Love Conquers All and How to Refuse to Define Those You Love by Their Final Moments

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The Legacy
4 min read

Love Conquers All and How to Refuse to Define Those You Love by Their Final Moments

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Words by:

Katy Stover

Illustration by:

Words by:

Katy Stover

Illustrator:

Contents

As humans, we like to characterize people by using a few key characteristics. It’s mentally easier when we classify a person. She was a “mother,” “daughter,” “wife,” “athlete,” “doctor,” “ADDICT.”

Yet, by putting someone in a box we lose the complexities of what makes a person unique and ultimately what makes them human.

My father was an addict, but he was so much more than that.

When he passed away on May 3rd 2014, my greatest fear was that people would distill him down to that one word, ADDICT.

  • That his entire legacy would be based on his flaws and not his incredible gifts.
  • That his magnetic characteristics, his savant like knowledge of music and books, his incredible skills in the kitchen, and his love as a father would not be celebrated.
  • That for generations to come, his story, my family’s story, and ultimately my story would be about ONE thing.

My father owned the fact that he was an addict. He openly talked about it, he wasn’t afraid to discuss his mental health issues, he read every self help book, he went to therapy and AA meetings like they were his religion, and he ultimately knew that his disease would come to get him in the end. [[Read- Dear Disease: A Love Letter to his Disease]]

I’m not here to talk about what it was like growing up with an alcoholic/addict parent.

Instead, I’m here to tell you that despite his trials and tribulations, my dad reminded me every day that the greatest gift a person can pass down is endless love.

From day one, I was told I was special and that I was loved. Unlike my father’s parents, who never spoke the words, “I love you”, my dad sought to be the opposite. If he had one purpose in life, it was to ensure that I never questioned his love and that our bond remained strong even with all the hurdles.

Despite a rocky divorce, my parents did a great job in securing my place in this world and this is why I believe, I’ve always been more than “OK.”

I became strong in knowing that I could get through anything, but also in knowing that life is hard and that the greatest joys don’t always come from the most obvious person, place, or thing.

Often when people hear about my dad’s story or his passing, there is fear in asking more.

They feel like I can’t handle it or that he was a bad parent and we therefore must have had a bad relationship. Neither is the case.

My dad was my best friend. We spent every holiday together. I lived with him solely all through high school. He was my confidant when things got tough. He treated me with respect, dignity, and he asked me the real questions, which shaped me into the woman I am today.

Ultimately, I’d like for you to know a little more about John Stover because he had so many amazing qualities outside of being an addict.

Here are a few:

“He was a(n)…”

  • Incredible Writer: My dad wrote 7 published novels. He had a way with words and he taught me the power that writing can have on your well being. One of his books was written to deal with childhood trauma as part of the 4th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous. Additionally, he was an avid reader and he always carried a novel in his pocket. He gave me the love of reading, which I’m proud to say is one of my biggest hobbies today.
  • Fantastic Cook: He was a beast in the kitchen. We loved hosting dinner parties and at-home concerts and he could cook the most incredible meals from scratch. As a kid, I would sit on the countertop as he would teach me the ins and outs of cooking. One quote immediately comes to mind: “ You know Kate...a good cook cleans as he goes.” Wait a minute - was this just an attempt to get me to clean the kitchen as a young kid?
  • Music Aficionado: He could tell you the title, artist, and year of any song no matter the decade. In the 90’s before iPods were a thing, he had a floor to ceiling 5,000 disk CD changer that was always on shuffle. He was the first person I know that ran an online radio show, which he DJ’d every week. We also created monthly “Stover tunes” that we’d send to our loyal friends and family. My dad’s love of music was clearly passed down to me and I’m grateful that I live in a city like Austin that allows me to enjoy live music any night of the week.
  • Travel Junkie: We loved to travel. Often, my dad would surprise me and ask if I wanted to go on a random road trip. One of those adventures turned into a two week long road trip from CA to Vancouver where we planned on the go, exploring the entire Pacific Coast. He taught me the power of experiencing new places and how important it is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I’ve now traveled to 25 countries and 41 states.
  • A Volunteer for the Homeless: My dad worked downtown Los Angeles and he was a big homeless advocate. We volunteered at the LA mission every Christmas where he’d play Santa Claus and me, his elf. He owned a clothing factory and we always had extra boxes of clothes lying around. These clothes would go not only to his employees, but to everyone on the streets of LA. He taught me the joy in giving back and in asking people their story. One game we’d always play was called “Save the Day” where we’d go out with the mission to make the world a better place. I now never pass a homeless person without saying hello and I’ve started various non-profits to give back to this cause.

And most of all “he was a…”

  • Loving and Supportive Father: I am extremely lucky because I had extreme love. My dad fought to see me no matter the circumstance and he never missed any of my big events. He tried to protect me from some of life’s brutal realities, by stepping away when it was too much and generally only showing me the sparkly human being he was capable of being, but he also taught me how to be strong and brave despite adversity.

I definitely got his best side, but I also understood his real side. We spoke honestly about the challenges he faced and I knew that none of his issues were my fault.

My dad taught me to love mankind, go deeper to really understand a person, live life to the fullest, read, write, listen to music, go on trips, and work every day to make the world a better place.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

When I first heard of Eterneva, I was immediately drawn in. A company that not only helped people process grief, but celebrated remarkable humans for who they are. I knew that by joining this company, I would not only better process my own grief, but also help others see the light in their suffering.

As the new Head of Channel, I am so thankful that I get to interact with such incredible humans and that I get to hear stories about love, triumph, and incredible people every single day. One month in and I am so enamored by the power of this community.

Thank you Eterneva for letting me join your family!

For more information on my father, check out:

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