- Peace for Shawn and I, for Kyle and Miranda and Braden and Connor, for our parents and siblings and nieces and nephews and inner circle friends watching and hurting as we go through this
- that God would keep soft our children's hearts toward Him through all the emotions of this hard journey
- strength and stamina; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually
- that the cancer shrinks to gone, gone, gone!
- gentle side effects to this second round of chemo
- family unity, harmony, love, strength, joy, happiness
- anything else you feel God puts on your heart

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sister Reflections ~ Part 1

Sister Reflections ~Part 1
Read by Kristin's Sisters Keri Jones (left) Kori Unrau (right)

Kristin is the creative writer and editor in our family… She’s also our public speaker, our picture taker, memory keeper, scrapbook maker, handbag wearer, party planner, card writer, prayer sayer, Deal finder, gift giver, tea totler, avid learner, book reviewer, technology learner, faith sharer and the list goes on!
… It’s hard to summarize 42 years into one short tribute, but we will do our best!

Kristin was the first child to our parents Jerry & Evelyn.  She was a perfect baby, an adorable toddler, and she became ‘Krissy’ to those that loved her most!  She had flaming red hair and perfect little curls that became her trademark and something she became SO proud of. It set her apart from the rest of us average people, and with the red hair came a HUGE personality!  She quickly wrapped everyone around her little finger, and there wasn’t a stranger that looked away without giving her a smile. She started talking early and had the gift of gab! She would talk to anyone that would listen… Dad remembers walking with her down Montrose street when she was just a little girl, she looked up at a stranger with a great big smile and told him ‘Jesus loves you!’

Kristin was a very happy little girl and loved playing with her baby dolls, and later with her real live baby dolls, her sisters.  She was proud to show us off, but more than once tried to send us back to wherever we came from! Although she loved her baby dolls, they soon were replaced with books!  Her love for books & learning and reading & writing started at a very early age and followed her into her teen years and high school. 

Some activities Kristin enjoyed during her school years were playing the organ, and the saxophone.  She loved music but playing the organ wasn’t cool, and after switching from MEI to Abby Sr she gave up the saxophone too.  I’m pretty sure her saxophone is somewhere in her house along with every other collectible or piece of memorabilia from her childhood! Kristin accomplished SO many things and quite literally has a tangible reminder of each and every accomplishment.  It seemed natural that she would one day become a scrapbooker since she couldn’t even throw out a piece of paper with a pencil mark on it. Everything she had represented something important to her and she could tell you the meaning behind every single item in her home!

Along with music, managing the senior boys basketball team, and working through high school, Kristin had the opportunity to travel to Japan on an exchange program.  I remember being so nervous that she was going ALL THE WAY to Japan on an airplane for the very first time by herself! She had a fantastic time and she was so excited to come home and tell us all about her adventure! She met new Japanese friends and we were excited to host a Japanese student upon her return. Our student was Miwa, and she formed a fast bond with Kristin!  They spent hours together and it was a sad day when she had to leave.  Kristin made time to write letters to Miwa and send little packages in the mail.  It was always an exciting day when a letter arrived for Kristin all the way from Japan!  Miwa came back to Canada to stay with us several years later and she has stayed connected to this day. 

