it will stand empty without her physical presence even though her spirit still fills the diner and the hearts of staff and patrons alike.

"Elaine filled that void in my heart because she reminded me so much of my mom," said Vose, who lost his own mother in 2009.

In a way, it was as if fate brought Vandament and Vose together; she, looking for a sense of purpose following the loss of her husband, and he, looking for a maternal force in his life.

"I'm so grateful to Brian and everyone at the diner for giving our mom a sense of purpose, and a community, that kept her living longer and gave her a better quality of life," Brockwell said.

In addition, Veronica and her brother Scott will continue to use their Facebook group to share the types of good stories from the community that exemplify what their mother was all about, and to help those in need.

Brockwell summed up her mother in one word: genuine. She said anyone who lives their life that way will carry on Elaine's spirit.

"If you want to pay a tribute to our mother, just be good to one another," she said.

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