Thursday, April 18, 2013


When I was a kid, I had a forever best friend. Shanna. It seemed that I couldn't spend too much time with her. I think I was at her house all the time, running up and down her very cool 80's spiral staircase, ice-skating, swimming in her pond or spying on her older brother, Chris. I loved going to her house because she had real Barbies. She was funny and fun and I think she thought the same of me. I made fun of her for putting ketchup on her mac and cheese and she made fun of me for putting milk on mine. I still think she was weirder. I'm guessing our parents must have grown weary of hearing the same series of questions after church every Sunday:

"Can I go to Shanna's (Jill's) house?"
"Can Shanna (Jill) come over?"

Shanna and me in our matching "jams" shorts
(and Misty the cat)

Our parents were good friends as well. Our moms spent time together and that suited us kids perfectly. Donna (Shanna's mom) was a color fashion consultant at the time and my mom was (and still is) fascinated by what colors we can and should wear. (Remember when we all had our "colors" done?) Shanna and her mom were always out in front of the fashion trends (well...for Nebraska), so when Shanna got her girl mullet, I had to copy her and get one too.

Inevitably my family moved away when I was 10 and though I viewed moving to Florida as a grand adventure, I knew I would miss my friend. And I did. There were many tears of a sad heart in my new home. We wrote letters back and forth and exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts for years. Eventually the letters became fewer until we finally lost touch after college. I had heard that her parents moved to Kansas. Life moves on.

Shanna and her family visited us a few years after we moved

I remember the summer day in 1998 my father told me that Jim, Shanna's dad had passed away. Jim and his younger brother Stanley were flying the company Sabreliner home from a job and the plane crashed in the flint hills of Kansas. Their wives were waiting for them at the airport. My heart hurt for my long lost friend and her family. I remember my parents being very sad and shocked. I know there is never any easy way to lose someone you love so much, but I can't imagine how hard it is when you don't get to say goodbye. To this day my father still talks about Jim with amazing respect, "He was such a solid, cool guy and he loved the Lord."

Once upon a time, due to the blessing and curse of social media, Shanna and I found each other again. Over time, as we became reacquainted, I began to realize why we were such good friends as kids. I began to understand why our parents were good friends. Each time we converse, she has my side aching from laughter. We still have the same sense of humor; we both love cake; we both love art. We both love to claim the "mother of the year" award when we've had an epic fail. We share our joys and sorrows with each other and we pray for each other and our families.

Shanna emailed me a few weeks ago and asked me to make her an apron. I've made her aprons before, but this was a special apron request. She found a dress shirt that belonged to her father tucked away in her closet and decided she wanted an apron made from it. The request put tears in my eyes. What a beautiful idea to remember her dad!

"My dad was extremely creative and a tremendous artist. I always prided myself with the fact that I got all my creative genes from my dad. Three to four years ago, I started this cake business. I know he'd be my biggest fan. His two loves were art and sweets...fitting, huh? Now every time I make a cake and wear the apron, it'll be like a little piece of him is with me."

"My husband never met him...he died four years before we met, but I talk about him so much that it's as if he did know him. My boys all talk about Papa Jim like they saw him yesterday. They know everything about him and yell, 'HI PAPA JIM!' every time we drive by a cemetery. Makes me laugh and smile every time. I just think it's so important to keep those memories alive."

As soon as I got Shanna's shirt in the mail, I couldn't wait to start on it. She mentioned that she didn't have any half aprons, but I liked the idea of using the front and collar to make sure it maintained the shirt look. I decided to make the top half removable so she can choose which way she wants to wear it.

Shanna said that she wishes I had been able to know her dad more. Having my parents talk about Jim and Donna with such respect and love gives me a little insight into the incredible man he was and the kind of life he led. As a kid, I saw him pretty much as my friend's dad. I guess, when you think about it, that says it all. He is my good friend's dad, and she's pretty amazing. I look forward to meeting up with him in heaven some day to thank him for the incredible opportunity of knowing his daughter.

some of Jim's artwork

Jim and his beautiful family

James Donnell Roth
Jan 3, 1943 - July 18, 1998


  1. You are so amazing. What a fantastic tribute and what a beautiful friend you are.

  2. This is such a touching tribute to your Father, Shanna. Tears are in my eyes. So true and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!