The Church Will Be Full

*An updated intro made on August,12, 2014*

The greatest gift my mother-in-law has given me is her son. Today has been very hard as we try to find a new normal without her. It just doesn’t seem fair that we go on while she isn’t physically there on the other end of the phone. I dug into my blog archives and found this post. It made me cry all over again as I read it with new meaning. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-law. I love her with all of my heart. She was too good to Drew, Leo and myself. The second greatest gift she has given me is this ring dish. It holds even more meaning now that she’s gone than it did the day she gave it to me. I miss you so much Rosie. Thank you for loving me like you did.


My eyes are squinting a bit as I stare at the screen and type but that isn’t going to stop me from blogging this morning. My heart is just too happy for too many reasons today. I’m not squinting because of an overdose of fun last night (I wish, my hot Saturday night consisted of 7 loads of laundry and design work) I’m squinting because of the magnificent glare of the sunshine coming through my studio windows. LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE!! Here in Ohio, we’ve had the 3rd rainiest April…EVER. I welcome this dose of Vitamin D with a slight gleam of delirium in my eyes.

Also, it is the day of Mother’s. Even though I’m not with my Mother, (tear) I have a very special story to share. Normally, my blog is a place where I sit down and just start typing…but for this story, I actually did a mind map. I don’t think I’ve done one of those since I sat down to do a college essay. But that’s how badly I want to get this story right. And I’ll give you the fair warning now. Grab your box of tissues and keep them close. I’m not saying you will need them. But you never know. Ready? Settled in? Let me take you back to a tiny town called Sistersville, West Virginia. Which is where the story of my life began, and coincidentally so did Drew’s.

Bear with me as I give you a bit of history : Sistersville is a tiny town in the Ohio Valley along the Ohio River. It is one of my most favorite places in the world. Both of my parents grew up there and graduated from Sistersville High School. Both of Drew’s parents grew up there and graduated from Sistersville High School. All of our grandparents have lived there for as long as I can remember and live within a 3 mile radius from each other. Most of you already know that Drew and I have known each other since we were little. And through stories, laughter and a few tears, we’ve learned that our grandparents have known each other for quite a long time and have great stories to tell about my grandparents that are no longer with us. My mother’s parents and my dad’s dad have been in heaven for over 15 years now. My mother’s parents passed away when I was 12 and 13 years old. As our big day draws closer, I find myself missing my grand parents who aren’t with us anymore. I wish that they could physically be here to hug me and smile at me. The history that Drew’s grandparents shared with them help me feel better and feel closer to them. I think I also hurt for my own parents and worry about the longing that they must be feeling as well.

So if you’re still with me…you’ve made it through the back-story and the worst is over. Going home to Sistersville is always bittersweet because the town is not in it’s state of glory as it once was. I think and hope that I will always see it through a child’s eye. Sparkly, exciting, my kingdom, the DAIRY QUEEN! (which Drew’s family owned at the time), the park, the river, The Mini-Market, the Wells Inn…which is where the fancy people go…all the beautiful things that made it so exciting to go home to as a child. When Drew and I went home for a quick trip last weekend it was literally for 24 hours to see our parents and grandparents, show them our invitations, see Troy Boy, everyone could pet Beauy and then we would be back to Columbus. The Wells Inn is under new ownership and is now serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I follow them on Facebook religiously, and always announce to Drew what their evening menu is. It always sounds delicious!! I told my grandma, who I’ve always called Mom, that we would love to go to dinner there and she made a reservation for all the grandparents and parents to meet at the Wells Inn for Saturday dinner. A reservation for 11 was made. We should have been filmed for a reality show. Because it was that hilarious.

After dinner we went up the river to meet Baby Colin and see Haleigh play softball. You can see their cute, fun photos here. The night turned a little chilly and we went back to Drew’s mom and dad’s house for a few cocktails and again last minute wedding talk. My parents walked up from my grandma’s house (which is less than 4 blocks away) and Troy was there too. All seven of us were in the kitchen chatting up a storm when Jo Lynn brought out a little gift bag and put it on the kitchen island. I immediately got excited. (Time out: I’m going to be incredibly sad when this wedding is over. I’ve gotten very used to getting tiny gifts here and there. Yes, I’m so spoiled.) She said that there were two gifts inside, one I would be excited about and probably knew about. But the second one would mean more to me than the first. Hmmm…? Inside there was a beautiful card that I can’t even put into words. It meant the world to me and I will cherish what she said forever. Everyone was looking at me while I read it and I had to turn around because it made me a little teary eyed. (But don’t worry! I was wearing my new wedding mascara by Mally that is supposed to be bullet proof against tears!)

