Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dad and LizIf there is one thing I can say about my niece, Liz, it is that she loves sports. In fact, there was a time she considered becoming a sportscaster. And she would have been a great one too, because I don’t know of anyone who knows more about their teams than Liz. And, I’m pretty sure she she keeps up with all the other teams too. Liz was a big sports fan, when everyone thought girls didn’t like sports…or was it just that girls were closet sports fans.

Liz is a fan of the Denver Broncos, which was something she was proud to share with her grandpa, my dad. Of course he wasn’t the only one who shared her love of the Broncos, but he was the one who was the most important to Liz. They shared a love of the Denver Broncos and the New York Yankees. It created a special kind of bond between them that no one else had. When the subject came around to either team and they were both in the room, it was their conversation, and no one else’s. That was never something any of us were jealous about. We all thought it was wonderful that Dad had someone who was so knowledgeable about sports to talk sports with. It was heartwarming to watch that, because as the dad of daughters and only 4 grandsons, there weren’t a lot of sports minded people around him. Liz was one person who understood the games, and could talk intelligently about it with my dad, and that was a greater gift than Liz can possibly know.
Elizabeth
I know that I certainly couldn’t do that, because until the Broncos went to their first Super Bowl, I liked the Broncos, but only in passing. And while I watch the Super Bowl every year, and I’m still a Die Hard Broncos Fan, I don’t watch much football on a weekly basis. Liz on the other hand watches the Denver Broncos, The Denver Nuggets, the New York Yankees, the Wyoming Cowboys, and of course, every game that Kelly Walsh plays…and those were just the ones I know of. There are many ways to describe Liz, but none so well as Grandpa’s Favorite Sports Fan. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

JesusGod saw that this world was doomed, because the wages of sin is eternal death and separation from Him. Still, because God is love, he made a way in which all those who would follow his plan could live even after they had sinned. The price had to be paid. There simply was no other way. Sin had gotten us into this mess, and a sinless man was the only one who could pay the price to redeem a lost world. But where would this sinless man come from?

God saw a problem, and then He devised a solution. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. The very Son of God had agreed to leave all the glory of Heaven, be born to a human woman, live a sinless life, and then pay for our sins as an innocent sacrifice. He hung on that cross to pay the price we could not pay. Had the devil only known what he was doing, he would not have crucified the Son of God. By the time the devil figured out what he had done, it was too late.

Jesus marched into Hell…victorious and took back the keys to death and Hell, which the devil had been given through Adam’s treasonous act. Jesus paid it all and through His sacrifice, we have been put back in right standing with God again. There is nothing we can’t ask of God now. The curtains have been ripped in two, and we have been given access to the Holy of Holies. We can come boldly before the Throne of God and ask what we will, with the name of Jesus, and he will give it to us. We are his children now.We have been adopted into his family. Our debt has been paid.

On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead to show the world that He was victorious…even over death. There is nothing that we need to fear. Death has been defeated. The devil has been defeated. Sin has been defeated. By the grace of God, our lives have been spared. We cannot earn it. We didn’t deserve it. Love gave it to us. God is Love. Jesus is our Savior, and He is risen. Jesus is alive and sitting on the right hand of God! Believe on Him and you will be saved.

I'm just madLittle kids don’t care if their attitude needs adjusting. All they know is that you made them mad, someone made them mad, or something made them mad. No matter the cause, they will simply tell you, “I’m just mad!” and you get to deal with it. It is usually a very expressive face that is given to this little attitude of their too, but some kids seem to do that look better than others. Even years later, you can look at the picture and know that the person who took that picture is really on that kids bad list right then.

What really fascinates me about these pictures, is not that this little kid is mad, or that they need an attitude adjustment, it is the expressiveness of their anger. Their face and body language so totally tell the story behind their feelings, and often the reason for taking the picture at all. I don’t know who the little boy in the first picture is, except that he is in an old album belonging to my husband’s family, but what I do know is that he looks just like a little When Amy got madgunfighter, who is mad enough at the photographer, to call them out for a gunfight at the OK Corral.

It also strikes me as funny that sometimes the way a kid shows anger can mimic someone from their ancestor pool, whether it is far back or not. My daughter Amy always had a very funny way of showing her anger. It involved not only her face, which was very expressive, but her arms which she crossed in front of her and then pulled to one side. I always thought that was pretty unique to her, until my cousin sent me a picture of our family when my sister, Alena was about 3 or 4, and there was a very similar way of expressing anger just staring at me from the past.

Alena had always had a very expressive way of showing her anger, and my other sisters and I knew not to mess with her much until she was fully awake, which usually involved several cups of coffee, in her early teens. Still, I never remembered seeing that same little I'm maddisplay of anger that I thought was so unique to my daughter, Amy. It just goes to show that we all have traits that can be passed down, and it doesn’t always go from parent to child. It often comes from aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents.

