Monthly Archives: June 2013

scan0027Few things change your life more that the entrance of a child into it. Whether it is your own baby, or your grandbaby…it makes no difference. Each one changes everything, but the first…well, that is a different thing. When my first daughter, Corrie came into this world on June 30, 1975, it would change many lives. Parents who weren’t parents before, now were. Grandparents who weren’t grandparents before, now were. And aunts and an uncle who weren’t aunts or an uncle before, now were. Things would never be the same again. You simply have no idea how much a child changes things, until you have one.

Corrie’s entrance was exciting for so many people, in both of our families, but Bob’s family hadn’t had babies by any of the children yet, so she was a scan0098first, and that is why it was such a life changing event. Of course, Corrie’s great grandmother was probably the most excited, because Corrie was born on her birthday. Still,  there is just something about a grandpa’s first grandchild that makes that event very hard to top. My father-in-law was so excited to be a grandpa. In many ways he reminds me of how much I wanted to be a grandma…a fact to which my girls can attest. My father-in-law is so much like Bob with babies and little kids. Those little ones steal their heart, and they never get it back. They are gone on those babies, and I think that first one was quite a surprise. Men sometimes don’t realize how much they can be impacted by such a little teeny baby, but I think my father-in-law was just like me when my grandbabies arrived. He knew that he would be wrapped around  that little girl’s baby finger for the rest of his  life, and that…was just fine.

Bob was probably the one who surprised me the most, although I don’t know why. I guess Bob & Corriegoing from being my boyfriend to husband to the father of my children, was something that my mind couldn’t wrap itself around where he was concerned. Bob went from being a strong, tough guy, kind of person to being so totally gone on his daughter, that I couldn’t believe it. The look on his face when he held Corrie was so soft…so loving…so amazed. I knew in that moment that he, like me, was forever changed by the entrance of this little tiny girl. It truly was a life changing event. Today is Corrie’s birthday, and while she is a mom now herself, and has twice made us grandparents, she will always be our baby. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

GG Gpa, Amy, GG Gma CorrieGG Gpa & GG Gma KnoxAs Corrie’s birthday draws near, I am reminded of another of her birthdays…her first. Corrie’s birth put her in close connection with her great grandmother, with whom she shares that birthday. Her first birthday put Corrie, and her little sister Amy, in touch with the only set of great great grandparents they ever got to know…the in-laws of the great grandmother with whom Corrie shares her birthday. It would be their only meeting with their great great grandfather, as he would pass away less than two months later, on August 28, 1976, at the age of 93 years. He had not been ill or in a nursing home, but rather lived in his own home all the years of his marriage. His death came after he fell off of a ladder, while doing home maintenance…at the age of 93!! How amazing is that?

That first meeting between, great great grandparents and great great granddaughters was so special. This loving, sweet couple holding my daughters, was such a precious sight for me. You could just see how they felt about my girls, and it was a beautiful moment. In fact, it was at that very moment that Bob and I decided that we needed to go visit them again…soon. We wanted our girls to have a relationship with these loving people. We did make the trip to see them in late September, but it was too late to see their great great grandpa, and that made me very sad. Such a kind, loving man was gone before we hardly got to know him.

The visit to Washington to see Great Grandma was a precious one. Amy was too little to remember it, at almost 4 months, but Corrie and her great great grandmother got along famously. Great Grandma allowed Corrie to explore her home and play with the pans in the kitchen, and when I tried to stop Corrie from making messes and so much noise, she told me to let her play, because she loved to see her youthful curiosity and her smiling face. She even sent Corrie home with a little chair that she loved to sit on…it was over 100 years old then, so it is about 140 years old now…and still a treasure to Corrie.

