Monthly Archives: June 2012

Few events of our lives have the ability to change our lives forever. Motherhood is one such event. People get married and divorced, so they are a wife and not a wife, but once you are a mother, you are always and forever a mother. Each child is special…wonderful, in their own way. Each is different…unique, with their own special ways. And each child is a blessing beyond measure.

On June 30, 1975 at 7:10am, my life was forever changed by the birth of my beautiful daughter, Corrie. You have no idea what that is like until you have been there. There is no other feeling quite like that. You go from being a person with only themselves to take care of, and in an instant you are changed. There is a little life that is totally dependant on you to meet their every need. Pretty amazing stuff. This beautiful little life is looking to you to show her how to grow up.

Of course, those years of looking up to you, quickly pass, and you find yourself having to step back and let them spread their wings some. They are learning to “fly” on their own before you know it, and your heart feels like it is being ripped out, but you just have to swallow that horrible lump in your throat and let them go out on their own. They will come back to you, of course, but it seems like that will be so far down the road. Corrie has always made me very proud. She is an intelligent woman who is very capable, and an asset to any business, plus she runs a successful home based business, and is an active sports mom. She simply does it all…and still finds time to help with the care of her grandparents. She makes me very proud to be her mom, and happy that she came into my life.

Now, 37 years later, my daughter Corrie, is a mother of two sons who are in their teens and making her proud every day. She knows the way I feel today, because it is the same way she feels about her boys…so very proud, but at the same time you wonder how they could possibly be so grown up already. Life flies by so quickly that it all seems like it was just yesterday that it all got started with the birth of you first child. Happy birthday Corrie!!We love you very much!!

There are ancestors in my family tree whose very name makes me want to know more about. Some of these people have a lot of factual data associated with them, and one little blurb about who they really are. People like Angeloah Shaw and his wife Mary Sapney Shaw come to mind. I have heard he was a minister, but that is all I can find on him, so I wonder what else he did in life. My mom told me that he used to walk 12 miles to town, stay the night, and walk 12 miles back when they needed supplies. That seems like a long walk back with those supplies. I’m sure he was used to the 12 miles in, and since Bob and I have often walked 8 miles in 2 hours, I can see how he could do that, but we weren’t carrying boxes and bags of supplies either. My guess is that he was a man who was in good shape. Still that is not much to know about your great great great grandfather

Then there is Susan Frances Spencer. She is an ancestor on my husband’s side who’s last name is the same as my maiden name, making me wonder if we are related. Unfortunately, little is known about her, including very little factual data. I would like to know if she and I are related. To my knowledge there is not even a picture of Susan. She has eluded me for 36 years, but I keep looking. All I know of her is that she died 13 days after giving birth to her twin daughters, both of whom also died within 8 months of her death. I would like to know if she is related to the Spencer line from England that I come from, as do most Spencers in the United States, from what I have heard. Still, the Spencer line is usually so well documented, and then there is this girl, who seems to exist only in a few places in the documentation world.

Of course, there are the well known and well documented members of my family tree, which I wish was the majority. So much is known about them, and it is very interesting to look it all over, but for some reason it is the elusive ancestors that seem to intrigue me the most…maybe because they are elusive, I don’t know for sure. I will continue to search around to see what I can fid, hoping that someday someone will know a little more about these mysteries and will finally unlock the door to the whole story.

When I was a kid, I thought that mostly men carried or used guns…probably because I watched too many old Western shows in which the women were portrayed as weak and needing protection. The only women who carried or used guns were looked upon like…well less than womanly…I mean most of those women were outlaws who wore mens pants for Pete’s sake. The only time the women in the Old West movies used a gun was when there was no other choice, and no man around to save her, and even then, she usually lost the fight, unless she was the main star. Needless to say it was probably a pretty warped view of the women of the West on my part.

