Monthly Archives: February 2013
Sometimes in life, you find yourself receiving a treasure so priceless that it overwhelms you. I have been so blessed several times, and yet, each new blessing finds me as overwhelmed as the last one, or even the first one. I’m sure that you are wondering what I would have that is priceless. You might find yourself surprised, but it is old photographs…lots of them. I have received old photographs from my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and from both of Bob’s parents families. The latest priceless treasure came in the form of old photographs in my Grandma Spencer’s photo album.
While visiting my cousin, Shirley this past week, she brought out an album for us to see. I had no idea the album existed. We had not seen my cousin for a number of years, and the album had been given to her mother upon her grandmother’s death. Then it was given to Shirley upon her mother’s death. It had been in her possession since 1992, and now, 21 years later, during our visit, we were able to look through its contents together, and we were all very excited by what we found.
I suppose many people would think I was a little crazy, because old photographs get me very excited, but for me…they are treasures. They are the people of my past, my family, and many times they are faces I have never seen before. We found pictures this time that we believe to be the only ones in existence of our great grandparents…my dad’s grandparents on his mother’s side. We knew their names, but we didn’t know there were pictures of them…anywhere!! It was a priceless treasure!!
Shirley quickly scanned the pages of the album and we loaded them onto my flash drive. Now, I am in the process of separating the pictures out and digitally refocusing them, so that they are much clearer. Soon we will be able to see their faces much better. To me, that is amazing…especially since prior to this time, we didn’t even know they excited…not even Shirley, until we all looked at them very closely. We all felt so close to them. Suddenly, the names had faces. It was an incredible find. It is beyond my ability to fully tell you what that means to me. I will always fell blessed by the priceless treasure of Grandma’s photo album.
Easton is like most little boys. He hates the whole dressing up thing that many parents are always wanting their kids to do. In fact, if he could figure out a way to get out of ever dressing up, he would do it. I think most men would have a tendency to agree with Easton…especially when it comes to wearing a tie. They just hate that tie. It chokes them, and if they are at all claustrophobic, it can make them feel like the walls are closing in. And for a little boy, it is even worse. I suppose it could be likened to sitting in a corner, or time out. In fact, time out probably says it all, because just as soon as they dare, little boys are asking, “Can I please take this tie off??” That is, if they ask to take it off at all.
Easton had finally had enough, and so he untucked his shirt and loosened his tie. He hoped that his mom wouldn’t notice, and in the end, his hopes were realized. His mom, my niece, Machelle took the picture without even noticing the tie was loosened and the shirt untucked. It was Easton’s Aunt Susan who would notice the sneaky maneuver her nephew had pulled off. By that time, there was nothing left to do but laugh at the fact the Easton had won…that battle anyway.
Now, if you were to put Easton, and most other little boys, in a different situation, you would find that they are totally comfortable. That situation would be, of course, camping. There is nothing better, in the mind of a little boy, than the adventures you can have while camping in the wilderness. All sorts of things can happen out there, and everyone will need a hero to save them from whatever danger might lurk just outside of the eye view of the camp. There could be wolves, bears, snakes, and many other such wild animals, but their moms can relax, because these boys will save them from that. They are big tough campers, and everyone knows that any self respecting wolf or bear, or even snake, would run from them. And that is the main reason why moms must understand that real boys, hate that tie. They are simply too macho for their tie!!
Today is Easton’s 9th birthday. Easton, I hope you don’t have to wear that horrible tie!! I mean, really Machelle, get a clue!! Real boys are too macho for a tie!! Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great, tieless day!! We love you!!
As our trip to Washington winds down, we find ourselves in Great Falls, Montana where our newest college girl is attending the University of Great Falls. Siara is a cheerleader for the Argonauts. This is her first year of college, and the first time away from home. When she left Casper, she seemed like such a little girl still, but when she was home at Christmas, I was surprised at how much like an adult she now seemed. I guess that is normal, when kids get out on their own for the first time, but more so I think when they get married or go away to college. They have to rely on themselves for everything for the first time in their lives, and that changes a person.
Like most college kids, whose hours are long during the week, and late on the weekends, Siara’s favorite thing to do is sleep. She is up by 5:30 three mornings a week for cheer practice, and also has several exercise classes she must attend to stay limber, and keep in shape for all the moves that cheerleaders do these days. As most of us know, cheerleading is now half gymnastics and half cheering. After a very early practice, Siara and some of her teammates hit the cafeteria for a good breakfast. Siara tells us that breakfasts at the school are amazing. That’s important after a workout, because I would imagine they are starving.
