Monthly Archives: July 2014

Eric ParmelyIt seems that little boys are always getting into some form of mischief. That is not to say that little girls don’t do so as well, but this story is about two little boys and a certain episode of mischief that was never forgotten. My nephew, Eric Parmely and my first cousin once removed, Brian Kountz were second cousins, and sometimes they played together, because they were so close in age. As little boys, your first friends are often your cousins, and that was the case with these boys. These two little boys seemed to get along real well, so it was nice for both of them to get to play together.

On this particular day, they were at Eric’s house with my sister-in-law, Jennifer, who is Eric’s mom, watching them. The boys, being 5 years old were old enough to play outside without much supervision…or so Jennifer thought. She was checking in them often, but as most of us know, kids can get into lots of mischief in a matter of minutes. The boys decided that they needed to go for a walk, but they forgot to check with Jennifer first. That was their first mistake. Their second was a little bit more alarming to Jennifer, and Sandi, Brian’s mom, when she found out.

For any of you who do not know it, 2nd Street in Casper, Wyoming is a really busy street. The thought of two 5 year old boys crossing 2nd Street unsupervised to go to Kmart is…alarming to say the least…especially when they have never done it with supervision. Kids don’t often even think of Brian Kountzusing the cross walk, especially when they are only 5 years old. When Jennifer realized they were gone, she panicked. When she located the boys, she wasn’t sure whether she should laugh, cry, or beat them half to death. My guess is that she opted for a little laughing and crying…accompanied by a little yelling, of course.

The boys lived through the experience, both the crossing the of the street and being found by Jennifer, and I’m sure they learned a valuable lesson in the process. Never leave the house without telling your mom or aunt where you are going…at least when you are just 5 years old…or until you are 18 years old. It’s whole lot safer that way.

imageimageAs many of you already know, on October 18, 2013, my sister-in-law, Brenda went to the hospital with a case of cellulitis, and congestive heart failure. She spent a total of 23 days, between Wyoming Medical Center and Elkhorn Rehab Hospital, re-learning to walk. Then, on November 11, 2013, she was released. She had made amazing strides, but she had a long way to go. At that point, many people would have quit, but not Brenda. She was determined to take back her life…and make it better. She determined that she would never be in this position again, if there was any way out of it. Brenda set out on a quest to get in shape. She joined Weight Watchers Online, and she exercised. She walked every day, increasing the length of her walks as soon as she was able. She worked out with weights and did sit to stands from a chair with no hands. She was determined not to need assistance for any longer than was absolutely necessary…and I can tell you that she would not accept very much help. She was determined to do it alone. I have never seen a person so determined in my life.

With the coming of summer, her walks have gotten a little hot inside Sunrise Shopping Center, so she has started walking on a trail behind the Senior Citizens Center. That is a nice fairly flat concrete trail, so it worked well for her. Most of the time she doesn’t use her walker anymore, but on those long walks, she does, because it allows her to keep up her speed and still be safe and in the event of needing to stop. The trail provided her with some much needed fresh air, as well as a change of scenery.

And speaking of scenery, a while back, my sister-in-law, Jennifer, Brenda’s sister, started talking to Brenda about doing a little bit of hiking. I’m sure Brenda thought that was impossible at first, but when Jennifer mentioned new trail at Garden Creek Falls, which has been upgraded to make it a little more accessible, Brenda began to think that maybe…just maybe it was possible. Well, a couple of days ago, Brenda and Jennifer made that hike, and the impossible became not only possible, but reality. Brenda was surprised that it was so hard, but she persevered and she made it. Her efforts were rewarded with the beauty of Garden Creek Falls, the sounds of the falling water, the birds, and the shade of the trees adding a coolness to their rest at the falls. Brenda thought the hike back down was a lot easier, but imageimageJennifer was a little worried about going down hill. Nevertheless, Brenda made it, and I think she got hooked. She wants to go back on October 18th…one year after her journey began, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she went back before that. Brenda we are all so proud of your accomplishments. You have shown a lot of people what is possible…as long as they never give up. You have excelled, and you can do anything you set your mind to. Congratulations!!!

Gladys Pattan Byer CooperAs another year has come and gone since the passing of my great aunt, Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper, I am shocked to realize that it has been 25 years…or at least I was when I was reminded of that fact by a survivor of the crash of United Airlines flight 232, Jerry Schemmel, when he contacted me about a project he was working on. It seemed impossible that so much time had passed. To this day, I can picture that crash, every time the thought of Aunt Gladys comes up, or another plane crash, or most especially that crash comes up. My Aunt Gladys was such a wonderful person, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.

