Monthly Archives: November 2012

As the holidays arrive, my thoughts turn to my dad. It is so hard to celebrate the holidays without him, because he enjoyed them so much. Having all, or at least most, of his family together was one of the highlights of his life. Dad was all about family. If we didn’t come over for a week or so, and we were in town, he would tell us that we needed to come for lunch. He didn’t want to let time go by without sharing those moments, lunches, talks…time with his kids. The years go by so fast, and Dad understood that. He knew that the older we got, the busier we would be, and the harder it would be to get together. Whenever I think that I am too tired or busy to go and spend time with my mom and my sister, or my in-laws, I remind myself that time flies and regret lasts for the rest of your life.

Sometimes, we fool ourselves into thinking that there is plenty of time to go see those important people in our lives, and then before we know it, they are gone and we wish we had gone to see them more. I am so thankful that I spent so much of my dad’s last 2 years taking care of him, because, while nothing makes his home going easy, it did make it less filled with regret. For any of you who have lost loved ones, especially during the holidays, such as my niece and nephew, Jenny and Steve whose daughter Laila passed away 2 years ago tomorrow, you know that you always wish something could have been done differently to change the outcome, but what is done is done, and it cannot be undone. And for those like my niece Chantel and her family, and my sister-in-law, Debbie and my brother-in-law, Lynn and their family, whose loss was not near the holidays, but devastating nevertheless, you know that, though the years have passed, the sadness still returns from time to time. You cannot dwell too long on the past, because now it is your difficult task to go on…because you must, for the rest of your family.

Today I am sad because of the losses we have endured, and tomorrow we will be thankful that we had those loved ones in our lives…even if it was for too short a time. We will be thankful for who they were, and what their life meant to us, and for the joy they brought into our lives. And we will be thankful that we will see them again soon…and for all eternity.

My cousin, Pam is the oldest of my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill’s three children, and the only girl. She was always a quiet girl. I didn’t get to know her as well as I would have liked, but we moved away from Superior, Wisconsin when I was 3 and her family still lives there. Our families got together as often as we could, but as the years went by and we all grew up, the times spent together became fewer and fewer. Now, thanks to Facebook, we have been able to re-connect and get to know each other as adults. I feel very blessed to know her better.

My mom and my Aunt Doris were and still are the best of friends. There were some crazy events that took place when our moms got together. On one event, before I was born, Mom and Aunt Doris had walked to the store, with Pam and my sister Cheryl together in a baby buggy. They went to the store and picked up what they needed, and put their items in the buggy with the babies. That all seemed harmless enough, until they got home and went to take the babies and the eggs out of the buggy. The babies were fine. The eggs, however, had not fared so well. Both babies were now covered in eggs, and there wasn’t one unbroken egg to be found.

As an adult, Pam has shown what a sweet person she is. When my Mom and Dad were visiting the family in Wisconsin, they had the opportunity to visit with Pam at her home, which my mom describes as beautiful. Situated along the river, the yard was beautiful and the deer roamed freely through it. Mom said it was so peaceful there. While visiting, Mom mentioned that she was going to find a store to get some Smoked Ciscoes to take home, and Pam called a friend she knew who carried them at her store. Her friend sent them home with a huge bunch of Smoked Ciscoes for free. Mom couldn’t believe it. She had not meant for Pam to get those Smoked Ciscoes, but Pam, being the sweet person she is, just did it, and my mom has never forgotten her kindness. Today is Pam’s birthday. Happy birthday Pam!! We love you very much!! Have a great day!!

I am often amazed at how big my grandson, Josh has grown. Especially when I think about the early start he got. Josh was born 5 weeks early. His weight wasn’t too bad at 5 pounds 6.5 ounces, but his lungs were underdeveloped, so he went to Denver for 2 weeks to get stronger. Once he came home, he decided to catch up on his lost time. Josh began eating like a horse, and before long, his weight was up to normal, or even a little chunky for his age.

That didn’t last very long, because as soon as he started to grow, he was a little bean pole…so much so that his mom said he had bird legs. And hungry! That boy was always hungry,  especially for treats!! You would expect him to be fat, but he wasn’t and at 14, still isn’t.

As to those underdeveloped lungs…well, I think they are just fine. Josh likes track meets, and last year he took first in the 400 meter race, finishing in just 1.07 minutes. And he wasn’t even badly out of breath. He ran so fast that second place was about a fourth of the track length behind him. It was an amazing race.