Siara’s class schedule is, in my opinion, pretty perfect, because while she has a heavy schedule, all the classes are scheduled from Monday through Thursday, so every weekend is a 3 day weekend. I would love that, and so does she…more days to sleep in until noon or 1:00. Now that is typical. So many people…adults, anyway, use those weekends to do work around the home or yard…imagine that, not sleeping through the weekend. But I suppose that if I had a 3 day weekend every week, I might want to take one of the days to sleep until noon, if I could manage it, since sleeping in for me is 8:00.
College changes people to a large degree, but some things never really change. Siara is still that cute little niece I know and love. She is sweet and funny, and loves to laugh. Her smiling face brings sunshine into an otherwise cloudy day. I know she will continue to grow up and change, but it’s nice to know that some things will always stay the same…whether she is a college girl or a wife and mother. She will always be our Siara.
As we have been visiting with my cousin, Shirley in Washington, the conversation has turned to her parents, and the many adventures and funny situations that they had in their lives. While it was hard in some ways, it was also a way to keep their memory alive in us. Since Aunt Ruth has been gone since 1992, and Uncle Jim’s funeral was yesterday, it seemed like a fitting time to reminisce about all they meant to all of us.
About 30 or 35 years ago, Shirley’s parents, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim, moved to the mountains of eastern Washington. For a time they had no electricity or water. It was rough living. They built cabins for them and their children’s families. Now, with the passing of my Uncle, there is only one of their families still living on the mountain. They still do not have electricity, but they have a generator, propane, Hughes Net, and telephone, which brings me to how the mountain got it’s name. When they were getting the telephone lines in, the homes had to have addresses. The mountain was named Wolfe Mountain, after my aunt and uncle, and the road was named Wolfe Mountain Road. Thus their addresses were established and they could have their phones. I thought to myself, what a nice tribute to my aunt and uncle. Not many people can say they have a mountain named after them. It is a lasting mark that remembers their lives.
My Uncle Jim’s funeral was the final chapter of our stay in Newport, Washington, and after spending time with all of our cousins who live there, and driving the area taking lots of pictures, we said goodbye to our Washington branch of the family. It was a bittersweet reunion. We were there for something very sad, and yet the trip was filled with renewed relationships, new stories and new pictures, as well as scans of some old ones. I felt a renewed excitement about the future stories I will be writing, because I have so much new material to write about. It is a great idea to re-connect with family once in a while. It puts new life into the relationships, and a renewed sense of our past, and who we really are.
Through these past few years, I have been looking through my family’s old pictures, and while many are still of unknown people, many have now been named. The funny thing is that while some were completely unknown, some were ones I was sure were my dad and his siblings. This one in particular, was one I had thought was my Uncle Bill, my Aunt Ruth, and my dad, but my sister, Cheryl didn’t think so. Then when she looked again,she realized that it was. Neither Cheryl nor my cousin, Shirley was sure of all the people at first, but then realized it was.
I have been looking at that picture for a while now, and wanting to write about these 3 little kids who were so cute and looked so much like my aunt, uncle and my dad, but without the identities of the children for sure, I couldn’t write about it. The picture is taken in front of what appears to me to be a one room schoolhouse. I think that mostly because of the difference in the ages of the three children, and the friends who were in it before I cropped it.
My dad is the younger boy and the one who, while trying to smile, seems to be the most bothered by the sun in his face. Most of us try to smile without squinting, but little kids have more trouble with such things…or maybe it is a boy thing, since my Aunt Ruth doesn’t seem to be having a problem.
I am excited at this find, as I am about all old pictures of my family and especially my dad. I feel a closeness to my dad and my past every time I come across these pictures. I loved school, and so the one room schoolhouse is especially interesting to me. I have often wondered what it would have been like to attend such a school, and I think it is very cool that my dad did. I guess the past isn’t so far back as it seems sometimes.
While I was still in high school, I met the man who would be the love of my life. Since that day, I know that no other man would have ever measured up to him. Bob is my soul mate…the half that makes me whole. What would I be without him in my life. He is the father of my children and my confidant, but most of all, he is my best friend. I can’t imagine my life without Bob.
