Lizzie's Legacy

Liz Rockstad

September 24, 1984 - April 7, 2013

Donor, Minnesota

Hello my name is Corinne Rockstad and I’m the proud mother of Liz Rockstad or as I always called my daughter “Lizzie.”

Liz wouldn't have ever imagined 61 individuals in 21 states have benefited from her gift of donation. Two recipients received her corneas.

Lizzie was born September 24, 1984 in Bismarck, North Dakota and passed away April 7, 2013. She died from an accidental overdose of the prescribed pain medication she was taking known as oxycodone. She had only been taking it for a few short months.

She was so much more than a 2013 overdose statistic in Ramsey County. She was beautiful inside, caring, a sister, hopeless romantic, animal lover, human rights advocate, great back scratcher, old-fashion young lady, an organ, tissue Donor and she was my daughter.

When she was born I couldn’t believe it when the nurse told me my daughter had red hair. How could have I been so fortunate to have two daughters with red hair and beautiful blue eyes. Lizzie’s older sister Sarah has red hair and blue eyes and more commonly they are called “Gingers”.

Lizzie loved art, fashion culture, music and reading. Her favorite TV programs were True Blood, Modern Family, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. She like listening to the radio, including The Current, classical, country music and Public Radio. She also liked going to the movies especially James Bond and we would always make plans so her and myself could see the newly released James Bond movies together. Actually I think she liked looking at Daniel Craig. She enjoyed the Minneapolis concert scene. Once she had tickets to go see Phoenix at First Ave and was too sick to go. Her sister arranged to have the Phoenix Band members autograph their poster for Lizzie. She had an “eye” for fashion and could take a scarf, jewelry, and belt and pull an outfit together. She never left the house without looking her best!

She worked as a Certified Nurse Assistant in a nursing home, a role she preferred rather than being a registered nurse because she was much more involved with the residents. She truly enjoyed being a nurse assistant to the elderly and got to know her residents very well. She would often bring in movies from her personal collection— and Johnny Cash was a favorite. She would often tell me, Mom we watched Johnny Cash again today.” Her name was mentioned in eulogies of her residents by their family members and she attended their funerals as well. She really connected with the elderly and enjoyed listening to their life stories.

Being the strong advocate for human and animal rights she would become very upset every March when the baby seals would be bludgeoned. In March of 2013 she was alive and on her Facebook page showed a baby seal bludgeoning those humans who bludgeoned baby seals. I remember her showing it to me on her Facebook page . She also believed it was unconstitutional to tell someone who they could marry. Lizzie would have been elated to know the Supreme Court passed the bill in 2014. She was very informed about news and worldly events.

Lizzie’s “signature trademark” was her red hair, her beautiful flawless skin, wonderful blue eyes and dimples. She loved to picnic in Loring Park, going to the Walker, and stopping at Dunn Bros. Coffee. When we would shared a cup of coffee together she would always say, “Make mine like a sandy beach Mom”. An excellent cook, many of her recipes is still being used at the nursing home which she worked. When she lived with me we would plan one great meal each month. It was a time when we both would cook together and talk. One of our favorites was making Knoephla soup because it is a North Dakota staple that we inherited from living there. A hopeless romantic and she always wanted to meet the right man.

Lizzie left behind her family and her cat “Kitten”, but her tragic death led to new beginnings with sight for two people through eye and tissue donation that has helped 61 individuals. The individuals who received gifts from Lizzie are men and women ranging in age from 27 to 88 and have undergone surgery in 21 states.They required a tissue transplant for many various surgeries, including repairs to the toe, foot, ankle, shin, spine, hip and tendons of the knee, as well as reconstruction following a mastectomy and following a burn injury. I have also recently learned the two recipients who received her corneas is a man and a women who live in Minneapolis. For how tragic her death was can you imagine what it was like for the two recipients when they learned there was a donor who has donated their corneas and tissue. Over 7 years ago she had told me her decision to be a donor and indicated it on her driver’s license. She made the decision all on her own, knew it was the right thing to do and never second guess it. She was all about helping others and giving back. We are very proud of her for choosing to be a donor. When Lizzie’s picture was posted on the MN Lions Eye Bank Facebook page December 9, 2013 one of her co-worker/ friend saw it and wrote, After Liz’s death, such a dear friend, I went to the DMV to renew my license and a smile came across my face as I checked the box to become a donor also! All because of Liz!!

I often wonder if she were alive today what she would be doing. I know she would still be a CNA, or calling me to say mom can you hear Kitten purring while she is sitting on my lap, planning our ToFurkey Thanksgiving meal together, going to the new released James Bond movie, grocery shopping and talking about politics.

It still doesn’t seem real that she is gone and actually some days are so difficult I don’t think I can make it. But then there are wonderful rewarding people from LifeSource and MN Lion’s Eye Bank who have helped us to keep Lizzie’s memory alive. Both organizations have honored my daughter in several ways which we are forever grateful for! It is very difficult still to talk about my Lizzie but it means the world to me to be asked to share my daughter’s life. We truly love to talk about our loved one’s so never feel like it makes us uncomfortable because for that one moment we can share what joy they brought into our life.

Lizzie’s gifts have made a tremendous difference not only in the lives of the individuals who received them, but also in the lives of the recipients’ family and friends. Lizzie lives on in a legacy of kindness because of her gift and this has given us solace. I guess you can say she was recycled and she is out there in so many lives. Lizzie would have loved that!!!

If you are ever in Loring Park there is a park bench dedicated to Lizzie. Her bench is located directly across from Dunn Bros Coffee 329 W. 15th St. Minneapolis. You can’t miss it because her permanent address is etched in the concrete with a rock on the right hand side with her name “Lizzie” and the dedication on the side of the arm rest, “For Liz, We Love You, Mom~Sarah~Kitten”.

From the bottom of my heart we thank you for reading about our Lizzie and for what she stood for. She did have a purpose and did leave her mark in this World!

For Liz, We Love You, Mom~Sarah~Kitten