Bob’s Story


As the Holiday season approaches, you and I will share something very special…a memory of what Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh Residence did for a person we hold dear in our hearts. My thoughts focus on cherished memories and complete gratitude.

Bob enjoying the view of the pond at Stoneleigh Residence.

“How do you hide an elephant in a cherry tree?”
“You paint its toenails red.”

Goofy jokes were my Dad’s specialty, sometimes to the embarrassment of his teenage kids. However, his jokes were the magic door for him to connect with others.

Like many men of his generation, my father, Bob Stebbins, took his responsibilities seriously, supporting a family and striving to be a good neighbor and citizen. He led by example to teach us kids that life was more than earning a paycheck. For Dad, it was truly a joy to give back to others. Dad served in WWII and worked his whole career at Oldsmobile in Lansing. Volunteering, especially with young people, was always part of his life.

It seemed like nothing could slow him down. Unfortunately, one thing did. You see, my Dad had pneumonia as a child and was always told his lungs were weak. He picked up smoking in his Army days, but even after quitting, it caught up with him. Dad was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and struggled physically and emotionally with the reality that the disease would progress, and couldn’t be cured.

Dad’s life became governed by the length of the cord on his oxygen tank. He had to stop tutoring, and visits with beloved grandkids and neighbors were no longer joyful. As Dad’s health declined, the impact on my Mother increased. She lay awake at night listening to his breathing. She followed him from room to room making sure he didn’t trip on his oxygen cord. Living out of state, my siblings and I painfully realized that a change was needed for both our parents.

The decision to seek support from hospice was a difficult and emotional one, but I can never say enough about the benefits! Dad’s physical and emotional wellbeing actually stabilized under the care he received at Stoneleigh Residence. His breathing was less labored and his appetite–and humor—came back. The loving and professional staff and the many volunteers treated him like a man, not someone to be pitied. They ministered to Mom and us, even though we were out of state, with encouragement and lots of quips about the goofy things Dad said that made them laugh.

The Ionia Area Hospice experience helped our whole family rekindle our appreciation for the gift of life and the joys that can be celebrated even in the midst of illness and pain. It gave Dad a chance to give joy back to others, to virtually his last day.

This life-changing experience is why I am reaching out, to ask you to join our family in making a tax-deductible gift today – as much as you can afford – to help Ionia Area Hospice & Stoneleigh Residence continue their mission: To serve all by bringing kindness, respect, and quality to the end of life.

Your gift makes memories like ours possible.

I don’t know your story, but I know we share a special bond as members of the hospice family. Ionia Area Hospice gave our family precious time to say goodbye in a calm and peaceful setting. We will be forever grateful. We miss Dad, as you miss your loved one, but pray that all other families will have the same chance that we had to this kind of high-quality care.

With sincere thanks and appreciation,
Kati (Stebbins) Holland