Evelyn Musetta Coleman

October 22, 2009


Evelyn Musetta Coleman was born July 3, 1911 to Allen and Martha Cutright. She grew up on a farm in Cumberland County, Illinois with two older sisters, Ellen and Birdie, and younger brother Bemont. Evelyn often talked about her happy childhood and the parents she so loved and admired. The family attended a small country Church of Christ a short distance down the road from their farmhouse. Without a regular preacher, her father frequently taught the lesson as the congregation gathered around a potbellied stove. When they had a visiting preacher he was always invited to the Cutright home for Sunday dinner.

Evelyn graduated from Casey High School in 1929 and earned a teaching certificate from Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston. Before her marriage she taught first through eighth grades in a one-room rural school. In 1932 she met William W. Coleman; they married three weeks later on September 6th. During the Great Depression and war years they lived in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Son William E. was born in 1933 followed ten years later by daughter, Nancy. Judy completed the Coleman family five-and-a-half years later. Evelyn loved all the homemaking skills, especially sewing and dressing the girls in organdy and taffeta, ruffles and bows.

When young Bill was ready for college in 1951 the family moved to Champaign/Urbana where he attended the University of Illinois. Evelyn worked in the Binding and Mending Department of the university library. Students from around the world were employed in the library; Evelyn greatly enjoyed opening her home and heart to these young men and women. Bill and Evelyn were active members of the Lincoln Avenue Church of Christ in Urbana where Bill served as an elder and Evelyn as a Sunday school and vacation bible school teacher.

After health issues forced both Bill and Evelyn into early retirement they wintered for two seasons in Juno Beach, Florida. They moved permanently to Palm Springs, Florida in 1972 and placed membership with the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ. From their first Sunday visit they knew they had found their spiritual home. They especially enjoyed the Pioneers group and witnessing the growth of the church’s youth.

From early childhood retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease, gradually stole Evelyn’s vision. With incredible coping skills and indomitable spirit she successfully and happily functioned in a sighted world – never with self pity. Many people have told of knowing her for months, or even years, before realizing that she was blind. Evelyn could identify hundreds of friends and family by their voices. Her memory held dozens of telephone numbers and recipes. Bill frequently commented, “The only thing wrong with Evelyn is that she doesn’t know she’s blind.” Even after decades of total darkness, within the last year she said, “Sometimes I forget I’m blind.”

After Bill’s death in 1991 Evelyn’s deepest desire was to remain in her condo and with her church family at PBLCC even though all of her family members lived in other states. That wish was fulfilled with the support, assistance and love of many in the ensuing years. As her body and mind weakened Evelyn never wavered in her faith and devotion. At times when she needed comfort or freedom from pain she would sit in her wheelchair and sing, “God will take care of me.”


Coleman Family Thanks

Mere words cannot express the gratitude and heartfelt thanks the Coleman family feels towards all of Evelyn’s friends and Christian family who were a part of her years in Florida. When Bill died we couldn’t imagine how we could fulfill her wish to stay in her home and live independently. Many people extended helping hands and loving hearts over the years to make that desire possible. To all those who assisted with her needs, visited, sent cards, shared hugs and offered prayers we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May all of you be blessed and loved as much as Evelyn was.

Evelyn Musetta Coleman

October 21, 2009


Family-Placed Obituary – Palm Beach Post, Oct. 21, 2009

EVELYN MUSETTA COLEMAN – Evelyn Musetta Coleman passed away October 19, 2009 at the age of 98. She was born to Allen and Martha Cutright July 3, 1911 in Cumberland County, IL. Evelyn graduated from Casey High School in 1929 and earned a teaching certificate from Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston, IL. Before her marriage she taught first through eighth grades in a one-room, rural school. Evelyn married William W. Coleman, September 6, 1932. They lived in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri before moving to Champaign/Urbana, IL in 1951. Evelyn worked at the University of Illinois Library. Bill and Evelyn moved to Florida in 1970 where they were active members of the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ.

Evelyn was preceded in death by her husband of more than 58 years; her parents; sisters, Ellen Decker and Birdie Bensley; brother, Bemont Cutright and loving daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Coleman. Left with cherished memories are son, Dr. William E. Coleman and wife, Judy of Boulder, CO; daughter, Nancy and husband, Robert Yackel of Centennial, CO; daughter, Judy Coleman and husband, Michael McPheron of Louisville, CO. Evelyn leaves six grandchildren, William A. (Irene) Coleman, Jerry Coleman, Janis (Michael) Tennery, Steven (Tamara) Yackel, Michael Yackel, Eric Yackel and five great-grandchildren. She is also survived by sister-in-law, Eleanor Cutright; numerous nieces and nephews and many devoted friends.

Funeral services will be held Friday, October 23, 2009 at 4 PM at the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ. A viewing and family visitation will precede the service at 3 PM. Graveside services and burial will be held at Harmony Cemetery, Greenup, IL. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial donations to the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ Missionary Program, 4067 Leo Lane, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 or the National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, 11350 McCormick Rd., #800, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1002.

The family extends heartfelt gratitude and thanks to Dr. Vijay Harpalani and the many skilled caregivers who have been an important part of EvelynÌs final years.

Arrangements entrusted to Aycock Funeral Home, Jupiter.

After a long journey of 98+ years my mother, Evelyn Coleman, passed away around 5:15pm this afternoon. For 13 days my sister Judy and I have stood bedside – patted, kissed, comforted and prayed – as her doctor and an amazing staff at Jupiter (Florida) Medical Center offered tender and professional palliative care. As difficult as the days were to witness the end came without pain or drama. Our prayers were answered with a peaceful passing. May she rest in peace.

