Heaven has a new angel

Heaven has another first class angel.
My cousin…..Carol Rowland Stepek Doezema

I got the news from her younger sister Nancy thru a Facebook private message early Friday morning September 8th, 2017.

Kathy I hate sending these out but I wanted to let you know last night Carol passed away. She collapsed getting ready for bed and they couldn’t revive her.

My heart instantly sank and tears began to flow.

While many of my past memories are just that and have no artifacts to look back on – thanks to the digital age and sharing  I was able to put together some moments of the last few years for me to look back on of only the small slice of her life I knew and shared. It in no way tells her story. It is such a small slice, but it is the one that is special to me. It is pictures of Carol and also some pictures/video of family she chose as her highlights of recent life as mom and grandma to share with others. Carol won’t be forgotten and the lives she touched will forever be blessed.

Most of my sorrow though is not in just losing Carol in my life but in knowing her immediate family has lost her. I am a distant node in her constellation hub. Her loss creates a void that is large for me and it is hard to even imagine how much her loss is to them. She was a center for her mom, siblings, husband, and most of all her children and grandchildren. We will all carry Carol forever in our hearts.

We spent quality time together as kids even though it was not often being 600 miles apart. We sustained our connection by being pen pals in those days. Exchanging letters with news and our philosophy of life at that time. Extended stays for her in WI and me in MI. Cherry picking, shopping, teasing her brothers. Dreaming of the future, talking of boys and love. ConeLand stories, hanging out with our grandmas.

Like most, we drifted apart for some years as we started out our adult lives and built our own families. Yet we stayed connected thru our parents on milestones, successes and challenges for what now I have figured out was about 30 years of once a year Christmas greetings or an update or two when the parents would connect when driving to visit other relatives. Our grandmothers were another glue that we lost with their passing, which made more frequent connections get lost in our busy young adult lives.

Carol became interested in researching family history and ancestry. She connected with my mom with phone calls and letters. I again was hearing what was happening in her life. About 15 years ago, an old school style letter here and there began again, a couple of phone calls and then came Facebook. The online connection provided connection to sharing things in our present lives that so tied back to our youth of dreams and plans. We were not a part of each other’s daily lives, but still maintained a relationship that was real and in the present instead of just an old memory or wondering what ever happened or remember when? We were sharing the now again.

I knew she had created a wonderful life with Joe and had sons. She was so proud and happy to be Mom. She faced challenges in losing her first love to ALS and yet her heart was open and she was able to find love again with Marv. She was happy and felt blessed.

Carol was strong and a fighter – taking on Multiple Sclerosis and not letting it control her. She was always the responsible, hard-working one that was there for others. She was the big sister I never had for the times we were together but also the best friend during those visits and after as well. And as sensible and smart as she was – she knew to have a good time and enjoy life. To live in the moment and move towards the future by remembering the past, but not letting it hold you.

She had a wild side – but it was the kind that could take a tiger by the tail one minute and be back to the one who kept everything together in a heartbeat. She also was one to get it done – when something needed to happen she stepped up and made sure everyone got to it – especially if it was family.

Her humor – Gosh – her wit was so sharp. She had a way of saying things that made a point – but with a touch of humor or sarcasm so one knew to stop and think and that in the big picture not to take one’s self too seriously on the small things. Her smile and eyes with those one liners – I will never forget.

Her love of cooking and baking. I could always count on a new recipe recommendation being posted. And it was long before FB that she shared recipes – I have a few handwritten ones – she was sharing long ago – one with a note. 🙂

Carol's Recipe

I am so glad to have been able to have her in my life journey. Past and present.

I love getting to know her family thru online postings and messages. I cheer at each success and feel so lucky to see the events and how time passes with each new thing. To see the small glimpses of what caught her attention or what was special to her in her life. The joy, sorrow, pride, she had in the milestones and daily lives of her children, siblings and parents. Her children and grandchildren were the center of the universe for a mom and grandma. She was one proud and happy mom and grandma. I have never met her sons, Marv, or grandchildren in person but look forward to each new update whether it was from her, Steve or Nancy. I have come to know some things about them and learned to love them from a distance.

My thoughts go out to her immediate family and friends that will feel her loss so greatly. Together we can celebrate her life, her love, and our fortune in being touched by her. Our memories together will bring the story of the depth of her touch on so many lives and yet still never be able to tell it all.

Peace to all who loved her. She is watching over us all.

Obituary for Carol Ann Doezema

Carol Stepek Doezema, age 62 of Greenville, passed away unexpectedly at home on September 7th, 2017. Carol was born March 30th, 1955, grew up in Cascade, and later married Joseph Stepek and raised four boys in Lowell. After Joe’s death in 2001, Carol later met and married Marv Doezema, and was active in her church and community in Greenville.  Carol loved working with her hands and her quick intelligence allowed her to excel at whatever she put her mind to; over the years she taught herself everything from doll-making to tile cutting. Her passions for crafting and gardening influenced not only her own children and grandchildren but also all of the children she provided care to over the years. She leaves a lasting legacy. She took joy in her grandchildren and they will greatly miss their “Grandma Carol”. Despite living with Multiple Sclerosis for years, she remained active and future-focused, living out God’s love in her communities. Carol is survived by her mother Elaine Rowland; her husband Marvin; her children William Stepek, Steven (Erin) Stepek, Jeffrey Stepek, and Christopher Stepek; step-children Sarah (Jeff) Schatz, Jason (Terri) Doezema, and Joel (Ashley) Doezema; siblings Gerald (Lois) Boelter, James  (Denise) Rowland, Gary (Theresa) Rowland, Ronald (Sherri) Rowland, and Nancy (Dave) Bradley; parents-in-law Jay and Ruth Doezema; brother-in-law Lary Doezema; sister-in-law, Pat Rowland; and grandchildren Xander and Charlotte Stepek, Isaac and Levi Schatz, Jay and Jocelyn Doezema, Taylor Toman and Violet Doezema, and a new baby Doezema on the way. She was preceded in death by her father, Donald Rowland, first husband Joe Stepek, and siblings Richard, David, and Katherine. Funeral services will be held at 1:00 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at Hurst Funeral Home, Greenville, with Rev. Robert Roush officiating.  Friends are invited to join the family for a time of visitation Monday from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the funeral home. Memorial Contributions can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and memories and messages of condolence may be shared at www.hurstfh.com.

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