Monthly Archives: May 2012

With graduation behind us for another year, the thoughts of many graduates turn to the traditional graduation trip. It is supposed to be the first step into real freedom the young adult takes.  The trips can be as varied as the graduate taking them, and of course, the cost they can afford. My thoughts go back to my own graduation trip. I felt very blessed to be one of the few that got to take such a trip. When I graduated, the graduation trip was not the common thing to do, and in fact, I don’t know of any of my friends that took one. Nevertheless, my parents wanted to give me something special, while not just sending me off alone into the unknown. So, they arranged for me to fly out to my older sister, Cheryl’s house in Plattsburgh, New York, for the Christmas and New Years holidays.

I had never flown, much less flown alone, so this was a big deal for me! My flight was to take me to Chicago, Illinois, where I would change planes and fly on into New York City. My sister and her husband, at the time, would pick me up in New York City. I was very excited about this trip…and I felt very grown up, but at the same time a lot like a Kindergarten child on the first day of school. It was a really tough place to be. The flight was not really the thing that I was concerned about, but rather the change of flights. I believe I had 45 minutes or so between the flights, and I was worried that I would not get there in time.

When my flight arrived in Chicago, and after my initial surprise at the fact that the runway crossed over the highway, which I found very cool by the way, I began my journey over to the connecting flight’s gate…running!!! I’m quite sure I looked very much like the scared Kindergarten child I felt like, but that was something I didn’t really care about at the time. The thought of missing my flight and trying to figure out what to do about that all by myself, in Chicago, was not a prospect I relished,…so I ran. When I arrived at my gate, I found myself 30 minutes early…with nothing to do.

I thought about all the airport that I had run through and not bothered to look at…with a little bit of regret. Still, with only the 30 minutes left, I decided that I probably should stay right where I was. The rest of the trip went very smoothly and I had a wonderful time with my sister and her family. I think I really did some growing up at that time, and I can honestly say that I don’t run to the connecting flights anymore, although there have been a couple that we cut a little close. My graduation trip was a trip I will always remember, and forever be grateful to my parents for sending me on.

One memory from when I was little is of Grandpa’s rocks. He had many of them, because he was a rock collector. Grandpa went many places to find his rocks…and no place at all. That’s because great rocks could be found just about anywhere, and you never really knew what they could look like until you put then in a rock tumbler and polished them up. Then, even the rock that had seemed so plain, could turn into a beautiful stone. To find that special rock, you had to have an eye for it, and my grandpa really had an eye for it.

He had some beauties. I always wondered how he could find so many beautiful stones…and where he could find them. I liked to looks for pretty rocks too, but aside from an agate or two, I never really turned up much that was very pretty, much less stunning, like his were. Of course, I didn’t have a rock tumbler to bring out the beauty, but still, I’m not sure that I would have had the eye for the rock that had the potential to become a beautiful stone.

Grandpa spent years looking for rocks…possibly his entire life. I can picture him as a little boy, looking around and finding a rock here and there that had touches of color in them. Maybe some pinks or whites mixed in with the gray or black that most of us see. When I think of rocks, they are all plain and ugly, but I have to wonder how many beauties I passed up because my mind couldn’t see inside the rock…couldn’t see the rock’s potential, but Grandpa could see it. He could see inside the rocks…see their potential, and he knew how to bring the inside of the rock out and turn it into a beautiful stone.

It was almost as if Grandpa knew how to talk to the rocks…coax the beautiful stone out of the simple gray or black rock. Maybe it’s just because he was able to see the beauty in many things. Grandpa had so much love to give. And he wanted to share his love of nature with his family. They would go on rock hunting treks. The kids got to do what so many kids would love to do…hunt rocks and bring them home. And nobody stopped them from bringing their treasures home…and then he could take those treasures and turn them into something more. Of course, I don’t suppose Grandpa had a rock tumbler back in those days, still a little water could bring out the different colors in an otherwise Plain Jane of a rock, I’m sure. Eventually, with the invention of the rock tumbler, Grandpa was able to show the rest of us what he was always able to see…the beauty that lies inside of the rock.

For some time now, my second cousin Tim has lived in Colorado, and we did not have a chance to get to know him very well. Since he attended my dad’s funeral, and with the help of Facebook, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know him better. He is a kind and loving family man, who very much enjoys traveling and showing his wife, Sherrie and his son, Daniel, the world. He is very involved in Daniel’s activities, and it is very clear to anyone who looks at the activities Daniel is into, that he is very much his dad’s son.

