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Life story
May 9, 1969
Stephanie was conceived in California and born in Colorado.  She  lived in Minnesota through graduation .  She went to college in CA because she had a strong CA dream and she loved living there.  And several years later settled in Colorado.

The day we were moving from California I was two months pregnant with Stephanie when all of a sudden I started to flow beyond any thought of a period.  I went to the doctor and he told us to move anyway because staying wouldn't help.  I prayed frequently for this baby to live.  The pregnancy was too soon in my plans after having two children and I had had doubts but now I told god I do want this baby!!

The day after we arrived in Colorado I went to a new doctor as my doctor had suggested.  He told me to take it easy and yes, I was definitely still pregnant.  Thankfully the flow ceased within a week but my fears of would it last sometimes echoed through my mind of my usual confidence that I had a healthy body and was fortunate to have easy deliveries.

Her delivery day was approaching and we were moving one more time.  We told the mobile home movers to come on her due date because I was certain she would be born a week or more ahead because of the few troubles I had had.  When she wasn't born we notified the movers but they had decided to vacation and were already in CO.  So we had movers literally on our doorstep on her due date willing to be patient.  Needless to say that added to the stress of wanting her born for our own reasons!  We drove in a bumpy mountain road in a canyon hoping to shake her out but I was just too healthy and we had to wait some more.  The doctor said he would induce in two days if needed and that gave us relief.  I think it also helped expedite the onset of labor because I had never heard anything good about induction

In the middle of the night with just three hours of labor she was born and I now knew we had a girl.  I knew I wanted her middle name as Willa which was for a dear aunt of mine.  But I was torn between Jennie and Steph.  I wanted her given name to be Genevieve because it was a name I loved so much from a song and she would be called Jenny.  But I also like Stephanie as a name and finally chose it because I was worried that Genevieve would be too old fashioned.

I never told Steph that but when she was little she told me she loved the name Jennifer.  I then told her the story and also how when she was nine months old a nurse called her Jennifer and made me wonder if I had made a mistake.  I told her I would call her that and we could legally change her name if she would like.  She said no, she liked her name also but she would have another name inside.  She dubbed it her spiritual name I learned when she was an adult.

Because we were literally leaving the state the day I got out of the hospital I knew we had to decide because it would be too difficult to argue that we could put a name in the certificate later since we wouldn't be there.  At that timeframe it wasn't acceptable for a hospital to let anyone out without a legal name and I didn't have time to stay and say oh, yea?? 

We celebrated her two days on earth on Mother's day in the hospital with flowers on each mother's tray.  I dressed, collected everything and into the car with the rest of the family.  We had a trailer behind our car and headed east to Minnesota with two toddlers aged 1 and 2 and a newborn.

I was very healthy and the move was actually good for me because sitting in a car I had rest.  Had I gone to a home, I would have been cooking and chasing two toddlers.  We had very few helpers having been in CO such a short time that I would have had to step into reality immediately.  So I had the comfort of toddlers who couldn't run and meals made for us that were even paid for since we were getting moving expenses from Ernie's company.  It was a negative in the motel room when I had to breastfeed.   The only chair was rigid on the back and in the middle of the night I needed more rest so badly that I decided the heck with what I read I'm taking this baby to bed.  There is no way that I will ever roll on a baby and that started a practice that continued through the next 3 babies.  I loved having her in bed and easily switched sides.

One worry I had when I was pregnant was will I love her enough?  I had a boy and girl whom I adored and I didn't want this one  left with seconds.  But nature and or god whichever you believe took care of that right away.

She had a face with none of the usual extreme misshapes that birth can give.  I attribute that to the rapid labor.  She had lots of hair all over her head unlike my other two.  And one time I looked at her and she was sleeping on her tummy which was a given at that time, and she had her face turned to the side and was resting her cheek on both hands, something I had never seen before.  And she was more petite and delicate than the other two.  I was in awe that something so beautiful could come from me.  And my prayers had been answered.  I realized that then each baby of the same sex will always be unique no matter how many.  And I remembered that every time I got pregnant after that and knew I would love them each specially.  She was to be even more of a teacher to me through the years as all of my children were from birth on.  But always she had that extra memory of just a bit more of a miracle because I didn't miscarry, because she helped me know how expansive our hearts can be and she helped me learn to love myself even more.  I was to discover that this beautiful little baby looked like me from my sister.  I had no baby pictures of myself and thought of myself as plain but didn't mind because I had so many other good talents.  I realized no one had ever told me I was pretty or cute except on my wedding day and I just thought that was courtesy.  Ernie did of course but I thought he was just saying that.  I of course looked at some of my pictures and thought that but that would have been vanity according to my programming.  But I re-looked at all pictures and realized our pictures frequently reflected our inner being and indeed I definitely wasn't always plain.  I never saw myself as anything less than beautiful again even when the mirror said OMG (Oh my God)

