Stories: Who We Have Lost

Memories of My Precious Mother


My precious mother was the kindest hearted person I ever knew. She lost the ability to walk in 2015, ended up in a nursing home, and died from COVID-19 in a nursing home in November 2020.
I was not able to hug her, kiss her, or touch her after my last in-person visit in March 2020. We had to do the window visits which mom never fully understand as to why.
Why couldn’t I come inside her room and visit her like always?
Why wasn’t we allowed to touch each other?
The window visits were timed to only 30 minutes per visit.
She was 80 years old with muscular dystrophy and diabetes. A true fighter all the way.
I received the phone call on November 19, 2020 that mom was being sent to Central Baptist Hospital to the COVID-19 Unit.
Mom passed away from COVID-19 on November 24, 2020.
We were not allowed to visit her, to sit with her, to hold her hand during her last hours.
This has been the most difficult part to deal with as I and my brother cannot find closure. It hurts us so deeply knowing that our dear mother died all alone.
We were able to talk with her by phone on November 20, 2020 and tell our goodbyes to her and tell her we loved her and she told us she loved us. However, it did not take the place of being there with mom.
Mom’s name is Evalena Sparks Hanshaw.
Born and raised in Carter County, Kentucky. The oldest daughter of 14 children. Mom was raised hard in the small northeastern Kentucky community of Olive Hill. They lived next door to to the Tom T. Hall’s family (the famous country music artist). Tom T. was four years older than mom (born in 1936). Mom was born in 1940.
My grandparents owned a farm and raised their own food, had cows, horses, chickens, hogs, and an orchard. Mom described it always with a smile and said it was a beautiful “home place.”
Mom had a very special tenderness, kindness and an authentic love that highlighted her career as a nurse aid, housewife and mother.
She was an outstanding cook, a great artist, a gifted musician, and an avid gardener. She loved her rose garden on the farm her and dad owned prior to her going into the nursing home.
Her and dad thoroughly enjoyed raising the miniature horses on their farm.
Even though dad and mom had to move to Lexington to find jobs, mom was always a country girl at heart.
I love my precious mother and I miss her each and every day.

My Pappaw

Story aboutBobby Rorer

Thought my whole life this man was invincible. He fought bravely for our country and wore many hats in the political arena. He is missed greatly by those who knew and loved him.


Story aboutEd McDaniel

I will always remember how our little dog Lucy would hear his truck pull up in the driveway and run to the kitchen and wait until he unlocked the door to come in.

Love Letters

Story aboutRay Richard

My husband, Ray, who I knew for more than 42 years died of Covid in November 2020. I miss him every day.

When I met him, we lived 800 miles apart so we wrote letters to each other. There was no internet or social media. We saved every letter and card we sent to one another — over 225 in all were written during the seven months we dated and were engaged.

After I lost Ray to Covid, I spent several hours re-reading every word in those letters. What a beautiful reminder of our love back then that truly lasted through the years we had together.

My heart is forever his.


Story aboutRodney Salyer

My husband’s grandpa Rodney always had his hair long. He kept stocked up on hairspray and combs. Sometimes I feel the urge to buy him some even though he’s been gone since January. My husband is growing his hair to match his grandpa’s. We miss him so much.

My Sister-in-law, my Friend

Story aboutNan Cole

My sister-in-law, Nan, came into my life when she started dating my brother when I was 6 years old. She became the sister I never had. She loved me and I loved her. I always knew when I lost my Mother she would be there to help me and my brother get through it. God had a different idea.
She was a wonderful and loving wife, daughter, mother, sister, friend, sister in law, and Nana!!
My favorite was friend and one of my favorite memories was of my childhood. She worked at a photography studio and I would get to go with her to work sometime. Then she would give me money to go to the 5 and 10 store and I would get a new coloring book and crayons. When I got back we would have the best time talking, laughing, and coloring.
As I grew up she was always there for me. So when my Mom got sick with cancer I knew Nan would be there, but she too was diagnosed with cancer.
My mother succumbed to the cancer in October 2020 and Nan was doing well. I remember telling her Nan I may need you a lot since Momma is gone. She said I will be here as much as possible. Then things changed.
At the end of October she and my brother both got Covid. She seemed to be doing ok then all of a sudden she couldn’t breathe so she went to the hospital and died on November 10 2020. I sure do miss her.

Gone Too Soon

Story aboutBonita Higgs Spurlock

Bonita was my husband’s 56 year old niece. She struggled with health issues all her life, lost her baby boy, but yet kept fighting. She was taken from her family much too soon.

Died of a broken heart during COVID-19

Story aboutMary LaVerne Mall

Mary LaVerne was a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, friend and helpful to all. She always took care of everyone’s children, always taking field trips. She was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia at age of 61, after having many mini strokes which she had to be put in Essex Nursing Home where she thrived at first going to Catholic Mass, socializing, listening to music, playing bingo, doing arts & crafts, the red hat society ( where I tried to collect enough hats for everyone to have one to keep). She would volunteer me to bake the treats for their monthly party. She began forgetting who we were by 63 but she knew she trusted us. When Covid-19 shut down visitation at the nursing home she was also diagnosed with covid-19 testing positive, having to change her room which I kept decorated and fresh red roses weekly, having no visitors for 4 months ( even though I continued to drop off her snacks). I believe she died from a broken heart because she did not see me her sister, her mother, daughter & daughter in law and grandchildren. She lived for us in her younger years and it must’ve seemed as if we turned our backs on her when she needed us most. We got 1 hour funeral, no friends, no graveside services, no Catholic Mass. It left our family with sadness to lose a loved one at 63 yrs young. I miss our daily talks, laughing and just spending time together.


Story aboutMartha Trigg

I’ll forever miss hearing I love you everyday. Words that don’t come often or with meaning now. The hugs you gave as the rain poured on my life. The smile I had seeing you here.. You will be missed…

Also submitted to NPR’s series, “Songs of Remembrance”:

I don’t believe anyone could choose his favorite song; everything he wrote was a labor of love. The final gift he gave us was “I Remember Everything,” which turned out to be maybe his most prophetic. His music inspired millions of fans worldwide and leaves his family with a lasting legacy.

The song title says it all: “I Remember Everything.” It evokes so much emotion and so many memories, they’re truly hard to separate. My best memory of John is the last conversation we had — about six weeks before we lost him. It ended the way every one of our conversations ended: “Love you, Cuz!” —Jennifer Johnson, cousin

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