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Caroline Swickle Lived

Every part of Functional Rustic is inspired by my mom, Carol Swickle. Through her obituary I hope you are able to develop a better understanding of who she was and how her influence on my life inspired the creation of Functional Rustic.

Caroline L. Swickle, 65, of Oxford Michigan, passed away peacefully and comfortably at home with family on September 16, 2019.

Carol was born in Hazel Park on January 15, 1954. She graduated from Troy High School and earned her certification as an X-Ray Technician. She married Robert Swickle on June 3, 1977. Carol worked as an X-Ray technician and then was a homemaker for her 4 children. She was an active member of AA and had a passion for volunteering her time, guiding others in the program, and service work. Besides family she enjoyed golf, gardening, going up north and raising her dogs & various other critters.

Carol with Louie. Louie stayed by her bedside all the way until the end.

Carol was preceded in death by her son Andrew Swickle and both her parents Frederick and Harriet Laws (Grieve). She is survived by her husband of 42 years Robert Swickle, and children Sarah Palmer (David Palmer), Emily Swickle (Jon Dewhurst) & Natalie Swickle, her grandson Waylon Kibler and her siblings Frederick Laws, Marjorie Roth (Dieter Roth) and David Laws.

The Swickle Family: Carol, Emily, Sarah, Andrew, Natalie & Robert.

Public visitation will be held from 4 pm to 8 pm on Sunday September 22 at Pixley Funeral Home in Rochester, MI. Visitation will also be available on Monday September 23 at 9 am before the Celebration of Life service at 10 am. Service to be followed by a processional the White Chapel Cemetery where she will be laid to rest.

Her entire life Carol was an avid reader. From a young age and through adulthood she would take time to regularly delve into the pages of a good mystery novel set in an exciting and far away place. As she read those pages in her youth she could only imagine that she in fact would one day set out on her own adventures around the world.

Carol met Bob while she was working as an X-ray technician at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital.  Their first date was to the Michigan State Fair. Considering the amount of critters they would adopt over the years it is quite fitting that their love blossomed around animals. Every year since then they went hand in hand back to the fair and relived the excitement of their first date.

Carol and Bob. <3

Carol loved the outdoors and shared that passion with Bob. They joined friends at camp sites all around Michigan and created memories and traditions that would continue to the next generation. Together they traveled the country and then the world – Carol always looking effortlessly beautiful with her latest scarf wrapped around her head.

Together with Bob, Carol swam in the waters off of Monterey, visited the deserts in Arizona, explored the streets of New York and walked the piers and wharfs of the eastern seaboard. Just as her books took her to far away places – so did her beloved Bob. They visited Monte Carlo, explored the castles & villages of England during the Queens 25th Jubilee and were awed by the stunning views of Scotland and Wales.

Carol Swickle (Laws).
Carol Swickle (Laws).

Carol, ever the nurturer, was ready to start a family after she and Bob married. 1 son & 3 daughters later and she had the family she was hoping to build. Every night she tucked her children to bed and read them a story. Once she taught them to read on their own she always had a book on hand to offer as an afternoon read.

Carol was raised in a house filled with animals (she even once had a pet squirrel!) so she knew better than anyone that house is not a home until animals joined the household. Carol and Bob had cats and tropical fish as a couple but, as parents, the menagerie expanded. Her family has raised cats, dogs, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles, frogs, geese, chickens and ducks. Not to mention she provided hospice care to many a dying bird brought home by one of her children.

Not only did Carol welcome all stray animals she also welcomed any person that wanted a snack or a place to call home for an afternoon. Holiday meals were always prepared with extra helpings because you never know which of her children’s friends will need a hot meal for the holiday. She was a second mom to anyone who entered her home.

The kids from the neighborhood called our house home too. Carol is pictured with Jenifer, Andrew, Sarah (that’s me!) and Jim.

As a mother Carol was in a league of her own. She maintained an immaculate house, provided a home cooked meal every day that her family enjoyed together, helped with homework and managed to get all four kids to hockey practices at three different ice rinks – Every. Single. Day. If her child was involved in an activity, she was there. She was also the kind of mom you really could talk about anything with. She listened. 

