I don’t know what happens when people die

Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try

It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear

That I can’t sing

I can’t help listening

Jackson Browne’s enduring classic “For a Dancer” continues to bring reassurance to thousands of his fans who have experienced loss over the years. A perennial concert favorite, released in 1973, it was written for his friend Scotty Runyon, who lost his life in a house fire that year. Jackson somehow managed to channel his feelings of pain, vulnerability and loss in the wake of his friend’s tragic death into this sad, sweet, song. Not only is it a poignant musical tribute to Runyon, but also an exhortation to the rest of us to “keep a fire burning” in our eyes.

Everyone is familiar with the helplessness associated with the death of someone close to you. After the tears have all been cried out; you realize the only thing left for you to do is move on, clasping your most treasured memories of your loved ones close to your chest as you go. And you try, somehow, in some way, to honor that person’s life the best you can. Some might start a band, others might paint a beautiful portrait; and there are those who write poems, stories, and songs. All of them hoping in some way that the things they do, however great or small, will honor the memories of those whose lives have left so much of an impact on their life.

To honor the memory of her daughter Shaylee, who died tragically in an automobile accident last November Fifth, Melody Oxy decided she wanted to build a trellis in Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee and for good reasons.

Shaylee and I would go to Ensley Gardens quite often, and end up at our same spot . . . walking down our little paths with the wood chips. We called it our “Sacred Spot,” where we would share our wishes & dreams . . . and just have girl talk.

Melody decided to talk to someone about erecting this simple memorial to honor Shaylee. At first she encountered opposition.

I came up with the idea of just a simple white trellis. I was told that they probably wouldn’t put it up, because of vandalism. But, I kept praying about it, and gave it over to God.

But after meeting with Dave Bartles, her misgivings faded away.

The next day I went to meet with the guy (Bartles), who oversees the Gardens, and built that awesome covered bridge. When I saw him, I thought he was going to tell me that he wasn’t going to approve it, but he said “hey Melody, nice to meet you, are you ready to see where we’re going to put your daughter’s trellis?” I even got him to come speak at the benefit!

Its obvious how much love Melody has for her beautiful daughter in just the words she writes about her.

I absolutely build my whole world around her. I was her biggest cheerleader. I got her into modeling, the whole nine yards. But I think the most beautiful thing about her was her heart; she didn’t care how much money a person had, or what they looked like. She touched sooo many people. She also had an incredible voice; she even tried out for American Idol!

The Moose Lodge, 1901 N Kansas Ave., was chosen to host the Shaylee Star Memorial Benefit to help raise funds for Shaylee’s trellis. The event will be held on Saturday, July 21, from 1:00 pm to midnight.

The Moose Lodge holds many special memories for Melody.

My Father used to be a Governor (or as I call them a Grand Puba), over there many moons ago. I even wrote a song and story for him that ended up in the newspaper.

So, we have so many awesome memories over there taking Shaylee to carnivals, Christmas parties, Halloween, horseback riding. She even has been on the stage there to sing. I’ve got a special collage of pictures with her having fun over there I’m taking to the benefit.

The way that the name Shaylee’s Star came about for the benefit is the night right after we found out she passed, I looked up in the sky and saw this gigantic star right by the full moon that night. I told my husband that she was still with us, because she was the most beautiful star in the sky.

The Moose Lodge is located at 1901 N. Kansas Ave. A full and eventful day is planned beginning around noon and ending around midnight. Musically, there will be literally something for everyone, from the acoustic songs of Jake Hodge for the older folks to the gut wretching in your face rock and roll of Gutwretch for the younger generation. Dave Bartles, creator of Shaylee’s trellis, and overseer of Ensley Gardens is scheduled to speak during the dinner hour between six and seven. There will be T-shirt and cookies sales, door and raffle prizes, and a silent auction. A cash bar will open at seven. General admission seating is ten dollars and VIP seating is thirty dollars. Call 785-235-5050 for more information.

Come out and honor the memory of a beautiful young lady who was taken from this world far too soon.

Artist Itinerary

1:00 p.m. Jake Hodge – Currently the lead singer for one of Topeka’s best original rock bands, Sixteen Penny. Jake opens the day with some acoustic tunes, both original and covers.

2:00 p.m. Faces for Radio – A recent seveneightfive highlight, FFR brings a mix of originals and covers. Haven’t seen them since Jam4Dan. I sure hope they’re still doing Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta. It freakin’ rocks!

3:00 p.m. Rob Wade – The Rob Wade Band recently released their newest CD ‘Basement Chronicles.’ The whole band will be playing on Saturday. People can purchase music on Itunes . . . currently finishing up second album . . . playing originals and covers.

4:00 -7:00 p.m.  Raffles, Prizes, Dinner, Tribute

7:00 p.m. Erik & Friends 

8:00 p.m. Paradigm Shift Kit –  Lance Massey AKA Lancifer Meh describes PSK’s sound as a “mellow, vibey, feel the love of the universe,” kind of thing. Sounds groovy to me.

9:00 p.m. Emotional Feedback – An experimental acoustic electric rock phenomenon that formed in the early 90’s in Topeka KS that occasionally reunites for special occasions such as this one. This line-up will include most of the original members performing some of the classic favorites that have electrified audiences for two decades now

10:00 p.m. Engage the Broken – Their debut performance and probably one of the most anticipated bands of the day. Original Metal Musings wherein Professor Chip Janda steps down from his teachers podium and jumps up on stage to show us how that guitar really wants to be handled.

11:00 p.m. Gutwretch – More Metal Mayhem. Heavy crunchy melodic metal band that has driving riffs mixed with heavy growling and melodic vocals . . . who strive to give the crowd the most tight energetic show possible.

Ted Ensley Gardens

Located at 3650 SE West Edge Road on the west side of Lake Shawnee, Ensley Gardens has probably been one of Topeka’s best kept secrets over the last decade. Laid out over twenty acres, Ensley Gardens is a source of spiritual refuge for many. It is completely wheelchair accessible, and best of all, is free to enter.

The Ted Ensley Gardens are a great place to take in the beauty of nature. The horticulturists, with the assistance of volunteers plant more than 80,000 Tulips and Daffodils that are in full bloom for the annual Tulip Time in Topeka. In May more than 90,000 annuals are planted in beds throughout the gardens.

[July 2012 | Robin Cremer]

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