When Jerry Schemmel contacted me about writing a tribute to Aunt Gladys, I was so pleased that he had taken it upon himself to set up a tribute site to the victims of Flight 232, on the 25th anniversary of that horrible day. In reality, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Jerry SchemmelIt seems that Jerry Schemmel was not just one of the survivors of that crash, but a hero too. After surviving the initial crash, he went back into the wreckage and rescued an 11 month old baby. How many people can think that clearly after the plane they were flying in just crashed, or cartwheeled really, on the runway, killing 112 people? Not many I would have to say. Most people would be concerned for themselves and their own, but there are heroes among us, and Jerry Schemmel was one.

I am almost embarrassed to say that until I looked Jerry up on the internet, hoping for a picture for my story, I had no idea who I was in contact with. Maybe some of you know…or maybe, like me you are in the dark. Jerry Schemmel is an American sportscaster, and the current voice of the Colorado Rockies. I wonder just how many times I have heard his voice, since I am a Colorado Rockies fan. Probably a lot. While his education was in law, his biggest claim to fame is as a sportscaster. But to me, his greatest single act was when he saved United Airlines Flight 232 crashthat 11 month old baby.

I wish things could have been different for my Aunt Gladys, but it is comforting to know that after that horrific crash, there were heroes among the passengers who did their very best to save as many people as possible. While Jerry’s site “Welcome To The Tribute To The Victims Of The Crash Of United Airlines Flight 232” is a tribute to the victims of that crash, we should also remember the heroes, like Jerry who survived, went back to help, and never forgot those who lost their lives. I believe that crash changed Jerry forever, and I would strongly recommend the book he wrote about the experience called, “Chosen To Live”. I believe Jerry certainly was.

Brian, Destreyia, & KylerWhen you are the youngest child, and the only girl in a family of three children, you have to expect that your older brothers are going to tease you a little bit. Of course, Destreyia’s brothers, Brian and Kyler were never mean to their little sister, but boys will be boys, and these two boys were no exception. At seven and four years old though, they saw the potential for humor though in having a baby sister that they could help to smile…even if she wasn’t in the mood.

Of course, as time went by, Destreyia got to the point where she was well able to defend herself from these silly little onslaughts. At that point, the boys had to get a little bit more creative about their teasing. I think that most of the time, Destreyia was pretty easy going with her brothers’ teasing, but like most little girls there are Let Me Help You Smilelimits, and when they are reached, lookout, because this sassy little girl will let you have it both barrels. Destreyia is not the kind of girl to let anyone push her around. Nevertheless, if anyone is going to get away with it, it will be her brothers, because no matter what else, she loves them.

These last few months have been really rough ones for Destreyia. Her brother Kyler moved to Lewiston, Montana, and her brother, Brian passed away in California. The impact of these events has made it really hard for Destreyia to have very much to smile about, nevertheless, she is determined to do things in her life that will make her brothers proud of the woman she is so quickly becoming. Destreyia is determined to graduate from high school, even though Sassyshe has missed a lot of school this past year. She is learning to open up again and talk to the people who love her…especially when she is feeling sad or overwhelmed. Her brother, Kyler is doing his best to help her with her feelings, as are her mom, my cousin, Sandi and her grandmother my Aunt Margee.

As for me, well, I hope this little story of two brothers with a little sister they loved to tease will give her something to smile about too. Today is Destreyia’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Destreyia!! I hope you will let me help you smile too. Maybe not like Brian did when you were such a little girl, but maybe a memory smile anyway. Have a great day Day Day!! We love you!!

My parents on their wedding dayNot a day goes by that I don’t think of my dad, but especially today, on my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary. It seems impossible that my parents have celebrated the last seven anniversaries apart. That has been real hard on my mom. She misses Dad so much. Nevertheless, she keeps on living, because she knows that is what Dad would want. Dad loved life. He loved travel, sports, the outdoors, and mostly his family.

Together they raised their five daughters to be well mannered, responsible adults, all of whom love the Lord. And they loved each other through all of life’s ups and downs. Dad was always Mom’s rock…in fact, he was that for all of us. If ever there was a typical, old fashioned, “Father Knows Best” type of dad in real life, he was it. Dad was always able to keep all of us grounded. Whenever there was a problem, we looked to Dad on how to solve it. This was a wonderful trait of Dad’s that many people noticed, and I think it was one of the things that ultimately attracted Mom to Dad in the first place.

Mom and Dad were always so good together. Not many people can actually work together, but they could and did for many years. They were two people who truly wanted to be together 24/7. They never really needed space from each other, and never liked it when they were apart. So many people these days have girls night out or guys night, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it was just never my parents’ style. When they said, “I do”, they meant “I do…together with you”. They were such a team. When you saw one, you expected to see the other. They completed each other.

