Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sisters (part 3): Meet Kathryn

Kathryn and I have been victims of distance. First, we are twelve years apart. That means that she left home when I was learning how to read and still sucking my thumb. Second, we have lived thousands of miles a part for many years, with annual visits if we are lucky.

I honestly don't have a lot of childhood memories that include Kathryn because she was busy running the high school newspaper and establishing the Hall tradition of Valedictorianism while I was playing patty-cakes. What I remember is that she was driven. She was involved. She was pro-active. She was self-motivated. (When Mom could never get my sorry bum off the couch to practice the piano she would remind me that "your sister Kathryn used to wake herself up at 5:30 a.m. when she was your age (11) so she could practice before school.") The other thing I remember about that time is that Kathryn was Molly Ringwald. That's the great thing about graduating in 1987 you know--your senior pictures could have been the cover of Pretty in Pink. Lavender eyeshadow? Yes, please! Kathryn had scores of suitors in high school. And, as our parents wished Kathryn to abide by the standard of not dating before age 16, I got to go out for frozen yogurt a lot (because if I was there, it was somehow not a date!)

Though my childhood relationship with Kathryn was rather distant, she totally set the standard for me (for all of us). She was the first graduate, the first BYU cougar, the first missionary. She worked hard. She excelled. She was the example.

Hearing stories of Kathryn's mission in New York City made me excited to serve one, too. She was hardcore. She learned and spoke Spanish so fast that even the Dominicans had to ask her to slow down. She got mugged and held up at gun point and knocked over on her bike to the tune of a broken finger. But on she went preaching the Good word. I was only 10, but I already knew that I needed to do that, too.

Kathryn finished up her undergrad in English and then received her Master's in ESL. She is a hardcore grammar and punctuation expert. (Like she will find 59 errors in this post.) She is a very clever writer. She ran the writing center at Utah Valley State College and taught English there as well as many colleges around the country (depending on where her husband's job took them). She was administering a test when her water broke with her first baby. She was back to work a week later (nursing all the while). I told you, she's hardcore.

And somewhere in the middle of that (after the bachelor's degree, but before the first baby!) she married Stu--who is a blog post unto his self. He is amazing. For the sake of this post (it is about Kathryn, after all), suffice it to say, he lived in Rock Canyon during several winter months in Provo, Utah. Inspired by Thoreau, he was sucking the marrow out of life. That is the kind of man Stu is. And we love him for it.

It's funny, because now that I am thinking about it, I followed Kathryn's footsteps in a lot of areas. BYU? Check. Mission? Check. Teacher? Check. Marry a man who went from the Humanities to business? Check. (Except mine never lived in Rock Canyon. Dang it!)

Kathryn is so bright and had such a stellar career teaching college that I often thought she would be more of a career woman than a stay-at-home-mom type. But I was wrong. She has bravely and uncomfortably made it through five pregnancies. (She gets violently ill for about the first 2/3 of each pregnancy. I am such a wuss. I don't think I would have kept signing up for that.) And now she is setting the example for me again--showing me how to be Super-Mom. In any given day she is chauffering her five children around Charlottle, from Girl Scouts to piano lessons to school to little league.
She supervises piano practicing, amidst preparing for her ward's primary program (once a year each Mormon congregation enjoys a whole hour of talks and songs by the children), and then
finds the time (and patience) to make homemade pretzels with her children.

She is patient, efficient, witty. She makes things fun. She gets things done. If we are coming together as a family you can count on her to email everyone an itinerary. On Christmas morning when Steven and I would shlop down the stairs in our sweats at 9:00 a.m. rubbing our eyes (this is an adulthood memory by the way, not a childhood one!), she was sitting at the breakfast table having showered, dressed, blow-dryed, eaten, and read the paper. That is Kathryn.
And so, like I knew at age 10 that I wanted to be the kind of missionary she was, I now want to be the kind of mother she is. Her kids are bright and driven and involved and fun.

Kathryn's most recent feat? After giving birth to little spidey here she decided she was tired of her post-five-births body.

She hadn't been a runner before, but she decided now was the time. She started small. A mile. Two miles. It hurt. Her lungs, her knees, her ankles, her feet. Three miles. Four miles. It still hurt, but it felt so amazing to have more energy, to feel more healthy, to lose baby weight!
When she can't run outside she supervises kids while running on the treadmill. As busy as her life is, she makes it happen. She ran a 5K. We were impressed. She ran another one. We were impressed.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my big sister Kathryn ran a half-marathon. I am impressed and proud to the point of misty eyes at writing this!

And now I am following in her footsteps again. I'm only up to 2 miles sis, but I'll be by your side in


rhall said...

Loved this, Anne. Aren't you the lucky one, 2 sisters and 2 brothers.

danielle said...

OK well first of all, I just noticed that the play kitchen liz made you has a soda dispenser, which is hilarious. I am pretty sure I didn't even know what soda was when I was that age. Ha...youngest child!

Second, I LOVE this post about Kathryn. I don't really know her at all, but I sometimes feel like I do because I have heard you sing her praises all these years. I could always tell how much you admired her. How lucky you are to have such wonderful sisters to look up to!

an ps...I got a little choked up about the pear blossom. Oh the pear blossom. That is awesome you are running it, and Kathryn looks great by the way...and you always look great so I am assuming the running is more of a personal fitness goal thing.

Christina said...

Kathryn is amazing. I wish she had a blog because I feel like we could all learn a lot from her!

I want to hear more about your running goals. I have wanted to start running - I have a life goal to run a marathon. I'm not sure why since I have never been a runner! But we'll see - I bought my stroller this week and I hope to start getting out between the rain showers!

Emily said...

I think it's so easy to trick ourselves into believing that the time for anything "cool" or brave or new is in our youth. I, myself, sometimes fear aging because I think that it has nothing in store but aches and pains and wrinkles (we talked about this). Love how Kathryn has turned that myth on its head with her running. So inspiring!

These sisterly tributes are treasures. You're sweet to do this, Anne. Fun to get to know Kathryn better through this one.

Sally said...

That was so sweet. There is really no bond that can compare to that of sisters.

Jacque said...

So fun to read. Kathryn was one of the Laurels I got to look up to and admire. So fun and and accomplished. I remember on a temple trip when Leah Neilsen put lettuce up her nose to look like a booger and Kathryn left toilet paper out of the back of her pants.Such a sweet trickster. I think she even bought fake earring to freak out your dad that she got her ears pierced. I also remember Stu from college at Ricks. Everyone knew Stu. He was the guy everyone wanted as a friend. When I found out OUR Kathryn was marrying Stu....too cool...Now you have given me more reasons to admire her.

Kathryn said...

I feel the same as Liz did after reading her tribute: I’m not worthy! You paint a pretty nice picture of me that hardly seems real. I had forgotten about some of these details and can’t believe you remembered all of this from a young age.

Not the most flattering pictures! But mom was anxious to send some and I obliged without really looking at them. Yikes! But I guess that’s what I really look like. And that’s what my kitchen really looks like.

I’m so glad you’ll be joining me in April! Keep moving!

liz said...

So, so great. Do you think the three of us are as different as can be? I had totally decided against coming to Medford in April (new baby, you know) but now I'm wondering if I could get myself in gear fast enough to run with you guys! Do you think I could do it? Maybe not. It would be such a fun sisterly bonding moment.

AliceK[i]ND said...

I love Kathryn! I miss her. I really wish she had a blog... I would be a huge fan! :)

Jill said...

Finally catching up on my homies blogs. Loved this tribute. She is one in a million. She makes me tired with all she is able to do. And wow, fab body too!