Wilma Stoffel (1925-2010)
As most of you know, my grandmother has passed away. I really want to put something down here, as a way to share my thoughts and memories, but it’s just so hard to figure out what to say. How do you encapsulate a life? Not just any life, but a life that spanned over 8 decades and touched so many people? It is not an easy task, to say the least, but one I feel I must undertake.
Allow me to tell you a little bit about this life.
Wilma was my mother’s mother and lived next to Deer Lakes Park. Her and her husband, Arnold Stoffel (July 7, 1926 – Aug. 20, 2000) owned a nice acre and a half plot of land with woods, a nice, open field and a garden. When I was a child, both my parents worked, so morning my dad would drop me off over at their house and they would watch me during the day until just after 5PM. They basically raised me on week days.
I had free reign of this land, so as long as I stayed within earshot of the house. There were no other children my age in the area, so basically all I had was the outdoors and my imagination. This in and of itself was a wonderful gift to give any child. There was a long ditch that ran past the house so that rainwater coming down off the nearby hill wouldn’t flood their patio. Oh, how I loved playing in that ditch. I would use a stick to build up a dam then release a torrent of water only to build it up again. Such a simple activity would keep me occupied for hours on rainy days.
I would play basketball in their driveway. The loose gravel made dribbling difficult, but I suppose it made my hand-eye coordination better. I would ride my bike around their property, first my BigWheels then a real bike. My grandfather taught my how to ride and my grandmother would have lunch waiting for me when I would return.
Speaking of food, I will miss my grandmother’s beef soup. It is probably my favorite food. She would make up a large pot of it, then fill empty gallon ice cream containers with it so that I could take it home with me. I swear, I would eat that steadily for an entire week!
Wilma was what I like to call a stereotypical 50’s housewife. She was a homemaker, rarely, if ever drove and relied on her husband to take care of things. When my grandfather passed, we as a family feared the worst. How could someone so dependent on someone else not only cope but survive alone? That was 10 years ago and we learned just how tough this little old lady was! With a little help from us (cutting her grass, taking her grocery shopping) she thrived. She would cook full meals for herself every day, watched her soaps and completed search-a-word puzzle books. It was a testament to her tenacity that she live on so long and it makes me proud of her.
Well, as the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Over the last month or so, she was in and out of the hospital with bum ribs and then heart problems. Finally, time caught up with her. She was admitted with cognitive heart failure. High blood pressure and a low heartbeat at times down to 30 beats per minute. Always a small woman, her weight dropped to only 75lbs. After some tests, the doctors found that her lungs were filling with fluid and that carbon dioxide was collecting in her bloodstream. It was only a matter of time.
Using an uncomfortable mask to help suck air out, she fought on for days until she finally made peace with her situation and just wanted to be kept comfortable. They transfered her to a hospice where she finally passed on, peacefully and comfortable in a bed.
How do you encapsulate a life? I don’t really know. After mulling over this for days, I don’t have the answers. I just wanted to share with you some of the thoughts going through my head and a little bit of the story of my grandmother and myself. I certainly will miss her.
Wilma H. Stoffel
Wilma H. Stoffel, 84, of Frazer Township, died Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, in Good Samaritan Hospice of Concordia, Jefferson Township, Butler County, following a brief illness. She was born Dec. 13, 1925, in Tarentum, a daughter of the late Martin and Elizabeth (Chovanes) Podlinisky, spending most of her life in Frazer Township. She was a homemaker and a member of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, Creighton. She was a 1943 graduate of Tarentum High School and enjoyed doing word puzzles, collecting Barbie ornaments and angels, sewing, cooking and baking. Survivors include her son, James S. (Mary Ann) Stoffel, of Gibsonia; daughter, Kathleen A. (Randy) Sobotka, of Gibsonia; grandsons, Mark G. (Leslie) Stoffel, of New Sewickley Township, and Lee C. Sobotka and his fiancee, Norine Traini, of New Kensington; sister, Betty Lovasik, of Tarentum; and brother, Joseph Podlinisky, of Tarentum. Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Arnold B. Stoffel, in 2000. Relatives and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the DUSTER FUNERAL HOME INC., Tenth Avenue at Corbet St., Tarentum, 724-224-1526. Blessing service will be conducted at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the funeral home. Christian Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Holy Family Church, Creighton, by her pastor, the Rev. Miro Stelmasczyk. Burial will be in Our Lady of Hope Cemetery, Frazer Township.