Of all the traits she inherited from her father, Mattie Carstens is most grateful for his love of travel.
Her favorite memories involve conversations and summer scenery and reading aloud as her dad drove his long-distance trucking route to Washington state. At every stop, Ken Carstens never failed to make a friend.
“He was a very outgoing person — he could make a conversation with a brick wall,” says Mattie. “I loved riding with him — I met a lot of people that way.”
She lost her father in September 2011 after a seven-month battle with leukemia. He was just 48. She was 15, a 10th grader at Remsen-Union High School in Remsen, IA.
Hospice of Siouxland helped make his final days easier for everyone, she says. “They made him comfortable so he was able to share individual moments with us all and have that time with each of us to say his last words.”
Mattie turned to Hospice of Siouxland in the difficult weeks and months that followed. “They helped process my grief,” she says of counselors at the Family Grief Support Group and the Camp Courage weekend for children who had lost a loved one. “I had kind of a ‘shut down,’ and they gave me some easy ways to distance myself from my grief, so I could come back to it and process it.”
Taking part in Hospice of Siouxland services, she says, “really helped me to know I’m not the only one going through this. I made a lot of good friends who got to know me on a more personal level.”
She now volunteers at Camp Courage and shares her experiences with others, telling how Hospice of Siouxland “is a wonderful organization that helps assist both the people passing away and the family.”
Today, the bubbly 21-year-old is all smiles as she talks about graduating from Morningside College in May 2018 and working as a teacher, and, of course, building her own memories behind the wheel.
“I travel whenever and wherever I can,” says Mattie. “I have friends all over the country. I just love to drive.”