One word describes the day, unbelievable. Mother is unresponsive but resting peacefully when we arrive at 7:40am. Charla will be our nurse again today. She wants to speak with the doctor when he comes in about inserting a butterfly needle in Mother’s arm to use for administering medications so that she doesn’t have to stick Evelyn each time something is needed.

Dr. Harpalani comes in just after noon. He agrees to the butterfly needle, notes the signs of kidney shutdown and the way she’s holding her mouth in an “O”. He tells us, “It won’t be long now.”

We pray that this death odyssey soon comes to an end without any further pain or discomfort. Or, before we can no longer hold up to the stress.

At 4:30pm we simultaneously observe a dramatic change in breathing – short, shallow, irregular breaths. Each weak intake appears like it could be the last. The jaw drops open, seconds of silence suspend our reactions and emotions. Her left shoulder twitches, arms frail, mouth opens and closes. Have you any idea how many thoughts can go through your mind in three or four seconds?

For 20 minutes we stand on either side of the bed, holding her hands, telling her it’s okay to let go and that we love her. We softly sing, “When we all get to heaven.” However, Mother’s going nowhere at this moment.

Jerry Hopkins (an elder from Mother’s church) makes a well-timed arrival. I reach for his hand and ask him to lead us in prayer. His  beautifully worded supplication brings tears to our eyes.

Within the hour the CNA comes in to get Mother’s vitals. Oxygen lever – 91, blood pressure – 113/67. Ours isn’t nearly that good! A couple of hours later we can hear her breathing from 20 feet down the hall. Amazing!

Who would ever have suspected we’d be sitting by Mother’s bedside 10 days later, waiting for that final breath? I mean no disrespect but in my mind she has become, “The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die.” Dozens of times a day there are moments when the breathing slows and for seconds that seem to stretch into minutes my heart rate races as hers looks to stop. Then it appears she pulls back into this world one more time.

I’m conflicted about whether I want to be part of that final breath. Hasn’t all the years, weeks, days, hours been enough? To be the “good” daughter I’ve always strived to be must I be there? Will she once again push away as I reach for her hand, as she’s done the last several days? Or, will she grasp my finger until her cold lifeless hand loses it’s grip?

As we leave this evening I think I’m progressing through the stages of grief even before she’s gone. Tonight there’s a certain level of anger. Another day of my life is gone forever, Mother’s life is no better or more hopeful. There’s no way to recapture this day in my life. How long will this go on?

We arrived at the hospital at 7:40am, shortly after shift change. Relieved to find out that Terri will be Mother’s nurse again today, she is absolutely wonderful.

The doctor has doubled the Roxicodone dosage for every four hours around the clock. We also restarted the Seroquel. Mother is quite anxious when we arrive and seems to be in pain; but then, it’s nearly time for the next dose of Roxicodone.

Terri is soon in with meds and has Michelle help her move Mother to her other side. This is quite an exercise – we’ve learned to step out of the room. The staff is so kind and careful but we don’t need to witness Mother’s anxiety and reactions.

Doctor Harpalani comes in about 8:30, checks on Evelyn’s comfort level, goes over med dosages. He says if needed we can double the Fentanyl patch strength and the Seroquel can be give three times a day instead of two. We can decrease the time between doses of Roxicodone but we won’t do that yet.

I get about four bites of strained peaches down Mother and she has three bites of orange sherbet mixed with crushed pills. She drank an apple juice and some water, then pushed my arm away with a firm, “Stop that.”

The staff exhibits concern and caring about us as well as the patient. When we step out into the hall for a break they ask if you’re okay and seem always ready to minister to us as well as Evelyn. Judy said this morning, “We get more attention than we do at home.” We try to be a thankful, helpful family in return.

Janis called to check in. We called Janet to give her an update and let her know that we would be gone a few hours today to do chores – laundry, fill the car with gas, make a Walgreens stop, and get Mother’s burial clothes together. Tammy called while we were gassing up. We do appreciate everyone’s concerns; the ties to home, family and friends are important.

One More Time – At Least

October 8, 2009

Tuesday, October 7, 2009 — The 7:15am phone call started with, “Nancy, Dr. Harpalani, Mom’s got a few more days, if not hours.” A report of Mother’s worsening condition was followed by the suggestion that Judy and I come as soon as possible. I told him the flight left in one hour, we couldn’t get there until Thursday afternoon. “Run to the airport in your jammies and pay on the plane like you use to,” was his response.

After letting Judy and Bill know what was going on I started the online reservation search only to discover Frontier has added a 3:25pm flight from Denver to Fort Lauderdale. At 9:30 I called Judy, “Can you make it to the airport by 1:30 today?”

Phone calls flew through the airways, washing machines whirled, friends and husbands did everything they could to get us on that flight.

Mother’s friend Janet called to say she was going to go be with Mother until we got there. On the way to the airport I had five phone calls being the go-to guy in a tug of wills and philosophies between the doctor and the nursing director. We boarded the plane knowing that Mother was being transferred to Jupiter Medical Center and that she’d responded with a smile when told we were on our way and Janet was by her side.

By 11pm – Eastern Daylight Time, less than 14 hours -  we were bedside. Mother was uncomfortable with hip and leg pain, highly agitated, extremely sensitive to touch, her left arm was in constant motion shoving people away, grasping for the pain.

What a day!