Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Siena connection

 I find it interesting how Siena College is connected in so many ways to what has happened.  I looked up the word "siena" on in hopes some phenomenal meaning would pop up but all it said was "a city in Tuscany, Italy"... Not quite what I was hoping to read.  Is that where Chris might be??? I think not.  I was looking for a more profound definition like "one who is perpetually happy" or " the name for the colorful rainbow one sees after the storm". Oh well.  I know there's a sienna color, I've seen it in a crayon box before but that's a different spelling.  It's a burnt orange color.  Very nice but still not what I was hoping for.
My dad went to Siena.  He never graduated.  He had, I believe, less than a year of classes left to get his degree.  He passed away in 1973 when I was in third grade.  I don't recall him taking any classes but what would I have known about that way back then.  Still, he walked the halls there and sat in classes.

Mike went to Siena, he graduated and got his degree there.  He worked full time and lived at home but commuted daily from his parent’s house nearby. He said he would have liked living on campus.
I was accepted to Siena and went there right after high school.  I commuted also.  I lived in Loudonville at the time and couldn't justify staying on campus when my home was ten minutes away.  I wish I had lived there.  Something big is lost from not immersing yourself in the school community in my opinion.  But I worked part time and so I'd go from class to my job.  I really wasn't ready for college.  I didn't know what I wanted to do or be.  I loved high school and wanted to stay there with my friends.  But off I went.  I didn't do so great...  I think I dropped a class the first semester as well as another the second semester.  Oops. (I don't suggest this any seniors that might be reading!)  There was nobody pressing me to show up and learn and I enjoyed my new found freedom so I slacked and skipped classes.  Not so good I know.  As I was paying my way with loans it occurred to me I might be better off somewhere less expensive so I transferred myself out and went to Hudson Valley Community College followed by Russell Sage College.  I did finally get my Bachelors but I was a year behind when all was said and done.

Jeremy was accepted to Siena with a nice scholarship.  He debated about it because he liked the program but what he wasn't thrilled about was the closeness to home.  He wanted some distance.  I can't blame him.  Mike and I tried bribing him, we offered to buy him a nice car if he lived home and commuted! He turned us down and headed for Massachusetts.  He made a great choice for himself, he's doing wonderful and found a second home.  That's reassuring for us.
My nephew Bob, who I spoke of yesterday, was admitted to Siena.  His deposit was in and he was planning to begin his first freshman semester but he passed away before the first day.  His parents helped set him up with a car and schedule his classes but it never came to be.  Bob was a 2010 SHEN graduate looking forward to college life.  
All these Siena connections!

Christopher never applied to Siena.  He really wanted to go into teaching phys ed or becoming an athletic trainer.  Siena doesn't offer it.  I think Chris was fine with that.  I don't think he wanted to follow our paths but carve his own.  We tried the same bribery trick on him with the car offer.  It didn't work.  He didn't apply anywhere locally to our dismay.  I tried telling him he should pick a safety school near home in case he got cold feet and opted not to go away.  He basically giggled in my face and reminded me he liked meeting new friends.  I know, I know... I was the one who didn't want to part with him... I was already missing seeing Jeremy nightly so I was pressing hard to keep Chris close.  Totally selfish but he wasn't biting anyway.  I needed to try!  I would miss my little "squirt" (as I called him)...  

Christopher, Deanna, Bailey and Matt were actually on their way home from the Siena vs. U Albany game the night of the accident.  Ironic that Siena played into the picture again.  There has to be a connection of some sort.  So many of my family members have a tie there plus I have other family members that go there now.  I'm curious if Bailey or Matt or Deanna's families were past graduates or had applications out there for next year? I don't know the answer to that.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to talk about Siena College with you.  Merely, I guess because I'm intrigued as to how these veins link together.  Some of us actually went to classes there, others merely thought about it and Bob never had the opportunity although he planned to.  Curious how things play out.  Not nearly as we expect sometimes.

I like the word Siena but I think it should have another meaning, something good, something positive and powerful, something beautiful and glorious like that rainbow I suggested.  
I like driving by that college campus on my way to work, seeing the students out front playing frisbee on a sunny day.  I looked on Siena's website to see what it says: 

Developing Leaders Capable of Extraordinary Achievement


Siena has been kind enough to allow SHEN and Shaker high schools the opportunity to hold a fundraiser on January 10th for the SHEN scholarships for Chris and Deanna.  The varsity basketball teams will play, both girls and boys.  I'm sure it'll be a great night; a sea of blue and green shirts in the stands with happy students and spectators cheering.  The best part, for me, is that my brother’s son plays varsity for Shaker and I will scream the loudest for him!  GO ZAK!! I so look forward to it :-)

Good things are happening from this terrible tragedy.  I need reminding when I'm having trouble.  I think about, and grasp onto some of these fabulous future events and they help me.  There are so many kind hearted people who donate time and money and ideas.  They create and solidify these amazing events and propel me to hang on tight to those nuggets of goodness.  When I have something to look forward to it makes me so happy.  So thankful.  I immerse myself in knowing, wholly, that my community cares and they want to help.  I'm so appreciative!  I hope you'll come out and enjoy the night with us.  My son Chris will be right there too. He was also a leader capable of extraordinary achievement. 

Thanks for reading!