Since I didn’t know Tim well when he was growing up, it came as a surprise to me that he is as intelligent as he is. I’m sure that is a fact about himself that he gives little thought to most of the time, because Tim is not one of those people who would ever brag on himself…not that he would need to. Isn’t it funny that when you don’t see someone for a long time, you can still think of them as a little kid…so much so that it shocks you to see them as a very capable adult! From what I have seen, Tim has always been interested in science and technical things. He has the kind of mind that can figure out the solution to the problem. I have found this out first hand, when he was able to help me with some settings on my computer that had made it seem possessed. I’m usually pretty good with my computer, but this one had me stumped.

Tim is also a runner, having participated in the Bolder Boulder 10K Run several times. The Bolder Boulder is an annual 10K race in Boulder, Colorado. The race has over 54,000 runners, walkers, and wheelchair racers, making it the largest race in the US in which all participants are timed and the fifth largest road race in the world. He has run the race as a tribute to loved ones lost and those who have served their country. What an awesome thing to do! This year he ran for his grandmother, my Aunt Laura, and her sister, my Aunt Ruth, who worked in the shipyards as welders working on the ships during World War II.

I am so pleased that Tim and I have had a chance to get to know each other better, and that I know his wife Sherrie and his son Daniel too. And through our relationship, I have also gotten to know his brother, my second cousin, Shawn better as well. I feel like time has gone full circle now…what once was lost has been regained. In the past 5 years, several family members who I have not seen or heard from for a very long time are now back in my life. I know that many people think Facebook is a waste of time and simply a place to vent, but to me, it is a place to reconnect with family who have been and still are too far away to see every day. I am very proud of my second cousin, Tim today as he once again ran in the Bolder Boulder 10K race, and I just want everyone to know what a wonderful person he is. Love you Tim!!

As is the case in most families, we have a number of heroes, both living and deceased, in our family. Memorial Day was originally set aside as a day to remember our military heroes. It has evolved into a day to remember those loved ones who have left us too…even if they weren’t in the military. I know there are those who have served that I am unaware of, and I first want to thank every member of the military past or present for their brave service to our country. Freedom isn’t free, and it was your dedication, bravery, and sacrifice that have made it possible for us to enjoy our freedom.

My grandfather and my great Uncle Ted both served during World War I. My dad , Uncle Jim Wolfe, and Uncle George served during World War II. My Aunt Laura and Aunt Ruth also helped during the World War II by working in the shipyards welding ships…a man sized job that was being handled very well, but a group of outstanding women. Others in the military were my Uncle Larry, Bob’s Uncle Eddie and Uncle Butch, my cousins Larry, Greg and Michael, Bob’s cousins Sheila and Pat, Bob’s brother Ron, Bob’s brother-in-law Lynn, and my nephews Rob and Allen.

Whether our military men and women served in wartime or peacetime, doesn’t matter. It takes great bravery to even sign up for the military, because you never know when war can break out and you will be given the call to action. Our military men and women sign up not only to fight if necessary, but to give their very lives as a sacrifice for others. Their everyday life, the places they live, the job they have, and the hours they work are all things that they give up control over. Many have missed the births of children, wedding anniversaries, and family birthdays, because they were far away from home serving their country. The things we take for granted that we will be able to attend, they know with certainty that they will not be able to attend.

Such sacrifice…such selflessness…such dedication!! These are all a part of the very makeup of these individuals, and something many of us never give any thought to. These people turned a part of their lives over to their leaders, in order to make our homeland, and the countries of other people a safer place to be. They fought for people they didn’t even know, while leaving their own loved ones behind to answer the call of duty. Today is Memorial Day, and I want to thank these, and all our military men and women for your courage…your selflessness…your strength…and your dedication!! God bless each and every one of you!!

Lately, I find myself amazed at some of the changes in my grandchildren…especially the 2 that are driving now. They are so different when they are in the car now. My oldest grandson knows the roads he drives on and instead of me telling him where he needs to go or what to watch out for, he has started telling us what to watch out for. And when we were taking him out to the lake to join his family who is camping there for the weekend, we were told we didn’t need directions…Chris would show us how to get there. When did this happen? And my granddaughter gives me directions to places we are going if we go together too. And helps watch the road…especially in the parking lots.

It is just so odd to hear them talking about car parts and things they need to do to their cars. They just shouldn’t be old enough to be doing these things. Where have the years gone anyway? They should be babies still, but here we are at the summer between their sophomore and junior years in high school. The next thing I know they will be graduating or getting married.

I keep thinking of these kids a being little, but in reality the boys are all taller than me now, and while Shai isn’t taller, she is none the less grown up. They are all getting so grown up. The little kid toys have been replaced by computers, smart phones, iPods, jobs, and cars (for two of them anyway). And soon Caalab will be 15 and have his permit. Then before I know it Josh will too. Where have the years gone?

