As my brother-in-law Rod pointed out last night, we have a new family tradition. I guess if you do something two years in a row that makes it a tradition. Right? Shayna’Shining Star- the team that participates in the Shamrock Shuffle 5K Family Walk to benefit Shayna’s scholarship fund, has put our second year in the books.
Year two kicked off Friday night with a pasta party for about twenty of the team’s fifty five participants. Tywana and I made industrial sized portions of baked tomato/beef spaghetti and baked chicken spaghetti. We had salads and garlic bread, beer and wine. And, of course, the obligatory chewy bars for dessert. We stayed up way too late with about fifteen family members, talking into the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday morning rolled around early. It was, as is tradition for the Shamrock Shuffle, overcast, cold and breezy. When I went out for my two mile warm up walk, it had just stopped raining. We rounded everyone up and headed over to the race. We did the race in several groups, with a few of us running or walking on our on trying to achieve personal goals in time. We finished in a range of 26 to 59 minutes as range from a six year old, up through a couple of college and high school athletes to our soon to be 65 year old eldest participant. My personal goal was under 36 minutes for the 5K, and I finished in 33.
After the race, we had a goetta slider, a couple of us brave souls had a Yuengling (at 11 AM and about 44º. Then, twenty of us headed back to the house for showers and refueling with the leftover pasta. We watched a little of the NCAA Tournament and had fun for several hours while waiting to head down to northern Kentucky to watch my freshman nephew play in a home tennis match for his college.
My sister-in-law’s boys are 19, 20 and 21 years old. The younger two attend a very small college in western Pennsylvania. Coincidentally, my brother-in-law’s son plays for a very small college in northern Kentucky. They play each other once a year and it was on this weekend that the whole family was in town. So, we had to go to the match. We went and took over the dining room of the fitness center where Thomas More plays its home matches and cheered our 6′5″ freshman nephew who looks like he should be playing football, to a crushing defeat of his opponent. The dining room overlooks the courts where Wesley was playing, so it was like having our private box to view his match.
After the tennis match and another meal, we had to make a stop at Jungle Jim’s. Twelve of us piled into three cars and headed north back into Ohio. It was the first trip for Tywana’s brother, sister-in-law and their son. But, we made a quick two hour swing through the grocery store.
Nine of us then headed back to our house, after stopping by White Castle for a case of sliders. Shell’s three boys will claim they are starving if they don’t eat every two hours. So, we had to feed them a couple of more times before going to bed. They are the brothers that Kayla and Shayna never had and Kayla and Shayna are the sisters they never had. Two of them are just older than Kayla and one just younger. They were/are extremely protective of their girl cousins and just great, great young men who have overcome a pretty rough start to become boys you really want to be around. They have honored Shayna in many ways before and since her passing, even getting their college teammates who never met Shayna to wear bands in her honor. Nicholas, the oldest, just got another tattoo for Shayna that says “Until I See You Again”.
The kids headed to the basement and we stayed up as long as we could make it (1 AM) talking. Shell and Rod are Mormon. So, as far as religion goes, we are pretty far apart. But, Mormons have a very active and detailed belief in the afterlife as well as pre-existence. We spent the remainder of the evening watching Suzanne Giesemann’s Messages of Hope video and viewing the reading she recently did for us.
All throughout the day, Shayna’s presence was strong with us. We laughed a lot and cried some. We felt her spirit, but we missed her physical presence, her wit. I stole away several times to have a talk with her and would wonder how much others were missing her too. In spite of having a blast in her honor, I know we all had those moments.
Everybody’s family is at least a little odd. Our is no exception. But, I love Tywana’s brothers and sisters like my own and their children like my own, as well. Tywana’s brothers and sisters didn’t have any girls. We didn’t have any boys. So, Shayna and Kayla have been their sisters and they have been Kayla and Shayna’s brothers. We have grown closer and closer over the years. I think we are cherishing these moments more than ever because we appreciate the limited supply. The boys are now men. The girls are women. Two of my brother’s kids could make it because their car wouldn’t start. Another was on a field trip to Peru. Getting everyone together is nearly impossible anymore. So, when we do get together, we make sure to make the most of every moment.
Finally, we were exhausted. Around 1, we turned in. I could still feel the energy from all of the people in the house. The house was full, as it should be. I heard people getting ready for bed, talking- still laughing. As I lay there with my eyes closed waiting for sleep to come, I felt this strange, unfamiliar feeling. It took me a while to put a word to it. I felt happy.
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