Sunday, January 4, 2009

My tribute to Stephanie.

A week ago, an angel of a woman, and my friend Stephanie Godeck passed away. I haven't known her all my life, but I will remember her all my life. She is one of the many women that I came to know as a result of serving as Relief Society President (my church's service group for women). She came to church by herself and sat up front. She came for all the right reasons. Because she truly loved the Savior and came to be filled with his love each week as well as give love to others. She had a smile that lit up a room, and warmed your soul. She was caring and compassionate. She had time for everyone. This sounds like I am just rattling off a bunch of nice things, and no one could really be all that. But she truly was. You will never meet a harder worker or someone more devoted to service for others. She only weighed about 95 lbs. and even with a walking cast on one foot she would be at every hard service project we had. You know the one that no one wants to go to. The one where you have to clean bathrooms covered in a years worth of ......... (I am trying to block it out). I knew I could count on her being there every time with a huge smile on her face and a cheerful disposition. She would come with a bucket of cleaning supplies and go straight to work. What an example she was to me! You would think she was doing her favorite thing in the world! And she was, she was serving God by serving his children. She did not have the best health, yet there she was time after time. She never turned down an opportunity to serve. On one of these many occasions we had to make an hour long drive to the Bishop's storehouse to work for a few hours. On this trip she told me about her life. I was blown away. They are too personal and private to share, but I will say that I could not believe all that she had gone through in her life. A life that had a lot of pain and sorrow, yet she was who she was. Positive and happy. I saw first hand by knowing her that it is possible with Christ to overcome painful and damaging life experiences and still be the giver in life. She was able to heal through his love. Her greatest gifts in life were her three daughters. She talked about them constantly and how proud she was of them. She wanted all the best things in life for them. All the things that she didn't have. They told a story at her funeral that she told me first hand. That when she was working as a janitor she would take her girls with her, and have them clean toilets and tell them that if they didn't want to do this their whole life to get an education. She lived to see all three graduate from college. They are beautiful and successful women. One of her daughters was married and just had her first baby. Stephanie's first grandchild, and she couldn't be prouder.

I really felt a strong love for Stephanie. She reminded me of my Mom, a fighter. A woman that relied completely on the Lord and lived for her kids. Pretty recently Stephanie had a tough experience that really shook her because it affected one of her girls. It was a serious situation and I prayed and prayed for how I could help her. She wasn't answering my emails or phone calls and I didn't know how I could reach her and I knew I needed to talk to her even though she didn't want to talk to anyone. I felt to drive over to her house. There she was sitting in her car on the side of the road a street away from her house. She was just getting her mail, as she of course was out serving (moving rock for someone. REmember she is only 95 lbs!) I could see the look in her face of pain, and she did not want to let go of it yet. But my mom had been through a similar situation and I just wanted to tell her to not lose faith. That because my mom kept fighting I have all of the blessings that I do in my life. It was a tearful discussion, both of us in our cars and talking in the middle of the street. My prayers were answered. I could see that it was what she needed to hear. I told her all about my mom and how she was a fighter like her, but she got tired. She told me one night that the Lord had revealed to her when she was going to die. Of course, I just said, "oh, mother." and didn't want to hear it. I wasn't ready. Of course, she died when she said, and she was prepared and ready. As I told this to Stephanie, I got the impression that Stephanie knew exactly what my mom was talking about. That she also knew and was tired too. She had given all she could and was ready to go home. This last long conversation that I had with Stephanie gives me alot of peace in knowing that she knew and was prepared.

Her funeral was yesterday. I played violin at her funeral, as I did at my mom's. If you know me, you know it is really difficult for me to play for large groups of people. I did it for Stephanie. I didn't know if I would really be able to do it. I just kept saying over and over, "Stephanie, you had better help me!" For the first time, I played my part without a mistake. I was nervous I would be too emotional, and I wasn't (that came afterwards). I am so so happy that I was able to say I love you by doing one last little act of service for her, for her family, for her girls. I love you Stephanie. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being the person that I will think of whenever there is a service that needs to be done early on a Saturday morning that isn't so fun. I promise, I will be the first one to sign up to help.


Natalie said...

You are so wonderful! I just posted a little tribute to Stephanie on my blog too! I just love her! She was so wonderful and I hope I remember her all my life too!