Bob and I married young. I was almost 19 and he was 20, and I’m sure many people would say that we were lucky, but I have to say that with hard work, we beat the odds. Marriage is not an easy undertaking. When we are young, we tend to think it is all hearts and flowers, but if you can’t weather the hard times, you will not keep the hearts and flowers moments for very long. We are stubborn people, who hate to lose a battle and I suppose that is what carried us through the tough times, and after a while, it just became second nature…we knew that our love would outlast the tough times, and endure through the years.
I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would have been if we had never met, and I’m glad I have never had to find out. While there have been times that were hard in our lives, such as the hard work of the caregiving we are now working through, I think that we are both right where God wanted us to be. If we were not together, I can’t imagine where those we care for would be. You don’t know what kind of help your spouse will be in the care of your parents, until that time comes, and not all spouses are able to handle that job for their own parents, much less for their in-laws. I was thankful that Bob was there for me, and I was there for him through those tough times.
So much has changed as we have grown from love struck kids, through being parents, and then grandparents. I look back on all that our lives have been and realize that while it was hard work at times, the richness that has been our lives, was well worth the teeny seconds in time that were harder, and I wouldn’t trade one moment of what I have for any other kind of life. I have taken this journey with the man I love, and I am so thankful that God brought us together. He knew what was best for us, and He knew that this would be the love of our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day my love!! Thank you for my life’s richest journey. I love you very much!!
Our travels to Washington to attend my uncle’s funeral took my mom, my sister, Cheryl, and me through such beautiful country. It had been a long time since I had driven through western Montana, Northern Idaho, and eastern Washington…since my daughter Amy was 3 months old, in fact. I have been to this area since that time, but I flew, so it was a very different trip. And yet, I remembered the road we traveled, like it was just yesterday. Of course, the trip we made was for a very different reason. We went to see Bob’s grandmother, and not for the loss of an uncle. Nevertheless, that part of the country is beautiful.
Once we left Billings, and headed up into the mountains, the scenery changed so much that you could imagine that you were in a different country all together. The trees were so thick that you almost couldn’t see through them. The snow was so deep that we were unsure of the conditions up ahead. Not that we needed to worry, because the roads were great. I loved looking at the beautiful trees, mainly I suppose, because I love the mountains. Many people like the lakes, or even the ocean and the beaches, and I like those too, but I will always love the mountains the best. There is just nothing like the smell of pine trees, and the sound of the wind rushing through the pine needles. It is the essence of the mountains…perfect.
The drives up to my cousins house have been a trip in themselves, and as a person who never really went in for 4 wheeling, I can tell you that it was an eye opening experience. I can also tell you that my cousin, who has been driving that road for 30 years, is very good at making that drive. She could easily have been a monster truck driver. Going over rocks and hills and climbing mountains doesn’t bother Shirley one bit. All I can say is, I’m glad she was doing the driving and not me. Nevertheless, I love the essence of the mountains as much as my cousin does. It is definitely God’s country, I think.
As we travel to Newport, Washington to attend my Uncle Jim’s funeral, we had the opportunity to get together with my cousins, George and Greg. We all had such a great time. We laughed about old times, especially times with our grandparents. Greg told us about the time he told Grandma that he had outgrown her ability to swat him, Elmer, and Forest with the broom. Of course, Grandma proved just how wrong he was, by promptly chasing him down and swatting him again. Grandma was 5 feet tall…in her tall days…so in all of Greg’s 6 feet plus, I’m sure he was quite shocked at her ability to handle him in his all grown up and tough teen aged years. We all had the opportunity to find out just how feisty our grandmother was, because like any kid, we all got into a certain amount of mischief and back talked with the best of them. I have never forgotten my own run ins with Grandma, and often look back and smile about them. Of course, it’s easy to smile about those days now that I’m not getting that spanking.
George told us about the time that Grandpa took him deer hunting, and his disappointment that it was not the all day trip he had hoped. George was surprised that Grandpa knew exactly where to find the deer, and unfortunately, that place was not in the mountains, which is where George loves to be, and Grandpa simply didn’t. In the end, they went to the plains and had their deer before noon. I’m sure George had pictured an all day adventure, hiking through the trees on a quest for the perfect buck. When it ended up being a simple matter of point and shoot, and the drive took longer than the actual hunting part of the trip, his boyhood dreams of adventure and the thrill of the hunt, were dashed. I could picture this little boy, with a picture in his head of being almost on safari, and then the disappointment of the whole thing being very boring and simple, and I felt sad for that little boy who was now my grown up cousin, because I could tell that the adventure had been very important to him at that time in his life, and Grandpa just didn’t realize it, and for his part, I believe George found himself in awe of the fact that Grandpa knew exactly what he was doing…even though in George’s mind, he was old and couldn’t possibly know what was going on in these modern days.
