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Ella Marie came in swinging on March 4, 2016. A teeny tiny little girl, she came with red hair and beautiful blue twinkling eyes and a warning label “to look out world”. Daddy (Adam Flaagan) brought her home after 28 days in the Neonatal Intensive care (NICU) to two adoring big brothers; Jack and Liam, and “Gramm” (Karen Flaagan) and “Pa Pa” (Chester Flaagan) arms to make our circle complete. Ella became center of all our universe; filling the days with smiles, laughter and love.
Ella came as her own unique self. Ella was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome (a rare genetic condition) along with a Cyst in her brain, having reduced vision and global physical delays, Ella rose above the challenges to fill our world with love and laughter. Ella began her journey fighting every step of the way by constantly surprising her family and the people around her involved in her life and care by meeting milestones and reminding her dad, Gramm and Pa Pa who was “boss”.
To know Ella was a joy! She was all that was pure, good, and happy. Her belly laughs and giggles stole the hearts with those that knew her. Ella loved to travel and feel the sounds and surroundings around her. From the first time she flew to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics to meet with doctors on her eye sight to the bi-weekly therapy dates with her therapy team at Northwood Deaconess Rehab she greeted everyone with a laugh, giggle, and a smile.
There never are two more proud big brothers. Jack and Liam were Ella’s biggest fan club, her cheerleaders! “Go ELLA!” was often heard. “You can do it”, patty cake, feeding herself, and learning to sit on her own, and walking in her walker. Jack and Liam gave unconditional love and cheer to their baby sister. Ella could not contain her giggles when Jack would play with her. Jack and Ella were a hilarious duo. Liam and Ella had a very special bond. At first Liam wasn’t fond of this “alien” when she came home but became her biggest protector. Gathering books, readers, music players, love and kisses given. Ella was his “best sister ever!”.
Ella, loved with her whole heart. She shared her world with us for 6 ½ perfect years. Even with all her challenges and not being able to talk, Ella found her own way. Ella’s first word was “Love”; she could talk without words. Her hands and her eyes and spirit showed us the way. Ella had a sign language of her own. Ella knew when she was being funny and had an amazing incomparable evil snickering laugh that matched her personality perfect especially when you knew you were being “played”.
One of her favorite things was music and waltzing with “Pa Pa (Grandpa Chester). There was never a day with out a dance party, “Pa Pa” would hold her in arms and sing every single day “Waltzing Matilda” with “Pa Pa” wrapped around her fingers.
Music was everything to Ella. Metallica, Queen, hard rock were her favorites with “Gramm and Pa Pa,” eventually daddy convinced her to add soft rock and good old country music to her favorite tunes as allowable. No matter what, Taylor Swift made her cry and it literally was like clock work when it came on. But nothing could beat singing with “Gramm.” Hours and hours of rocking and talking and throwing kisses.
Ella began rehab therapy at Northwood Deaconess Health and they quickly became another family to her. The therapy team in Northwood helped Ella to grow and learn and talk. In particular Ms. Cathy Snyder, she became her “Therapy Mom.” They could spend their whole therapy session laughing and snickering. Their singing of Queens; “We Will Rock You” and “You are my Sunshine,” became their anthem. Ella and the family all loved therapy and seeing Ella rock the day.
One of our fondest memories is Ella discovering cheeseburgers and being able to eat with the “boys”. Ella struggled to eat more than pureed food for the longest time, but this year her love of all thing’s food was a riot. This teeny – tiny little girl mastering a Sonic cheeseburger and strawberry shake had us all in stitches. There was no getting in between Ella and her burgers she had a grip like a vice if you tried. Ella was never happier to eat her own big girl burger. Woe to anyone who tried to steal an onion ring. This was also applied to ice cream and good luck getting that spoon back.
Ella had just begun Kindergarten at home with “Gramm,” the first week she blew us all away. We came to realize this little girl had taught her self braille. How to use her AAC Device (Augmentative & Alternative Communication Device) and could spell, and more. Ella amazed us all with her bright and eager self. The world is a hard place for children with challenges.
Ella and “Gramm” had their own special bond. Ella came home to Gramm and never left her arms. She was Gramm’s girl. Gramm gave Ella the world and Ella gave Gramm her heart. They shared a very, very special love. Ella was with Gramm everyday and inseparable. Whether dad was at work in Devils Lake or Pa Pa in the field Gramm and Ella were together and Ella loved to be with Gramm and help her with her flowers and be in the breeze on sunny days.
A father was never prouder. Ella was a snuggler and a kisser. She could often be seen with whisker burns in her eagerness to get close to dad and snuggle. Falling asleep on dad, riding bike, going on the swing were favorites. Bedtime was the best, “Go to sleep” (in a stern voice) and a giggle fest. Then a threat to toss in bed! One – Two – Three! GIGGLES with a glee. “GO to SLEEP” – Nope it was time to wrap dad (and Pa pa) around her fingers. Cuddles and bath times and splashing.
Our favorite memories: Crazy hair that looks something straight out from Einstein and partying all night in her bed. Ella loved the camper and beeping the horn. Breaking Lego’s (to her brother’s frustration), Music – Music – Music! Ella’s toes were always tapping! Hangry! Turning all her toys to Spanish herself and laughing nonstop! Ella rocked the model hair toss and pig tails. Loved her tennis shoes that squeaked. The belly laughs always the belly laugh. Clapping, nose tickles and throwing kisses non-stop! Ella had sass and she rocked it without a care.
Ella was above it all and our everything. She was sassy and spunky and strong. Ella was love and joy and happiness. We cherished this girl and she filled our lives. Ella was happiest in the sunshine, besides her brothers and in our arms. She was our Everything. She was our Love. She was our Laughter. She is for Always. Ella Marie will forever be.
To Honor Ella, we ask you to turn up the music, laugh a bit more, share all the love and to feel the breeze.
Our hearts need time to be together. We respectfully ask for no visits or calls. We need time to heal and to cherish our girl.
There will be a visitation at the Stanley-Iverson Funeral Home of McVille, ND, on Thursday, September 15, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Please wear bright and colorful clothing.