Doris Grace Lutke Epp, (fs.1953) Cumming, Georgia, was born on February 8, 1935 in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, and passed into the loving arms of Jesus at age 80, on July 15, 2015. Her parents came to the US when she was age 12, and she later became a US citizen. Her high school years were spent in Floodwood, MN. She met her husband to be as a freshman at Grace Bible Institute. Doris loved Jesus as her Savior and Lord from the age of five, and now forever abides with Him!
Doris was typically the quietest person in the room, was always proper, poised and elegant in public; perhaps a complete disguise of her willingness to perform the most menial tasks with joy, if it would meet another person’s comfort or need. She epitomized thoughtfulness and service.
Doris leaves to mourn her passing, her intensely devoted husband Marvin, her four admiring sons – Gary, Brad, Curtis, and Craig, daughters-in-law, ten grandchildren, and four siblings, plus other relatives, and friends too numerous to count.
Her dementia journey began 15 years ago and her husband cared for her at home until nine months before her passing. Marvin wrote the following tribute nearly a year before her passing.
Marvin Epp’s tribute to Doris
My prayers for good health, energy and strength to care for Doris with the dignity she deserves began as soon as I became aware regarding the earliest signs of her dementia. God has granted my request as of this writing! I want to make daily visits through her last day on this earth, to assure she’s receiving the care she has earned.
Marvin shares what has been called an Alzheimer’s patient’s prayer by an unknown author:
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
To Doris’ credit, she embraced the role of mother and homemaker. No task was too menial if it would enhance the home she occupied with those who shared her presence, whether family or guest. She was the queen, and simultaneously unselfish servant in her castle. Of greater significance, she guided four boys into becoming respectful teenagers who were admired by both their peers and adults, and then to responsible and God honoring manhood, making them the leaders we need in today’s society. Would that all mothers saw the value in such an accomplishment, rather than first aspiring to other goals and treating motherhood as an adjunct.
Doris became non-verbal so I’ve been functionally single for years with Doris in my full time care, however, I’m not an angel only doing what I promised, “till death do us part”. Doris’ earliest, although slight, symptoms started 14 years ago. She’s been “by my side” both figuratively and literally, in the most supportive way anyone could hope for or expect. She has also been a friend to many, quietly and generously served without recognition, ministered for years in the church nursery, been a warm and loving hostess to numerous individuals in our home including overnight arrangements, almost a mom to the friends of our sons, and never left a negative impression with anyone she met. She was easy to love, because she never asked anything for herself. She is a true treasure, as excerpted from Prov 31:10-31:
- a wife of noble character
- her husband has full confidence in her
- she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life
- she is clothed with strength and dignity
- she speaks with wisdom
- she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness
- her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also
- a woman who fears the Lord
- let her works bring her praise!
Any woman in a marriage relationship would be honoring the God we claim, and do well to emulate who she has been to me. God was infinitely gracious in allowing me to be a part of her many wonderful and vibrant years as my wife, mother to our four sons, passionate lover, soul mate and spiritual companion. She is a spiritual “Medal of Honor” recipient, in my humble assessment. I feel truly blessed.
P.S. Wednesday, July 15, ’15 – Doris passed away at 5:30pm, while I was speaking love in her ear and with her resting in my arms, and the boys around me. Just two weeks short of our 60th anniversary. I will honor her by wearing a necklace to display her original wedding/engagement ring set, to my final day on this earth. After her 15 years with dementia, “THE BATTLE IS OVER, DORIS IS WITH JESUS!”