Stella was our neighbor down the street. The first time we met Stella was at our neighborhood Bible study that started 6 years ago. She was a fiesty older woman who had lived a hard life, with a hard husband, who 15 years ago started back to the local Baptist church. Her husband had Alzheimer's and was pretty tough on her. She came to our study and always had a good way of looking at things. She was full of energy and always put her foot in her mouth, but would apologize afterwards. She loved church, her husband, family, and minister. She had lost a daughter to Pancreatic cancer years ago and saw her struggle with the chemo and side effects. She always said, "I'm never going to take chemo--that stuff will kill yah. When God wants me to go, I will go fightin'."
Stella developed Pancreatic cancer 5 years ago. She chose not to take chemo. We saw her when she was yellow, through the death of her husband, through the ups and downs of the disease, and in prayer. Yet she was always optomistic, always full of energy, and knew that when it was time to go she would continue fighting. She did. We thought she would live for ever because she continually amazed her doctors. Stella passed away Saturday night.
We remember Stella's smile and courage. She took trips with her sisters and spent all of her "retirement money." She bought lots of candy from Nathan and would say, "Hey, I'm gonna die so I don't care about how heavy I am!" She laughed and continued to be upbeat, always asking how we were. She and her sisters kissed the skin off of our two little ones and always threatened to come by and kidnap them for a weekend. When her skin was yellow--she dressed appropriately.
We went to see her on Halloween to say goodbye. Barely 70 pounds she looked at us and smiled. In the bed she smiled when we showed her Caleb and Hunter's costumes. She was always a fighter , a lady, and a great neighbor. She is one of the many people who we have seen struggle with cancer who have been an example of courage and honor in life, suffering, and death.
In a state that talks about dieing with dignity I suggest that I know people who die with true dignity. They face life with courage--irregardless of the pain it brings. They embrace death and show us that life is short--enjoy what you have and bless those around you.
Goodbye Stella, we will love and miss you.