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Emmalee Colleen Fox

Emmalee was born January 6, 1981 in Eugene, Oregon.

Her parents were Jerald John Fox and Kathleen Jan Gilleland. She was the first child of two.

Emmalee went to Christ Lutheran in Veneta Oregon from Sept 1984 to June of 1986. She attended Noti Grade School (Noti, Oregon) Kindergarten from Sept 1986 to June 1987. Noti Grade School Sept 1987 to June 1992. Fern Ridge Middle School Sept 1992 to June 1994. Elmira High school Sept 1994 to June 1999.

Emmalee played soccer, basketball, T-ball, and softball while at Noti Grade school through Territorial Sports Program a Veneta based enitity. Emmalee sang in choir through middle school and high school. She was a member of the drama club in high school. She received the Principals Award her junior and senior year. (the Principals award is one given to a student that may not be the best at anything, but acknowledges that the student is giving 100% effort in being in school and trying their best.)

Emmalee's life was filled with medical problems.
10 months...patent ductus arterious (PDA) Sept 1981 Doernbecher Hospital Oregon Health Science University.(basically a valve in the heart that allows the assimulation of oxygen while in utero did not close upon birth. Usually this happens within moments of birth to 24 hours. Hers did not close. Untreated it allows the lungs to fill with blood over a course of time. She probably would not have lived past 12 years if that)
Diagnoised with Kidney failure age 6. Started Peritoneal Dialysis in 8th grade (age 13). Went on hemodialysis (at Oregon Dialysis Service, Eugene Oregon) 10th grade age 15. Age 17;Transplant June 23 1998 at OHSU. Her father donated a kidney and the operation was a success.
Emmalee lost the use of transplant four years later and went back on hemodialysis. Surgical procedure to implant anther thoraxic catherter in her back resulted in her death.

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Emmalee about 2

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Emmalee died at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon on May 17, 2007 at age 26 years, 4 months, 11 days. She was cremated and a memorial marker was placed at Sailor Cementary in Noti, Oregon.

Celebration of Emmalee's Life

Emmalee was a strong person. She possessed an inner strength necessary to get her through her life. In her grade school years, in playing sports, one of her coaches affectionately called her “bull dog.” She wouldn’t let go. She was tenacious in playing the game.

Emmalee was born facing many physical challenges. At 10 month she required surgery to close a valve in her heart. She had to have a wad of cloth placed between her legs as an infant to cause her hips to turn and grow in the correct direction. At 5 years old she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

Emmalee met her challenges with bravery and acceptance. She did not complain. It was a part of her life.

While in grade school, Emmalee attended the Artistic Academy for Gymnastics. She was a natural amazing her mom with the flexible ability and strength to do cartwheels, handstands and walkovers. Emmalee spent many summers at the Veneta pool taking lessons and just having fun. She seemed to shine when she was doing physical activity.

Under her fathers’ guidance, Emmalee learned the joys of motorcycle riding. She shared that interest with some of the neighborhood boys, spending many hours riding her Suzuki RM80 up in the hills near her home. As moms do, Kathy worried. Emmalee would come back from riding, dirt clinging to her everywhere, with exuberance, telling about all the really cool jumps they went over and crashes that happened. Emmalee was happy.

In 8th grade, she made herself the subject of an English project; a paper about kidney failure and dialysis. With the permission of the teacher, she ended her talk with a show and tell of where the catheter was placed in her abdomen. To her that was just another part of life.
In high school, she occasionally provided a shoulder and counsel to other students listening to their problems and trying to find a way for them to see their way clearer. She did not have time for was to be enjoyed.

On June 23, 1998, Jerry, her father donated his kidney to her. They shared the same room in convalescing. The bond was strong. They assisted each other in healing from the surgical pain and all the indignities that come with having tubes protruding from places one would rather not have. The time up at Oregon Health Science University spent living in the apartments was surreal, magical, wonderful and memorable. The family hiked the endless trails wandering from OHSU to the top of the hill, many times spending most of the afternoon at the park at the very top. They became intimately familiar with all the hallways, stairways, and corridors around the campus exploring all that was there.

After graduation, Emmalee moved out to start her own life. Securing a job with Rosboro as a fire watch and security guard, it was there that she met the love of her life.

