Eugenia Rea Whisenant Cadenhead was born on September 4, 1943. She left us on February 16, 2014, and our world is a bit sadder, colder and darker for her absence. Seventy years, five months, and twelve days she lived in this world. I know she lived a full life, but for us in her family, she could have outlived us all and it wouldn’t have been long enough.
She loved Jesus, her family, reading, and butterflies, in that order. Well, depending on how good the current book was. I’m joking, of course.
She was a giving person. Always thinking of others. When we were younger, we got cards for all different occasions. And I mean ALL different occasions, not just Christmas and Easter – Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, the Fourth of July. If they had ever marketed Arbor Day cards, we would’ve gotten those, too. She continued the tradition with her grandchildren. Usually with a dollar bill or a check tucked into the card. I thought it was kind of silly when I was younger (in a good way, but still kind of corny), but you know what? You absolutely knew that she was always thinking about you and that she loved you. She mailed birthday cards to almost everyone she knew. I think Hallmark’s stock value probably dropped severely when she discovered that she could download and print her own greeting cards.
Also, speaking of holidays, she didn’t just decorate for Christmas and Halloween. She didn’t go all out, but I remember lots of little holiday themed candles and things around the house for those minor holidays. She liked to do fun little things to brighten our days. I didn’t realize it then – I just thought that’s how it was with everybody. As with so much in life, we really only truly appreciate a lot of stuff in retrospect.
Do I need to mention the butterflies? Man, Mom loved them. I don’t think she had any jewelry other than her engagement and wedding rings that didn’t have butterflies on it. Almost all her clothing had butterflies on it or in the pattern. The wallpaper, kitchen towels, bathroom towels, refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs, wall hangings. For her, there was no such thing as too many butterflies. Dad used to say if all the butterflies in the house suddenly came to life, the house would just fly away. I used to kid her and tell her she had bugs on her shirt. She loved those bugs, though. My brother and I both have a tattoo of a butterfly on a music note – the butterfly represents her, and the note is for my Dad.
She was pretty much a wallflower, not saying a whole lot, not usually drawing attention to herself. Dad did most of the talking. That’s not a criticism of either of them; it’s just their personalities. It would be easy, if you didn’t know her, to mistake her for a pushover. You’d be wrong. She wasn’t quick to anger, but if you ever made her mad… well, trust me. There was no room for doubt. She had a stubborn streak a mile wide, and believe me: you didn’t win an argument with her. One time I made a sarcastic remark to her, just kidding around, while she happened to be watering the houseplants. She turned around, held the pitcher of water over my head, and gave me a look that dared me to keep going. I told her she wouldn’t do it. I knew better -I knew she wouldn’t. I was standing on fairly new carpet that I knew she’d never allow to get wet – we weren’t even allowed to have drinks in the living room. Did I say I knew better? Yeah, I was wrong. The carpet got a little damp, but my head sure was soaked.
Speaking of stubborn, there really isn’t much that’s a strong as a mother’s love. Bless her heart - I know I put that love to the test a few times in my life, but she never gave up on me, even during times I was ready to give up on myself.
Mom, with my Baby Girl, her fourth grandchild.
There’s obviously a lot more I could say, but we’ll leave it at this. She was a loving, caring mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother, cousin and friend to so many. She loved and celebrated life in ways that I’m only now, in retrospect, noticing. She was, and is, so loved, and she leaves a great big hole in our hearts.
Mom’s final resting place.
Gray Awareness Ribbon for brain cancer. Mom lasted about five weeks after diagnosis. Glioblastoma is an ugly, ugly word.
I love you, Mom.