  1. This is amazing... my daughter is performing at a half time show for Siena men's basketball on January 11th. I am so excited just knowing what wonderful athletes Siena has I can't wait to go watch the team. My daughter has actually been thinking of applying there in 2 years she is a dancer and would like to be on the dance team. We have been getting college pamphlets in the mail weekly and I am having anxiety about my first born going away to college. What if she needs me and its a long drive away. I am being selfish in hoping my daughter stays local. Your blogs help me each & every day so Thank You!!

  2. Mrs.Stewart, I have read all of your posts and I am just so amazed at everthing that has happened from the negatives to the positives. Your words are very inspiring and so helpful. I didn't know any of the four teenagers involved in the accident, but I, being 17 can also relate to so much you have stated in your blog posts. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and inspiration.

  3. We are a shaker family and can't think of anything we would want to do will be a great way to celebrate our youngest child13th b'day . Same day as Chris.

    Any info you can give would be appreciated.time ,place,cost
    We will be cheering for your nephew

  4. I did a little digging into "Siena," looking for some connections. Siena College was named in honor of St. Bernadine of Siena and remains under his spiritual patronage to this day. St. Bernadine is the patron saint of advertising, communications, compulsive gambling, respiratory problems, as well as any problems involving the chest area, according to

    Yes, Siena is a city in the Tuscan region of Italy, but in looking into the history of Siena, specifically it's artistic history, here is what I found: The special characteristics of its masters are freshness of colour, vivacity of expression and distinct originality. Freshness. Vivacity. Originality. From your posts, I consider these to be accurate words to describe Chris. Also, Siena is, and always has been, a great food and market center in Central Italy. Enough said about that...

    Connections? I don't know. Just thought I'd share.

    This is my first comment. Our boys have been friends since their Jr. Plainsmen days and remained friends even though they went to different high schools. My son still can't talk about Chris and isn't ready to read your blog, but I read your posts regularly and never fail to find something personal and relateable in your words. I thank you for that. And when my son feels that he's ready to share your words and memories, I'm sure he'll thank you, as well. You are doing a great thing here, Mrs. Stewart.

  5. Thanks for Sharing. All of your families are in my thoughts and prayers...
    XOX Jill

  6. This blog is so beautifully written and heartfelt, kudos to you! Your strength, faith, memories and outlook are incredibly moving and inspirational. I applaud you for sharing your thoughts and memories with us, and admire greatly the fact that you are able to look for rainbows out of this unthinkable tragedy. You are a beautiful soul, and I have no doubt your son was an amazing young man.

    Please keep the faith and know that he is always with you. I particularly loved the post about signs...that body odor was definitely your precious son having a laugh and letting you know he was right there with you throughout your day. Stay strong. Stay aware of the signs!

    And thank you for sharing this inspirational blog.

  7. Gina, you made a lot of great connections with Siena and the game Christopher attended was a very happy moment for him and the others he was with. Another important connection to Siena is mom. She played the organ for countless masses, including weddings and other celebrations over the many years. Thousands of people sang and prayed in the Siena Chapel to the sound of mom's music. So we know there is a lot of spiritual strength associated with that place and the family, and we can rest assured that Chris was praying his team would win when he was at the game on Dec 1st! BTW, dad attended Siena in '46-'47, long before we arrived, but it just goes to show you how far back members of our family were walking the halls, as you said! Joe

  8. My daughter attends Siena College, is on the cheer team, and lives on campus. My son, who is autistic, has a job site there in the dining hall. He loves it! Their Dad, as well as other family members, also attended Siena. It's a special place for our family.
    My children and I were fortunate enough to visit Siena, Italy in the summer of 2008. Piazza del Campo, the public square, was one of my favorite places of my entire trip around Tuscany. When I left the narrow street and entered the square, it was truly amazing! It is surrounded by so many wonderful restaurants and cafes. From what you wrote in an earlier blog about Chris's love for food, he would be very happy there. People are just seated right on the ground, eating slices of pizza or enjoying a gelato. Children run around the square chasing birds. We had the most enjoyable afternoon there. I recently read a blog from someone else that visited the square this past July and they described their experience of sitting on the ground in the center as "pure peace, amazing and unforgettable." I have to agree. You wrote that you were looking for a more profound definition of Siena. I hope that you like this unknown traveler's description and find some comfort. Have a peaceful day.

  9. Regina I still think abt you, Chris and your family all the time. I prayed last night for you before bed. I just admire your strength and courage. Two things I always thought I had, however in reading through your Blog I am no where near as Strong of a Woman as you are. It makes my heart smile when I read through and I catch parts as if you are talking just to Me!

    Love and Hugs! Lela

  10. I think your blog is showing how we are all connected in some way. and again I am going to say we are kindred spirits on some level. I went to Siena, I lived on campus but I was only an hour away from home. I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I only attended 2 years and in hose 2 years I changed my major 3 times. I enjoyed my new found freedom and I left school to be a full time mom for my daughter. and now I'm preparing to send her to college, but she is so much more focused than I was, she knows exactly what she wants to do.
    again...thanks for sharing.

  11. Dear Gina,
    Thank You for sharing this with us, I'm certain there is some connection to Siena. As you know, my daughter Katrina attended Siena and just finished up with her classes, and will graduate in May. I was there several times over the last four years and always found myself asking the same questions just like I did in CBA....did my Dad walk here? Did he sit here in this room? Something special is connected somehow. So looking forward to the game and fund raiser, and knowing both Christopher and Deanna will be there, I pray you will you find the answer you are looking for in the connection. Your writings are making many, many connections. Thank You! You are truely a very Special person Gina. Always In My Thoughts And Prayers, I Love You, Eddie.