Celebrating My Mother: Not an Ordinary Obituary

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 12/2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.

My mom passed away from a long illness in 2016, and my family asked me to write the obituary. 

I know the typical obituary is a boring summary of a life, but I didn’t want to write the classic version. 

Here is the obituary I wrote. Let it be an inspiration to honor and celebrate your loved ones.

Celebrating my mother

Dianne Eichelberger, wife of Frank “Hardrock” Eichelberger, gardener, chef, pianist and accomplished traveler, died on December 2, 2016 at age 85. 

She was a lover of homegrown tomatoes, John Wayne, any old western movie, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and a good romance novel. 

She and dad never met a crossword puzzle they couldn’t eventually knock out. Periodically they would call me to ask a puzzle question on more “recent” culture questions.

My Mom and Dad

She met Frank on a double date at Hayden Lake, Idaho in 1948, and, according to my dad, she told her mother that night she met the man she would marry. 

My mom’s version of the story is that it was dad who said that the first night!

They were married July 16, 1949, and together for almost 60 years before my dad passed away in 2011. It was amazing to see them together. 

My dad was 6’6” and she was 5’2”! My mom was tough! 

Dad had quit smoking over 30 years before he passed away from lung cancer. My mom smoked for almost 65 years – and never quit – and she died of various complications but not lung cancer.

They loved to travel the world, often on incentive trips Dad would earn through being a Ford dealer. They circled the world a few times and took some amazing trips and cruises. 

They taught me the difference between a “trip and a vacation.” A trip is when you bring the kids. On a vacation, you leave them at home! 

Usually, they took a trip! 

I have great memories of going with them for two Christmas trips to Hong Kong and Copenhagen when I was in college.

For about 15 years, Mom and Dad had a condo in Manzanillo, Mexico, where they spent many winters. Mom would love to get her time in the sun on vacation and never had any skin cancer issues. 

She had amazing hair. Even at 85, it was still blonde and she would go to the beauty salon every Thursday at 10 a.m. like clockwork.

Mom was always a fashionable dresser and had her own style. She loved her St. John knits and left many beautiful pieces. If anyone is a size 2, please contact me! 

I love that picture of my mom and dad together. She was seldom photographed, it seems, without her huge sunglasses. 

She wore them for my entire life, and it’s funny how them came in and out of style over the years.

My mom sporting her famous sunglasses

She was a wonderful cook and was famous for her fried chicken, homemade tomato sauce, salad dressings, Wienerschnitzel, roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, to name a few. 

She was obsessed with growing tomatoes each year and had a terrific green thumb. She could she grow and nurture houseplants, especially succulents like Jade Trees. I’m bringing some starters home with me!

She and dad watched their share of Fox News. They listened to Rush Limbaugh every day, religiously for over 30 years. 

My family and I took our last trip to see her in late October, and we talked about the election. She was happy that she lived long enough to see Donald Trump elected President and defeat Hillary.

She passed away at Hospice of Spokane North. We would like to thank everyone there for helping to make her final days as comfortable as possible. 

My sister Kristy was a loving and patient caregiver for many years and made such a difference for my mom. She had the patience of Job, dealing with Mom, who could be very difficult the last several years.

I’ll miss calling her and getting her words of encouragement. It never gets old to hear that your mom is proud of you.  

I wanted to give you a sense of who my mom was to celebrate her.

Mom is survived by her three children, Peggy Ann McConnochie and her husband John McConnochie; Kristy Langbehn; myself and my wife Miryana, and our children, Madison, Davis, and Lucas; Kristy’s son, Bob Langbehn and his wife Jennifer, and their son, Mom’s great-grandson, Connor.

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