I waited to post this because the photos would have given away something Shannon preferred to keep a secret.
How many times does something recur before it is considered tradition? For the third year in a row, my folks planned a winter trip to Branson, Missouri, for fun at Silver Dollar City and other area attractions. We weren’t able to attend the first year, but, as I wrote in my ill-named “Things to Do in Branson When You’re Alive” series, in 2008 we had great fun.
Instead of using the weekend our family celebrates Christmas, this year we used the Thanksgiving break. Unlike last year, this time around we had to keep moving or tuck ourselves into rarely available corners to keep from getting trampled.
Thanksgiving morning at my parents’ house, Shannon awoke with pain in her left ankle, but after undergoing physical therapy for illiotibial band tendinitis, she was determined not to fall farther behind in training for December’s Dallas White Rock Marathon relay. She didn’t want to let down her team, she said.
She decided to walk instead of running, and while hanging out with my family I occasionally caught a glimpse of her bundled form striding valiantly past the driveway on the rural blacktop. At the appointed time, I called her mobile phone to let her know it was time for her to come in. I got no answer. A moment later she again came into view and I called again. She didn’t react.
At least she was getting good use from the second generation iPod Shuffle I bought her from Apple’s refurb department.
“Guess I’ll have to run out there and get her,” I said.
I asked her how her ankle felt. “It hurts a lot,” she said.
Visions of Shannon hobbling around steeply-graded Silver Dollar City danced in my head. Although I had never tried one, I was sure sugar plums would have been better.
We had a great time with visiting family and copious food, and then loaded up in three vehicles for the three-hour drive to Branson. Before anyone asks, we all would be going significantly divergent ways after that, so carpooling didn’t make sense.
“If your ankle hurts that much, then maybe we should go back for Mom and Dad’s wheelchair,” I said about 10 minutes into the drive. “They said we could bring it.”
“No, I don’t want to do that,” Shannon said. She was trying not to focus any more attention on her plight, and hoped that by morning her ankle would feel better.
Instead, it got much worse.
(to be continued)