See Sponsors Below. Ps 95:8 If today you hear his voice,harden not your hearts.
I can still remember it as if it happened this past Christmas.
I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got the call from my niece/goddaughter/#1 girl-on-the-planet: Kelly Marie.
“Aunt Patty, I need to tell you something…” her voice trailed off the phone for a moment --- but not before I noticed it held a maturity I hadn’t sensed anytime prior in my 19 ½ years of chatting with my little sweet pea (seen with me at left).
After what seemed like an eternity but was just a nanosecond, she told me her childhood friend Caitlin Yager, and her family had been in a car accident while traveling back home from a Christmas Day celebration with kin in the Norwalk area.
At the time of that call, in the late afternoon of December 26, 2013, I was sitting in the office of my then workplace at a local accounting firm, where I was Corporate Communications Director.
“It was bad Aunt Patty, her parents and brother are really hurt ….um, Caitlin ---didn’t ---make it…” I remember her saying just before falling backward into my swivel chair, since our conversation had apparently startled me into a standing position.
Kelly and Caitlin, like all their 2012 high school co-graduates, were enjoying winter break of their sophomore year in college; Kelly at Walsh University and Caitlin at Marietta College.
They were both just shy of 20 years old.
In the dizzying hours that followed, our family –like everyone in our friend/church circle rocked by the tragedy-- gathered to share our fondest memories of Caitlin. Kelly had known her since their days at St. Christine Elementary School, where they were classmates, co-cheerleaders, and teammates on the girls’ basketball AND soccer teams.
I thought Caitlin was a total hoot and --I could be imagining this-- but I seem to remember that sometimes she snorted when she laughed, just like old Aunt Patty, which she affectionately called me.
She was with Kelly and her BFF Marissa often after practices and games; the girls frequented my sister’s house, as well as my parents’, often.
I recall her ferociously hugging my Pop on his birthday once after she joined us for dinner at the Olive Garden; one of the few Italian-eque food chain restaurants in which he’d consent to consume food. Real Italians are funny like that, Capisce?
Anyway, it was driving home from there on another occasion that Caitlin, infamous for her contagious silliness and laughter, deadpanned: “Yes, Raspberry Iced Tea,” after an elderly police officer had asked in anyone in the car had been drinking during a routine traffic stop. As the story was told to me, my sister Gina was taking her home after she, my Mom, Kelly and Caitlin had dinner you-know-where.
Tickled by her droll moxie, the officer smiled and said, “Well you ladies continue on your way --and take it easy on that raspberry iced tea.”
That was Caitlyn, always cracking jokes or singing childhood songs in some eccentric accent or octave. I remember she LOVED to bake and often made chocolate chip cookies for the high school Cross Country high school team on which she, Kels ran.
Gosh, I miss her beautiful smile and quirky sense of fun.
One way I, and many others, have chosen to honor her memory is to support the annual Run for Caitlin. It’s the main fundraiser for the same-named non-profit organization founded by Caitlin’s brother, Matthew and family friends, Mike and Dr. Greg Delost in 2014. It is administered by Caitlin's parents, Rich and Carol Yager and Attorney Raymond and Dr. Maria Delost. According to the foundation website, the run has raised and distribute $80K in scholarships to high school and college students to date.
If you’re not busy next Saturday 7.24.21 and you indulge in such healthy habits, check out the Run for Caitlin 5K & 3K.
And I sure do hope there’s lots Raspberry Iced tea up in heaven for you, hon. Hug Pop for me!