This is a story where for once I don’t know exactly where to begin, but I love it so much. I guess as Maria teaches, we’ll start at the very beginning. Stan and Sharon went to high school together. He was on the football team and would walk her home after the games. Cute, right?! All was well until Stan’s family moved to the Phoenix valley when his sister became ill and they needed to be closer to medical help. And life went on. They each fell in love, got married, and raised families of their own.
One year, Mrs Sharon Norris got this adorable, blonde, blue-eyed little boy in her 1st grade class. That was when my Dad met her and started calling her Mrs. Norris. He had her again as a teacher for 3rd grade. Not long down the road Sharon & Ray and my Grandparents, Darrow and Ruth, became close friends and worked together with ranching and church. My Dad then called her Sharon (or Sister Norris when it was time for Primary-Sunday School for Children).
And then there was the ranching accident that took Ray’s life, and a while later Ruth, my grandmother, died from health issues. But, Grandma Ruth had left a list for Grandpa Darrow. She didn’t want him to be alone, so she prepared a list of amazing women she knew. At the top of the list was Sharon Norris.
And now Mrs. Norris, Sister Norris, and Sharon was Mom for my Dad, and Grandma to me and my siblings. My Dad is the youngest of 7, so we are on the younger end of all the 30+ cousins. I have vague memories of Grandma Ruth, and my siblings have none. All of our Grandma Richins memories are of this fiery, kind, beautiful woman. (And cue the waterworks). And I got three new awesome Aunts with the deal! You can never have too many.
Grandma took such amazing care of Grandpa and brought two families together beautifully. She always introduces me as “my Granddaughter”, and I love it. Four years ago my Grandpa Darrow passed away. This was the second husband Grandma Sharon had loved dearly and lost, and it took some time to pick up after that. Yet through it all, she was amazing and on fire. She has a love for the gospel, her family, and her neighbors.
And then on a trip back to her hometown, Sharon ran into Stan, who’s wife had died of cancer three years earlier. It didn’t take long for these two to reconnect.
Last week I had the honor of photographing Stan and Sharon’s wedding. They originally were going to have the wedding at home in front of the fireplace with no guests. They told my Dad it was just going to be a little event. And then word got out, and the guest list multiplied a number of times in the week leading up to their wedding. Seeing everyone come together for this wedding was incredibly sweet. My mom made the most delicious cakes, Stan brought a cake, and a yummy yummy carrot cake in the shape of a heart was brought as a gift as well. Oil Lanterns adorned the tables. And a church friend brought a ranching rustic backdrop to touch up the cultural hall of the church. Everyone wanted to help and to celebrate with these two people who mean so much to all of us.
So, there was all those layers upon layers of the story. One more that made this extra special for me though, is that my Dad recently was called to be the Bishop of the Animas Ward, the local LDS congregation for their area. This ended up being his very first wedding to officiate. Listening to him tell the story I just told you (but much better in person!) was incredibly moving. I loved his advice to Stan, “Hang on tight and try to keep up!”
I loved getting to be there as a part of Grandma and Stan’s day. Stan fits in the family well, and seeing the way the two of them look at each other makes my heart melt. I can’t wait to get to know “Grandpa Stan” more!
Another layer, another story! My Dad’s oldest brother, my Uncle Buddy, was serving a mission in Mexico when my Dad was born. One day my uncle got a telegram that said, “LITT LEB ROTH ERAR RIVEDYE STERD AYBO THDO INGF INE”. It took him a few hours to figure out that the telegram office didn’t know english and didn’t know where to put the stops! Unscrambled the message read, “Little brother arrived yesterday. Both doing fine.” Buddy was so tickled that my Dad was performing the marriage for Sharon and Stan, he wrote the message out as he had received it, and took it around to all the guests telling them that story. It was so fun to see how proud of his little brother he is.
Stan is a kick in the pants! And if you’re not from these neck of the woods, that’s a good thing. He’s funny, sweet, and so in love with Grandma. Their cake cutting was so cute, and Stan was so funny.
It wasn’t long, and it wasn’t fancy, but it was just perfect and my heart is overflowing for these two. The evening ended with a few couples out dancing. It was so sweet to have Aunt Nancy, Grandma’s daughter, and Dan out dancing to Unchained Melody…which happened to be the hit song from the year Stan and Sharon graduated high school. Having both couples out on the floor for that was super sweet!
I always love watching my parents dance. They are so elegant together! We need to go spend a week down there taking dancing lessons from them!
Grandma and Stan, I loved being there for your wedding day so much. The love and adoration you have for each other shines out of your eyes, and it is beautiful. Stan, welcome to the family!! I can’t wait to see you both again soon! I love you!