Josh continues to amaze us with everything he does, but lately I have been especially surprised by his height. It looks like he might be the tallest of my 4 grandchildren, and I expected him to be more like the shortest of the boys…until he was 3, that is, when his height indicated that he would be taller.

With him being as talk as he is and the youngest grandchild, I find myself a little sad. Those grandbaby years are over, as they are almost adults. It just doesn’t seem possible. They should all still be little. 

There is an old saying by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Into each life a little rain must fall” and when you read those words, you can almost feel the weight of that statement. Thoughts of lost loved ones, ended friendships, or loneliness come into view and almost make you want to look away. But, to look away from those sad moments could be something you do too soon. I don’t mean to make light of the sadness that comes into this life, but after the rain, comes the rainbow, and that is what we can miss out on. Losing a loved one is a sadness that will never go away. Most other sadness is temporary, but life is what we make of it. We have to choose how we are going to handle things.

Sometimes, it seems like we are victims of circumstance, but that is just not the case. Circumstances present themselves in this life, but we do not have to be victims. A victim ultimately is the person who lets the circumstance beat them. I’m not talking about murder victim here, but people who just feel like they can’t catch a break. Sometimes, the sweetest victory comes after the most awful defeat.

When I think of my two nieces and their husband’s who each lost a daughter, and my sister-in-law and her husband, who also lost a daughter. Each couple could have chosen not to try again, but if they had, they each would have missed out on the precious daughter who followed her big sister. It takes great courage to take that next step sometimes, but if you will be brave, and have faith, you will find that there can be a rainbow after the rain.

Sometimes, the circumstance can be the illness of a loved one. Long term caregiving can take a toll of the person or persons who most need to be healthy and strong. Sometimes, it can seem like this will go on forever, and it very well might go on for a long time, but if we don’t lose hope…if we can look beyond the exhaustion, worry, and sadness, we can find that the extra time spent with your cherished loved one, is one of the greatest blessings there is. Don’t give up, because if you continue to strive to do your best, you might find that blessing. If you quit, or never take on the task in the first place, you could miss out on all you could be, and all you could have, because into each life come the rainbows too.

When our daughter, Amy was a little girl, and really still today, she hated conflict. If Bob and I were having an argument, she would try to think of things to make us laugh, and thus end the argument. One day, as we were going to town, Bob and I were having some argument, and Amy got our attention. There she was, sitting in the back seat, with a Chiquita Banana sticker stuck to the end of her nose. Of course, we laughed, and the argument was over. It’s hard to laugh and fight at the same time. Happy with her success in the matter, this became a standard maneuver for Amy, whenever we were arguing.

After a while, she got to where she just liked the feel of tape and stickers. You could find her playing with tape or stickers just about any time, and every day. The funny thing is that she still does that to this day. She can’t really look at tape, without pulling a piece off, and wrapping it around her fingers so she can feel it pull away from her fingertips. It is definitely a strange habit, but I guess we all have strange habits.

As parents, the habits we have tend to rub off on our children, and this is no exception. No, I didn’t play with tape as a kid or as an adult, but Amy’s habit has rubbed off on her daughter, Shai. Yesterday, when she was at the office where Amy and I both work, she was in my office looking at some pictures from my boss’ recent trip, and the next thing I know, Shai reached over and took a piece of tape from my tape dispenser, wrapped it around her fingers, and started playing with it. It was a deja vu moment.

I looked at Amy, and said, “When did she start doing that?” Shai told us that she likes playing with tape, and in fact she does it so often that her teachers tell her, “Shai, leave the tape alone!!” We had a good laugh about that one, and told the story about how that all got started with Amy. Then Amy said, “Awwwww!! My little girl is just like her mom!!” It was a funny, and yet, cool kind of moment, because as you know, most teenagers don’t want to be at all like their parents.

Most babies have a tendency to grab anything that gets near them, especially long hair. My grandson, Caalab was not an exception in that, except for the fact that he never pulled. From the time he was 6 months old, he has played with my hair in one wary or another. Not every woman likes having her hair touched or played with, but I do, as do most of my family members. To me, it is very relaxing, and I could let him do it all day. I have fared well in that too, since his mom, my daughter Amy is pretty tender headed, and  his sister, my granddaughter, Shai doesn’t like it at all, so Caalab had to wait for his grandma. How blessed was I on that one?

