Her late husband, Richard, was a World War II veteran who developed a drinking problem later in life, long after their two daughters were grown and married.
“Richard didn’t tell me a lot about the service until he got older and, at that point, he was drinking. I had my escape; I golfed at that time. And I pleaded with the two women that owned the club. They gave me a job, and that was my way of socializing and keeping my sanity. But I never, ever knew what I was coming home to.”
The stress of her marriage, which Yelenic called “a corporation,” climaxed with her diagnosis of severe depression and inpatient psychiatric treatment.
She said the turning point of her life was “being in that mental hospital and finding out how important I was.”
Yelenic rests June 8 at her home in Stuart. In April 2014, an inoperable carcinoid tumor was discovered in her stomach, causing slow, unstoppable internal bleeding. In May, she began feeling cold more frequently. “It’s just the progression of the cancer. It’s a symptom. It could be worse,” she said.
Still, you won’t hear Yelenic complaining about her circumstances or regretting staying in her marriage.
“There were things that weren’t good in life but I learned from everything that wasn’t favorable, and I don’t think that blackened my thoughts at all. I think that I was able to go on and be positive, and that’s the way I feel now,” she said. “Even with the cancer I have. I’ve been given extra time to live and I’m very, very lucky.”
Following her passing, she will continue to be important.
“I’m going to live two years after I die. I’m donating my body to science.”
“I’ll still be doing good,” Yelenic said. “The fact that I’ll still be helpful for two years, when they take my body, helps me understand.” Soon after Yelenic dies, the undertaker at Martin Funeral Home and Crematory will collect her body and deliver it to the University of Miami for two years of research.
In the hours after her death, her body will be collected by an undertaker in Martin County and transported to Miami, where aspiring physicians will do research for 24 months, she said.
“When I can’t golf any longer, I don’t want to be here because that’s the one thing I really do enjoy. Just to be here for the sake of breathing, no thank you, no thank you. And I’m at peace with when I go,” Yelenic said.
Even in the face of death, she looks forward to supplying her body so future doctors can learn and grow.
“She is an inspiration. She is an inspiration of what is and what can be,” said her daughter, Rene Delane, of Westerville, Ohio . “Adversity was her advantage. She wasn’t undone, she overcame it.”
“I think a lot of what’s kept her alive is her attitude,” Delane added.
Yelenic has a sentiment she often says when parting with the company of those she loves:
“Be good to yourself,” she says with conviction, time and time again.
She would say it to you, too.