The story of Donald and Stasia Plump is a story of true love, the kind of love we can only hope to know in this lifetime. Stasia honors his legacy by sharing that story. Don’s parting words to Stasia were ones she will never forget, and she holds onto them every single day. He said to “look for me everywhere, and in everything.” He asked her to please not mourn his death, but to rejoice in the fact that he had a wonderful life, many blessings from above, and the greatest wife a man could ask for.
Today, Stasia shares her story, with encouragement and with hope that it will help others.
Donald Plump and Stasia Szatanski met in 1970 at the middle school where they taught. Stasia admits she would check his free-period schedule daily so she could arrange to conveniently bump into him. She knew they were meant to be together from their first meeting. “It was love at first sight,” says Stasia. They married in August 1971. “We did everything together,” she says. “We worked together. We played golf together. We even did housework together. He was my best friend.”
One of the most important aspects of Don and Stasia’s relationship was their shared Roman Catholic faith. At one point Don said, “I knew God was for real when I met Stasia.”
“We made a decision early on to surround ourselves with God’s love and to make Him the center o four marriage,” Stasia says. “We always knew where we were going after this life. We knew that even in death we would be together.”
When Don started having heart problems, it was no surprise, as it ran in his family. Throughout the duration of his disease, he chose to live with his lifelong “glass is half full” philosophy. Don believed that whatever the circumstance, he would live with gratitude and a positive frame of mind.
Even though Stasia knew Don’s condition was serious, she kept focused on the positive. “I still believed that I could pull him through one more time, just as I had done before with each of the health challenges that he had faced through the years,” Stasia said. She was adamant that he could get better.
However, Don’s illness started taking a turn for the worse. Through recommendation, Stasia called Mercy Care to provide services for Don. Don was only a patient with Mercy Care for 5 days. Like most of the families that receive care for their loved ones, Stasia says, “I wish I would have made the call to Mercy Care hospice earlier.”
After Don passed, Mercy was there for Stasia to provide the comfort and support that was needed. The devastation of losing her husband was magnified because Stasia simultaneously lost her best friend, confidant, partner and way of life she’d known for four decades.
While a broken heart on its way to mending cannot be rushed, Stasia did find solace and renewed hope in the arms of Mercy staff. A special turning point came at Mercy’s Christmas “Celebration of Life” memorial service. There, Stasia learned the breadth of the miracle of Don and her love, how it had transformed even those privileged to know them but a few short days, such as Mercy Care hospice nurse, Colleen Walz. And her warm tears of healing began to flow.
Stasia, is healing and much less support is needed these days. Stasia has said that she has to “let Don go” daily as she moves forward on her new journey. She attributes a lot of her strength to Loran Bulla, Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator for Mercy Care.
In a letter, Stasia wrote:
“Loran – thank you for being there for me at the beginning of my new ”Journey in Life” after the death of my Donald. Your presence, your hugs, your compassion and advice was so valuable to me and helped me on my “walk.” I don’t know if I’ve completely “turned around” to walk forward alone yet, but I think I’m getting there. May God continue to bless you and those you minister who are grieving. “