Monday, November 16, 2009

Her

{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.}

14 comments:

Delia said...

I LOVED reading that. I only knew her in her later years so I love to hear all the stories I can about her. I just now realized how much you look like here.

Janet said...

This was a great post! I love that you wore her dress-and that you have the picture of her in it. She was an amazing woman. We miss her. I'm glad that some of my kids got to know her a little.

Marilyn said...

Thanks for posting that Karen. I loved it. I have been thinking about her this past week as well, she really defined grace. What a lovely woman in so many ways. And Janet is right, you look so much like her!

The Good Life on Less! said...

:) Loved the dress story! Is that a tiara on your head? A beauty queen none-the-less!

Cara and Terry said...

Wow...that was a really cool story..thanks for sharing.

Ashley said...

lovely

Nancy K said...

What a wonderful post to read. I didn't have grandmas around when I was younger, but I see my mom influencing my children in ways that I am so thankful for.
I love that you wore her dress and on and on...the word has been used in all the other comments, but lovely, lovely-you and her.

Karie said...

I loved reading your thoughts on your grandmother and learning about this special lady!

dave.heather said...

I love it. So, so meaningful. I have a coat that was Dave's grandma's, whom I only met a few times, but adored. When I wear it, I feel a special connection to her. Thanks for sharing. ~Heather

Jen B said...

Beautiful. Tears. I have/had a closeness with my grandmothers that I so cherish. Keep sharing your memories with your children and they will develop the love and admiration that you have too.

Becky said...

I can't believe you never told me the story of the black dress- that is pretty amazing that your mom had that for you to wear ...and that you two were the same size and everything. So cool. I also think it's awesome that you have so much love and respect for her. Coming from me, who grew up with no grandmas, I just find that fascinating. I hope my kids will feel like that for their grandmas.

And here is the biggest WOW: You look exactly the same. Seriously, what the flag-nox? That is crazy. (Oh, and did your g-ma marry the guy she went out with in the black dress picture??? Um....his teeth!)

And the code word I had to type was: emalldis.

karen said...

yes, Beckz, that man is my Grandpa Randall, whom I never met. I swear his teeth are not jacked like that--it must have been like a speck of ink on the photograph or something. NONE of his other photos had teeth with a one-inch gap in the middle...

you're such an observant little former dental hygienist. :)

Becky said...

oops, ..ok then, I totally agree with you...it has to be the photo, some kind of nick on the photo. Cuz, he is handsome otherwise.

Carol F. said...

What a sweet tribute to your grandma. It gives me chills. By the way, I was reading a book about Mesa and Randall and Sirrine are both in it. Of course, you knew that. I will show you the book sometime or maybe I will get Paul to pick another up. You looked awesome in that dress.