Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My niece Shawn died when she was only 29. Our close family felt her loss deeply. We still think of her often and we will miss her always. She left behind a devastated husband, Kelly, and four sons. The youngest boy was a premature newborn in intensive care.

Thousands of people who heard of my nieces death rallied around Kelly and the boys, offering emotional support and endless gifts. Many family members helped out by caring for the boys and doing house cleaning, laundry, meals etc.

We hoped Kelly could eventually find love again, someone to share his life, someone to ease his burdens.

He found Gina. She was only 20 years old and a (self described) spoiled daddy's girl with attitude. We were a bit sceptical at first, but she was just what their family needed. She was loving, but tough with the boys. The boys had grown a bit wild, as you can imagine. They were dealing with their moms sudden death and were lacking consistency. Gina had their family back on track in no time.

Incredibly, Gina became a close friend to Shawn's mom, my second-to-the-oldest sister. They spend a lot of time together. When my sister went with Gina to look at wedding rings, the person assisting them at the jewelry store asked if my sister was Gina's mom. My sister replied, "No, I'm her fiance's mother-in-law. The assistant got a very puzzled look on her face.

After they were married, she and Kelly had a beautiful baby girl and are expecting another baby soon. Gina recently went to her five year high school class reunion as a mother to five children, with a sixth baby on the way! That must have been some kind of record!

Gina took on housecleaning jobs in addition to taking care of her own new family. She came to clean for me when I was at my most fatigued. I called her "Maidzilla." Man, she was tough! I couldn't set down a beverage for fear she would yell at me for making a mess! Seriously, she did a very good job. (I do love to tease her! She is not quite as much of a spoiled daddy's girl, but still has way too much attitude!)

Gina's friendship was such a blessing to my sister. Many new wives in that situation would have wanted to distance Kelly from his first wife's family. My sister could have lost close contact with Kelly and her grandsons, in addition to the terrible loss of her daughter. Gina hasn't let that happen, if she and the kids are not at my sisters home visiting, they are talking on the phone or texting. She has also joined our large extended family without hesitation. Kelly, Gina and their kids are a treasured part of our family.

Tough Hombres!
Kelly and Gina had this picture of the boys taken, (their little girl wouldn't cooperate) when most of our family went on a vacation to the Black Hills this summer. The boys were told not to smile to make the photo look more authentic, they're happy kids normally.

The youngest boy, waiting for the bus on his first day of preschool, with his little sister.

Still patiently waiting!

A big brother joins to wait with him. Is that bus ever coming?


Up the driveway and back to the house. Whew, who knew the bus would take so long! Think I'll have a snack, then a nice little nap.

The third cowboy.

Kelly and his little girl.

The Cowboy and the Diva Cowgirl.

The Confused Diva, hope those boys don't turn her into a spoiled brat like her mom!


Sister C said...

We will always remember Shawn, how she enjoyed life but most of all her love of her family. We praise God for Gina. We love all of you! Great picture!

Christine said...

This was so lovely to read. So many times you hear stories that do not end as well as this - I'm so glad the family was able to find her and get through such a devastating loss.

I really would have loved to have been at the reunion, must have been a riot.

Aunt Krissy said...

Thats so wonderful that it all worked out and that family was able to stay family

Stephanie said...

Very sweet story. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Could you tell me if the picture of Kelly and his daughter was taken in the Black Hills? It just looks more like South Dakota, rather than Minnesota. :)

Slug-A-Bed said...

The picture of Kelly and his daughter was taken at the Black Hills. We all vacationed there this summer. These pictures were in S.D. or in Iowa where we live.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

cbanks said...

Once again, great pictures. Cute kids. I almost feel like I'm back on the farm where I grew up. I think I might have been down that driveway a time or two.