We were able to get out of Motel rooms about a week after arriving in the Twin Cities of Minnesota which are really Minneapolis and St. Paul but we were in an actual suburb near Ernie's new job.  We could only get a spot for our mobile home about 45 minutes from there so Ernie did a commute each way.  We settled in again with our three beautiful children.  I had a swing for the first time with her and only canvas ones were sold then.  It was a mother's helper that answered my other prayer, how can I handle three so close in age?  The swing pacified her and Chris helped wind the swing up because it was like a toy.  And of course as soon as Ramona could manage it in her toddler stage she was winding it too or pushing her manually.  And then I knew that was how I would be helped.  Just as my siblings and I helped each other, these would help each other.

Another girl followed 15 months later.  There was never any jealousy or adjustment problems from what I could see.  Since each was young when they got knocked out of the crib, everything was matter of fact to the older ones.  I tried hard to keep the special attention to each one but I was going through a dark night of the soul of my own about that time and I could have done better.  But my love for my babies kept me grounded and gave me hope.  And soon I was able to heal my emotions fully by the time Aaron was born, 16 months after Cari.  They were all one to me.  I sat with two on each side while holding Aaron.  My family was perfect now.  I had a boy on each end, I called them my bookends and three girls in the middle.  I gave up trying to be super mom and super wife and super homemaker and let everything slide that wasn't really important.

I didn't want to be like so many mothers who said enjoy them while you can they grow up so fast.  I decided that was what I would do.  So always they were priority over anything and anybody and yet I also gave them an attitude of respect that I needed a little time to myself and daddy and I also did.  So they never cried or fussed when I put them to bed at 8.  They wanted a drink, they were allowed to have one but must get it on their own  They wanted to play, ok as long as they didn't keep another awake or get rowdy.  When one occasionally came out to us, they were accepted and their thoughts answered and they promptly went back when they were asked to.  Somewhere in the midst of that baby explosion I said to god, if you are going to keep sending me so many so soon, I need help.  The help god gave me was five very easy going happy and very very healthy children.  My miracles or gifts of growth never ceased as I sensed how much we are loved and watched over.

Somewhere around two years of age we were doing some building work in the house.  There was a long board for construction, maybe a 2x4.  It was resting on two structures, one at each end.  I saw Steph walking on it with her arms held out like a rope walker and she had barely knew to walk.  I realized then that she had a dexterity that none of the others had so far.  Chris and Ramona fell off sooner than she did.  While she loved gymnastics, it was dancing where she really shined as all of us know by now.  Giving the children dance lessons was always a given on my mind if they each chose to do so each year.  But our town didn't always have a teacher so they had some years and I always loved those recitals.  One year both boys had lessons.  What a joy that was, my five little rollers, Steph was about 10 then.

My boys were my bookends as I mentioned and separated enough in years so that the attention I gave each of them was special.  With the girls being so close, I always tried to spread the praise.  When they were in the same area together sometimes, I would look at Ramona and say you are my biggest girl, and to Steph, you are my middlest girl, and to Cari, you are my littlest girl, each with a hug hoping that they all felt equally loved.  I wasn't worried about her missing out as a middle child.  She had been too much of a miracle teacher to be ignored.  But she was the easiest going of all some of the times and I leaned on that gift sometimes and had to give the others attention.  She was to frequently make wisecracks about being a middle child as she comprehended the psychology of it all but she never felt it.  She was adored by me and she knew it and we easily talked about any problems or she got counseling elsewhere.  We are a family of perfections and dysfunctions like every human family and sometimes we needed clearing.

The placement of birth changed when Alethea arrived 2 years after Aaron.  She was unplanned but within 3 weeks I knew I was pregnant and I accepted her with all my heart and wisdom of mother of five.  But without a doubt we were going to stop this channel from god with a snip, and throw out the rhythm and the rubbers!  Alethea was as close to an immaculate conception as you could get   I told god if you can get anymore to us through a snip then no problem but we are making it harder.