As I look to the future, it occurs to me that my grandchildren will soon be adults with families of their own, and lives of their own. I feel a little sad that they will be so busy that we may not have as much time to see each other as we have in the past. I can only hope and pray that they will still live here so that I can be as close to their children as I have had the great privilege to be with them. They are wonderful people, and I am very blessed to have them in my live. I am so proud of the people they have become. I love you all very much.

As summer begins, the thoughts of most kids turn to their favorite summertime activity…swimming. And swimming knows no age limit…young and old alike love to go swimming. When I was a little kid, we occasionally got to go to the park next to the grade school. There was a wading pool there, where all kids who couldn’t swim yet went to cool off in the summertime…and it was always packed. There was hardly any room to move sometimes, but it was cool and the day was hot, so you didn’t complain. That wading pool has long since been removed…partly because of some drain safety issues that we never had problems with, but I guess there were some in some other pools, and partly because of so many people buying the backyard wading pool. The backyard wading pool was just easier.

By the time my girls were born, there were no wading pools in town. We got them a wading pool as soon as they were old enough to walk, because it gave them something to do in the summer. We lived out in the country, and going to town for activities was a wasted day. They didn’t care about going to town, as long as they could play in their pool. The girls would spend hours out in that pool, and come in looking like prunes, but they always had such a good time. I think I loved the wading pool as much as they did, because is was a wonderful entertainer. All too soon though, the backyard wading pool became old news, and they wanted to go to the big pool in town…not that I can blame them, it was just that it meant that I had to make the trip to town to take them.

The backyard wading pool has never lost its charm, however. When my grandchildren were born, we found ourselves back in wading pool mode very quickly. It was great watching the grandkids play in their pool and having such a great time. The wading pools of today are much cooler that the ones we had when my girls were little. They have slides and other fancy things built into them. If we wanted a slide, we had to put the pool near our swing set. It worked, but today you don’t have to do that. I have often wondered how we ever managed without those pools, and how kids ever survived the hot summers. I guess we did have the sprinkler, but I don’t think it could really compare to the backyard wading pool.

Today is the last day of school in Casper. Some places go longer, and maybe some are out earlier, but for Casper, today is it. All the students are excitedly anticipating the end of the day that marks the beginning of summer vacation and…freedom!! I remember when I was in school, that last day seemed like the longest day of the year, and I liked school, so for kids who didn’t, it was worse…an eternity. The teachers spent most of the day wondering why they even had to come today, because other than the high school students who had finals, most of the classes consisted of watching movies, playing games, or picnics. The students have no books…those have been turned in, so the teacher couldn’t do any real lessons, and the students couldn’t study. It was and still is a wasted day, but the reality is that no matter what day is the last day, the result would be the same.

So, today is the last day. Some of my grandchildren finished up yesterday. Those who didn’t have finals today were able to skip today, and one who was just going to be watching movies didn’t go so his family could start the Memorial Day weekend early by going camping. There were a few kids that didn’t go the last day when I was in school too, and it fueled the whole “why do we even have to go today” syndrome in those of us who were left behind to complete the year. It makes sense to the adults that it doesn’t matter what day is the last day, it is a wasted day, but to the kids…especially the younger ones, it just doesn’t make sense.

As the school year ends, we are reminded that next year we will have 2 Juniors in high school, 1 Sophomore in high school, and on 8th grader in middle school. Where have the years gone? How can my little teeny grandbabies be such grown up people already? It is a stark reminder that time waits for no man…it simple marches on. Before we know it, these kids will be high school graduates, and out in the world, going forward to make their own way in it. We don’t know where their path will take them. Some of them have ideas and goals. Others don’t, and may not until they are graduates. Sometimes, life experiences show people without a doubt that they are perfect for one career or another, sometimes they have to explore some first. Time will tell.

But for today, they are simply moving into summer vacation and rejoicing in the chance to sit back and relax a little. Chris and Shai will be working this summer, of course, and Caalab will probably get a job when he turns 15 on the 25th of June. Josh will be the only one that doesn’t have a job yet, but I know he will do odd jobs for extra spending money, because that is the way he is too. As for the school year…well, for the summer at least it will have a distant place in the back of their minds…stored away until the fall, because this year is over. The clock moves forward to the final bell for this year…and it’s a wrap!!

A client was in my office yesterday with his little granddaughter. When he gave her a kiss, his whiskers rubbed on her cheek, causing her to make a face. When he told us why she had made the face, it took me back about four to five decades. Back to when I was a kid, and my dad used to play with my sisters and me by giving us whisker rubs. It was something Dad did when he was in a playful mood. He would come home from work, and we would gather around to greet him. Dad always loved to tease, and see if he could put a smile on our faces after his long day at work.