Carol volunteered too! When her kids attended Costello Elementary School she volunteered in the school library. Enjoying that work she next volunteered at the Friends Library in the Troy Public Library. (The Friends Library gathered donated books and sold them for a quarter to raise money for the library) In fact, the City of Troy honored Carol with an Award of Excellence for the work she did with the Friends Library. She also acted as troop leader for her daughter’s brownie troop – leading a generation of girls toward a life of service.

A life devoted to service and her children did allow Carol another chance to travel – this time as a family. Weekend trips up north spent fishing and looking for deer were the high light of every summer. Those camping trips Carol and Robert took with friends while they were dating became yearly memorial weekend camping trips with all of the families.

Mom got stuck in the mud while we were up north at Lost Lake Woods Club.
Mom had quite a productive garden that year!

Weekends were spent watching her son play baritone in high school band competitions and then at Michigan State University football home games. Band season wrapped up just in time for hockey tournaments and out of state hockey games every weekend. She never missed a thing. Once again, Carol was an international traveler – going back and forth to hockey games in Windsor and Sarnia on a regular basis.

Being a hockey parent enabled Carol the opportunity to get to see her children play hockey across the country – Chicago, New York, Boston and Anchorage to name a few. Hockey also took her and the family internationally throughout Ontario Canada and even games in Germany and Italy. She held hands with Bob while walking along the canals of Venice and smelled the musk of the Sistine Chapel with her four children by her side.

Bob & Carol Swickle, Outlaws of the Wild West!

Carol loved golf and played in a league. The winter thaw always started the countdown to the start of golf season. She spoke of her golf ladies often and always with a smile. The friendships she developed with them were truly special to her.

Carol had a passion for plants of all kinds. She had a green thumb and access to full sun so her life was filled with flowers and house plants. The gardens outside were elegant and well-tended and the plants inside were lush and green. Everything she touched grew into something beautiful – plants, food, animals and people.

Due to the anonymous nature of Alcoholics Anonymous, some may not have known how impactful the AA program was on Carol. Not only did it change her life but it also afforded her the opportunity to share her story with others and help guide them toward their personal path of recovery. Her regular meetings were her second home – her second family.

Mom and Dad up north. This is one of my favorite pictures of them. <3

Carol acted as a sponsor for many women over the years. She felt it such an honor and responsibility having that role. She knew what a profound and positive impact her sponsor had on her and she wanted to make sure she provided that same support for those she sponsored. She also led meetings for women in the Oakland County Jail and later the prison thus allowing those incarcerated to participate in the benefits of the AA program.  

It was humbling to know that her story was able to provide comfort and guidance to someone in need. Helping others work their steps helped her to stay focused on living her best life too.

The AA program provided Carol the environment she needed to thrive and live her best life possible. It helped her to live in the moment and appreciate the now. When she was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer just few months ago that ‘live in the moment’ mind set became a necessity.

Mom on the porch appreciating the warm, soft breeze.

Fortunately for Carol, her lifetime of loving others enabled her to see her final months surrounded by beauty and knowing she was loved by many.

She spent her final months at home with plants she started growing when she and Robert were only engaged, with dogs and Muscovy ducks and a family of deer living in the yard. She spent her final months with her grandson Waylon and even met her grandniece Waverly. She spent her final weeks sitting on the porch admiring her flowers and the lawn she mowed herself on the zero turn. She lived in the moment. It was absolutely beautiful to witness. Her final days were spent in her home with family always close by and proud to be giving her whatever she needed to be comfortable. Her final moments were spent with her children by her side and Bob holding her hand.

Caroline Louise Swickle Lived.

Carol with her family. Front: Natalie, Waylon, Waverly, Amanda, Emily, Claire. Rear: Dave, Carol, Bob, Sarah.
When we still though treatment was an option mom was ready to face it head on. We all cut our hair so that we could donate it to make a wig for mom. It arrived the day she died.
Mom and I showing off our new hair!