Your violin playing at the service was INCREDIBLE! I couldn't believe how I just fell to pieces sobbing during it! It was so beautiful! I could listen to you play all day!

monique(moki) said...

What a beautiful tribute! We have a sister in our ward who is terminally ill and always serving. Amazing women! Lovely words!

Anonymous said...

so touching...i am glad that you were able to play the violin at her funeral. i am also glad that you were able to be her dear friend. i am glad you are back. i've missed you.

Mandi Lou said...

Thank you so much for posting this, I wasn't able to make it to the service. Stephanie truly was an angel, she has personally given me so much emotional support through the years. She will always be in my memory. Thank you! Thank you!

nicole boice said...

i'm totally crying

Amie said...

She really was hear people say these kind of things about those who pass away all the time, but about Stephanie, they're really true! She was amazing! I was her VT-er for 4.5 years and will really miss our visits. She's in peace now. Your violin part was amazing--great job!

Nancy Mitchell Photography said...

What a great tribute to Stephanie. Sounds like she has touched many lives.

pakosta said...

wow. that's amazing. what an awesome person she was! i bet her daughters would love to read what you wrote!

Jesika said...

You said it perfect! Stephanie was an amazing person! Thank you for sharing your thoughts....I know they are the same thoughts of all who knew her! (Your violin playing was beautiful!)

GRodenberg said...

how awesome you got to know her. Are her girls going to be ok?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Heather for this beautiful tribute to my mother. My Mommy Honey as I called her as a child. In response to one of your comments, girls are not ok. We are ok knowing she is with our Father in heaven, but not ok with her not here with us. There are so many emotions that I cannot even begin to explain the pain that we feel. While I know this is part of the plan, I miss her terribly and want her back. I know this will get better with time as the "understanding" sinks in. But for now, I want to feel these emotions as it is part of healing. I hope you don't mind, but I am posting what I read at her service in California. I appreciate all of you that supported and loved her in Arizona. Know that she loved you all too. She talked to me about each of you.

Mommy Honey

For those of you who attended the memorial at the church, you heard the hymn, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” regarding our Father in Heaven. Some of the lyrics read,
“He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears,
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.”

This is true of our parents here on earth and especially true of my mom. She lived to make a good life for her girls.
My mom would always tell us, “Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.” We feel like the blessed ones.

My mom had many facets to her; while she shared so much, she was also very private. Some of you knew her as a sister, friend, co-worker, team mate or church member. Today, I am going to talk about her as my “Mommy Honey.”

Sometime in March 1976, my mom told me that her life was forever changed as she found out that she was expecting her first baby—me. It was then that she decided to get really “healthy.” She would eat ripe tomatoes right off the vine in her garden like an apple. She would also make a raw egg, which we now hear is so bad due to salmonella and crave seared hamburger with onions, which can contain e-coli. We would talk about this throughout my pregnancy and laugh so hard with all of the information we have now.

When she was in labor with me, I was stuck in the birthing canal. My mom prayed, “God, if you let this baby come I will raise the baby Christian,” and out I came! She kept her promise. Growing up we went to church nearly every Sunday and all three of us girls have a strong testimony.

For my sisters and me, we remember our mom being strict as she was very protective. I can recall a time when we had just moved to the valley and I was a sophomore in high school. One of my mom’s rules was, “Off the phone, homework done, in bed by 8pm.” My response was often, “But mom, I’m 14 years old.” She would say that, “I need to be an example to my sisters.” I tested her rules once. I was talking to a boy on the phone after 8pm. My mom came in the room and ripped the phone cord out of the wall. I was mortified! Here I was the new girl at school who had to face this boy the next day and explain my mother! There are two things I laugh about now; 1. That boy is now my husband and 2. Now being a mom I realize she probably needed her time too.

All that strictness and our house was still the one to be at. There were always friends over. My mom loved it because she always knew where we were. Whether it was what mom had in the crockpot, or Friday Football Focus after a big game, our friends wanted to be there. Some, which I won’t name, often ran away to our house. We were definitely known to have a stowaway or two. Of course, my mom tried to make sure that the parents knew that they were safe and with us at our home. But she would really listen to them, and counsel. I thought it was so special that our friends would choose our house, and I knew why. She accepted everyone and always so hospitable.