As I said, Caalab started playing with my hair when he was about 6 months old, and he never pulled on it. I have never seen a baby be so gentle with hair in my life. He gently ran a few strands between two of his little fingers from top to bottom. I guess he liked the way the hair felt as it ran between his fingers…just like his grandma does. To this day I play with my own hair, unless I can get someone to do it for me.

As the years have gone by, the way Caalab has played with my hair has changed. He is a very creative boy. He has brushed, twirled, flipped, and slapped my long hair, as anyone who knows him can attest, but he is very gentle. My Dad used to get a kick out of him at church, because when we stood up to sing, Caalab would climb up on the chair and start to play with my hair. I suppose some people might think he shouldn’t be doing that in church, but he was very well behaved in church, and all the church members knew what he was doing, and they always had to smile about it. The way I saw it, he wasn’t running around getting in trouble, and he wasn’t crying. It was a win-win situation.

It is my guess that Caalab will always like to play with someone’s hair. I feel very blessed to have been on the receiving end of so many relaxing hours while he played with mine, and as for his girlfriends, and his future wife…they will need to like to wear their hair long, and love having it played with. And take it from someone who knows, you will be blessed for years by this habit Caalab has. And if you get tired of it…send him to his grandma’s house, because I’ll be happy to let his play with my hair.

Every family has their experts at different things. Some have people who work at banks, some insurance agents, some doctors, some nurses, and the list goes on. These are the people you just naturally call when you have a problem that fits into their area of expertise. Our family is no exception to that rule, We have people from many areas of expertise that we can call on, and some that show up even if we didn’t call on them. That is where my cousin Clyde comes in. Now the time he showed u without our calling him, I really must clarify by saying that someone did call him, it just wasn’t us. Bob and I lived out in the country, and a neighbor say smoke coming from our place, and she called the fire department. That’s where Clyde comes in. Clyde was the Natrona County Fire Chief for many years, before he retired.

I was at work, when I got a call form Bob saying that we “needed to go home” right away, because we had a fire. That is not the best way to find out that all of your belongings might be toast. Bob came and picked my up, and we rushed out to our place to see what the damages were. As we pulled up, we saw that the flames were higher than our house, so we couldn’t really tell what all was involved. We could see that our Jeep was a gonner. Clyde walked up to us as we got out of the car, and said, “Hi Bob, I wondered if we had your place here…Where’ve you been dumping your ashes?” I was stunned at that moment. Apparently, Bob had been taking our ashes out of the stove, and after several days in the ash bucket, he was dumping them on the ground outside of our yard…but, probably a little too close to a pile of junk wood we were cutting up and using for our wood stove, and that pile of wood was just on the other side of the fence from my Jeep.

Bob explained that the ashes were cold…he had felt the bucket. Clyde explained that with the wind that was blowing it had fanned the ashes and ignited the flames. In the end, the Jeep and the junk wood were the only things we lost, but we were sure glad that we had Clyde in the family. He would have given the same care and concern to any fire he fought, but it was comforting to know that when we really needed a fireman, Clyde was there. Today is Clyde’s birthday, and we want to thank him for all he has done for this county, and for us. Happy birthday Clyde!! We love you!!

Susie is the first grandchild born to my mom’s parents, and her birth would announce a major change in the family. Born just 3 years after her youngest aunt, gave her access to instant playmates. There was no need for play dates with all the aunts and uncles she had to play with. She also had an abundance of babysitters, although as she got older, she might not have appreciated so many bosses in her life. Still, the playmates she gained from having the younger 3 aunts made life interesting. I’m quite sure their role in her life changed as time went on too. From being allowed to hold the baby, when she was really little to using the baby to play house, to having tea parties with their little friend. No matter what the game, the four of them played through the years.

Susie would not be the only grandchild for very long though. With the addition of her little brother, George, my grandparent’s second grandchild, just a little over a year after her own birth, Susie became a big sister, and before long would be the big sister to 4 siblings in all. Now her world was filled with lots of playmates and lots of fun. Being the big sister can have its advantages, in that you get to tell all the little ones what games you are going to play, because they don’t know all the cool games. Of course, that phase doesn’t last too awfully long before they want to start presenting ideas of their own. That can be a bummer if you are used to having the say in the matter, but Susie has always seemed to me like a person who gets along well with others. Of course, I can’t really speak to how she was as a little kid, because…well, I wasn’t born until she was 8 years old, and even then, she would be a teenager before I would know much about her temperament. I can say, however, that I have always felt like Susie was very easy to get along with, and I have enjoyed any time I spent with her, so I expect that she was the same as a kid.