No matter where it comes from, displays of anger in little kids can be very funny. Their serious little faces, telling you that you are such a meanie and that you should get a spanking, or better yet be called out to a gunfight, serve only to reduce their parents to giggles. What is even more amazing is that the parents can manage to hold themselves together long enough to snap the picture…which probably makes the kid even more mad.

Waiting for SpringLiving in Wisconsin, my Uncle Bill was no stranger to snow. In reality, it was a fact of life from the time he was a little boy. I’m sure that some winters were worse than others, which is the case in any area that gets snow, but those winters when the area got lots of snow, seemed to cause particular problems for Uncle Bill. I’m sure everyone thinks that lots of snow causes problems for everyone, and I would have to agree, but for Uncle Bill, it was a depressing event to a degree.

At least in his younger days, my uncle loved to be outdoors, and traveling, in particular, was very enjoyable to him. In the letters my dad wrote home to him from World War II, Dad mentioned that Uncle Bill was thinking of going to Mexico…of course, there was a job involved in that one, but Mexico would have also been a way to get out of the snow and warm up too, and since the letter was written in February, it’s my guess that Uncle Bill was, true enough, worried about the shipyards closing, but also, and maybe more importantly, feeling the cold winter weather pretty deeply too.

As a little boy, Uncle Bill had run across snow problems when he found himself sitting on the front walk of the family home, looking at the deep snow that was making it impossible for him to any further on his tricycle. The look on his face told me that this was not a happy little boy, and who could blame him. Tricycles are for riding on, not sitting on with the inability to move. And unfortunately for Uncle Bill, his tricycle was not the only place he found himself in just such a fix. It seems his car ended up snowed in as well, which we all Snowed in againknow can be frustrating. The biggest difference between the tricycle and the car is the fact that with the car, Uncle Bill was still able to smile about the whole situation, where with the tricycle, he looked quite annoyed.

Winter’s snow can be lots of fun for everyone, or at least those who like winter and snow, but it also has the irritating ability to slow traffic, mess with travel plans, and make the use of certain toys impossible. For those who live in areas that get lots of snow, it can be particularly annoying, as was the case for Uncle Bill, whose plans always seemed to be foiled by the dumping of large amounts of snow, right on top of his world. It seemed he was always getting snowed in again in those days.

Elmer Johnson_editedI have always known that my cousin Elmer had a great sense of humor, and like the 2 main cousins he hung out with, Greg and Forrest, he a knack for…well, mischief, and probably getting into a little bit of harmless trouble…mostly with my aunts and grandma.  The more I have written about the family, the more I have found out as these boys were three adventurers, who were always out to see what they could get into, come up with, or get away with.  It is a typical boy thing to, and these were definitely typical boys.

Still, with time, we all grow out of that mischievous age, and move into the normal responsibilities of life, and it is here that we really find out what makes the man. Most men go out and get a job, pay their bills, and become what everyone deems to be a responsible citizen, but some men take on the cares of others in a way that stands out to those who know them. With Elmar, I have found a man who has had such a profound impact on the lives of his niece and her children, that they would bend over backward to do special things for him, like a very special project she has been working on and that I have had the privilege to help with in a small way. Elmer’s love and caring for his niece, JeanAnn, and her children, Mykenzie, and Ethan, has made him so special to them, that they want to come up with special ways to do nice things for him. Even her children are excited about Elmer’s birthday gift. How many of us can say that about our nieces and nephews…or their children for that matter? Ethan, JeanAnn, and MyKenzieThe more I know of my cousin, the more I respect him!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, Elmer still has his amazing sense of humor, and I seriously doubt if he would pass up a chance to tease or pick on JeanAnn and the kids, but they will always know that any teasing he does in in good fun, and unless I miss my guess, they would happily tease him right back. And while they are putting together something really special for Elmer for his birthday, I have no doubt that tomorrow will be a new and very different day. Today, after all is his birthday, not tomorrow. Happy birthday Elmer!! Have a wonderful day. We love you!

Chris in VegasWhat makes a hero? Is it untold bravery in the face of certain death, or is it simply being in the right place at the right time? Yesterday, my grandson, Chris found himself in just such a position. A position that would put Chris between a classmate and death. Chris was in his swimming class, and they were practicing life saving maneuvers. They had brought in another physical education class to help with their life saving class. The students had been told that there was going to be a mock drowning situation and they were going to perform the rescue, and in a perfect world, that is how the exercise would have proceeded. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.

