“That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger”


OBITUARY:  STAMBAUGH, BONNIE J. (28 Years, 8 Mos., 8 Days)

On July 21, 1983 of Colmar Manor, Prince George’s County,  Maryland, third daughter of Delores A. (Boling) Stambaugh and Luther M. Stambaugh; sister of Diane Blesi, Pamela Henry, and Deborah, Connie, and Glenn Stambaugh.  Friends may call at Gasch’s Funeral Home, 4739 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, Maryland, Sunday, July 24, 1983 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.  Services on Monday, July 25, 1983, at 10 a.m.  Interment Fort Lincoln Cemetery.

Toddlers: Bonnie Jean Stambaugh and Frank Roy Boling - April 17, 1960

Toddlers: Bonnie Jean Stambaugh and Frank Roy Boling – April 17, 1960

My paternal first cousin, Bonnie Stambaugh, lived a relatively short and difficult life.  Bonnie was born about 11 months before my brother, Frank Roy Boling.  The families gathered together frequently and Frank and Bonnie quickly became best friends, and as toddlers, the family used to tease them that they were “kissing cousins.”

At Nine Years Old, Bonnie’s Life Forever Changes

During class changes one day at school, another third grader collided and fell on Bonnie. School faculty called an ambulance.  The nearby fire department transported Bonnie to the local county hospital in Cheverly, Maryland.

Tests revealed that Bonnie was born with one kidney which was deformed and malfunctioning, and her second kidney, apparently burst as a result of the playground accident. Bonnie was next transported to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.

Kidney transplants in the early 1960’s were still in their infancy and Bonnie’s injuries to her kidneys were life-threatening.   In fact, Georgetown University Hospital had one young man who had received a transplant and they were monitoring him closely.

My dad was just one of the family members who offered one of his kidneys if he was a match.  It turned out that none of the family were good enough candidates for the hospital to be comfortable with performing a transplant surgery.  Instead, Bonnie went on dialysis and she was placed on a waiting list for a donor kidney (from some unfortunate person who would donate their kidney as a result of their death).  Meanwhile, Bonnie was placed on medicines and continued kidney dialysis.  Her veins got so weak, the family wasn’t sure that she would last long enough for a donor.

Georgetown University identified a donor kidney for Bonnie and transplant surgery was performed.  Bonnie was placed on steroids to ensure that her body wouldn’t reject the foreign kidney.  As a result of the drugs, Bonnie’s face and body puffed up and remained that way as long as she was medicated.  The kidney did fine for awhile and then rejection happened.  If I recall, it was about two or so years after her initial implant.  By this time, Georgetown’s other kidney recipient had had his second transplant and was recovering nicely.  So, the family also monitored Bonnie’s transplant friend’s condition because their symptoms seemed to run in tandem.

BonnieJeanStambaugh-2ndTransplant 001 (400x640)Bonnie, was very, very fortunate and like her friend received a second transplant. After 7 years, her body rejected her first transplant.  Here’s the Evening Star Newspaper’s report of her story:  EveningStarArticle 001 (430x640)

Bonnie had gotten to know her transplant friend when their visits to the same doctors and stays in the hospital coincided.  Bonnie’s friend lived until he was 18 and then passed when his body rejected yet another kidney.

Bonnie and her father spent a great deal of time going in and out of the hospital and visiting specialists.  Bonnie’s teen years and teen life set in.  She wanted to be free to live like other teens her age.  And yes, she had some setbacks that might have been avoided if she had tempered her activities.

Due to Bonnie’s hospitalizations and ill health and then again when they entered their teens my brother Frank and Bonnie didn’t visit as much.  They kept touch only by telephone.  Frank dated as a teenager,  and then like most young men married at 27 on September 7, 1985, and started his family.

Bonnie never married or had children.  Bonnie was one year older than Frank and passed away on July 21, 1983, when she was 28.

We all met one last time with her for her funeral and to say our goodbyes–all but her mom, Delores.  Delores had just undergone emergency surgery and had had a stroke while on the operating table.  There were some mental impairments and partial paralysis.  The mental impairments were not permanent, but her paralysis on her right side was.   So, it was weeks before the family could tell Delores about her daughter Bonnie’s passing.

As Frederic Nietzsche is quoted as saying; “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Delores Anne Stambaugh

Delores Anne Stambaugh, mid-1940’s

With the families maturing, growing in numbers, and migrating further apart, the next time this branch of our paternal family came together was to pay our respects to my dad’s sister, Delores Anne Boling Stambaugh, Bonnie’s mother. She passed on March 1, 2008, after a 15-year stay in a nursing home in Laurel from complications arising out of her stroke she had had in 1983 and diabetes.

I just know that Bonnie and her mom, though departing this earth 25 years apart, found each other again, this time in heaven, a place where:

“…God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

One thought on ““That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger”

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