One of the sweetest things that Susie has done, as far as I’m concerned is that she and her sister, Shelley hold occasional luncheons for my mom, aunts, and uncles. It is such a wonderful thing to do for them. They can all get together at Susie’s house, and they don’t have to cook or clean up after, but rather they can just enjoy the time they have to reminisce about the past, and talk about what their families are doing these days. It means so much to all of them, especially since every year seems to find them smaller and smaller in number. Susie’s mom, my Aunt Evelyn, who is the oldest of my grandparent’s 9 children,  just turned 84, so time together is important. We just never know how many more years our aunts and uncles will have together.

Today is Susie’s birthday. I want to wish this sweet and special cousin of mine a very happy birthday. Susie, you are a wonderful person, and I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks you for all you have done for my mom, and the aunts and uncles. Happy birthday, we all love you!!

Some people are just naturally happy. That is exactly what I have seen of my husband, Bob throughout our life together, and from the pictures taken during his childhood. Bob’s family took many pictures when the kids were little, and many were spontaneous, so the smiles could not have been planned, and yet, there they were, planted squarely on Bob’s little face. I have looked through a lot of old pictures from when Bob was little, and it’s easy to see the great sense of humor he has.

Bob has always liked things that make him laugh. Two of his all time favorite shows are “The Three Stooges” and “Laurel and Hardy”. In fact, Bob can do a perfect imitation of Stan Laurel when he was doing his whiney face/rub the head thing. It makes me laugh every time he does it. When I am in another room, and Bob is watching a comedy that makes him start laughing, I can’t help but laugh too, because his laugh is contageous. He loves a good comedy show or movie!! He’s not into some of today’s stupid comedy, but the good old fashioned, truly funny comedy…now that’s funny and he could watch it all day.

Of course, laughing at good comedy isn’t the only way to get a
laugh. Making other people laugh is just as much fun, and Bob is quite good at that too. He loves to make faces designed to make people laugh, in fact, quite often when you are trying to get him to pose for a picture, you might very likely get a stick out your tongue moment instead of a smile, because he wants to turn the situation around and make you laugh. Our girls are very used to the things their dad might do to get them to laugh, but even they can’t help but laugh to the point of making a face too…it’s just that funny. There really is nothing quite like a good laugh.

If you were a teenager in the 1970’s, in Casper, Wyoming, you know about dragging the strip, because that was what the kids did back then.  The local businesses didn’t appreciate it much when we stopped to talk in their parking lots either, although to this day I don’t know what harm there was in it. Nevertheless, if you sat in their parking lot very long, the police would show up and make you leave, and if you were caught there very much, they could even give you a ticket for loitering, although I never heard of anyone who got one.

Dragging the strip gave the local teens the chance to show off their cars and hang out with their friends. Our friend, Lana had a yellow Mach I Mustang. She took that thing to the car wash after work…every day, and then she headed out to the strip to hang with her friends. That always struck me as funny, because I just couldn’t see how her car could have been that dirty. I asked her about it once, and she said she just couldn’t take a dirty car out on the strip, and she lived on a dirt road, so it got dusty every time she went home. It made sense, I guess, but it was still funny. The things that bug us as kids…right.

The strip went from Red Barn, now Peaches, on 2nd Street to Smith’s on CY Avenue, and if you rode it very long, you would see just about every beater and hot rod imaginable. Bob drove a 1974 AMC Hornet, which would not be considered a sport car, except that it was gold, with racing stripes, mag wheels, and it was jacked up in the rear end, plus it was a V-8, and that gave it plenty of power, because it was a small car. My car was a 1968 Plymouth Fury III…not a sporty car, because my dad told me that I should get a car that could go from being my first car to being a family car later. It was a good idea, and it did do that, but I really wanted the pink Plymouth Duster that I tried to sell him on, or even the old panel van that I thought looked funky. Our friend Leroy drove an orange Road Runner, and another friend Kurt, drove a blue fastback Mustang. Some of the cars were beaters, as I said…just something to get by on, but not much for looks. It didn’t seem to matter as kids, because the main thing was to have the freedom to hang out and drag the strip, peeling out of A & W and wearing out our tires, and wasting gas…which I’m sure more than one of us wish we had back these days.

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