We were all excited and miracle of miracles a girl was born with features of each child.  She had the alabaster skin that Ramona had, Stephanie's eyes, and Cari's delightful impish grin.  She smiled within weeks and as beautiful as all of my kids were, she was poster beautiful, model beautiful and I was in awe.  All through my pregnancy and delivery with her, I was on a beautiful spiritual journey.  So I named her Alethea which meant truth and middle name Dawn for the dawning of my truth.  Spiritually she was my final teacher because she was to exit suddenly at two months from a crib death.  It wasn't SIDS, she had a cold and phlegm in the throat was the cause.  I had planned on taking her to the doctor in the morning just to confirm but never ever was worried because it was a common cold.

I won't say much because I have been writing her book all of the years since but heaven's doors were opened to me in a moment of my grief, and I experienced love that when I could really analyze it, I would have had to take every moment of my life to that point and then multiply it a thousand times and even then it failed.

I was in a cushion of love and miracles as I walked through those days and while a lot of that faded I have retained much of those feelings to carry through life and give my family.  And Steph always said she felt like she was raised in a bubble because our life was always filled with the positive whereas the real world said different.  And I told her each of us experiences life different so there are people who have bad realities but that doesn't mean we will.  So rather than to warn my children about those possibilities as young children I figured they will learn soon enough as adults.  My love protected them I knew without a doubt but should they ever sense danger they were encouraged to run and scream.  That is all they needed to know as children.

I include Alethea because I've been asked how I can bear this time.  I learned then to let the tears flow when they came but when the sun shined to grab it.  I saw a cartoon two days after her death that a friend of Ernie's gave him at her birth and Ernie had forgotten to take it off his bulletin board at work.  It showed a stork with the legs worn down delivering a baby to a house overloaded with children.  I knew how true that looked to many that we weren't ever going to stop and I laughed out loud long and hearty.  And I rejoiced inside because I knew in that utter time of darkness that I would laugh again.  But it was before the gates of heaven completely opened so it was just a glimpse of that truth.

I never worried that I would lose another because I felt like I had a promise from god that this was it, for this life.  But several years later when Aaron was having a bad asthma attack and Ernie took him to the ER I told god you better keep your promise.  I made it through one child and when they leave home I know it will be easier so you can't have anymore until after that but I would sure like it if we can all have a long long life together.  And so I don't have an empty house to remind me and that part will be easier to help us.  And the gift of high tech has been so valuable in both getting immediate information on the searching as well as getting comfort and love from hundreds and hundreds of people who care so much.  All of that is healing.

I know she is with me now, literally, and I just need to adjust the "radio" to hear her or lift my heart in love to feel her.  I raised free spirits and she is free completely now.

I'm not going to share a lot of her years here because I will do that in the memory clips when they come to me.  But mostly since her friends will start filling in memories, I will let those suffice and add through the months coming up.

I gave all of the children a chance to explore the possible dangerous sides of life because I wanted them to have real lives not lives not lived because of fear of what might be or death.   I knew that teaching with each event would make risks less and they all had good instincts.  We loved tubing down the stream from the powerhouse to the park and the swayback was usually the furthest spot to get off but sometimes we went under it safely.  One time the river was higher and Steph got caught under the bridge and wasn't coming out much to the fears of the friends and sibs who were on top of the bridge first.  Finally to their relief she emerged.   They came home and told me the story and since she was there telling me I wasn't afraid.  But I was curious as to how she got out and she said she panicked at first but then found calm and when she found that, she knew how to get out.  There was tree limbs blocking her or she was caught in something similar.  Others can maybe tell that story better.  Naturally I was thrilled that she beat death at that time.

Another time she was off with friends at an age when they could drive.  There was a rollover and I heard about it by her walking in and saying she had been an accident.  She was smiling and happy and so I had no fear but I wanted all of the details.  The vehicle rolled and landed upright.  All the girls were OK except Steph had a small cut on her back.  It happened fast and they didn't even have time to feel afraid and being fine they were glad as of course I was too.  But for the rest of the day I stayed closer to her than usual.  I didn't hold on to the back of her clothes literally but in my mind's eye I was, I didn't want to let her out of my sight and I followed her around the house like a puppy dog, either to talk about just anything or to quietly confirm that she had been protected so well and I was so grateful.

One year in high school she and some friends put on a dance routine for a talent show.  She was so excited and they choreographed it themselves.  When I watched the performance I saw her in her greatest spirit.  She shone with utter happiness as she danced with delight with her friends.  Of her many years with me, that picture as well as a few others stands out the best.  It wasn't a surprise to me of course but it was always a delight to know that I was right about what I sensed about her as a toddler.