The girls would get to see their great great grandma again, and she would also meet Amy, Corrie, Great Great Grandma Knox, Machelle and BarryCorrie and her little chair todayanother great great granddaughter, Machelle and her great great grandson, Barry the next time she visited. The kids all had a wonderful time on that visit too. She was just the kind of person kids flock to. She continued to live in her home for most of the rest of her life, and stayed active and of sound mind for all of it. These were amazing people and such a great part of my children’s heritage. I feel very blessed to have known these special people.

scan0097Bob’s Uncle Butch is the youngest of his dad’s sisters and  brothers. While he is Bob’s uncle, he is only 9 years older than Bob is. That said, I’m sure you can imagine that at some time during those years, they had similar interests. In fact, probably there were several times that they had similar interests, and for that reason, Butch probably didn’t seem like an uncle, exactly. Bob had spent several weeks in the summers up at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, which are Butch’s parents. That contributed to a closer relationship as well, I’m sure. So, when Bob was out of high school, and living on his own, he and his friend, Paul went up to visit the family in Montana.

They were staying at Grandma’s house, but one evening, they decided to go out with Butch. At that time, it was legal for Bob and Paul to drink, so the three of them went to the bar…mainly because there isn’t a whole lot of other things to do in Forsyth, Montana, due to it’s small size. They three of them had an…interesting evening. While sitting in the bar, and with Bob and Paul being somewhat inexperienced in the art of drinking, Butch had them try several drinks that he liked. Well, maybe some people can mix different kinds of alcohol and have no problem, but Bob and Paul were not those people. By the time they left the bar, both Bob and Paul were pretty tipsy…and that, is an understatement.

They headed back out to Grandma’s, and went to bed. The hangovers they had the next day…well, lets just say that Grandma was not happy with Butch. He was in a Butch Heinlot of trouble, in her book. Somehow, she didn’t think it was appropriate for him to corrupt Bob and Paul, and she made that fact known to Butch. To say he was in the dog house…is putting it mildly. Grandma wasn’t ever one to drink much, and I’m sure that had a lot to do with her feelings on the situation. Plus, I suppose, she felt responsible to my father-in-law to make sure that his son was not turned into a delinquent, not that Butch’s action were a detriment in any way. Personally, I like to think it was me that straightened Bob out, but I would guess that he might argue that statement.

Bob and Butch have always had a great time together, and getting in trouble with Grandma, didn’t change that one bit, but it is something none of them ever forgot, nor have I, when I heard about it. Today is Butch’s birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!!

This is coolMy grand nephew, Topher, who is my niece Andrea’s son, is probably a lot like most little boys…into super heroes.  They dream of being just like their favorite one. Topher is very into the Avengers,  the Justice League, and my favorite, Superman. I think every boy dreams of being a super hero at some point in their lives. I suppose it is the goodness in those little boys that makes them want to rescue people in trouble…to fix whatever is wrong in the lives of loved ones and strangers alike.

Topher is the kind of kid who hates to let people down. He hates to have people upset with him, and he hates to be the reason anyone is sad…or even see people sad. He has a great big heart, and it gets broken when those around him are not happy. Topher likes everything in his world to be…happy. I can’t blame him for that. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we really could live in the Land of Perfect, where everyone is happy and all is well. The good news is that when you get around a kid like Topher, your world seems to take a turn toward the Land of Perfect…at least a little bit. It’s awfully hard to stay sad when you see a smiling, goofy, little face like Topher’s.

Topher is the kind of kid that little kids love to be around. He is very compassionate and caring, and because of his great sense of humor, little kids really Get a kick out of him. Best friendsOf course, big kids do too. Topher’s big sister, Savannah is one of his favorite people in the world, as are his dad and mom. He has a serious sense of family, and feels very blessed to have the one he has. He also loves his dogs, because they are family too…especially to a little boy.

