Coralyn and Ramona

Editor’s note: This was an entry in the “Who Inspires You” contest

by Ramona Sorneson“Coming Full Circle”

If only everyone, just once in their life, could experience the blessing of a special woman named Coralyn. Coralyn Hoovestol has inspired so many people in a multitude of ways. She has a unique manner that is always so gracious, so giving, so thoughtful and insightful. She knows just what people need at the right time, and is always there to lend a helping hand.

Our families knew each other as I was growing up in Almont, ND. We were a few years apart in school, but I knew her family. Her parents were the custodians at the school I attended. After we moved to Bismarck in 2000, I was so surprised to see my former “school cook” at church one day – along with her daughter, Coralyn. We embraced; it was so good to see each other again after so many years.

This chance meeting led to a number of coffee get-togethers, giving us a chance to catch up. Over fifty years had passed, our families were now grown, the affects of time had become a little more pronounced on our once youthful bodies. In 2005, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. What started with a tremor in my left lower leg progressed to where I must use a cane or a walker about half of the day. Osteoarthritis has taken hold of most of the joints in my body. I’ve had both knees replaced, as well as a spinal fusion. My hands are starting to be affected as well.

My sewing hobby is my salvation on days when I can’t get out because of my disease. Coralyn is my hero. She comes over and cheers me up when I’m down. She sends me cards to let me know she’s thinking of me. She drives me to church or takes me to errands when I need help with transportation.
Because of Coralyn, I am able to minister to others in my own way. I was inspired to start a new program with some friends called “Heavenly Angel Babies.” We make soft baby blankets, gowns and caps for stillborn babies, and donate these items to the hospital. Coralyn knows just what I need, and will bring me fabric, batting, thread and supplies so I can continue this ministry.

I’ve seen Coralyn in action with many others in the community, reaching out to others who are in need – offering a ride to a doctor’s appointment, delivering supper, or maybe just spending the afternoon playing a board game with them. She is a very active church member and volunteers as a wedding coordinator and funeral worker.

This amazing woman raised her family of five girls as a single mother after her husband died of cancer when they were in their early 50’s. She is a breast cancer survivor, and as some people become bitter over life’s tragedies, her setbacks only made her faith stronger, her relationships better, and her willingness to survive and thrive more important than ever.

After her treatment and recovery, Coralyn volunteered for Women’s Way, and diligently worked to help educate others in seeking treatment for cancer. She also works with a group through church to distribute prayer shawls to those who are entering treatment, who may need a little extra TLC to get them through the process. She is a regular participant in the local Relay for Life. She is one of the oldest survivors and serves as a role model to many survivors and their families.

After she became a widow, she helped others by doing grievance counseling and continues to reach out to those who’ve lost a spouse or family member.

She’s not only caring, but “cool”, too. Her grandkids can often be found hanging out at her house just because they love spending time with “Grandma Cory”.

The daughter you always wanted to have? Check. The mother you always dreamed of? Check. The friend you always wished you could be like? Check. The grandmother everybody wants to adopt? Check. The wife who always supported her husband and family every step of the way? Double check.

Coralyn brings out the best in all of us that know her. As she turns 80 this year, I can only pray that she is around for many more, as she continues to inspire us all. She received over 50 birthday cards on her last birthday, a testament that she inspires so many. What a gift she is to us all!

Ramona Sorneson lives in Bismarck with her husband, Clay. Ramona spends her free time sewing, working with the Parkinson Support Group and most recently, working on a special sewing project called, “Heavenly Angel Babies.”