After reading the card, I pulled myself together and opened my gift. Inside the first gift was what I was expecting: my BEAAUTY-FULL wedding earrings that I had showed Jo Lynn. They are EXQUISITE!!! I’m not posting photos because they are a surprise. Simply gorgeous! Now on to my second gift. I noticed Jo Lynn was getting a little emotional as she was explaining it to me. She said “Now be careful. This was a gift given to me at my own bridal shower by a very special woman. It is a ring dish that you can put your jewelry in.” I unwrapped the tissue paper and inside was the most beautiful piece of china I’ve ever seen. At this point Jo Lynn is openly crying. Then she said words that I will never forget. “This dish was given to me at my bridal shower by your grandmother Dee Cooper. And now it’s yours.”

I sobbed. I think my legs might have given out. It was like Grandma Dee had just given me a gift from heaven. I fell into my mom’s arms and just cried like a baby. (And the whole time I wondered how my Mally mascara was doing…this was a TRUE wedding day test.) I smelled that little dish wondering if it still smelled like her. It LOOKED like a Grandma Dee dish. It was the most wonderful gift anyone could ever give me. There was not a dry eye in that kitchen. Every man, woman and cocktail had water on it and in it. I couldn’t even look at Drew for fear of really losing it. After the initial shock, I started cheering. I clapped, I whoo-hooed, I jumped up and down. I was sooooooo excited. This little dish had just come into our lives from Grandma Dee after spending 30+ years in the Danser household. If you didn’t think that Drew and I were meant to be before this…I hope you have no doubts now.

As for my mother…she was speechless at first. She couldn’t even believe what was happening. We opened the dish and found the certifcat d’ authenticite from Limoges Castel that Jo Lynn had saved all these years. We’re still wondering where Grandma Dee got this beautiful piece. Maybe from Nana Hood? Nana (my great maternal grandmother) was a world traveler and went to Paris, France. Maybe she picked it up there? Or maybe Grandma Dee purchased this at a fine gifts store in Wheeling. (I like the Paris, France story.) Jo Lynn told us that when Grandma Dee gave this to her at her bridal shower she also gave her a pair of gardening gloves. She put them together with a sweet note saying that the dish was a place for her to put her rings whenever she visited her garden. That is sooooo Grandma Dee!! Jo Lynn said the garden gloves are long gone, but the dish survived all these years in the Danser household. And now it would continue it’s life in our Danser household. With me.

To say that my momma and I couldn’t sleep that night would be an understatement. We went back to Mary Jane’s house (grandma Mom) and slept next to each other in the twin beds upstairs in the loft. We stayed up and talked about Grandma Dee until 3:00am. My mom asked me if I remembered the dress up wedding gown that Grandma Dee had made for me as a Christmas gift one year. Of COURSE I did!! It was one of my favorite dress up items of all time! My mom told me that she remembered coming up the stairs at Grandma Dee’s house one day and seeing Grandma making the dress. My mom said that at the time Grandma Dee was in treatment for Leukemia and with every stitch of the dress she kept saying that she hoped she would be there the day Megan really walks down the aisle. Even though Grandma Dee won’t be sitting in the pews with Granddaddy Tom and Pop. She will be walking down the aisle with me every step of the way. That night proves it to me beyond a doubt. She is here. Pop is here. Granddaddy Tom is here. I have renewed sense of Faith and a connection I haven’t felt to all of them in such a long time. That is a gift that I can never repay. Thank you God. Thank you so much Jo Lynn. God has truly blessed me. Our church will be full on our wedding day.

This wedding. Oh this wedding has drummed up emotions I didn’t know I had. Overwhelming amounts of happiness. Joy. Disbelief even. I didn’t know someone could feel this happy and lucky and loved and secure and thankful. I’m so crazy in-love with a man that loves every ounce of me for just being me. He even loves all the bad things about me! (And through out the stages of wedding planning we have discovered the good, the bad and the ugly. Believe me.) I’m also especially thankful for the fabulous, beautiful, strong, social (she’s hard to keep up with!) and healthy grandmother that will be there to celebrate, smile and hug me on our big day. And she’ll do it three times as much for my grandma and grandpas that aren’t. So if you see from now until W Day and I’m slightly delirious with happiness and excitement. Or I cry easily. Don’t be alarmed…it’s just plentiful wedding peppiness.