Topher is such a happy kid that he makes others around him happy too. Maybe that is why he likes super heroes so much. Super heroes save people from terrible situations, and Super-Topher saves people from sad moments and days. Does it get better than that? Today is Topher’s 8th birthday. I can’t believe that he is 8 already. Happy birthday Super-Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageWhen I first met Bob’s cousin, Kim, she was a teeny little girl, just 4 years of age. She always went by Kimmie back then. Kim was the only girl of the three cousins that lived in Forsyth, Montana at that time. I can imagine that having a brother and a male cousin made life a little difficult for this little girl. After all, we all know how much boys pick on little girls. Since they lived in Forsyth, and we live in Casper, I can’t say for sure that Kim got picked on, but if she didn’t, she was probably the only girl on earth that wasn’t picked on by and older brother or cousin.

As the years went by, Kim grew into a beautiful young lady. It was at this point that it occurred to me that Kim might be a big city girl living in a small town. That happens sometimes, and it doesn’t mean that the girl doesn’t love her small town, because most do, it’s just not exactly where they want to be living. In Kim’s case there was another thing that factored in to her decision to move to Dallas, Texas…the weather. Kim had a really hard time with the Montana winters, and on that I can relate. I don’t like winter either, but for some reason, I guess I don’t hate it enough to leave Wyoming.

I think it takes a certain level of bravery to make such a big move all by herself. Yes, she has family in the Dallas area, but she still had to make the move by herself…and Dallas is a very big place. This is where the big city girl side of Kim kicked in. I have the feeling that once she got there, Kim felt the excitement of the big city coursing through her veins, and Kim nowyet maybe a little bit of panic going on in there too.

That move took place a number of years ago now, and Kim is still living in Dallas, and loving every minute if it. I guess she knew what she wanted to do with her life. So many people move away from home and then just can’t make it on their own, so they head home again, but Kim…well, like I said, she was a big city girl, living in a small town, and now she is a big city girl, living in that big city. Today is Kim’s birthday. Happy birthday Kim!! Have a great day!! We love you!! I’m so glad that we hooked up on Facebook, because it had been way too long.

Angry Jennifer age 3There are few things that spell summer better for little kids than water…whether it is a wading pool, the local swimming pool, the lake, water pistols, or running through the sprinkler. Kids just love the hot days, so they can get wet to cool off. Lots of adults feel the same way too, as a matter of fact. It’s just what summer is all about.

While watching some old home movies the other night, I saw Bob and his sisters Debbie, and Jennifer running through the sprinkler. Jennifer was just a little girl of about 3 years, and I’m pretty sure it was her first experience at running through the sprinkler. She was obviously enjoying herself, but that doesn’t mean the water felt like what she expected either. As she started into the water, she skirted the edges of it at first, almost as if trying not to get wet. I know that feeling. It happens when you get caught in a rain shower. Even though it is hot outside, and the rain has a cooling effect, it still has the ability to almost feel like needles hitting your skin…ok, dull needles that don’t hurt, but still each one creates a little shock. That is how Jennifer seemed to be feeling.

That first time feeling of running through the sprinkler is a one time event. Once you know what to expect, you never get to feel that way again. That doesn’t make running through the sprinkler any less fun, just not so surprisingly shocking ever again. Knowledge comes with experience, and once we know something, we know it forever. There is no way to go back to that innocense and be surprised by it again. I’m sure that the next time the kids ran through the sprinkler, Jennifer didn’t skirt the edge like she did before.
Soaking Chris
I am reminded of a picture I have of my oldest grandson running through the sprinkler, and I’m thinking how cute he looked. Christopher was clearly ducking his head to the side to avoid the water that was hitting him…and yet he liked the whole feeling, of coolness on a hot day. Even with the wading pool and other backyard pools that are available, kids have loved to run throught the sprinkler since they were invented. And, I can relate to that. Once you have tried it, you will like it. Even as an adult, it isn’t the end of the world to have to run through the sprinkler to get into the house. I mean, after all, clothes dry, but the fun of running through the sprinkler will stick with you for a long time.