The students were all in the water, and Chris noticed a young man who seemed tired and was not swimming very fast. He watched him for a moment, and then his attention was drawn elsewhere. Suddenly someone yelled out in panic from the side of the pool. Chris turned and saw that the young man was under the water and thrashing about. He immediately went into action, performing the maneuvers he had been taught as if on auto-pilot. He brought the young man to the pool’s edge, coughing and sputtering, but alive, and unharmed. We asked Chris what everyone had said afterward, expecting to give him a moment to bask in the glory and admiration that surely followed his heroic act, but in true Chris style, he pretty much blew it off with a simple and humble, “They said good job.” Typical of a hero to act like they didn’t do anything special, when we all know they did.

When Chris told us about the events that transpired at school, I was taken back to my youth. We went swimming every weekday at the Kelly Walsh pool in Casper. I had been going up there for several years, and I had finally reached the great height of 5 feet. To me that meant that I could go into the deep end of the pool, and I went and jumped in, and not right at the edge. When the realization hit me that the water was also 5 feet, putting it at the top of my head, I was already in trouble. As I thrashed around trying to find the edge, I thought I was going to die. Then I came up out of the water gasping for air and saw a girl swimming by. I coughed out the word “help” and she pushed me to the edge of the pool, and once I was there, she simply went on her way. To this day, I can see her face, even though I don’t know her name and could not thank her. I went back to the shallow water…grateful to be alive, and taught myself to swim, because I was never going to be in that position again. Still I would never forget the girl who saved my life.

As I thought about my grandson, who found himself in a position to be that person who saved the life of another person, I knew that he is a true hero. I knew exactly how the young man Chris saved will feel about that event for the rest of his life. It is very hard to forget the face of the person who saw you in a death struggle, and then reached in and pulled you out of death’s grip to safety again. What makes a hero? I know, and I think that young man in Chris’ swimming class yesterday knows too.

Gladys Pattan Byer CooperAs a little girl, I remember when Aunt Gladys would come over to the house and show my mom her Avon products. Of course, with 5 girls in the house, Avon products were very important little items…whether we were allowed to wear make-up yet or not, which by the way, we weren’t yet. Nevertheless, Aunt Gladys didn’t seem to care that our curiosity would probably not bring a big purchase. She treated my sisters and me just like we were her biggest clients. Aunt Gladys knew that little girls and make-up simply go together.

Aunt Gladys always looked so pretty, and she always dressed up. When she came over, it was like having a movie star show up at your door. Mom told me that she wore silk stockings, and they were very soft. She never minded when little hands wanted to see just how soft and silky they were. All she ever said, was, “Be careful not to snag them.” So many people would have wanted Mom to send the kids outside, so the adults could talk, but not Aunt Gladys, and I don’t think it was just because she was our great aunt either. I just think she understood how little girls felt about make-up and such…so much so, in fact, that she would always give us United Airlines Flight 232 crashthose little sample tubes of lipstick…every time she came over. I don’t know what they cost her, but we always felt special because we got those.

My Aunt Gladys died in the crash of United Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa on July 19, 1989. She comes to my mind often, and sometimes I think I see her here in town. There is a woman here in Casper, who looks a little like my Aunt Gladys, and seeing her keeps Aunt Gladys on my mind periodically. It’s odd how that can happen sometimes…you are going through your day, and suddenly you see someone who takes you decades back in time…and you don’t even know them. They just remind you of someone else.

The Pools_editedEvery year, usually around the first of March, but a little later this year because of spring break, Bob and I take a three day weekend and spend it in Thermopolis to celebrate our wedding anniversary, which is March 1st. It is our way of renewing our relationship. We renewed our vows on our 25th anniversary, when we took a cruise, and that was a beautiful time, but these mini renewing events are very much a blessing too. There is no real itinerary, other than a lovely prime rib dinner and multiple relaxing sessions in tho hot tub. If the weather if nice we go for long walks along the river and up to the hot springs, but if not, we might just relax around the motel room. We usually drive through the buffalo reserve before leaving, but rarely see what we saw this time…6 buffalo right on the road. We thought for a moment they were going to ram our car, but they decided that was too much work

We did take one walk this year, but it was pretty cold, so it wasn’t really the highlight of
the trip, but then we were both pretty tired this year, so relaxing in the room BuffaloDeerwatching television was ok too. When we went to dinner, the deer came out to eat the corn provided for them right by the windows of the restaurant…always a highlight of the trip. It is always amazing to me that the deer are unafraid of the people in the restaurant…even when they are close enough to touch each other were it not for the glass. This year too, we got to watch a couple of little girls get to feed the deer their corn. I’m sure that was a once in a lifetime event for the girls, and we enjoyed watching it too. Dinner was wonderful as usual, and we always enjoy the Safari Club. The animals on display there were mostly shot by the owner, some before they were listed as endangered. Most Wind River Canyon_editedof his hunting now involves shooting the animals with a tranquilizer gun. Taking pictures of his kill, having a veterinarian check them over and treat anything that needs treating, and then he releases them back into the wild. I think that is an awesome thing to do.

