The (Unconventional) Diary of Shannon O’Donnell


Shannon O'Donnell

So if you know me even a little bit and can read between the lines, you’ll know that my last blog wasn’t REALLY about Milky the Cow. I don’t remember the cow. I don’t remember the commercial. But I DO remember the story that I detailed in my last blog entry, having heard it over and over again over the last few decades thanks to my Mom. I lost my Mom very suddenly this past fall at the age of 61. We were closer than close, so the past eight months since have been a surreal and difficult journey. And the stories about my childhood as told through my Mother’s memories, that’s something I’ll miss the most. However, through entries she made in my baby books, plus various emails and letters, those stories will live on, and in her words.

I’ve never been much of a writer (and truthfully cringe every time it’s my turn to log in a blog entry, as creative writing was never my thing), but I have managed to keep a running diary of sorts over the years. Initially, it was in the traditional form, a little pink plaid book complete with a lock and key that somebody probably gave me around my ninth birthday. I found it a few years back, and laughed at the ten or so entries I’d made in it, most of which professed my profound love for Ricky Schroeder and my high hopes of marrying him some day (which is funny considering that the man I DID marry was told he resembled Ricky Schroeder many times around the height of Silver Spoons’ popularity…).

By junior high, I began adding little ‘one-liners’ about what was going on in my oh-so-dramatic-teenage life to my large Webster’s dictionary. Every time I’d look up a new word, I’d add the date and a tidbit of adolescent angst. Next to ‘prolific’ you might find out about my adoration for one adorable fellow 14-year-old. Near ‘onomatopoeia’, the details about him breaking his leg (how funny–didn’t I just blog about my HUSBAND breaking his leg, too? I never thought about it–guess you don’t want to date me if you want to keep your limbs in tact!). Scribbled next to ‘pejorative’, ouch! The break-up. Come to think of it, this first boyfriend also resembled Ricky Schroeder quite a bit, too. That dodgy Ricky was always breaking my heart! But I guess I was breaking his leg…

In early adulthood, I found myself opening cookbooks more often than the dictionary. So my ‘diary’ transferred to those instead. For instance, I’ve made ‘spicy sausage rigatoni’ about a dozen times, at least according to the dates and inscriptions next to the recipe. The mini-entries next to my faded ingredients are a timeline of dating and marriage, trials and triumphs, births of my boys and the early loss of two of their grandparents.

So while my Mom isn’t here to continue chronicling my life for me, maybe these short excerpts will keep a running journal of ‘what was going on when’ in her place. If my children look through the cookbooks someday, they will see how their lives were unfolding at the time, too. Probably in addition to stories I will have told them dozens of times, to the extent that they can’t remember if it really was a memory of their own, or just one of their Mother’s. Kind of like Milky the Cow.

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist


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