Of course, now that I am older, I know that this portrayal was very incorrect. The women of the Old West were a tough lot. They might have been looked at by people from back East as less than womanly, but times were changing, and women had to be tough to survive in the Old West. The men who came to settle the West needed women who could work side by side with them and who were tough enough to take care of themselves when the men were away. Only the most determined women were going to be able to make it here. Things have changed some now. There are probably as many women back east that can handle a gun as there are women out west who can. Womem are active in many careers that require them to carry a gun on a regular basis, and be tough enough to go up against the men they must to survive, whether it be in war or law enforcement.

My grandmother was one of those women who was able to handle a gun, and while they never moved as far west as my dad and my aunts did, they did not live in the east either. Wisconsin and Minnesota were wilder places back then, and even in North Dakota in the early 1900’s there was need for a gun. Of course, mostly the guns were used for hunting, but had the need ever arisen, my grandmother would have taken on man or beast to protect her children. She was one tough lady, who worked hard on the farm, and raised her children right, and I am very proud of all she did. I only wish I had been able to know her, but I was only 3 months old when she left us on July 11, 1956. I look forward to getting to know her in Heaven, because I’m sure she will have some stories to tell.

My two oldest grandchildren have always made me very proud…as have my two younger ones. They were cute and funny, and…well just precious…and yes I am biased, but I don’t care, because that is my right as a grandma. Through the years they have all made me laugh, and given me hugs, that always seemed to bless me at the perfect moment of need. They probably didn’t even know I had a need, but they were just very loving children, and the hugs were bountiful What more could a grandmother ask for?

Now they are grown into wonderful 16 year old adults…well almost adults, and if you look at them from the perspective of their jobs, you would think they were adults for sure. Neither one of these kids is a stranger to hard work. When they were just 10 years old, and their grandpa, my dad, was very ill, they pitched in with his care. It didn’t matter what we asked them to do, they were happy to do it. Their wanted their grandpa to get better, and so they very unselfishly gave of themselves to help him live another 2 years. It was a gift of themselves to him, that brought about a bond with him that he never forgot.

Both of the older grandchildren have jobs now, and their supervisors count on them heavily. For that reason, they often work lots of hours each week. It is nice in that the money is good, but they get very tired, and often sleep much of their time off. Even though I don’t get to see as much of them as I would like to now, I am very proud of them. It is not often that you see such great work ethic in young people. They didn’t take a job just to quit it when the work began, and they have not been fired either. They are workers and they will always do their very best. What a wonderful plus for anyone who hires them.

My grandmother never learned to drive a car. That was not an unusual situation during her lifetime, even though it is very unusual today. I never could figure out how women…or anyone for that matter…could get by these days without being able to drive, much less manage to raise nine kids and get them through all the stuff needed for their schooling without driving a car. Nevertheless, my grandmother did just that.

Since she didn’t ever drive, and counted on Grandpa for all the things that went with raising a family, I also found myself surprised when she said she was taking a trip to Ireland with her sisters. It wasn’t so much that traveling was so unusual for my grandmother, because my family had taken her places, as had Bob and I. I also know that there were other family members who had taken them traveling…so, while taking a trip wasn’t an unusual thing…taking a trip to Ireland seemed like taking a trip to the moon. It seemed so strange that Grandma and her sisters would be going so far away alone!!

The trip was to follow their roots. They planned to stay with family that lived there. It was the trip of a lifetime for my grandmother and while I felt nervous, I was so excited for her. She would see the green Irish hills, castles and ruins. She would see the coast of Ireland that I had heard was so beautiful, and most of all she could trace her roots back to there.  I can’t think of a more exciting trip for my grandmother to get to take. What a wonderful treat for her!

The trip was everything she had hoped it would be, and she returned to us different somehow. She was a world traveler now. She had been to distant shores and visited family and graves far away. I was so happy for her, and secretly hoped I’d be able to make such a trip some day. I imagined seeing castles and the ruins of castles. I wondered what stories I would hear of the past and those who lived in it. I am so happy that my grandmother had the opportunity to take such a trip. The chance to see new places, and meet new people…the chance to go in search of her roots.

Every year as their birthdays approach I am reminded of how quickly the years go by. Today my grandson Caalab turns 15 years old. He will go and get his driving permit in a little while, and before I know it, he will be driving on his own like his sister, Shai, and their cousin, Chris. I sometimes wish I could turn back the hands of time to when they were little kids again. It seemed like we had so many years before they would be grown then, but that belief was deceiving, and now the years are gone.