So much to say about such a tiny dish! And when we got back to Mom’s on that Saturday night, I will admit I was terrified of bringing the dish home. I wanted to give it to my Mother and tell her to take it home and pack it away. I’m not responsible enough. She was your mother. You should have it. I will break it. I will lose it. Kitty will knock it over. But my mom said the words that calmed me down. (Doesn’t she always?) She said that this dish has been in Drew’s house since Grandma Dee gave it to Jo Lynn. It needs to stay in Drew’s house. So where to put it?? I kept it in it’s tissue paper for three days. I put it high up on my dresser in my studio office and left it there. Just not sure what to do with it. Then on a wet soggy day when our basement had had enough torture from the rainy season and Drew and I were forced to clean it out, I put on garden gloves and started to carry things from the dark, wet dungeon. I could feel my ring turning and getting stuck underneath my glove. I thought of the dish. So I ran upstairs and carefully unwrapped it. With tears in my eyes, I took off my ring and placed it inside its “new” dish on top of my dresser in my studio. I put my gloves back on and went to work.

I glimpse at my wedding ring! (That I secretly wear sometimes when I’m working at the computer…just to practice.)

I think it likes it’s new home. And as it’s gold rim at the top glints at me from the corner of my eye…I’m convinced that my studio space is the perfect spot for it. I always worried that the creative gene in my family somehow skipped me. I come from a long line of creative women. My Grandma Dee was a beautiful artist. Always painting, always drawing. My mother can turn anything…and I mean anything into art. She should be a designer on HGTV. (Don’t disagree with me, Mother.) She can draw, paint, paper mache, build, tile, you name it…she does it. And then there was me. I tried to draw. Nope. I tried to paint. Nope. I tried pottery. Nope. I don’t have the patience. (That’s because I’m my father’s daughter.) But then I discovered photography…and finally…Grandma Dee’s and my mother’s creative gene emerged. Thank you geneology!! I didn’t want to be the one that ended it for the family. So when I’m feeling uninspired…when I’m feeling a lack of creativity, I now have a sweet tiny dish to look at that will give me that encouraging nod and smile I miss so much but can remember so clearly.

May 8, 2011 - 7:50 pm

Mary Ann - I’m worried I will make mistakes as I type because the tears just keep coming… Oh Meg! I love reading about your feelings, and the thoughts you share! This was such a wonderful gift to you from your soon to be mother-in-law! It says so much about the family you are joining…you are a lucky girl! I too thank God for all our blessings!

May 8, 2011 - 8:05 pm

Megan - Meggie! Such a wonderful story, I had to share it with my mom and neither one of us had dry eyes! What a wonderful/priceless gift. Just another sign that it’s truly meant to be and any hiccup along the way is worth it. You’re creativity shines through not only in your pictures but in your beautifully written stories. I’m thrilled to have you as a friend and so excited to celebrate with you both in that Full Church!!
Love you!

May 8, 2011 - 8:37 pm

megan - Thanks Mommy! We are so lucky. And I’m so lucky to have TWO awesome families. xoxo

May 8, 2011 - 8:39 pm

megan - Thanks Meg! We’re so happy that you are going to be a part of our day too. xoxo!

May 8, 2011 - 8:55 pm

Jo Lynn - You just made my mother’s day the best! They story could not have been told any sweeter, funnier or better. Yes, I do agree that you and Drew are meant to be. As a mother, you only want the best for your children. You raise them and try to instill love, compassion and the golden rule and hope and pray that they find that perfect love. That perfect love for my son is YOU and YOU are the best!!! I too, like your mother feel truly blessed. Thank you for loving my son and Rich and I can’t wait to introduce you as our daughter-in-law!!! Our son is the lucky one.

May 8, 2011 - 9:03 pm

Randa - oh Meg! What a great story….perfect for Mother’s Day or any day we’re missing Grandma Dee. I know she was looking down on Brandy and I on our wedding days and will be smiling down on you on your big day. Thanks for the story and for making me cry. Love you sweetie!

