Thursday, April 18, 2024

Rheba Bohannon, 84

| February 20, 2024 12:00 AM

Rheba Bohannon, 84, our dear Popsy picked Mom up in a white Ford Mercury on Feb. 17, 2024, decorated with "Just Got to Heaven." Tin cans and white crepe paper streamers trailing. He was likely dressed in his same white sport coat from their precious wedding 64 and a half years ago.

"Popsy" was Jim Bohannon, US Army Veteran of 32 years, resident of Bigfork, that had passed away only 4 weeks prior, on Jan. 20, 2024. Mom was Rheba Bohannon, also a resident of Bigfork, and never left his side in the hospital, or on home hospice later. She'd been a home hospice nurse herself at a much younger age. But this was her most important patient ever, so this strong 84 year old gal slept in chairs and held his hands thru every procedure and bad news delivery. She even helped him stand, and was a feisty MommaBear about dispensing his care, powering thru her own tired little body. She fell while helping him three days before he passed, and was unable to support herself anymore. She was wheelchair-bound when she cried her goodbyes to him. Then just a few days later, she chose home hospice for herself, at their RiverHouse home on the banks of the Swan River, watching the same mountain sunrises and sunsets til she could see no more, and knowing each bald eagle sighting was a special sign from her beloved waiting for her.

Bo and Rheba were both born in the Texas panhandle in 1939, but raised in the Searcy, Arkansas area. They married at 20 years old on Aug. 7, 1959, in her parent's home on Harding Drive (Blackie and Joan Berryhill). Growing their little family of four children along the way, they lived in Duncan, Oklahoma; Memphis Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; and Decatur, Alabama. They came back to Searcy when Rheba's mother was diagnosed with cancer, to help her at home. Rheba's father Blackie would pass away a few years later, also cared for by Bo and Rheba, after moving into their home. They would later care for Bo's Mother, Lucille Bohannon, and see her thru her final journey (Bo's father had tragically passed when he was only a young boy). This example of loving care for their own parents, was passed down to Kathy, JA, Terry, and Holly who were there every step of the way to final breaths for both. The conversations, trips down Memory Lane, and shared enjoyment of watching their wondrous Montana winter from picture windows during their final chapters, are special memories that will live on forever. Mom and Dad knew they were never alone... and that's a blessing for us all.

Broken heart syndrome is real. Bo was Rheba's life, and she his. Early in his sudden and terminal diagnosis, she told him, "I won't be 85 without you." She got her wish, as she spent her entire birthday actively dying, drawing her last breath in the light of the next day. Reuniting was her best Birthday present ever.

Their love story is one for the ages... filled with love, silliness, tenacious work, arguments that never lasted, and courageousness from each (Bo to Rheba throughout her diabetic and cognitive challenges, and Rheba to Bo thru prostate cancer and leukemia). Their strong faith in God, plus deep roots of good morals and clean livin' was the recipe for their happily ever after. They don't make em' like this anymore.

They will forever be remembered... laughing... by their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.