Looking back on Caalab’s childhood, I am reminded of what a comedian he was and still is. He was just about 2 years old, when his dad, my son-in-law, Travis taught him to make little fists, and say, “You want some of this!” No, Caalab wasn’t being taught to fight. It was all a joke, because Caalab was and still is a very loving boy. When asked to say, “Do you want some of this”, he did it with a huge grin on his face, and immediately after saying it, Caalab would disolve into delighted giggles. He would never choose to be a fighter, because he didn’t have that kind of a personality…he loves people. It always struck him as the funniest thing…that thought of putting up his dukes and fighting with someone. His eyes shone with delight to see just how funny we all found his little drama.

Caalab was always a jokster. He loved making people laugh, and if something he say got him a good laugh from people, he would go for it again. I’m sure you all remember “The Dukes of Hazard”. And I’m sure you remember Rosco P Coltrane and his famous saying, “It was a Horrendous Crash.” When Amy tried to teach Caalab to say that, but it just wouldn’t come out right. Caalab always said, “It was a Horrendous Dash.” When we all laughed, so did he, and then he would do a repeat performance. It was so funny to hear him say it that we asked over and over again.

The cute little kid things that our children and grandchildren say are so precious that we really do wish that those years could go on forever…that they would never grow up…but then, right before our very eyes, they do grow up, and one day you just sort of wake up to find that they are 15 years old and getting their learner’s permit. Where did the time go? Caalab, you can’t be so grown up yet. Happy Birthday Buddy!! We love you very much!!

Having grown up in town, I didn’t spend much time around horses. I had a friend that lived out in the country, and rode a little when I went to her house, but I didn’t meet her until junior high, so I didn’t ride often, even though I found myself enjoying it when I did. My girls got to ride when we went to visit Bob’s grandmother in Montana, but that was just once a year, so they were no more experienced than I was. We were what would have to be like tourist horseback riders. I have been looking at some really old family pictures, and I have come to the determination that our kind of riding would have been unacceptable in the days of the Old West.

When Bob was growing up, they spent more time around horses than we did, and so had the opportunity to ride more than I did. Still, of he rode when he was very little, he always had someone older on the horse with him. Most of the time you would see Bob with his sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. It was a way to make sure he didn’t fall off, because he would have probably tried to make the horse gallop or buck, if I know him.

Apparently however, just a few short generations back, children were expected to be born with horse riding expertise, because I found this picture of Lester, my first cousin once removed on my Grandpa Byer’s side, and he was pretty little when he first was placed on a horse. Lester was born in 1920, and while I’m sure that he didn’t do much riding in this picture, it did strike me as amusing that here he was being a grown up big boy and sitting on his horse all by himself. I’ll bet that by the time he was 5 years old or so, he was a pretty accomplished horseman too, since he had such an early start. Even if he wasn’t an expert, my guess is that he certainly was not a tourist horseman…like me.

Most of us are able to trace our roots back to the Old West, since many of our ancestors were homesteaders. The Old West was a dangerous place to live. There were few, if any lawmen around, and outlaws found it to be a good hiding place. Probably a bigger concern for many of the settlers was the Indian population. There were a lot of hard feelings toward the white man, because of broken treaties and stolen lands. Still, this wasn’t really the fault of the settlers and homesteaders, but they were the ones who often suffered the consequences. For this reason, friendships between the Indians and the White Man were rare.

My grandfather’s family was privileged to have one of those rare relationships. They were accepted and even loved by the Indians in the area. They were invited to the Pow Wows and other celebrations. The had meals and probably hunts with the Indians, and got to know them well. They knew men like Chief Thin Elk and Sitting Bull, two Lakota Sioux Indians and their tribes. They spent time with them, and learned their customs…spoke their language. Not many White Men had the opportunity to do that.

