Laughing Her Way Through Life

CATEGORY: News and Community

​"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight." This quote may have been made famous by comedienne Phyllis Diller, but one of her writers, Jeanne Opalach has lived by this motto her entire life. Jeanne, a Hospice of the Western Reserve patient with Dementia, recently shared her life stories as a collection of moments and challenges we all have to face. She embraced those moments with a lot of smiles, love and laughter. 

Jeanne's humor has seen her through the tough times in life, strengthened with honesty, love and her family. "I just tell it like it is," she admitted. It is clear she views her life as a mosaic of events, weaved together by her optimism and straight-forward attitude. 

When asked to share some of the momentous events of her life, Jeanne kept shifting the conversation to focus on her children. Her daughter Pat gently reminded her that the interview was supposed to be about her life and to focus more on herself. Smiling,

Jeanne responded, "I am about you though, that's the thing." 

Jeanne happily tells the story of meeting her husband Joe at a beach party. "We were sitting on a log, facing each other, and seemed to have a lot in common," Jeanne recalled. "Our eyes met, and he kissed me!" With a twinkle in her eye and a slight smirk, Jeanne continued: "And I kissed him back." Soon they were married. Jeanne delights in sharing her wedding pictures. She wore a suit, fondly remembering it was a beautiful design by Priscilla of Boston. 

Jeanne spent a great deal of energy making people laugh throughout her lifetime. Whether she was writing jokes for entertainer Phyllis Diller, or creating limericks for greeting cards, Jeanne's passion and zeal for life was evident in everything she created. As she nears the end of life, Jeanne makes one fact very clear: "I'm not old," she says, "I'm just getting older. Everyday I read the obituaries; I figure if I'm not in there I'm doing okay!" 
Jeanne makes her home at the Precious Care Assisted Living in Painesville and she receives care from her Hospice of the Western Reserve team. Jeanne expressed her gratitude for their compassion and friendship. "They have my best interests at heart," she explained. "I really feel that." 

The value in sharing stories and lessons learned is immeasurable for patients like Jeanne. After everything she experienced and endured what Jeanne wanted most was to share her stories, and for someone to listen. "I think everyone can gain something from another person's story—and I just hope I can pass on the love I've experienced in my life to someone else."

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