Emmalee’s physical stature of 4’ 10” made for many humorous situations. When requesting movie tickets for the entire family, it was asked for 3 adults and one child. Because Erica was about 5’ 4” tall the clerk asked how old Erica was to which the reply was “12”! The clerk said that Erica could go as a child and so sold us two adults and two children. Emmalee was furious. She was 18 after all and legally was an adult and should be recognized as one. Her parents told her to “let it go and accept the good luck of a reduced price.” Eating at restaurants was another ordeal. Erica would get the adult menu and Emmalee the kids menu. To any child wanting to grow up…this is a huge insult. We just found it funny. Once when driving down Beltline in her abused 1984 Geo Spectra, Emmalee was pulled over. The officer asked to see her license and registration. He explained that she was not speeding, nor was there any defective issues, he just thought she might have stolen the car. Basically because he really couldn’t see much of her over the dash, he figured she was a little kid out for a ride. Her parents kidded that she should have responded that if she was going to steal a car it would be a much nicer car than that one!

But for all her short stature, Emmalee had a giant personality. She was a natural brunette but enjoyed being a blonde haired gal for many years. The color that really made her stand out was the brilliant fiery red hair. It was glorious. She used colors called “hot lava’, “blood red”, “devilish”, and “luscious raspberries.” That was the “Emmalee look.” She was amazing in that she would cut her own hair and it would look fantastic. Many times she would accent her gorgeous red “do” with gold sparkles that she would spray on. Whoa! She was too cute.

Emmalee tried hard to keep the inner child alive. She purchased items that would make her feel happy, like bubble blowing machines, smoke ring machines, puzzles, color crayons and color books, and oh talk about music. She would hear a song and if she did not know the artist or name of the song, she would call radio stations, or CD stores. She had pages and pages of songs and music that she wanted to have in her collection. One time when she called the radio station, they asked her to sing a line from the song. She was a little upset because she had just heard that song and was not familiar with the tune. She said, “How am I supposed to know the song, when I just heard it? Don’t you have a list of the songs that you just played?” This was Em.

She also had quite the interest in politics, business, and current affairs. She attended a Lincoln Day Dinner for Republicans (she was registered Democrat) at Valley River Inn purchasing the ticket herself for this expensive and impressive gathering. She read newspapers from such diverse natures as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Weekly, as well as the Register Guard and the Oregonian. She kept abreast of the University scene with The Oregon Daily Emerald, and Eugene Weekly. She subscribed to such diverse magazines as Cycle World, Backpacking, Horses, Entrepreneur, Parents magazine, Elle, OK, and Spin to name a few. She spent hours at the Springfield library using the internet to increase her knowledge of things that interested her.

As much as she wanted to be a part of the world, it seemed at times that the world was not willing. Many times after completing her dialysis treatment she would just ride the LTD buses for hours. Sometimes she would get on the McKenzie Bridge bus and just ride it to get a different view.

We can never really know the reasons for the way things are and become and how it can be beneficial. But what can be learned is that one should not waste the time one has here. Live it well. Find out what are the really important experiences and toss the rest away. Time spent living is time spent well.


The Divine Miss Em

Twenty six and a half years seems just a blink of the eye. Was it real or just a thought? I have photographs that tell me that it was real, but my heart is numb and I cannot feel any of it. I cannot remember what it felt like to hold my newborn in my arms. I cannot remember what it was like to hold my toddler and feed her food. I cannot remember what it was like sitting in the audience watching my grade school one up on stage. I can, however, remember what it was like constantly knowing of the “inevitable”.

The gods did not show mercy on my daughter. They presented her with challenges every step of the way, and all she really wanted was to just “be.” Her carefree childhood was stolen by the horrible harbinger of doom. She did her best throughout her life to stay one step ahead and outsmart and outwit the cloaked one. Many times we believed that she had won against the odds with her family and friends cheering for her at the sidelines through all the life races that she had to run.

She never chose not to run in any of the races against time. She was a fighter. She was strong of character and stout of mind. In her presence one really believed that she would win and beat down the constant dark shadow. But time, like the wind against the dunes and water against a shell, wore her down.

It wasn’t just a fight against nature, it was a fight against “learned” men and women who decided her fate. When she tried to arise above their demands, they chastised her for wanting control of her own life …they feeling they knew better for her than she did for her own self.

Nothing makes one question life more than seeing the pain in their offspring’s eyes and wondering what the purpose of this constant suffering is for. But she suffers no longer if one can hope what the prophets say is true. Perhaps she lays laughing on some lofty cloud or singing merrily across the sky of blue. And maybe, she knows what the truth of life is now.

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