Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Irreplaceable Childhood Friends...

“The essence of childhood, of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic.” -Bill Cosby

Shelly Tingey and I have been buddies since childhood. So, when Paige emailed from London awhile back to ask if I knew someone named Shelly Tingey, I immediately responded: “Of course I do!"

It turned out that Elise Hansen, the BYU student most compliant to accompany Paige on long runs during study abroad, was Shelly’s niece. In fact, when I told Paige to ask Elise’s dad, Steven Hansen, if he remembered me, Steven (then just a pipsqueak kid brother, now medical Doctor Hansen) confirmed that I was a fixture at their house, even known to tag-a-long on their family vacations.

Shelly had I have been friends for over 45 years. We were goofy youngsters, always roaming the neighborhood looking for action. We spent hours on the golf course in between our homes and squandered our summers in the pool at the tennis club. We’d pester Shelly’s big sister, Terilyn, for rides, annoying her until she’d consent.

For innocent, naive teenagers Shelly and I were pretty fearless. We pulled all sorts of pranks together, including sneaking off with her dad’s truck and my sister’s car, before either of us had a license or knew how to drive.

In high school there wasn’t anyone more spirited than Shelly. My memories of Highland Pep Club all involve Shelly. Then we were roommates at BYU’s May Hall freshman year and both nearly gagged at a ‘candle passing’ the first week of school when a girl in our dorm got engaged.

BYU gave Shelly and I our first taste of real church callings; somehow a very courageous bishop asked us both to teach Gospel Doctrine. It was a risk because although we were completely active, we were both kind of goofballs.

By sophomore year we became less attached by virtue of different paths; Shelly left for a semester in Hawaii and when she returned I left for Vienna. Then, shortly after my return Shelly married Tony Tingey.

But we’ve stayed in touch over the years and it was a pleasant surprise that Paige and Elise figured out the connection. I have great memories of a wholesome and happy childhood that Shelly was a big part of. And, I’ve always looked up to Shelly as a great example; she always radiates positive energy.

On Monday, we got the gang together to hike the Desolation Trail (Shelly, Elise, Paige, Andie, and me). I’m so glad Paige figured out that Elise’s Aunt Shelly was one and the same as my childhood friend, Shelly.

Shelly has been a blessing in my life and now Andie and Paige got to experience spending time with her too. Maybe being with Shelly even helps them understand some of my zany behavior which probably took root from hanging out with Shelly (although she might argue it the other way around)!