On October 7th, I started with parago. On October 13th, Lenora Farnell Amos arrived (I believe) in Heaven or wherever we might being going before we get to Heaven.
Lenora was my great-aunt (by marriage) Ruby Pearl Leath Vernon’s niece. Lenora’s mom Doris Farnell was Aunt Ruby’s sister. So Lenora was blood to Aunt Ruby, where as my mom Starr was Aunt Ruby’s niece by way of Ruby’s husband Oscar Vernon being my grandfather Arthur Vernon’s brother. Lenora grew up in Longview and lived her last years in what we call Spring Hill, Texas. Per the World Wide Web, Spring Hill doesn’t really exist anymore (it is now part of North Longview) but it will always exist in the hearts of many a kid who spent time with Ruby, Doris, Momma Nora, Aunt Ethel, and Aunt Stella.
It would be easy for me to go off on tangents about all of those wonderful women I just mentioned and their husbands but this post is supposed to be about Lenora and her first 90 days and the first 90 days of her family who lost her so unexpectedly.
Lenora, was a force like those women she followed in the steps of. As a kid who loved to look at my Aunt Ruby’s photo albums when we would visit, I was mesmerized by Lenora. She was younger than my mom (Starr was born in 1940 and Lenora came to be in 1948) and she and her husband Jim, were so cool to me as a youth. Why? They were beautiful on the outside and they were in local newspaper clippings that Aunt Ruby had saved in her photo albums so they were my closest touch to fame. They were big fish in a small pond whereas I grew up in a family that is one of thousands small fish in a the great big Dallas Fort Worth pond. And Lenora had been a cheerleader which was huge to me because of course that was a super secret desire that someone like me would NEVER speak out loud however often I tried to perfect my Herkie at home.
A – Lenora as cheerleader, B – Lenora at an earlier age (I believe), C – Buck’s family
Momma Nora passed away in the early 80s and I think Aunt Stella died not too long after that from complications with her Alzheimer’s. Nora, Stella and Ethel were sisters. Nora was Ruby and Doris’ mother, plus she and her husband Cole also Buck (James) and Kenneth who I think may still be living. Aunt Ruby passed away later in the 80s and after Aunt Ethel went to Heaven in the 90s, my family kind of lost touch especially with Starr having her years of battling cancer. Mom passed away in 1999 and that seemed to pad lock those years away.
In 2009, 10 years later, Steve and I were contracted for a wedding in Kilgore which is down the road a bit from Longview so I started using the internet to see who I could find knowing that Lenora was who we knew was left. I found a listing for Lenora’s son Alan and ultimately found him on Facebook and sent a message asking if his mom was Lenora.
When we went to photograph our bride’s bridal portraits in the area, we reconnected and found Lenora’s daughter Angi living with her kiddos Julianna and Jace now living in the house that Uncle Oscar had built for Aunt Ruby on Chigger Ridge Lane, the “street” they had built. After Aunt Ruby’s passing, Doris (Lenora’s mom) was given this home and then when Doris passed away in January 2007, it became Angi’s home. Aunt Ethel’s home was still there as a rental property being managed by Lenora and family and where the little white house had been on the corner, was a new home recently built by Lenora and Jim so they could be closer to Angi, Julianna, and Jace.
I swear the little white house that had been on the site before Lenora’s new home was a smaller replica of the house Uncle Oscar and Aunt Ruby had lived in in another part of Texas that I remember visiting where Aunt Ruby would rake the long shag carpet in the front room. What sweet memories those are – I had to be 3 or 4. And they had this amazing swing made out of pipe and chain that Aunt Ruby would push you in and run under you so that she pushed you well over her height which was high for a kid. And Aunt Ruby telling her scary story of the man who came back in the middle of the night looking for his big toe, saying “Where’s my big toe” louder and louder. My Uncle Oscar memories from this time include going with him to the “store” which was an old wooden store with mainly convenience items but it was by no means a modern convenience store like 7 11. He would buy me candy – specifically I remember cigars that were made out of bubble gum or some candy. But for me to have a pink candy cigar was so cool to me.
Anyway, that first visit to reconnect when we went for the bridal session opened up a whole new chapter for Evah and I with Lenora and her family. And this time around, we got to see how beautiful Lenora and Jim were and are inside. Now Lenora was known as LeeMom and Jim is Big Daddy. Lenora would give us the scoop on our visits and Big Daddy would tell us about quality programming that we didn’t yet know about with Swamp People and Duck Dynasty.
