Serving West Michigan Since 1899

Judith Steffen

December 12, 2021
Holland, MI


Life Story / Obituary


To say that my mom (Judy) had a big heart would be an understatement. Anatomically speaking, it was no different from anyone else’s. It weighed about 26 ounces and was roughly the size of a fist (which is pretty small when you stop to think about it). The depth of her heart, however, was infinite, immeasurable and ever-expanding like the universe. That is what made her so special.

Mom found pleasure in making and doing things with her hands. Baking, planting flowers in the yard, needlework, drawing and painting brought her joy, but sewing was her passion. Hours were spent in front of her machine crafting things for others like clothing, quilts, baby blankets, placemats and halloween costumes. She even made a winter coat for our goat! Aprons, however, were the most popular and Mom created them for anyone interested. This included family, friends, nurses and even her hairdresser! Each one was different and reflected the personality of the individual receiving it. She poured her heart into every one and would never accept payment. It was all about making people happy. If there was an exhibition of her aprons today, they would fill a gallery.

Speaking of full, my mom’s heart was filled (if not overflowing) with love for her siblings, nieces and nephews, grandchildren (which she adored) and the children that became part of the family when she remarried. While there is no doubt that she loved my brother and me with all of her heart, I believe Mom had a place reserved for two special people.

The first is Arnold, my mother’s husband and my second father. They enjoyed 40+ wonderful years of marriage and were the definitive example of “made for each other”. In the early years, they enjoyed traveling and going to the Windsor Teutonia Club where they would dance and socialize with friends. As time passed, they became content with simply being together. When Mom’s health declined, Arnold’s devotion to her never wavered. He remained infinitely kind, attentive, patient and hopeful. Hope is what gives us strength when things become difficult and when all hope failed, Arnold was at Mom’s side, comforting her as she slipped quietly into eternity.

The second person is my daughter Miren. She’s one of the reasons why Grandma and Grandpa moved back to Michigan. According to my mom, Miren was her world and could do no wrong. They were the best of friends as evidenced by the way they would laugh and carry on in Grandma’s basement craft room or over FaceTime. Miren could talk to her grandma about anything and received honest advice in return (whether she wanted it or not)! Mom was the kind of grandmother every kid deserves and was really looking forward to seeing Miren graduate from high school next summer. Sadly, she will only be there in spirit because what made my mom so full of life is what also brought it to an end – her very large, yet fragile, heart. During her final hours, Mom asked Miren to comb her hair. Even then, they found a way to laugh and for a brief moment, the overwhelming sea of sadness filling the room receded.

From the instant I entered this world, Mom was there for me. She gave me the gift of life so the best that I could give in return was to be there for her when life ended. She was surrounded by family when her mortal soul drifted away and transformed itself into undying memories. In the end, it was mom’s decision to embrace peace and she did so with the utmost grace and dignity.

After everyone had their private moment with her, Miren and I walked back to Mom’s room to retrieve her belongings. As I touched her forehead and stroked her hair for the last time, the nurse who was there disconnecting the monitors said, “I’m so sorry about your mom. I really enjoyed taking care of her over the years. She had such a big heart.”


She certainly did.

— Thomas Allen