Joy Despite Tragedy: Susan Krahn
Susan Krahn, 43, of Appleton, knows the importance of finding life after death.
We met at her store Scatter JOY!, a one-of-a-kind gift shop on Casaloma Drive that carries everything from jewelry and
purses to home décor and tea. A Stevens Point native, Krahn earned a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis on photography from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.
She met her late husband Paul Krahn in 1995. “People love to hear that I met him at Summerfest under the Miller Oasis
sign,” she said. “They think I picked him out of a crowd of thousands of people.”
The couple married in 2000. In 2002, they moved to Appleton when Paul was given a new territory for his work in pharmaceuticals. In 2003, their first daughter, Olivia, was born, then Nathan and finally, Lukas.
“I will never forget Paul saying, ‘We are going from man-to-man to zone defense having three kids,” Krahn said. On October 5, 2011, life changed in an instant. Paul died of a massive heart attack. He was 44 years old.
Women: It sounds like Paul’s passing was completely unexpected.
Susan: He went for a run after work. It was a beautiful October day – amazing weather. My neighbor and her kids were over. We were going to grill out. All of a sudden I heard a “thud” from the garage. I opened the door and here’s Paul on the floor. In the moment, when I think back, I didn’t think anything was happening. I was in denial that it was a heart attack.
They got him in an ambulance. I got into the front seat. I turned around to Paul once, then a second time, and that second time he was bleeding out of his nose. I said, “Why is he bleeding out of his nose?” And the firefighter didn’t say anything. He knew he was gone.
Susan: They shocked him three times before we got to the hospital. I was taken to the family room. My mom and neighbor had come. The doctor came in and said they couldn’t save him.
W: I’m sorry.
Susan: I had to say goodbye to him. I told the kids the next day.
W: What’s most important for you when it comes to honoring Paul’s memory?
Susan: You hate to call the day he passed away an anniversary, but I do definitely honor him on that day. Sometimes I go out with my girlfriends and we toast to him. His favorite drink was an Old Fashioned. I like to celebrate the great man he was. With my kids, we celebrate his birthday every year. We go out and do something fun. We’ve gone to the Packers Hall of Fame or to the zoo.
W: What would you want to say to someone who is dealing with grief?
Susan: Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. Grief is a long process. It’s a forever process. It doesn’t end. Be good to yourself. Be easy on yourself. Ask for help when you need it.
W: What brought you to Scatter JOY!?
Susan: I worked for the previous owners as a fill-in and seasonal help. They told me in 2013 they wanted to sell Scatter JOY! and my first thought was … Scatter JOY! can’t close! I had to act fast and figure some things out. I talked to an accountant, who initially said she would like me to take some business classes. I wanted to say to her, “You have no idea what I’ve been through. I’m just going to do it.” My sister-in-law Becki told me, ‘If you fail, you fail, if you don’t, you don’t. But at least you tried.’
My mottos of “live in the momen”’ and “life is too short to be crabby,” along with what I went through losing Paul helped me realize I needed something to put a spark in my life again. One year after taking over Scatter JOY!, I doubled the size.
W: How has home décor changed over the years? What are some fun trends you are seeing?
Susan: I don’t like to get too trendy. We sell a lot of signs with statements or fun sayings – a lot of which are made with reclaimed wood. I always say, decorate with the goal of making your house a home. For me that means elements that are casual, comfy and inviting.
W: Do you have a role model?
Susan: Yes, I have four. My grandparents on my mom’s side, who were caring, fun people. They taught me to live life to the fullest and be kind to others. My mother, who will do anything for anyone. She has a big heart. And my daughter, Livi [Olivia]. She is an old soul. She reminds me to have fun and be silly. She takes such good care of me.
W: What do you do for exercise?
Susan: Does walking around Scatter JOY! and at home count?
W: Sure! In our initial interview, you mentioned being an open book about your personal life.
Susan: I am sure readers will be curious: Have I dated since Paul passed? Yes. I take breaks from dating and regroup. It isn’t easy dating in your forties when you are a solo parent and widow. I have my children 24/7 (not complaining!), but I just can’t pick up and go. I have learned to be patient. I just know that Paul would not want me to be alone. He’d want me to get married again. He would approve of that.
W: What energizes you about the future? How do you keep the good vibes flowing?
Susan: Really, it’s my kids. As they grow up, it’s so cool to see more and more of Paul in them. Also I love meeting people. If I can put a smile on someone’s face – that keeps me going too.
W: It seems like your store is all about that. Making peoples’ day.
Susan: My tagline is “Every day is a great day toscatter joy.” And it is. w