Good-bye to a Best Friend, Shannon Verser
November 19, 1952-December 27, 2020
This first post of the New Year is supposed to be upbeat. After all, this is a humor blog and it is the start of our collective, new, better year. But please bear with me. Instead of looking forward, I’m going to pause and say good-bye to someone special who died — one of my closest friends, Shannon Verser.
The week before Christmas this woman, more sister than friend, took ill. What followed was terrible. She was hospitalized. There was an emergency surgery, but it failed. Shannon died on December 27 at the age of 68.
Shannon Verser – Kindness Personified
To say, Shannon was the kindest woman who ever lived would be accurate. She met everyone with a smile and an open heart. As her oldest daughter Amanda put it, you really had to work hard to earn her dislike. Only a few people did.
Second Fiddle to Crab Dip
She was the second-best cook I knew. Nobody could beat my Grandma, but Shannon came darn close. When I was pregnant the first time, Shannon hosted my baby shower. “Hosted” meant cooked. She cooked and cooked and cooked. The food was so amazing that the non-stop topic of conversation was not my baby-to-be (or me) but “Shannon, what’s the recipe for your crab dip?” and “Shannon, how do you make these scalloped potatoes?”
I sat in the corner, stuffing my face, amused (and slightly sulking). After a while, my mother sat down beside me, patted my knee, and said, “This is good training. You won’t be the center of attention once the baby comes.”
“Yeah, but second fiddle to crab dip?”
Fine China, Nail Polish, and Bibs
Shannon and I were friends through the ups and downs of the dating years, marriages, the births of children and her beloved grandson Leonardo, and the illnesses and deaths of parents, my grandmother, and siblings. We celebrated joyous holidays together and the washing of endless pots and dishes — thankfully never once breaking one of my mother’s fancy English bone china plates and we survived a couple of bitter fights.
So much joy and laughter mixed in with so many tears.
Shannon did my hair on my wedding day, buttoned the 60+ buttons on my wedding dress because my mother’s hands were shaking, and she held a towel in front of that dress when I decided I didn’t like the color of my nail polish and had to change it.
Pumpkin Rolls Rule
She held my children right after they were born, gave them their first haircuts, and made their favorite holiday dessert — pumpkin rolls.
She made those pumpkin rolls even though she worked numbingly long hours as a hairdresser and had bad knees. And she made them even after we moved back East from Las Vegas. It cost her a fortune to ship them overnight in dry ice, but no matter. She did it. Traditions had to be honored.
In turn, I, who cannot sew a loose button back onto clothes, embroidered bibs when her second daughter Andrea was born. Her first daughter used to tell people that her favorite TV characters were Bullwinkle and me — this during the days when I was a TV news reporter.
My children call Shannon “Aunt” and her children call me “Aunt.” It’s more than polite. We are family.
Shannon Verser – the Hallmark card-a-holic
Shannon was a card-aholic. She sent cards for any occasion and no occasion at all. I got them for Hannukah, Christmas, birthdays, of course, and “just because.” How glad I am that I kept most of them.
Holidays, birthdays, New Year’s, haircuts, lunches, phone calls, and dinners. But also, we sat bedside for each other through too many illnesses and surgeries.
But not this last hospitalization. COVID-19 kept us apart.
Last month in Reno, Nv, Shannon and her daughters fought the last hospital battle alone. Both Shannon’s steadfast big brother Ronnie in Arkansas, sister Tracey in Las Vegas, and I in California “facetimed” calls to the ICU, first hoping she would wake up from emergency brain surgery; then saying our good-byes when she did not regain consciousness. For me, this remote electronic good-bye was the strangest most painful of all the painful good-byes I’ve ever made.
Shannon Verser – the Queen of Laughter
Shannon and I had a 41-year-old ritual of trading jokes. It began right from the start of our friendship, even before I discovered how big her heart was or that she was a culinary genius.
Her beauty salon clients were endless suppliers of silly material. And as a reporter, even my organized crime sources — both the good guys (the cops and the government attorneys) and the bad guys (you, know, the mobsters, I mean, alleged mobsters) — all had jokes to share too! So, invariably, Shannon and I would take a mid-day break, call each other, and trade corny jokes, riddles, and puns to make our day and world a little brighter.
Well, as 2021 begins, my world is definitely less bright. I am, however, comforted by 41 years of memories and love … and a boatload of absolutely ridiculous jokes, a few of which I even remember the punchlines to! And, oh, yes, Shannon’s famous crab dip recipe!
Very sweet. You write very well.
She was a sweet woman! Thank you.
My heartfelt condolences on your loss of such a dear friend/sister
Thank you, kind namesake.
Karen, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m with you in missing close friends who’ve died this past year.
Yes, this is a time of loss for many people. So much pain. I am sorry for yours, my dear friend.
Such a moving tribute
It, of course, came from the heart. So much of my life was spent in whispered and giggled confidences with Shannon.
So sorry about the loss of your dear friend.
Karen! I am so sorry for the loss to this world, and to you, of this incredible, wonderful woman and friend. I hope she’s reading and loving every word of your beautifully written tribute, and I can’t help but think she’s going to be helping you from the other side of heaven the next time you’re making her crab dip!
Thank you for your kind and loving words of appreciation for my wonderful friend. Your words made Jon and me smile, laugh, and cry. We should make Shannon’s crab dip together. You’d like it! Jon and I send our love to you and George.
I married into the Verser family and Shannon took me right in. I married Ronny’s daughter, Tisha. Shannon used to give me the business when she came back to Arkansas during family reunions. I loved it! She was a real sweet heart and reunions won’t be the same. She is missed already!
Shannon so loved the family reunions. And giving people “the business” was a special delight. It meant you indeed were special in her book! My condolences to you and Tisha. And thank you for writing to me.
Shannon cut my family’s hair for many, many years. We looked forward to seeing her every month. She would see all three of us in the same afternoon – lots of chatting, laughter and catching up done during the appointment. We are so sad that she has passed away. Her heart was loving and she was so kind and generous. We will miss her very much. Thank you for writing a beautiful tribute.
A beautiful tribute. It sounds like this is a loss for a great deal of people. She sounds like such a big hearted person.
And on behalf of the family, heartfelt appreciation for your unbelievable kindness and counsel during Shannon’s final days. You are, as always, a giving, caring person who does so much for people – just as Shannon did all her life.
Shannon was definitely one of a kind, and I know she would appreciate what you have written.
I also know she loved you very much.
Thank you for these kind words. Regards, Karen