All too soon, our anniversary trip is over for another year, but we always come away from these trip closer together than we were before. I think every couple needs those little romantic trips periodically. It reminds you why you are in this marriage, after all. It puts you in tune with each other, and for us it confirms the love we always knew we had.

Learning the ropesDown timeWeston is the oldest grandchild of my sister-in-law Debbie and my brother-in-law Lynn. They had 3 daughters and no sons. So, like Bob and I, a grandson was a bit of a culture shock. Boys are, when you only had girls, and it doesn’t matter how tomboyish your girls might have been. Still, having boys can be a change of pace that you didn’t expect. When you have girls, the dad doesn’t usually have that mechanic’s assistant, or that handyman’s assistant, or a landscaper’s assistant…you know the son that mows the lawn for you. The nice thing about getting that boy in the grandchild pool then, is that suddenly you have that little man to help you with all those things that your girls didn’t ever want to help with.

Like most grandfathers of grandsons, Lynn was ready to train his little helper…just as soon as he could grow up to some size, that is. Finally, that day arrived. Weston was ready to start being the helper that his grandpa had waited for. Soon Weston was out in the back yard, learning the ropes on how to mow the lawn. Now he would be able to make some extra money mowing lawns for people around town, and maybe even make a few bucks for mowing his grandpa’s lawn. It’s good training for a smart boy who has plans for an income in the future.

Of course, Weston, like all kids needs some down time. That’s when he heads to the local boys and girls club for a little goofiness. There is nothing quite like trying to take something out of a bowl with your mouth, while your hands are behind your back. Now I was never very good at that, and I’m not sure how Weston did at it either, but my guess is that Weston probably liked one of the other activities more than that. The good old pie throwing contest, or rather that throwing, it would be the pie in the face contest, which I think is something we would all secretly love to do. That shocked look on the face of your victim is just classic. And the rest of the kids probably saw something else of value in Weston. Because of his size, Weston would Pie in the faceTug of Warbe the first choice we getting a tug-of-war together. The other team would have little chance of winning, even if they were given an extra person or two. So I guess you could say Weston has really learned the ropes there.

Today is Weston’s 13th birthday!! Look out Machelle and Steve, your trouble is just starting, because Weston is a teenager!! Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The battleFlakYesterday, I read a tribute written by the grandchild of an airman who served in a B-17 Bomber during World War II, and I found myself both curious and a little annoyed by the first few lines of the story. Oh, I know that the writer was as proud of his grandfather, as I am of my dad, but when the story started out saying that in order to go home, those men had to fly twice as many missions as the 25 my dad’s group had to fly, I got really curious. My search for information would lead me to probably the same “bone chilling” feeling as the other author’s information had. The author’s grandfather, like my dad, was the flight engineer, except that he had been stationed in Northern Africa, where my dad had been in England, at Great Ashfield. While I don’t dispute his grandfather’s bone chilling missions, I’m nevertheless, not sure he understood what the fighting was like in England, and especially at Great Ashfield.

It is true that the crews at Great Ashfield only flew 25 missions before going home. The reasons are maybe even more bone chilling than the mission report the other author was reading. The article I found puts it like this. “The average life of a B-17 bomber at Great Ashfield was just over 4 months. Very few B-17 bombers that were transferred to the base lasted a complete tour of duty. The average Airman lasted 15 combat missions and few completed an entire tour of 25 missions. Much less 35 !!!! The average LIFE of a Ball Turret Gunner in combat was 12 MINUTES.” Thankfully my dad was not the ball turret gunner, but rather the top turret gunner…still, Great Ashfield was where my dad had served!!! And he was one of those “few” who lived to go home. His plane was one of those “very few” Bombers that lasted a complete tour of duty. In all the years that I have known about my dad’s war years, I guess that I didn’t really allow myself to think about what could have happened…probably because it was too hard to think about.

Even when Dad told me about the 3 Poplar trees at the end of the runway…the landmark that let them know that for another mission, at least, they were safely home. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to board that B-17 Bomber in the morning, not knowing whether or not you would see the base again…much less your family. Then to see those trees, and to know that you were safe, would be almost overwhelming.

I am no longer annoyed at the author of the other article, and I agree that his grandfather is just as much a hero as my dad is. Both of these men bravely stepped into those planes Dad looking at B-17G BomberSafely Homeevery time they were told to, and flew off into battle, not knowing if they would return. Rather than feeling annoyed, I feel a kinship to the other author, because had circumstances ended differently neither of us would have existed. Our lives are what they are, because his grandfather and my dad were among the few who survived battle in a B-17 Bomber, and among the few whose B-17 Bomber and the grace of God, brought them safely home to their families.