Eldora Lequire
Eldora Lequire
Eldora Lequire
Eldora Lequire

Obituary of Eldora Lequire

A Eulogy of Eldora Lequire My mother came from French stock – an ambitious small-town business and a farmer’s daughter, oldest of 12, both from Moxee City, Washington, who settled in White Center, a poor suburb of Seattle, in 1922. Born two years later my mother was a child of the Depression years. Raised in a small cottage home, she and her two sisters lived modestly but well and were taught early on to behave properly to protect the family name. My grandfather, Edmund Dupree, owned and ran the White Center Department Store and became a big fish in a very tiny pond. Mom always wanted her parents to be proud of her. So she excelled in school becoming the graduation speaker at Holy Family Elementary School and the Salutatorian at Holy Rosary High School. She helped her father at the store, trusted even as a little girl to carry the day’s proceeds on a bus to a bank downtown. After high school she got her first job at that Seattle First National Bank. When she left that job, the bank manager replaced her with two other people. Mom was vivacious, shy, and had a good mind for business. She met the love of her life, my father, a handsome young southern boy from Kentucky, an Air Force cadet, at a USO dance at Eagles’ Auditorium, and they married a year later far away from home in New York, one of my dad’s duty stations during the war. She married with her parents’ hearty approval for they both liked my dad a lot. My mom often said that dad, whose mother dies of tuberculosis when he was seven years old, fell in love with her mother before he fell in love with her. While dad flew P-47’s, mom remained alone and frightened in New York, where she lived alone in a cottage on Long Island. Although she was not a blue blood, like so many other officers’ wives, she worked hard to “fit in.” I was born on Christmas Day, 1944, and later when dad was discharged, they returned home to Seattle, where my sister Andrea was born in 1948. At first they lived in “the projects” on top of Roxbury Street, then in two other homes in the same area for 49 years, in order to be near dad’s work at Star Machinery Company on 3rd and Lander Street and mom’s parents. Mom lived in White Center until dad died in 1992, then moved into a condo- minium in Des Moines to be nearer her two children. She and dad were married 49 years and were planning their Golden Wedding anniversary when he died suddenly of a heart attack. After that she found it terribly lonely to live without him, but she showed a surprising resilience, as she had done before in a crisis. After a year in the house alone she packed up the place mostly by herself, and we moved her into a condo in Des Moines. There she lived comfortably for nine years, attending a grief support group, taking classes in music and history at HCC, going out with friends, volunteering at St. Philomena Church. Mom was a “Dupree girl,” so she had to project a certain image of herself to others, which over the years consumed a great deal of energy. Her family, social, and religious upbringing engrained in her the belief that the highest virtues a woman can aspire to are to be a loyal wife and a good mother. Over time mom became a fastidious homemaker, and I think this “not a hair out of place” mentality had enormous ramifications. Mom grew up to be a perfectionist in her personal habits, her home-making, and her child-raising, and she appeared to do it all smoothly and well. She lived her whole life for her immediate and extended family. As a kid, I remember our gathering at my grandparents’ home on Marine View Drive for almost EVERY birthday and holiday throughout our childhood. At 8 adults and 15 cousins that’s a lot of family gatherings. We ate sumptuously, and afterwards the kids entertained the adults with “the show” downstairs in the basement. Lots of laughter, singing, funny skits – this is what I remember dearly. And this does not even take into account the annual treks we took to the Hawk’s Nest cabins across Chinook Pass to join the Moxee-Yakima clan for the bigger family reunion revelry. 100 relatives drinking, laughing, leaping off the “Big Rock” into the frigid American River, roasting hotdogs in the wide open fire pit, hiking up to Boulder cave, eating rhubarb pie till midnight, playing pinochle and cribbage and Uno. Our sheltered lives were presented to us neatly and safely. Our early youthful days were happy because mom was so devoted to us. She and dad gave us a stable home and an idyllic childhood. When her parents grew old, mom was the available daughter, who responded whenever they beckoned. She managed packing up their two-story house, selling it, moving them to Mt. St. Vincent, deftly handling Pepere’s various mutual funds and investments, consolidating his bank accounts, simultaneously nursing her husband through two bypass surgeries, burying her beloved middle sister who died of pancreatic cancer, stepping in as surrogate mom to her six nephews, and trying to be grandmother to my two babies. For two years she drove to the Mount three or four times a week to care for her failing parents. All of this, of course, seems heroic now, but at the time I remember selfishly resenting the demands everyone was