Dad’s 5 o’clock shadow would always scratch us when he would kiss us hello, and I suppose that was how it got started. Just like my clients little granddaughter, making a face at the scratchiness of her grandpa’s face, we probably made the same face. My guess would be that he thought our little face was so funny that he did it again to see that funny little face that looks a bit like a kid who just ate lemons. After a while, it became kind of like the “tickle torture” we had used on our sister, Caryl…a “weapon” used without warning to get a rise out of us.

I suppose people might wonder why such an act would be continued after the first time. Well, the answer would lie in the fact that after Dad would finish giving us the whisker rub, we would invariably say, “Do that again, Daddy!!” It was always a fun little goofy thing we had with Dad, and as we grew older, and had children of our own, they too, were introduced to the whisker rub. No one was exempt, nor did they want to be, because to be exempt, would have been to be left out of the fun.

My dad was a great dad and a great kidder. He brought fun and laughter to our home, and made each of his girls feel like princesses. We were so blessed. Family was the most important thing to him. He had so much love to give, and such a good heart. He was always doing fun little things to bring a smile to our faces and sunshine to the day. I miss those days…especially when I see a dad or grandpa playing with their little one or even accidentally doing something similar to the playful things my dad did…like the whisker rub!!!

Every kid goes through times when they wish they were bigger…grown up. They do everything they can think of to look more grown up. It’s just normal I guess…but the funniest thing is when they try on the shoes of the adults in their lives…especially the boots of their dad or grandpa. I’m not sure what it is about those boots, but they just seem to love wearing them. And it isn’t just limited to the boys. The girls want in on the action too. They just love walking around in those shoes that are huge on them.

They stagger around the room trying not to fall…trying to see if they can really make these big boots keep going in the same direction, because usually they want to go in opposite directions, making it very difficult to walk…and very funny. Trying to stand back up after falling down is even funnier. In boots that cover almost the entire leg sometimes, standing back up is really a bit of a trick…especially if the child happens to be a bit younger, and therefore shorter.

This fascination with Dad’s or Grandpa’s boots is one of the sweetest things kids try to mimic, because it shows how much they love their dad or grandpa. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, and that is exactly what they are doing. There is very little that kids miss, and they want to be just like those people the love so much…all the more reason to watch what we say or do, because we might be a negative influence if we don’t, and wouldn’t you rather be the kind of person that you are proud to watch your children or grandchildren become.

Is I watched these little ones over the years learning to walk and then trying new things, it was like those boots, when they first tried something new, they weren’t experts at it by any means. Still, with the same perseverance that they used in trying to learn to walk in those big boots, they kept at the new thing they were trying, until they became experts. All of these kids are either grown up or almost there, and I must say that each is very different from the others, which is not unusual in that Jessie is my niece, Barry is my nephew, and Chris is my grandson, but each of them knows how to succeed in whatever they try. I don’t think that it was those boots that have made them a success, but rather the fact that they had in themselves, the drive to succeed that made them master those boots, before they were old enough to have the boots fit them.

Xander is the son of my niece, Jenny and her husband Steve. He is their oldest child.  As the oldest child, he takes his responsibilities very seriously. He tries very hard to make sure his little brothers stay in line…or is that called wrestling. No matter…whatever it is called, Xander is the big brother in charge, and at least for now he has his little brothers believing that. It doesn’t make them stop trying to take him though, because that is just what boys do. And these three boys are among the toughest guys around. I have watched them wrestling around, and the last words you will hear from them is “I give up” because they just don’t.

Xander also loves to go shooting with his parents and brothers. His parents have taught him and his brothers about gun safety and proper respect for guns. The boys know how to shoot, and they know that a gun is not a toy, but a weapon that can kill if used improperly. They would never use a gun improperly.

Xander reminds me so much of his dad. Steve is a strong man, but inside, he is very different. There is a kindness there, combined with love and loyalty. That is how Xander is. He feels any hurt his parents are going through very deeply. He tries to protect them from hurt or pain. He feels loss deeply as well, and he tries to figure out a way to make things right…or at least better, if there is no solution.

As I said, Xander is very much like his dad…which means that while he is a tough guy on the outside…on the inside he is a big teddy bear. Recently at school, he was named star student. That meant that he got to go to the front of the line…he and any other star student. Of course, there is only room for one person at the head of the line, and Xander was there first. Then a girl said, “I want to be first! I’m a star student too!” Xander quickly responded, “Of course…ladies first!” Not only was the little girl happy, but Xanders teacher was surprised and very pleased. She told Xander’s mom, my niece, Jenny that she was very pleased and proud of him. She said that his good upbringing really showed. It was such a proud moment for Jenny and Steve, and when I heard about it, I felt very proud to be his great aunt too. Today is Xander’s 9th birthday!! Happy birthday Xander!! We love you very much!!