We worked together to find a job for her to get residency in California.  She agreed with me that a nanny would be a way of getting a place to stay that would be a bit easier than a job and an apartment in a new place.  Perfectly every move we made ultimately landed her with a family in the Bay area who wanted someone from Minnesota, her home state if possible.  The apps were closed but she wanted to see Steph anyway since Steph was now going to drive out there and look for any job if that is what it took.  Aaron went with her since he could drive with her being present and they visited with the family for awhile.   She then said when will we have the interview and they said I think we already have.  And she got the job and they remained lifelong friends.  I joined her for one of her vacations and we traveled all the way to San Diego and back enjoying the trip and checking out universities that she might go to.  She decided on UC Irvine and there will be many of her friends from that time sharing I know.

She majored in physics at first but switched to Social Ecology which eventually became urban planning as a practical application.  When she graduated she wanted to go to the Peace Corps.  To get experience that they might want she went to Alaska as a volunteer in the forestry department.  She had to learn to shoot a rifle as protection and it was a great experience and adventure for her.  Her dad, Ernie, went to work and told a fellow worker, "I  spent thousands of dollars to help my daughter get a college degree only for her to go to Alaska and get eaten by a bear".  His coworker was a friend of mine and he could never get over that story, they had laughed so hard.

For her next credentials to enter the Peace Corps she went to Mt. Hood as a volunteer once again.  I believe her job was something like a goodwill person as she mingled with the skiers.  There she met Dale whom she liked but it was a struggle for her to not pursue the Peace Corps.  She knew if she went there for two years she might not get a chance to know him better and she knew he could be the man she would marry.  She gave up her Peace Corps dream because there would be many volunteer jobs that she could do in state.  I think she wanted to explore Africa.

She moved to Silverthorne and several years later they married in Fiji.  Ellie was born within the first year or two and she wasn't sure if she wanted more than one.  But then three years later she did know and they had Jack.  And then oops, Lillie but very welcome.  She did have an extreme challenge though working full time and handling three little ones.  I have many stories to share about her and her children but I'll do that in other pages of this memory book.

She always stayed close to all of the family though she was a great distance from all.  Modern life helps keep families close with hi tech and airplanes.  We might not talk for two months but it mattered not because there were always some emails that might have been shared in that time.  Our family has gone through many adventures together and reunions.  This is not our final reunion of course but it is one that never should have been for many years.  Since it is necessary gathering, we mourn at severe depths but soar mostly as we celebrate the life of our darling Steph.   I am giving two links right now to videos from a fellow dancer that were taken just two months before her death.  She was helping the dancers who were going to be in a performance called "Dancing with the Mountain Stars".  As someone on Facebook mentioned, she is now "Dancing in the Stars".

Thank you for reading and sharing your own stories of Steph.   I may add clarifications here but otherwise I'll contribute in other places as I said.

She would love the falling hearts on this page and the overall theme.  I know I do.  Thank you Aaron.


Stephanie's memorial service was held Thursday, Dec. 2nd, at the Silverthorne Pavilion, Silverthorne, CO.  We called it a Celebration of Stephanie's life.  The service can be watched in the video section starting with "Dancing with the Mountain Stars".  Part of the dancers' candlelight ceremony taken by Tracy is here

An open house to Celebrate Stephanie was held Sunday, Dec. 19th, at Gloria Dei Lutheran church Fellowship Hall,  Redwood Falls, MN .   It was a light filled event and we thank all of the people who could come to share their love with us and those who wanted to come but could only send their love.

May 10, 1969
The girl's name Stephanie \s-tepha- nie, st(e)- phanie\ is pronounced STEFF-a-nee. It is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Stephanie is "crown, garland". Feminine form of Stephen. The name of the first Christian martyr was a favored name choice from the early Christian era. Stephania, a Latin form of the name, was used for girls. The French form Stephanie became popular early in the 20th century. Tennis celebrity Steffi Graff; actresses Stephanie Powers, Stephanie Zimbalist; poet Stevie Smith.
May 11, 1969

The girl's name Willa \

wi(l)- la\ is pronounced WIL-ah. It is of Old German origin, and the meaning of Willa is "will helmet, protection". Feminine form of William.

For more information, see also related names Twyla, Wilhelmina and Billie.

Baby names that sound like Willa are Willy, Ailli, Aila, Alla, Ella, Eila, Illa, Jill, Jilly, Jilli, Olla, Yulla, Ulla, Wally, Willie and Willow. Other similar baby names are Dilla, Billa, Milla, Cilla, Lilla, Rilla, Wilma, Wilda, Willda, Wilna, Willma and Zilla.

November 22, 2010
Passed away on November 22, 2010.