The Karen Series, Part 2 of 10

Note: I am continuing here with my story of my sister-in-law Karen Daubenmire Wohrer. Please see the previous installment for the beginning of this tribute series.

Like I said… in the beginning Karen and I only got along part of the time.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like me. She just didn’t have a lot of patience for me. Nor I for her. Karen would borrow my clothes and return them ruined. She did not see this as a problem but I was infuriated. I told Bill that I didn’t want her coming around because she was disrespectful of my things. He, however, didn’t think it was any big deal and we would fight. His solution was simple… “you don’t like how she returned your dress? I’ll give you money to get a new one, so get over it.” Oh… but that wasn’t good enough for me! No I had to fight and make an issue of it. “She ruined my dress!” I shouted and stomped. “She needs to pay!”

Meanwhile, Karen was off to bigger and better things and I was stewing about a dress that was easily replaced. And that’s the kind of things we fought about. Stupid stuff. Because she was a free spirit and I only claimed to be.

Over time, however, we spent more occasions together and slowly connected. You really couldn’t call it friends. I would watch Beth and Karen would not only pay me, but bring me a new pair of shoes or some other treat. If she found out I needed or wanted something, she would make it happen. And she began to look out for me.

Things took off when I got pregnant the first year I was married. Karen, of course, had the original grandchild, Beth Anne. And she was a bit distressed to think that my baby might be a boy and overshadow Beth somehow. It was a justified fear. In those days, the male heir to the family name was a pretty important thing. And we didn’t have sonograms so no one knew ahead of time what the new baby would be.

While I was expecting, Bill and I only had one car, which he drove to work each day, so Karen often came and got me to take me to the obstetrician. That meant she skipped her usual lunch and took off during the day whenever my appointment was. It also meant she drove a good ways to pick me up, drop me off and get back to work.

Before the end of my pregnancy I learned I was having twins. Karen took over. She was at my beck and call and was among the first at the hospital when I went into labor. She organized everyone and made the nurses let them all stay for hours. (Family “participation” was not exactly welcome at that time.) She ordered food so no one went hungry. And she had her ear against the hall door when the first baby cry came through. “It’s a girl!” she declared. But she was wrong.

TwinsIt was a boy. And another boy. And Karen was happy for me and her brother through her tears. She doted on those boys. And two weeks later when I got a 104 degree fever and mastitis and had to go the doctor for a shot every day for a week, she used her lunch hour to come and get me and run me across town and back. She must have driven 20 miles each lunch hour on those days!

So we were becoming friends but still we would have our fallouts. There were always basic disagreements with one thing or another and we would part ways for a while. And it was true that my twin sons had upstaged her daughter big time. But there was nothing either of us could do about that. In addition, I was one of those earth-mothers who didn’t want their kids to have sugar or preservatives in their diet. I stayed home baking bread and making yogurt while Karen had to feed her daughter pop tarts for breakfast so she could get to work on time. We were definitely not on the same page, but we were family. And that was about to become all-important.

My friendship with Karen was tentative for a couple years. Then two things happened. One, she met her future husband, Jim Wohrer. And I got pregnant for a second time.

I’ll tell you in the next installment how all that changed our lives…

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