In 2011, Evah stepped out of her comfort zone, for her at the time, and drove with the Amos family to Orlando for a week in Disney World. During this time, she got to know this family and its individual parts much better which further strengthened her ties.
Then in May of that year, Alan married Christi and they were so kind to invite us as family. It still gives me chills. It was so nice to be guests at this wedding which was held on a Friday night. Steve and I drove down earlier in the day and met the extended family at Jason’s Deli – many of the kids and cousins who I had played with when staying at Aunt Ruby’s during those long ago summers, who were now mom’s and dad’s of big kids. Evah came along after school let out. This afternoon was significant because that was when we started really discussing going to Hawaii with Evah who was reluctant for the travel and now after that 2011 family trip, she is the one trying to get the rest of us to get to Hawaii.
The wedding was spectacular in so many ways. We had decided that Steve wouldn’t want to stay until Sunday but Evah and I wanted to stay and go to church on Sunday to Elmira Chapel which is where Aunt Ruby (and later Lenora) worshiped every Sunday. Behind this church is a children’s play are that was dedicated to Aunt Ruby, a woman who never had children but was loved my many.
On Saturday, as Evah and I figured the family would be engaged in their own thing and we didn’t want to intrude, we headed to Marshall, Texas to see what was to be found. Our mom loved to go to Marshall Pottery so that was one of our stops before finding a nice lunch in an antique mall in downtown Marshall. At some point, Lenora called to ask where we were. I remember her saying, “Why in the world would you go to Marshall?” She told us they were having a cookout that night and essentially we had better be there.
Boy, that little call showed a major display of love which still stirs tears in me. Here is the mother of the groom with blood family in from all different parts of the world it seemed and she still made time to locate us and include us. With a mom in Heaven and a dad who has pretty much forgotten us, just that reaching out meant so much and was pretty much the essence of Lenora (and those ladies who graced her ancestors).
This is the side yard to Angi’s home (which was her grandmother’s before her and our mutual great-Aunt Ruby’s before that)
The smaller storage house holds memories to Daddy Long-legged Spiders and trying to help Aunt Ruby carry a heavy table from there to her back door when I was pretty much a weakling.
This yellow Hummer was Lenora’s favorite way to scream through the East Texas Hills at high speeds.
Here you can see the house I mentioned. The fun part of this is the young blonde boy with the teal and black and older girl off to the left are the children of the man (Paul) in the blue top. Paul’s mom is in the black sitting behind Paul’s son. The young man in the red shorts is Paul’s nephew. Now scroll back up to the photo of Lenora as a cheerleader and Paul is the little one in the photo #C of Buck’s family. Julianna and Jace are in the pink and yellow tops and they were Lenora’s only grand kids at that time. Alan and Christi have since had Cason.
I get off topic so easy… but I hope this all helps you get to know these special people better. Back to the original topic of Lenora and her first 90 days in Heaven.
God took Lenora with very little notice to her or her family. She was in the hospital not too long before, with some warning symptoms but when she said “Goodnight” that night, I don’t believe anyone expected it to be her last time. Losing anyone, with or without warning is devastating and when the best people leave or are taken (because God can give and He can take away), it can be earth shattering as I imagine it has been for her family.
When my mom died, she had been sick so terribly long that the end was a relief because her pain was done. We had time to prepare our hearts and say our “See ya later”s because I do believe I will see her again. But what a big hole she left and I know the same can be said for Lenora and possibly multiplied because of the closeness she shared with her grandchildren and her daily interaction she had with her daughter in helping with the children.
I can only imagine the last 90 plus days for the Amos family was pretty much their Hell on earth. Her loss came before Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and each of these were big events and happenings for Lenora. I pray that they have found laughter when they have come together in their healing and that they have leaned on one another during these times. With the loss of Starr, it was the laughter that I never expected. When we would get together, there was so much of it that it had to be a blessing from up above.
But then what about Lenora’s last 90 days? Was it like college or a trip around the world – exciting, new, shiny, so engaging? Possibly you missed home a little and from time to time might even experience home sickness but otherwise, your off to learn something amazing you never had a clue about before, hanging out with new, really interesting people, checking out the sunrise in some foreign land and eating something simply delicious. I hope that is what it is like. And like when a young adult leaves the nest, it is us that has to adjust until we get to see our loved ones again.
As writing this entry today, I heard the MercyMe song “I Can Only Imagine” which the Holy Spirit uses regularly to let know He is here living inside of me with the inner tingling I get. Enjoy.
Thank you Father for letting me to get to know Lenora and her specialness. What a celebration there must have been when she arrived and I look forward to having an iced tea together in the future.