Monday, November 16, 2009


{Grandma and Grandpa Stoker, c.1980s)
My Grandma Randall Sirrine Stoker died one year ago. Lately I've been remembering things she said to me that likely altered the course of my life. At least my life with Marc.

Example: She encouraged me to move beyond some 5th grade-style attitudes of pettiness my girlfriends and I had concerning the dating scene (and eachother). I was made to feel like I couldn't like or date anybody that any of my friends had ever liked or dated, which left about three men in the dating pool, all hopeless twits.

True Tidbit: The Mormon dating pool is just not that big when you're 29. Frankly, I was also quite complacent just going out to dinner and the movies every weekend with my roommates Michelle and Kristi, and occasionally going to some singles' parties. I'm smiling as I'm typing this right now--remembering her telling me: "Well, you don't marry your friends." Grandma reminisced about her first encounter with my Grandpa Randall, who died before I was born. She went on a double date with him, although she was with his friend, and his date was another girl. It was as if she were giving me permission to just go for Marc. Even though McLadiesMan had "dated" one of my former roomates, who remains one of my good friends today.

So I did just go for it.

My grandma was widowed three times. She grew up in the Great Depression and she struggled with some rare health issues. Her trials galvanized her strong spirit and her faith. How will I teach my daughters charity, compassion, and unwaivering faith that comes mostly from enduring hardship and sacrifice? Our world today is one of such ease and comfort.

Her white halo of hair literally made her face radiate with light. "How is life in your world?" was her trademark question, regardless of how she herself was feeling.

My Senior year in high school I needed a dress for a formal dance. I can't remember if I found the black crepe dress rummaging around in my mom's closet, or if my mom offered me the dress to wear, but I ended up wearing my Grandma Stoker's black dress with shoulder-to-floor rhinestone buttons down the side [and some gargantuan shoulder pads] from the 1940s. Not even one alteration was needed. The rhinestone buttons on the shoulder had fallen off, and we didn't have time to sew them on {or they were lost}. I felt like a million bucks. Although I felt like I lacked her grace and class, it was perfect.

Senior year 1986. Me wearing the same dress she wore in the 1940s.

{Thanks Aunt Jane for helping me find the photo of THE dress.}

Friday, November 6, 2009


General Conference weekend.* Not all my days can be filled with pithy fun and fluff. Some days it's necessary to re-focus on the unwavering truths of life and our existence here on earth. Cousin Alice's five kids came to "camp out" for a couple of days [while they were off backpacking somewhere remote]. We were schooled in the art of Extreme Fort Building. Nine kids mulled about crafting various nests and hideouts for themselves.
These were powerful messages of hope, charity, and faith. To edify and recommit my mind and soul. And detox myself from the cynic I don't want to become. A rescue of sorts from my usual jaded self. Elder Holland's profound testimony of the Book of Mormon was among my favorites. Here are some highlights from several of the talks.

*General Conference is a bi-annual occurence wherein a living prophet and the twelve living apostles, as well as other men and women, deliver inspired messages about Jesus Christ. It is broadcast worldwide from Salt Lake City. It is interesting to note that these men/women are not paid/professional clergy. They are people who did not seek their callings, but who were plucked from their various professions as lawyers, surgeons, farmers, military personnel, pilots, engineers, etc., to tirelessly testify of the Living Christ, to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, much like the apostles of Biblical times.