 

5 Year Old CaalabWhen my grandson, Caalab was 5 years old, he came up to me when we were getting ready to leave to take him, his sister, and his cousins to school, and said, “Good news Grandma!! I just got my driver’s license!! So…I’ll drive!!” I laughed and told him, “I don’t think so.” Of course, he was joking, because that was what Caalab did, and still does. I have thought about that funny little statement many times in the years that have followed, and it has always put a smile on my face. Today, that statement will no longer be a funny little joke, because today, Caalab is 16 years old, and will be going this morning to get his driver’s license. I can’t believe that the years have gone by so fast.

There are those who wish this day hadn’t arrived, and the one I never would have expected is Caalab’s sister, Shai. For so many years, she had wished that she wouldn’t have had a brother, and would gladly have sold him to the highest bidder, or even the best offer, but in the last couple of years. The opinion Shai has of her brother has softened tremendously. She has been taking him to school and other places since she started driving, and while that hasn’t always been wonderful, mostly it was good. Now she is feeling a little bit sad that she won’t be doing that anymore. It feels a little bit lonely, I’m sure. Shai wishes her brother wasn’t going to be driving, because with both of them working and getting out of school at different times next year, they just won’t get to see each other as much as they had when Shai was taking Caalab to school. Nothing will be the same again, probably not for the rest of their lives. Life moves so fast, and sometimes we just don’t notice until the moments have passed us by. Yes, they will always be sister and brother, but they will be busy with their own lives.

I know how she feels. As life changes, it always seems like there is a little twinge of sadness. When they come into my office to show me their license, and then I watch them leave, it feels like you have just turned that little 5 years old loose on the street…in a car…alone!!! It just doesn’t seem possible that they have grown up so quickly, but they have, Caalab's driver's licenseand will continue to grow up, because non of us can stop the hands of time. Time marches on, and old things are left behind.

So, today when my grandson, Caalab comes into my office to show me his license, I’ll do my best to smile and not shed a tear. We’ll take his picture, like we did his sister and his cousin when they got their licenses. We will all be excited that he is beginning this new phase in his life. No one will have to go pick him up anymore, or plan things around the time he gets off work, because he can take himself now. Still, in the memory files of my mind, I will always see that little 5 year old boy saying, “Good news Grandma!! I just got my driver’s license!! So…I’ll drive!!” Today is Caalab’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

Grandpa Byer and his military buddiesWhen men go off to war, their buddies become more than just people they serve with. They are family, and more importantly, they are a life line. These men, often barely more than boys, have to count of their fellow soldiers to have their back…in the deepest sense of the word. If the platoon is attacked, it is going to be the ability of the men in the platoon to act at a moments notice that will often decide their fate. Of course, no one is going to be able to move fast enough to get away from a bomb that has been dropped in most cases. There just isn’t time, but if everyone is alert, many dangers can be seen in time to warn the rest of the platoon. The further back in history the war is, the more the men had to depend on each other to stay alive, because modern equipment has helped to track the approaching enemy these days, but back then it wasn’t available.

My grandpa served in World War I, and while he was a cook and not a fighting soldier, the danger was just as real for him as it was for any other soldier. You can’t be in a war zone, and not be in danger, and quite possibly he had to depend on his fellow soldiers more than someone who was in a fighting position, because he didn’t carry a gun on a regular basis. An attack on the camp would leave these men more vulnerable than men who regularly carry a gun. I’m quite sure that Grandpa and his crew had guns assigned to them, they still didn’t use them as much as other men, as so were not as used to them. They had to know that their platoon members were going to have their back…and they did.

Many men felt such a close tie to their fellow soldiers, that life long friendships were built. RestingTheir comrades were never to be forgotten…whether they made it through the war or not. In fact, often it was those men who did not come home, who were most remembered, because quite often, they gave their life to protect their fellow soldiers. I am thankful for the men who fought with my grandfather, and made a way for him to come home to his family, because without those men, my family and I would not be here today. Their bravery in fighting for their country made our way of life possible in the nation, and brought back to his family, the gentle loving man that was my grandfather. It was the code of all military men and women, then and now. When going into battle, soldiers have always been heard saying, “I’ve got your back.” And they do.