putting on her, which left little room for herself. Along the way, down through the years mom’s sole identity became exclusively that of a caregiver, and she reveled in that role until finally there was no one left to take care of but herself. Mom rarely ever talked about herself. She always had a delightful sense of humor with those she was closest to, and when someone teased her, she picked up on it quickly, like her mother, and could laugh till the tears rolled down her cheeks. She developed many admirable traits in her life. Her yearning to do everything perfectly could be seen in her beautiful penmanship. Her financial ledgers, which she kept for her and dad and her folks, were the most neatly, most orderly written records I have ever seen. No wonder her father could so easily permit her to handle his business affairs. Her home was, to my mind, a modest museum piece. Humble but tidy, everything in its place. Her diaries, which she kept for many years, reveal that she washed and ironed and dusted the same days each week along with frequent bursts of home improvements – remodeling, furniture shopping, painting, etc. She never believed that strenuous (meaning: any) physical activity was healthy, so she never walked or exercised or puttered outside. Dad took the dog for walks at night by himself. Even though they were a low-middle income couple, dad and mom found the money to pay tuition for my sister and me to Catholic parochial and high schools. Mom made her own clothes and my sister’s, beautiful pieces from Hancock’s and House of Fabrics, patterned, cut out, fit, measured, sewed on her Elna, singing along happily. She taught herself and became an expert at this because off-the-rack clothes never fit her short body well. She knitted and crocheted, too, beige and white doilies. She sang popular‘40’s songs while she did the supper dishes. We grew up in a house used to music. The eight free lessons that came with a new Wurlitzer were barely enough for her to learn to play the organ, but she did her best and sang pieces like Perfidia and Blue Moon. For a while when we were small, mom joined a Burien group called Mother Singers for comraderie and for opportunities to sing before audiences. At Christmas time she wrote a hundred cards to everybody and made chocolate chip, peanut butter, and snowball cookies. Boxes of decorations descended from the attic to make the interior of our home a child’s delight. As a result of her upbringing, mom was always busy. There was always something to be done. She rarely sat down to read a newspaper, let alone a book. Reader’s Digest, Life magazine, and Guidepost comprised the whole of her literary aspirations. She did not go to movies, and she watched television only at night when variety shows, like Andy Williams or Perry Como or Lawrence Welk, aired. And she had a few favorite sitcoms – Barney Miller, Dick Van Dyke, MASH. Her one guilty pleasure used to be watching As The World Turns (then years later, The Young and the Restless) everyday while she ate lunch. When Seattle got a pro baseball team, she and dad followed the Mariners avidly and went to three or four ball games a year. She loved Edgar Martinez and wondered why Randy Johnson wouldn’t get a haircut. Later she became a devotee of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy each night after supper, and Andy Rooney at the end of 60 Minutes every Sunday. She watched the local news at noon on channel 7 and the local evening news on channel 5, but all the bad news frightened and depressed her. Mom had a good heart. She was gentle and timid and empathetic. She recoiled at being critical of anyone. Her curse was that she always second-guessed her behavior, reanalyzing it, and caring too much about what other people thought. My father was just the opposite, free of the burden of other people’s opinions, but unfortunately this liberating trait never rubbed off on my mom. Despite her fixation on friendship, mom never had many close friends because she was too reserved. (Only two that I know of – her middle sister Lea and a lifelong childhood friend Bernice (my godmother), who lived in California.) Expressions of deep feelings never came easily, and she did not share much about herself. Her relationships were impersonal, although she was absolutely charming and faithful to those she loved. A peculiar sort of isolation hung over her, which most people misunderstood. Trusting people did not come naturally to her. One trait I came to admire more than ever in mom was that neither she nor dad tried to dictate how Andrea and I should think or how we should live our lives. They were not big advice-givers. That’s really a fine gift to children, I think. Seeing her struggle so to get through each day – to put on her clothes in the morning, to eat institutional food day after day, to take a shower without freezing or falling down, to find a channel on the TV, to finish a sentence, to remember yesterday – was painful for my sister and me, but we are thankful that she could live her last days in a safe place like Wesley where she was cared for by people, who treated her with kindness. We are grateful for that because mom deserved to live the end of her life with dignity and grace.
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