Of course, when we think back on the Old West, the first thing that comes to mind are the old shows, like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Little House on the Prairie. We seldom think of the real people who lived those times…especially our own ancestors. I had been told that my great grandfather knew some Indians, but it just didn’t register until I saw pictures of him with the Indians…being friends with the Indians…having Pow Wows with the Indians. My great grandfather was one of those rare people who really did know Indians from the Old West. It was such an eye opening moment for me.

When I think of my grandparents now, I always think of their latter years. They seemed more serious during that time, and now that I have experienced aging parents and in-laws, I can understand how that can be. People get more tired as they age, and the aches ad pains that can come with it often makes them forget the days of youth and the stamina that went with it. I’m not saying that they never had any fun, it’s just that life was harder and since it was a lot more work, they just didn’t have the same stamina that I remembered from before. The nice thing about pictures is that they are a reminder of days from the past, and sometimes, they can take you by surprise, because they portray events or personalities from the past.

My grandfather was smitten by my grandmother from the day he first met her. He simply delighted in everything she did. And my grandmother was a bit of a teaser, so when she would get that urge to be a little goofy, he was always thrilled with the whole thing. They were both always happy people. They always reminded me of that old song, “Side By Side”. They were just traveling along singing a son, side by side. Circumstances didn’t really matter so much, because they always knew that tomorrow was another day and nothing was all that bad anyway. They had their family, their health, and the smiles on their faces, and everything was going to be just fine.

My grandparents survived the Great Depression years, and like many other people, money was scarce and families were big, but somehow they always found a way to have enough food on the table, a smile on their lips, and a song in their hearts. They helped their neighbors and even the strangers that always seemed to find their way to their table, hungry and in need of warmth. They never turned anyone away. I suppose that is why their always had enough. Somehow, God always finds a way for those who will give to those in need. He makes a way for them to always have enough, and that is what was always the case for them.

My grandparents were married on Christmas Eve, so Christmas always a special time of year for them, filled with lots of celebration, and much gladness. As I said, my grandfather was smitten with my grandmother from day one, in fact you could say that he thought she hung the moon. He always got such a kick out of her antics, and when she decided to dance a little jig, he would look on with delight…unless he just decided to join right in. My grandparents have been living in Heaven for a long time, now, and I miss them very much, but when I see pictures like these, I find myself smiling at the memory of those happy days.

It is a dilemma that every mother of a baby girl has had at one time or another. That statement that was intended as sweet, that came out as insulting…at least to the mom. You know the one, “Oh, he is just adorable and so handsome!” Your first thought is, “Really, you think my little girl looks like a boy…Seriously!! I mean she is wearing pink, for Pete’s sake!!” Deep down you know that it is very hard to tell a girl baby from a boy baby, but you secretly hoped your little princess would be the exception to the rule…you know, the one that was so beautiful, even as an infant that it was obvious that she was a girl. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and you try to control your tongue as you stand there seething for the third time this shopping trip. You grit your teeth, and say,”She’s a girl!” Of course, the person in front of you, who now knows very well that they have insulted you and your little princess, meant nothing by it, and really wishes they could become invisible…or better yet that they had kept their comment generic, so they would not find themselves in the position they now find themselves in, but it is too late. They apologize and quickly move away, but you are left with the knowledge that you have to do something to protect your darling little daughter from such abusive remarks in the future.

So, since you are already in the store, you set out to solve this problem, once and for all. Obviously, pink isn’t the answer, so what is next. I mean, she doesn’t have enough hair for ribbons or bows yet. Well, when my daughters were babies, there were no baby headbands, but I’m sure many of you are starting to see where the idea for a baby headband came from. My mother’s generation tried many things to girlify their daughters. Even dresses weren’t totally helpful, because many people back when my parents were little put both boys and girls in a long baby gown. And even when my girls were babies, there was the pajama sack…a night gown that had the bottom sewed up to keep their little feet inside and warm.

My mother told me to tape a bow to their heads, or use corn syrup to make it stick. I never really liked the mess that made, so I determined to find another way. I suppose many people would think I was trying to go back to the Old West, but I never really thought of it that way when put their little bonnets on my girls heads. All I knew is that they looked so cute, and no one would think they were boys again!