May 8, 2011 - 10:06 pm

Mary Ann - Just asking… Where did you get that beautiful fabric!

May 8, 2011 - 11:20 pm

Beverly Maxwell Dally - Megan, I enjoyed reading your story. It brought back fond memories of your Grandparents. Your Grandmother Dee and Grandfather Tom were my oldest son Stan’s God Parents. Your Mother used to babysit Stanley. Ask her about the time she took him to the city park not planning to go swimming that trip. (Stan had other ideas) Rodney and I also grew up in Sistersville. He lived on McCoy Hgts. and I lived on Cemetery Hill. We will be celebrating our 45th anniversary this Dec. 31st. We also know Drew’s parents and have had good times with them at Elks etc. Congratulations on your up coming wedding. Bev.

May 8, 2011 - 11:49 pm

Kay Shannon Knowlton - Megan, You dont know me, but i know your mother and dad. I also know your mother-in-law, and father-in-law to be.I also knew your grandmother Dee. I worked in Sistersville for 7 years as a hairdresser. I have to say i really enjoyed your story. I too have a gift from your grandmother that i cherish. She gave me a bell for Christmas one year, and i have put it out every Christmas. Its funny how a song or a gift remind you of someone, or a place in time. Treasure your dish. You will remember it always. May you and Drew be blessed on your wedding day. Kay

May 9, 2011 - 12:31 am

Nadine - Megan, Thank you for that lovely story. It brought back wonderful memories of speding time at your grandparents home with your mom when we would come home from college for the weekend and Nana Hood when we wanted to escape from West Liberty for an evening. I look forward to seeing a lot of pictures of the wedding. Much love to all.

May 9, 2011 - 12:43 am

megan - Mom, that fabric came Michael’s over two years ago! I love it!

May 9, 2011 - 1:13 am

Katie Kelly Chaplin - Megan- great story. You have a way with words. You don’t know me, but I, too , grew up in Sistersville – and my own children and grandchildren have those same memories of that wonderful little town as you describe. I used to babysit your mom, Cathy and Tommy. All three of your grandparents who WILL be watching you get married were wonderful people – and good friends to my own dear daddy – Adam Kelly and my mother Shannon. Blessings to both you and Drew for your special day.

May 9, 2011 - 10:22 pm

Emily - Megan if this is a premonition to my emotions on your big day, I may too need some of that mascara! You got me again! I just love this story! And love you both sooooo much! Can’t wait for May and June…see you soon.

May 10, 2011 - 1:03 pm

Margo Howlett - Megan, What a wonderful, amazing story…..I am sure your Grandmother Dee will be at your wedding and she’ll be there in all her glory. Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like your grandmother; she’s one of those rare folks that we tend to remember every encounter that we had with. When she was sick, I remember sitting on her back porch and chatting with her….I left her house that day “filled up”. For our wedding gift, she gave Paul and I a kool-aid pitcher filled with kool-aid packs! I cherished that pitcher. And I know what you mean about returning to Sistersville…..I feel the same way returning to Glenville, the small town where I grew up….just refreshes my soul. God bless you, Sweetie….See you soon! ?

May 10, 2011 - 2:12 pm

Brandy - Oh, Meg! You certainly know how to bring a woman to tears! I miss sitting on the back portch swing with Grandma Dee & Grandaddy Tom. We had a lot of talks about my future with Kevin & becoming a nurse. There are lots of angels in Heaven watching over us everyday. In my heart, I know that they will be watching over all our family as you & Drew recite your wedding vows. Love you!

May 10, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Trenda - Wow what a beautiful story, couldnt believe you called just as I had stopped tearing up and began to smile with the excitment of your wedding rings. Megan you are so special and now I know why, you come from such a wonderful family.
And I am excited for both you and Drew!

May 10, 2011 - 5:16 pm

Betty Struble - Megan, that was a beautiful and touching story! I love to hear stories of family heirlooms that are passed down. Congrats again to you and Drew and I can’t wait to see pictures of your wedding day!!

May 10, 2011 - 6:15 pm

Rusty - Megan, It literally took me two days to be able to post a comment because I bawled like a baby every time I read this story. The spiritual, and literal, connection you share with Drew and his family is so wonderful. There are no accidents — it’s clear he’s your one and only!! I miss Aunt Dee Dee, Uncle Tom and Nana every day, but I love that we can share our memories of them and it feels like they’re right with us. And I know they will all be watching over you and Drew on your wedding day — and every day afterward — because they watch over Mark, the girls and me too.

