Friday June 24, 2016

Some highlights from this week:

Erin won a golf tournament... Volleyball training is in full swing, day and night... We had a live chipmunk in our house...

I am writing this morning from the shadows of the University of St. Thomas. After dropping Erin off at her leadership camp up at University of Northwestern in St. Paul, I made my way to my old stomping grounds... I needed a place to do a little work, so I found a familiar spot.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years since I graduated from college...  we have some interns working in Public Affairs this summer. They are oh so young...

Erin's summer is moving along nicely - a little golf, a little volleyball and lots of socializing... she sometimes is just going out as I'm going to bed! Erin has plans the next three weekends - leadership camp, volleyball camp and a trip to her friend's cabin. Oh, it's good to be a teenager... sometimes...

Back to the most exciting part of my week... Sylvie has figured out how to time the lag in our screen door.. she sneaks in and out as we come in through our garage. Sometimes we don't realize even that she's come back in the house...

I was working at the dining room table on Wednesday as Dan went out to his car. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sylvie scurrying across the floor... and then again... and then again...

When I finally paid attention, I realized she had brought a live chipmunk in our house.  She was letting it go, then catching it, letting it go, catching it... apparently, Sylvie just wanted to play.

I screamed and told Dan to come quick... about that time, the chipmunk sought refuge behind the upright piano. Dan and I pulled the piano out... but no chipmunk... it had crawled up into the back of the piano!

Dan shined the flashlight, we located the rodent and I grabbed it, ran to the door and set it free... let's just say I'm going to pay closer attention to the f%*&!#@ cat as she comes and goes...

So, that's what qualifies as excitement in my world...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday June 17, 2016

Well, today feels like the first day of summer for me. One of my work duties these past three months has been to plan a celebration for Mayo Clinic Radio's 25th Anniversary. The party was last night, and I'm happy to say it was a success! Mayo Clinic leadership attended and lots of former guests of the program showed up as well. I had lots of help, and it went off without a hitch.

Working with Mayo Clinic Radio is now the great majority of my job. I write copy and help produce the weekly show that features Mayo Clinic experts sharing their knowledge. In the near future, we're going to be live broadcasting via Facebook live and producing video podcasts for You Tube. Exciting times to say the least...

So now that the radio event is over...  it's time to work on planning another... for the Shannon O'Hara Foundation!

Our annual golf tournament is just a month away. We'd love to have a full field of foursomes (how's that for alliteration!). You don't have to be a "good" golfer - we usually even give a prize for last place :)

We've got some great raffle prizes and it's a really fun day. All proceeds from the event are split between the Mayo Girls Golf program and the Shannon O'Hara Foundation. We hope supporters and friends like you can join us.

Here's the link to the registration form: MGG Swings for Shannon registration form

Class of 2016

Dan and I attended graduation yesterday for the class of 2016 and it was just as I imagined it would be... touching and heart wrenching at the same time... her chair sat empty with a single yellow rose laid upon it...

The class president's speech was titled "Screenshot the Little Moments". He reminded his classmates to not just look to the future, but to remember the here and now, this moment, and all the little moments that move you ahead in life. He shared with his class that this was a lesson he learned from Shannon...

He spoke about being Shannon's friend in 7th grade and how she was upset about the acne that her cancer treatment was giving her. He remembered that she told him "It could be so much worse..."

Dan and I sitting in the audience cried and smiled as Shannon's classmate captured her essence - she appreciated each and every moment she got, even when she knew her future would not be long.

I can picture Shannon and her excitement when it all began. We have the video of smiling, bright-eyed Shannon jumping up and down on the way to the bus stop saying "First day of school! First day of school!"

I am feeling some closure today as I look back on these kids and their journey from kindergarten to graduation. We had hugs and tears with Shannon's friends after graduation. I felt her there with us, through the eyes and souls of these kids.

Dan and I had the opportunity to speak to the class at their graduation practice. What I really wanted to say to them, was thank you:

To the class of 2016, first off, congratulations. I remember the day you started kindergarten, and I’ve watched you grow and struggle and earn your way to this momentous occasion.

Secondly, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for remembering Shannon. Thank you for supporting the Shannon O’Hara Foundation. It was a lovely tribute that was included in the yearbook.

Thank you also for including us in your lives in these last 4 years since Shannon passed away. So many of you were quick with a smile every time you saw us. You stopped to say hi, even if you didn’t know what else to say. You showed us compassion, a trait that reminded us of Shannon. Remember that compassion. It will serve you well. It was easy to be compassionate to us - you knew our story. But, as you go forward, remember that people are fighting battles all the time. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

For those who knew Shannon, when we hear your names called and you walk across the stage, we will remember a Shannon memory with you. Whether it’s from Bamber Valley, Willow Creek, or youth soccer or hockey, I have memories of so many of you. And they’re good memories for me, because they make me think of Shannon.

As you go forward into the working world or on to school, I hope you carry a bit of Shannon’s legacy with you. Be kind. Be a good teammate. Laugh. Persevere.

In the end, people will remember you not for what you achieved, but for the kind of person you were. Shannon didn’t get to reach this graduation day, but a little piece of her is here in your memories. For that, I am grateful.

I will leave you with my favorite quote that I feel describes not only Shannon, but those of you who have helped me, Dan and Erin through the past four years.

It comes from the poet Maya Angelou: 

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We will never forget how you made us feel. Thank you for letting us be a part of the class of 2016.

Wednesday June 8, 2016

Today is Erin's last official day of her sophomore year. She's off taking two finals this morning, then one online final to complete tonight and she's done. This week also brought the end of the golf season. While the section tournament was a struggle, she had a great year.  It's so hard to believe that she's only got two years left...

So, a big week around the O'Hara household. Add to that, my friend Kula had surgery yesterday and all went well. Double mastectomy complete, tissue expanders in place, and now it's time to heal before radiation. The best news of all - pathology showed no evidence of cancer in lymph nodes or breasts. Thank god...

Erin and I visited her in the hospital last night. Erin needed a study break and needed to see Kula. It was also a good reminder that there are worse things in life that taking your American Studies final! We had a good laugh about that...

So, Erin will be relieved when all is said and done today. Dan will return home tomorrow from an entire week away. Some fun, some work, but that's a long time to be gone... I hope Sylvie remembers him or he'll be crushed... he loves that cat!

Now I am mentally preparing myself for the weekend ahead as the class of 2016 graduates on Saturday. It is, of course, not how I imagined it would be. And yet, it does somehow feel like I right of passage for us, too. Shannon's class is graduating, even if she's not there.

My hope is that watching those kids cross the stage and hearing their names will spark happy memories for me... memories of Shannon... school projects and sports teams and friendships... the names of these kids are tied to some little piece of my little girl which is why I want to go to graduation.

Any chance I get to connect with the days when Shannon lived is a chance worth taking... so, here's to you, class of 2016. Glad you have been a part of my life.