Cover photo for Eloda R. Huntsha's Obituary
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1927 Eloda 2015

Eloda R. Huntsha

December 18, 1927 — March 9, 2015

On March 9, 2015, the inevitable progression of Alzheimer's resulted in the passing of Eloda "Lo" Rose West Huntsha into the next dimension of living. Lo made her final transition at the Our House Senior Living Memory Care Unit in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. She was 87 years old.

Our mother was born on December 18, 1927. At least that's what her birth certificate says. Unofficially, the family story is that a judge in her adopted family falsified the birth records to conceal that she was adopted, so we can only guess that this date is correct. She spent her early years in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, eventually moving to Elmhurst, Illinois, and then Medinah, Illinois, for the majority of her married life. For the last two years of her life, Lo and her husband Bill resided in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.

Mom's older brother, William, was also adopted. Mom loved her brother and his wife, Connie, both of whom preceded her in death. Also preceding her by only a few months was her beloved and devoted husband, William "Bill" Erwin Huntsha, who passed from this life on November 24, 2014. In their later years, Lo and Bill remained affectionate and loving to each other, and when separated due to illness and hospitalization, they longed to be together again.

Lo and Bill's eldest son, Tom, thought Eloda was a lovely name for a lovely person -- the name of the one who gave her three children life, sustenance, and love. At an early age, Tom was shocked to learn his mother was not fond of her first name, and disliked her middle name Rose even more! Because of the "uniqueness" of her name, "Lo" (as she later chose to be called) only wanted good, common, "normal" names for her three children: Thomas Michael, James Paul, and Mary Elizabeth. Tom is grateful for that, because his paternal grandfather petitioned hard for his first grandson to be named for his favorite brother, Erwin. Thankfully, Eloda Rose wouldn't hear of it.

For most of her life, Lo loved plants and flowers, which were her pride and joy. She knew the name of every plant in her yard, including the Latin name, the common name, and every other name, too. Daffodil and Jonquil? Because of her encyclopedic knowledge, Lo's children know these two flowers are one and the same. Euonymus Alatus 'Compactus,' the cultivar? Burning Bush. Didn't everyone's mother talk like that? Tom, Jim, and Mary used to joke that their mother had a closet Master's Degree in Natural Science because she had taken so many courses over the decades at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Lo remembered the names of all the flora and fauna until Alzheimer's took away the names of the things she cherished.

Our mother also loved birds and kept her binoculars and a copy of Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of North America at the ready. She spent countless hours gazing out of her bay window into the back yard, which was a beautiful tribute to her talented designs, wonderful gardening skills, and countless hours of effort. She also loved to feed the birds. Her favorite bird was probably the owl, which wasn't that common a sight in her Medinah, Illinois, neighborhood -- and the cardinal, which was. Because cardinals mate for life, whenever mom saw either the male or the female cardinal, she always counted the sighting as "two."

Those early years growing up! Our mother was a stay-at-home mom in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was a more common status and role than today. Oh, how she hated being called a "housewife," and would retort that she wasn't married to a house! As a homemaker, she was a force to be reckoned with.

Our mother had a clear-headedness when it came to childrearing that was both simple and remarkable. When it came to matters of discipline and her children, she saw no gray areas, only black and white. No situational ethics. No bargaining. No explaining the reason why. That being said, one of the greatest gifts she and our father gave us was this -- there is a difference between the doer and the deed. You may despise the deed, but you always love the doer.
When they were young, Tom and Jim (and half of the neighborhood kids) played a lot of baseball in the back yard, often chasing an errant (or even a well-hit) ball into their mother's tulips. The boys can honestly say they were never disciplined for trampling her flower beds. Knowing how much she valued her flowers and plantings, Tom asked her later in life why she never yelled at them for this. She replied that she was happy when her children were playing at home because she knew where they were and she didn't have to worry about them. If she saw a neighbor child misbehaving, she would invite them to go home, but also invite them to come back when they were ready to "play nice."
Our mother was a gifted and loving mother to her sons Tom and Jim, and her daughter, Mary Melton. She also shared her love, stories, and wisdom with her children's spouses, Aimee (Tom), Nancy (Jim), and Forrest (Mary). She was a loving and devoted grandmother to her grandchildren: Sarah Huntsha Taylor and her husband Timm; Daniel Huntsha and his wife Angelina; Christy Melton, Stacy Huntsha; and Lisa Huntsha. She loved (and enjoyed the antics of) her great-grandchildren Shannen, Abi, Grace, Colin, Eden, Ally, Justin, and Adam Taylor. She was a master at Chinese Checkers and loved fussing over her family on holidays and at other gatherings.

In the months before her passing, Tom, Mary, and Jim (and their spouses) talked quite a bit, usually beginning with Mary calling with the latest news about their mother. When Mary and Tom told their mom about their dad's passing in late November 2014, they decided to give her a happier version of the story. (They made this decision after learning that Alzheimer's patients experience the shock and sting of sad news every time they hear it. They don't get to experience the process of grieving; instead, the "news" is always new.) So they told their mother, "Dad is fishing in heaven with his best friend, Bob Haney." Her response? That she was "disappointed." That she had hoped to say goodbye. And then she moved on.

Our family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to the entire staff of the Memory Care Unit of Our House Senior Living, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Their kindness in the face of a heartbreaking situation for us was exemplary. They are indeed angels. At the end of her life, mom's hospice care nurses also were a blessing.

Much the same as she was for our father in his final months, our sister Mary was also mom's "Go-To Guy," and deserves abundant thanks. Mary worked countless hours on the thankless tasks of keeping mom's (and dad's) finances and many other matters in order. She worked tirelessly to resolve issues and make mom's life run as smoothly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. Thank you and bless you, Mary Elizabeth. We now know more than ever that mom's prayers for a sweet baby girl were answered when she did a novena on nine consecutive Fridays. You are such a good daughter.

Requiescas in Pace, Mama. You have certainly earned your peace.

Mom and Dad are now together again, as it should be.
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