When the internet was invented Kristin was THRILLED to connect over email. She was the techie of our family and has always had the latest gadgets.  In her high school years she was given a little red camera that she took wherever she went! This was the birth of a new passion: Photography! Kristin had a gift of capturing everyday moments on film! You can only imagine how drastically things changed when the digital camera was invented.  She went from capturing a handful of photos to an armload and what a gift that has become to her family and friends. (And by armloads I mean dump trucks full!)
Over the years when a new invention came along, she had to have it! We are pretty sure that she owned Abbotsfords first iphone and it’s still put to good use today!  Kristin was also the first in our family to have a laptop, a DSLR, an ipod shuffle, and an ipad! Having all these gadgets made recovering from surgeries, chemo, radiation, and complications a tiny bit easier.  She couldn’t get up or go out so it gave her a way to stay connected. When Kristin didn’t have the energy to speak you could find her sending a quick text or forwarding a picture of her beloved monkey LaLaLuna who was always getting into trouble.
Kristin was a very gifted student and she was always on the honour roll. We rarely saw an assignment that didn’t have a giant red A+ on the front! Kori and I longed to have the perfect report cards like Kristin, but sadly she got all the brains in our family! Only two short weeks ago Kristin was having a rough time and asked me to talk to her to help distract her for a moment.  I asked her for a topic, but it was Kristin-style which means I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about! Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to confess to Kristin that her writing was so good, that I had ‘borrowed’ some of it back in grade eight.  I needed to write a speech for English class and it just so happened that she already had a really good one written the year before!  Of course it was perfect: it was current, already on cue cards, and most importantly within reach!  Kristin NEVER EVER threw anything out (did I mention that already?) and that was to my advantage. Unfortunately my teacher knew that I couldn’t write that well, and I was busted! All these years later Kristin had NO idea, and was shocked when I told her.  She was so happy that the teacher had recognized her writing and she was equally happy that he had failed me for plagiarism! We had a good laugh about it!  

Another story about our childhood that comes to mind is the excitement of knowing that Kristins 16th birthday was coming up and with it…. Her drivers license!  We anticipated ‘cruising’ up and down South Fraser Way with her! Grabbing some cokes from Mcdonalds! Looking for boys!  It was very short lived as she wanted nothing to do with us and viewed her license as a ticket to freedom! Anything to get away from us! On a funny note, one of the first times she drove our parents car, she forgot to put it in park.  The car rolled down the driveway, hit a planter, and came to rest across the street against the neighbour’s house!  We gave her a hard time about it, but she learned a lesson and became a very good driver! We were very happy for her when she bought her first car and she was so proud that she bought and paid for it with her very own hard earned money!
A highlight of high school for Kristin was cooking class!! She couldn’t wait to come home and recreate the recipes that she had made at school.  One day as we drove down the hill near our house we could hear fire trucks and we joked that Kris was probably burning down the house with her newly learned cooking skills! There were no fire trucks in our driveway, but we walked in the door to billowing smoke and inedible muffins! We shared a good laugh and were sure to tease her about it for many years to come.

After Kristin became a wife and mother, we often got phone calls around the dinner hour asking how to make this or that. Usually her questions went something like this…. ’I want to make mom’s farmer sausage bean soup, but I don’t have any beans or farmer sausage.  What can I use instead?’  We would laugh and discourage her from making that recipe and steer her towards a recipe that used the ingredients she had on hand.  Later we would find that she made the first recipe with totally different ingredients and she was so disappointed that it didn’t taste like moms!!! I don’t know that she ever found any joy in cooking or baking but she always did her best to feed her family and never gave up. 
Growing up, our favourite family activity was camping. For us it was all about carving sticks, roaming the campsite all day, and burning things… but for Kristin it was ALWAYS about reading and Fishing!! She was the one who was up at the crack of dawn to head out on the lake with Dad. There was often a fish rivalry between her and all of the boys and when we could hear the boat coming towards us we could tell by the look on her face who caught the most fish!  She never wanted to come in empty handed! Having said that, she hated actually TOUCHING the fish as she didn’t want to get smelly and covered in ‘Gore’. (her word, not mine!). 
On one of our camping adventures, all of the kids we were with climbed up a very steep mountainside.  It was almost vertical and we had nothing to grab onto; no trees, no shrubs, no tall grass, or roots….nothing.  As tomboys, Kori and I were quick to join the climb. About three feet up we noticed Kristin standing alone at the bottom and we immediately slid down to her. If we climbed the hill without her, we would be in trouble...  If we climbed the hill with her, we would not be in trouble…. She rarely if ever got in trouble!!!! The two of us encouraged her to climb with us and even stayed back with her to get her up the hill.  It never occurred to us that what goes up must come down.  That day we learned that her fear of heights was very real! Once we got her to the top there was NO amount of encouragement, bribes, or threats that would get her down. Finally we had to call on the adults to help her get down. 
Kristin’s love of camping followed her into her adult years and Shawn and Kristin bought their first ‘Charlie Brown’ trailer (as she liked to call it) shortly after they started their family. They quickly outgrew it and purchased a larger model which they have used many times over. Kristin loved being all cozy with her family which is a good thing because BC camping often means being trapped inside. Smores, games, reading, swimming and anything her family could do together topped her list of favorite things.