By the way, your wedding rings are beautiful!

May 11, 2011 - 1:21 am

Robin Daquilante - Megan,
I’m sitting in a hotel room reading this crying like a baby. Your grandparents Tom and Dee were some of the first people I met when I moved to Sistersville 32 years ago. They always had a wave and a friendly hello and always treated me as though they had known me forever. Then, close to twenty years ago, this bubbly, smiling, full of life, and beautiful little girl moved into my third grade classroom. Her name was Megan and she was Tom and Dee’s granddaughter. Once I met your mother, I had no doubt from where that beautiful personality came. For Christmas that year, you brought me a paper mache Santa Claus that your mom had made. I adore that gift. That Santa sits every Christmas on top of my mantel and he brings a smile to my face as I unwrap him year after year for he brings back that beautiful smiling 8 year old face that belongs to the girl who has grown into an even more beautiful young woman. I am so very proud of you and I wish you and Drew a long lifetime of happiness and health. You deserve nothing less.

May 12, 2011 - 4:18 pm

Shay - Oh Megan! What am AMAZING story!! I have huge tears in my eyes as I write this. Your grandparents were wonderful people and I cherish all the memories that were made in the home/neighborhood! There’s no doubt they will be looking down on your wedding with happy smiles on their faces.

May 14, 2011 - 6:43 pm

Olivia - Wow, what an amazing story! As I was wiping tears from my cheeks & eyes preparing to comment on this post, I received a text from Meg (asking for my shoe size) which made the moment that much sweeter! I have so many wonderful memories throughout every stage of our lives that were made together and with friends in our wonderful hometown. I just love that place! I tell people all the time about the tiny town I was so blessed to grow up in and will forever call home. No one can really understand how amazing it is unless they’ve walked the town, met the people, and experienced it for themselves. Sistersville truly is a special place. I can only imagine how difficult (that word probably doesn’t even come close) it was for Jo Lynn to keep this dish tucked away throughout your relationship with Drew!! I would have been bursting at the seams!!! What a special moment that was for both of your families to experience together. I can’t wait to share this story with my momma!!!! Thank you for sharing it with us… God is so amazing & miracles happen in His time. This little dish along with the memories & love that have been cherished inside it are one of those miracles 🙂 Grandma Dee as well as your grandpas will all be there in spirit and looking down from above as their beautiful granddaughter becomes a wife. PS… I’m with Emily on the mascara! I’m gonna have to get me some, because the tears will be welling up in my eyes from the moment I get to Grand Haven!! Love you Meg! xoxo

May 16, 2011 - 7:05 pm

"Miss" Wendy - Megan, thank you for sharing that beautiful story! I felt like I was transported into the midst of a lovely old-fashioned movie. Yet far from fiction, this story is truly yours – and your wonderful family’s. The rest of us are blessed to be invited in to witness the beauty of true love, young and old, that defines and colors your life. What an incredible journey this wedding “march” is! God bless!

April 15, 2013 - 9:30 pm

Mary Ann - Two years latter…The best thing about stories that are written down is they are never forgotten. You can take them out like an old friend and enjoy them all over again. I was missing Leo and looking back through your blog and remembered this story about Grandma Dee and Jo Lynn’s gift. Reading this again as Margo says “filled me up”…and made me thankful to be your momma. Never become too busy to write your stories Meg….I think back to all those journals you filled and hide from Troy Boy over the years. I should have known then how talented you are. And now you have little Leo to write about and photograph. Your story just keeps getting better and better! I love you, always. Mother

April 15, 2013 - 9:30 pm

Mary Ann - Two years latter…The best thing about stories that are written down is they are never forgotten. You can take them out like an old friend and enjoy them all over again. I was missing Leo and looking back through your blog and remembered this story about Grandma Dee and Jo Lynn’s gift. Reading this again as Margo says “filled me up”…and made me thankful to be your momma. Never become too busy to write your stories Meg….I think back to all those journals you filled and hid from Troy Boy over the years. I should have known then how talented you are. And now you have little Leo to write about and photograph. Your story just keeps getting better and better! I love you, always. Mother