Kitty's OwnerWhen my brother-in-law, Ron was a little boy, the family had cats for pets. While Ron tends to prefer dogs as pets these days, he did like cats when he was little. The nice thing about cats is that they are kid sized. It doesn’t matter how little the kids is, the cat is the perfect size. A kid can’t carry a dog around. unless it is a little dog, but a little kid can carry a cat around. If there is a cat in the house hold, along with a little kid, they will quite often be best friends. That is what happened with Ron and Bryon Henrey, who was the family cat at that time. Ron and his kitty, named Bryon Henrey did all kinds of things together…some of them were things you might not expect a boy and a kitty to be doing.

Most people would expect a boy and a kitty to play with a ball of yarn or a toy mouse, but scan0037Ron taking the kitty for a ridethis boy wanted this kitty to be a superior kitty, so the first thing he would need to do is learn to drive. Unfortunately, Ron didn’t have a car, so from the start, this was going to be a difficult operation. The next best thing to a car is…a bicycle, of course. Ron tried to figure out a way to teach his kitty to ride the bicycle, but there was one big problem, since his kitty would fit in the bathroom sink, it was quite clear that he was not going to be able to reach the peddles of a bicycle. Ron’s dilemma continued to be more and more complicated. How was he ever going to be able Kitty's Coatto make his kitty be the most special kitty around?

Sometimes in life, you simply come up against an insurmountable obstacle. That is where Ron found himself when he was trying to make his kitty into a special super kitty. He could see that he was probably not going to succeed, so he decided that if all else fails, at least look the part. When it was clear to Ron that his kitty, Bryon Henrey was not going to be able to perform special feats of super hero caliber, he simply turned to his mom, who just like Superman’s mom, made him a special outfit, that could at least make him look like a Super Cat!! And after all, isn’t that what a kitty’s best friend would do?

Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedMy father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013, but my mother-in-law is doing ok. Alzheimer’s Disease has removed all memory of his passing. I know that many people look at Alzheimer’s Disease as being a cruel thief. I can agree with the thief part, in that it has taken her memory of recent events away, but cruel…maybe not. Her mind simply creates its own reality. In her mind he is not gone. He is at work or visiting the neighbors or out in the garage. Death means nothing to her. It has been the same with her parents, who have been gone for 28 and 23 years now.

I have long known that she lived in a world of make believe, but that fact never hit home as much as it did tonight, when Bob and I were out visiting her at the nursing home. She often speaks of those who are closest to her, and sometimes she speaks about you…to you, saying things like, “Caryn is going to be cooking dinner for everyone” when she is talking to me, or “Bobby is on his way to Grandma’s for the summer, to help with the cows” when she is talking to Bob. Corrie and Amy, work at the nursing home…at least in her mind, and my father-in-law is over by the telephone, so he will answer it when it rings. These were just a few of the recent things she has talked about, and things we are getting used to hearing.

Tonight…well, tonight was different. We were talking with my mother-in-law, and the conversation was following the normal lines…or at least, it was until it wasn’t. Suddenly she said, “Hun, can you help me get this afghan over to the sewing machine so I can finish it up.” She was talking to Bob, but to her, he was my father-in-law. At first we thought it was just a slip of the tongue, but then it happened again. She said, “Walt, you need to move that other sewing machine to the table.” We didn’t know exactly how to react. It was not the first time she had mentioned him, but it was the first time she spoke to him when it was actually one of the guys in the family. She thinks nothing of talking to him, but we know that he is gone, and the pain of that parting is still very fresh in our hearts Boband minds. We can’t be upset with her for what she says, because in her mind, it is reality, but to us it is make believe. Like it or not, we have to play along, because to do anything different is to make her relive his death over and over again.

I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of my father-in-law visiting my mother-in-law. Her mind will bring it up again, and it’s likely that her sons or grandsons will have to play the part again at some point. They will do it, as often as needed, because it is for her. They can do nothing else. They will play the part…so that she can keep her illusion that the love of her life is never far away.