Ferndale Washington is one of the family’s favorite camping destinations and Kristin was so proud of both Braden and Connor for learning to ride their bikes without training wheels at that campsite.  Kristin loved sitting pool side with her camera in hand watching Miranda swim for hours. This past July we spent some time as a family where Kristin surprised us all by doing a ‘Cannon Below’ into the freezing cold pool. I remember her telling me that one of her favourite things to do is just float. On that same trip, Kristin spotted a teeny tiny baby bunny running across the grass and suggested that Kyle catch it for us. After he caught it, Kristin played show and tell with her new furry friend. She passed it around so everyone could have a little cuddle. When it ended up back in Kristin’s hands, she thought that it had peed on her.  She flipped it over and exclaimed, ‘EWWWW GORE’ and remained perfectly calm while everyone else burst into a fit of laughter! Turns out the little guy had a run in with a lawn mower!  This story has brought us all a ridiculous amount of laughter over the past 7 months. I guess you had to be there!
Camping wasn’t the only get away that Kristin enjoyed.  She developed a love for travelling early, and Shawn and Kristin enjoyed many trips together including Banff, Europe, Nova Scotia, Quebec, New York, Niagra Falls, San Fransisco, San Diego, and countless weekend get- aways to Whistler, Vancouver, and Victoria.  Kristin and Shawn loved travelling as a family and enjoyed visiting the dinosaurs in Drumheller, Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, and all the awesome animals of San Diego Zoo! Most recently, our family made some amazing memories as the 17 of us travelled to Florida for a trip of a lifetime! We spent two weeks together and it truly was the happiest place on earth! We enjoyed rides, and shows, and some VIP treatment, and we all enjoyed eating our way around the parks too!!
Something that some of you already know about Kristin, is how much she LOVED a party!! She could turn any boring event into a party. Julia Child once said, ‘A party without cake is just a meeting’, but Kristin actually lived it! She never showed up empty handed! And she always loved a crowd!  She never even watched the superbowl or other major sporting events but she looked forward to it because she knew there would be a party somewhere! You knew you would find Kristin wherever friends and family were gathered.
Kristin's love language was ‘Time spent’. And everybody knew it! She loved being with her kids, and would often pull them out of school for a ‘ditch day’ for some one-on-one time! She was so proud of her kids accomplishments and was their biggest cheerleader! She encouraged them to dream far beyond their own expectations, and then taught them to reach for those dreams!
Having alone time with Shawn was also very important to Kristin but also very hard to do with four kids under foot! It often meant taking advantage of short drives and a quick coffee or tea together. Kristin absolutely loved going out on a date ~just the two of them.
Kristin also loved her extended family and her friends, and would never just say ‘let’s get together’, instead she always made a point of choosing a date, a time and a location to meet up for a chat over a ‘TALL VANILLA CHAI TEA LATTE WITH TWO PUMPS MOCHA NO WHIP’!  She didn’t ever want to miss an opportunity to spend time with her family or friends, or even to make some new friends.  Kristin wrote on one of her scrapbook pages ‘Life is way too short to miss the awesome ordinary everyday stuff! She really did have a way of making that awesome ordinary every day stuff feel SO important! She celebrated everyday life!! be continued!

1 comment:

  1. The service was so beautiful and it was such a blessing to be there. Everyone involved did such a wonderful job celebrating Kristin. Valentine's Day means love, and your love for your family shone bright <3


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