Never had I seen my mom as wonderful a mother as over the last year that I spent with her. I will never forget the day that Allen called my parents to let them know we were expecting. My mom had bought Allen a Daisy bebe gun, wrapped it up and told me to give to him when I learned I was pregnant. We had that gun for almost a year before Allen let them know that I gave him this gift. My mom screamed so loud it sounded as if she were here at our house. She could not wait to be a grandma!

When people asked what she wanted to be called, she would say, “Grandma Honey.” She would go on to explain that, “Cammy called me Mommy Honey so I am Grandma Honey, it was so endearing.” I had heard her so often call me Honey, I thought she should be called Honey, too.
She came out a month before Pres was born and took such great care of me; breakfast in bed, everyday. Together, we got pedicures, slept, ate ice-cream, watched movies, shared stories, cried, laughed, went on walks, shopped and slept some more. And when it came time for me to “nest” I had the right lady on my side. She could make sense of everything. My house had never been so organized. I remember one time we both tried to nap, my mom woke up to me on a chair, with a gas mask painting the inside of my cabinets. She laughed and said, “Honey, I’m sorry…I did this to you.” The day before she was sanding furniture for Presley’s room and painting it all in a days work.

Every time my mom was here our house was in order. Even our yard that she planted so beautifully, would bloom much more when she was around. She had a green thumb. Allen would say that she was like E.T.
She was also able to be with me for Presley’s birth—her first granddaughter. I could not be more blessed. She helped me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I could not have gotten through that challenging time without her. The comfort I felt with my mom here with us is unlike anything I have ever felt. There’s just something about your mommy.

Seeing her with Presley was priceless. She loved her so much and I am honored to have made her a grandma for the first time. She couldn’t wait for the days that her grandchildren would come over to play with her. She said they would make mud pies and they could have all the cookies they want. She had recently been collecting furniture to refinish for Presley’s room in Arizona.
The stories with my mom are endless and all of them mean so much to my sisters, my dad and me. Therefore, I must leave you with a few fun facts about our Mommy Honey:
 She would email us every day with, “I love you” and “Have a great day.”
 Fervently read her scriptures
 Hitchhiked to Texas in 1974
 Was extremely intuitive, as are all the women on my mom’s side
 Would give anything to anyone. For example; we would come home to furniture missing or pictures gone and she’d say, “Oh…so and so really needed that.”
 Made financial sacrifices to give us braces and keep us in private school
 Sent care packages throughout college
 Would tell us girls that, “We are bright lights in a dark world.”
 Together, we would take entire Thanksgiving dinners to families prior to the holiday, and we would ding dong ditch them with the meal at their door.
 For a couple years, she had us wait to open Christmas presents in the morning, as we fed the homeless first.
 Held a very special bond with us girls.
 Saw the following bands live:
o Jimmy Hendrix
o Steve Miller Band
o Fleetwood Mac
o Arrowsmith
o Santana
o Mama Cass
o Janis Joplin
o Rolling Stones
o Grand Funk Railroad
o Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
o Jackson Brown
 Made us girls replace the phrase, “I’m lucky” with “I’m blessed.”
 Painted Presley’s room four times to get it to the right color.
 Refinished old furniture and made them into beautiful pieces. Some of which I have to keep.
 She and I would talk every day, sometimes two times a day.
 She worked very hard while we were growing up. She was always on a schedule. When it came to shopping at department stores, if the size we needed was on a mannequin, she would strip it down and we would hide in the rounders of clothes so embarrassed.
 She encouraged prayer in our home, which we still practice as women today.

My mom was my first friend, my teacher, my mentor, my confidant, my Mommy Honey. I can only hope to be the kind of mom to Presley as my mom was to my sisters and me. I am blessed to have had 32 years with a woman who I admired so much and could call my mom. I look forward to the day when we meet again and get one of those hugs we all love and miss so much. For now, she is in heaven looking down on us and playing with her other grandchildren. I am sure that she is getting a break before God puts her to work.

On behalf of my family, I want to thank the Eubanks for allowing us to host this special day here at the ranch. We also want to thank all of our friends and my in laws for all of the preparation that led to this day. It is more than we could have ever imagined and my mom deserves every bit of it, thank you.

To my husband for creating the beautiful website in her honor and for being my rock through the most difficult time in my life, thank you.

To Presley, you are getting us through this honey. We all love you so much, and your Grandma Honey will continue to play with you…keep looking for her.

Anonymous said...

Heather, I would love to talk sometime. This is Cammy, Stephanie's first daughter. My email is Thank you again.

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