The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 8, 2013

Saying goodbye to a gentle warrior

By Karen Middleton
news@athensnews-courier.com

— Regular readers might have read my feature story last week about Lanell Wassum in the fall issue of BOOM, The News Courier’s quarterly publication for baby boomers and retirees, was about her amazing 20-year survival after a liver transplant. The headline read, “20 years and counting.” Friday, the clock ran out and Lanell, whom many readers will remember as their middle school teacher, died quietly at University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham.

About a month ago, when I interviewed her and her lovely daughter, Missy Wassam Greenhaw, who had donated a kidney to her mother four years ago, none of us realized the end was so near. However, Lanell suffered two major heart attacks two weeks ago.

Her body, too weakened from 20 years of battling the many devastating aftereffects of organ transplants, could not recover. Her heart was too damaged. She was worn out.

But just last weekend, those of us in her wide circle of Facebook friends were heartened by a photo of her posted by her family. She was sitting up in her hospital bed with her reading glasses on and surrounded by her husband, Al, children Missy and Matt, and her four grandsons.

Some of us even wondered if “the comeback kid” was going to beat this latest assault on her frail body. But it was not to be.

Lanell was an icon of courage to her church family at First United Methodist and throughout the community. She met each setback with an amazing determination to fight her way back.

And she met her final challenge with gentle acceptance and the realization that she could finally lay down her arms.