Our visit ended far too soon for all of us and I found myself wishing that we lived closer together so we could re-live those old memories more often. I love my cousins, and I don’t like the way we have all drifted apart. Time changes so many things, and in many ways it makes me sad that so much time has past. Once again, I find myself thankful for Facebook and the ability we now have to stay in touch over the miles. It has brought several branches of my family closer together.
Little boys are all pretty much the same. They are curious. They want to know about everything that is going on around them. I can’t say that I blame them. There are a lot of interesting things to see, do, and learn about, in this world. Now I’m not saying that girls aren’t curious, and this story could just as easily have been written about little girls, but today’s story is about boys…and one in particular.
When my mom was a little girl, school pictures were done differently than they are today, and even differently than when I was a little girl. I don’t know if they took any individual pictures, but so far, I haven’t come across any. The pictures were taken by class. While I have seen some with the whole class together, I have also seen some with just the girls and just the boys. That is something that wasn’t done when I was a little girl, and indeed later on, the class picture was just a grouping of the individual pictures, placed together on a 5 x 7 picture.
The funny thing about the curiosity of little boys is that there always seems to be one who is a bit of a lady’s man, and just loves hanging out with the girls. That same little boy probably wants to be right in the middle of everything. That little boy will somehow insert himself into situations where he just doesn’t belong, such as this little boy, who managed to be at the edge of, and leaning into the picture of the girls…just close enough to get into the picture. The cameras of yesteryear were unable to view the picture, and therefore, you really didn’t know what you had until the film was developed. The photographer probably never saw this little boy leaning into the picture until the film was developed, and they were stuck with it, because it cost more to retake.
Now, it is possible that the photographer, the teacher, and maybe even the parents were upset with this turn of events, but I, personally, find it very cute. I picture this little boy as the one who loved little girls a lot, and didn’t really care if anyone knew it. He was curious about them, and wanted to know all about them. He might have even had a girlfriend in that group…or maybe several. That is how a lady’s man is. Try as he might, he doesn’t just stick with one girl…at least until he finds that one girl who changes everything, and removes his lady’s man status. Until that day comes, he goes from girlfriend to girlfriend, and might even have more than one at a time. Whatever the case may be, I think that there is always one little boy like that in every class, and sometimes there are several. That is just the way little boys are.
In our family, turning 50 will get you one thing for sure…an Over The Hill party. Of course, that is our way of teasing that person about their age, especially those of us who have already been there. In fact, for us it is our way to get back at the ones who got us first. My sister, Allyn’s Over The Hill party was yesterday. We all had a great time. Allyn is the youngest of my 4 sisters, and so the last of our parents’ kids to hit this milestone. Now the grandchildren are starting to hit it too…and the next one of those hits it in 4 years. That’s kind of a bummer, because we like these parties. It’s always fun to pick on the poor new oldie, after all.
The gifts of choice, are always a big deal. Things like hugely over-sized playing cards, a cane (with a horn, magnifying glass, pill bottle, and dentures on a string), trophies, goofy hats, geezer glasses, and…well you get the idea. It’s all designed to make the newest oldie look as goofy as possible, and we are very good at making people look goofy, if I do say so myself.
All goofiness aside, what Over The Hill party would be complete without the trip down memory lane. Allyn’s family did a wonderful job putting together a 50th birthday collage of pictures from her past in the shape of 50, to commemorate the day. Everyone had a great time re-living the past. We couldn’t believe the changes in all of us. Allyn and Chris looked like babies when they got married, but then I guess we all did. Those old pictures sure give you a sense of who you are, and where you come from.
It’s all done in good fun, and Allyn was a great sport. I guess when it’s a family tradition, you get to where you expect this day to come, and almost look forward to it. Today is your day Allyn. You’re over the hill now, but as a card I saw said, now you have a great view!! Say goodbye to the 40’s, and hello to the 50’s. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!