24 June, 2012

A Beautiful Life

In the early hours of May 30 my wonderful mother, Eleanor Laney Lingle, drew in her last breath and departed from this earthly world, taking with her pieces of her children’s, family’s, and friends’ hearts. 

My siblings (2 sisters and 1 brother) and I had brought her home from the hospital 5 days earlier.  We had engaged Odyssey Hospice care to help get her home and set up to take care of her in her familiar surroundings.  As soon as Mother got back to her house, she felt much better and visibly relaxed.  She was able to eat meals with us, even on the porch when the weather was good.  I can’t say enough good things about our hospice experience with Odyssey.  The hospice nurse was wonderful and Mother looked forward to her daily visits.  The hospice social worker was someone my brother and I had gone to school with and who had done summer internships with Mother when Mother worked at Family and Children Services.  Because of hospice, we were able to be together with our mother as a family in her home for 5 precious days.  On one of those days, we celebrated my sister’s birthday with a great dinner followed by candles on a birthday cake while wearing funny hats and blowing on those silly noiseless noisemakers.  Mother partook of the festivities and enjoyed it all, especially the sautéed sea bass and the cake.  Although she was mentally alert, she didn’t have the stamina to join us in playing cards.  She could, however, watch us and provide occasional commentary.

Just the day before she died, she told us how much better she was feeling and we began planning a rotation schedule so that at least 2 of us would be with her over the longhaul.  My sister Lizanne and I were with her during those sleepless hours of what would be her last day.  Toward the end, although we were not aware the end was coming, we were on either side of her with our arms around her, the 3 of us talking a bit.  She died so quietly, so easily, that we don’t know the exact moment it happened.  We slowly realized that she was no longer breathing.  After gently, carefully, checking for a pulse and finding none, we called hospice.  That was at 4:10 am, the corporeal end of a beautiful life that continues on in spirit.

Eleanor Laney as a young woman. 
I write this on June 24th, three and one half weeks after her death.  I miss her terribly and can’t tell you how many times I have caught myself thinking “I must remember to tell Mother about these birds” or “this will be a great photo to share with Mother” or “Mother would like to meet this person”.  I am learning to be thankful for those moments and to find pleasure in the wonderful memories of Mother.  After all, she is the one who taught me to seek out new experiences, to appreciate nature, to talk to strangers, to be kind, and so much more.  And I will carry on living, with Mother in my heart, so that she may live on as well.

Below and in the next 2 blog postings are photos of my mother presented in very approximate chronological order.

Eleanor with her sister, Margaret.

With her future husband, Arnold Lingle.
On her wedding day.
On her wedding day.
The newly wed couple.
With friends, looking glamorous.

With her first 2 daughters.

A family reunion of the Laneys on the front steps of Broadview, the family home.  There she is, pregnant with my brother, standing behind her seated father.   Her six living brothers (the seventh was killed in WWII), her sister, mother, and father are present with assorted spouses and children.  My oldest sister is seated just in front of our grandfather and I am the little head turned around to see where my mother is!  My other sister is on the front row wearing a white blouse and dark skirt.  This was taken in 1957, just before we moved to  Okinawa. 
Ready for an evening out at the Officers' Club on Okinawa.

All six of us in 1957.
On a sightseeing tour.  Mother is the second from left on the front row.

Mother with her four children in 1959 or 1960.

Another glamorous evening out.
My parents, Arnold and Eleanor Lingle.

My parents with Scooter, 
the family dog.     
Two sisters.
Three friends.  Mother is 
hosting her bridge club.
On vacation at Lake Tahoe.

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  1. Wilma, my sincere sympathy to you and your family! You have written a beautiful tribute and chronology for a beautiful life. Wishing you peace.


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