Friday evening, a friend told Sandra Blasnek a story about her youngest daughter, Robin, that Sandra had never heard. It seems that one summer, Robin had set up a lemonade stand in her neighborhood. Business was not as good as Robin expected, though. Mostly, the people just drove right on past.
So Robin disappeared for a little while. When she returned, she was carrying a bucketful of rocks.
The story goes that every time a car would pass her stand without stopping, Robin would reach into the bucket, grab a rock and start chunking away at the offending vehicles.
“I just hope that this was an old story,’’ Sandra Blasnek told a group of 600 who had gathered Saturday at the Mormon church on Harris Drive in Mesa for Robin’s funeral services.
With Robin, you were never quite sure.
“As many of you know, Robin was our special needs child,’’ Sandra told the mourners. “She required more time and patience than our older three daughters.’’
Robin Blasnek, 22, died last Sunday from a gunshot wound that police believe was the work of a pair of serial shooters. Early Friday morning, police arrested Samuel John Dieteman and Dale S. Hausner in connection with a 14-month series of shootings. If that proves to be true, Robin Blasnek was their final victim, and it some ways, the most heart-wrenching. Ten years ago, the Blasneks buried their third daughter, Rachel, who died in a car crash at the age of 15.
“Back then, I remember thinking, ‘OK, we’re safe,’ ” Robin’s father, Steve, told the mourners. “But we were not safe.’’
Sandra and Steve were the primary speakers at Saturday’s funeral service. Together they painted a portrait of their daughter that was sometimes funny, often heart-rending and unflinchingly candid.
Robin suffered from mild mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.
But a life is more than a medical report. It cannot convey the joys and achievements, the tears and unfulfilled yearnings of a girl who wanted, above all else, to be “normal.’’
She was the young child who roamed the neighborhood, ringing doorbells, asking whomever answered if they had children she could play with. She was the child who went door-to-door each Christmas selling dishrags. She was the child who, if she saw someone in a wheelchair, would march up to them and ask, in complete innocence, “What’s wrong with you?”
She was the child who, during her junior high and high school years, volunteered to be a class aide for severely disabled children, children who could not even speak. She was the one who read those kids stories, showed them pictures, sang to them and pushed them around in their wheelchairs.
She was the child who labored heroically to earn her diploma from Mountain View High School.
She was the young woman who struggled to find friends as her childhood friends began to drift away in pursuit of adult relationships.
She was the second child Steve and Sandra Blasnek have had to lay to rest.
The inescapable question at times such as these is “why?’’
Why did Robin die? I am convinced that the answer is found in the last chapter of an unfinished book.
Better to ask, then, “Why did Robin live?”
She lived to enrich the lives of her family and friends. In ways great and small, they are better for having known her.
“My life was just consumed with helping Robin for the past 22 years,’’ Sandra said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now. There are the grandchildren, of course, and church and all those projects that I never got around to doing. But even so, there is going to be a huge hole in my life without Robin.’’
Ultimately, it is not what happens to you in life that matters: It’s what happens in you. It is the quality we call character. It is really all we leave behind.
“I guess we all have our own set of circumstances that we have to deal with in life,’’ Sandra said. “There were times when Robin handled things pretty well, but there were other times when it caused her so much sadness.
“All in all, I think she did a pretty good job.’’