It’s hard to think of another year without Dad being here. It seems so impossible, even Dad and Momtoday…7 years later. Nevertheless, he is here with us in our hearts, and the love Mom has for him is as strong as ever. Theirs is a love to stand the test of time and beyond. What one lacked, the other made up for. It was pretty much love at first sight for these two, and love forever after. Mom was Dad’s princess, and he was her prince charming. It was a storybook romance, that would always retain that storybook feel. I wish my dad could be here to celebrate their 61st anniversary too, but I know that he is celebrating in Heaven, and looking forward to the day when they will be together again. Happy 61st Anniversary to our wonderful parents. We love you both so very much. You are the best parents ever.

Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993Every year I find myself surprised at how many years my kids have been married. This year is my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin Petersen’s 21st wedding anniversary. Twenty one years…how can that be!! Of course, they have been together for 24 years now, and that is even more surprising to me. They should both still be kids…not have kids who are adults or almost adults. How could time have passed so quickly? No matter why or how, they have arrived at that 21st anniversary, and because they did, Bob and I have been incredibly blessed. They gave us two wonderful grandsons, Chris and Josh, and so many other blessings, as they have given of themselves whenever we needed something. They have proven to be a wonderful couple who have given of themselves to make life wonderful for those around them.

When kids are teenagers, you have no idea who they will become. They are so emotional that you wonder if they will live long enough to become adults…or if you will live through those teenage years, but then…suddenly, as quickly as they became teenagers, they become adults, and you are left to wonder where all those years went. We could not have asked for better adults than Corrie and Kevin have become. I love their ways of teamwork and fellowship. They are so connected to each other. Theirs is a love for all time. They are soul mates, and that is how it should be.

Every parent hope that the marriage of their child will last, and we are no exception. When your daughter gets married, you almost hate to let her go. You pray that this man will treat your princess with the love and respect that you know she deserves. Kevin was that knight in shining armor that Corrie was looking for. He may not have had a horse, but he drove cars with plenty of horsepower!! Thankfully for her momma, Kevin was not the show off kind, and he felt no need to race around, he just liked those nice cars…still does, by the way. But more The Petersensimportant than his cars, is his family.

Kevin became a “sold out” family man on February 28, 1996, and he has never gone back. He and Corrie are all about their family. Whatever their boys are doing…is what they want to be doing or watching. Whether it is sports, cooking, fishing, camping, games, or just hanging out…that’s what they do. Theirs has been a wonderful journey, and one they are happy they took together, and I’m so happy that they’re happy, because really that is what it’s all about. Happy 21st Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! You have made our lives rich with your kind ways. Have a lovely day!! We love you!!

Aunt Sandy nowI talked to my Aunt Sandy Pattan yesterday. She wanted me to post that the family picnic was coming up. That is a common event each year, but what surprises me is that so many people do not attend. I know what they are thinking…there’s always time next year, but what if there isn’t. As Aunt Sandy said, we are all getting older…and the older ones are getting fewer and fewer. We have lost so many over the last few years…Aunt Deloris Johnson, Uncle Elmer Johnson, my dad, Al Spencer, Uncle Larry Byer, and Uncle Jack McDaniels…and our cousin, Forrest Beadle, along with various other cousins that passed as babies. For these, there is no more time. We will not see them again in this life. And there is no time table that we are privy to that tells us just how much time we have with each of our other family members.

For me, there is a loneliness that comes with each passing. I always wish that I had more time. I kick myself for thinking that there was always time to go visit them. We are all busy, but on this one day, and the Christmas party day, it is easy to go see several of them at once. When they come together in one group it is a joyous occasion and the stories fly. It really is a blessed time. It’s a time to meet any family members you might not know or at least, not well, because as we grow, it becomes harder to know everyone well.

For Aunt Sandy, the youngest of the nine siblings, the passing of each brother-in-law, feels like it did to lose her own sister and brother, because some of them have been a part of her family since she was a little girl. She told me that they are as much her brothers as her own brothers. Sometimes, you don’t think about that. They have always been there, it seems, and the thought that they might not be someday is a hard thing to think about. The older we get, CCI06282012_00015_editeddthe more that realization comes to us. Regret is a cruel emotion, and one that only you can avoid. Never look back on life thinking I wish…! It is the hardest thing to do. So many moments present themselves each and every day, to do things that we give us peace…or as much peace as is possible after a loved one dies…that we did everything we could to let them know we love them, and that we enjoy being around them. Don’t wait…there isn’t always time…the time is now.

World Trade CenterWhen something earth shattering happens, people tend to talk about that moment a lot. They seem always to remember where they were, and what they were doing. September 11, 2001 found me at home because my girls would be bringing their children over before school. I was getting ready for work, and I would drop the kids off at school before I went to work. My daughters had to be to work an hour earlier than I did. When my daughter, Corrie Petersen came in, she was on the phone with her husband, Kevin and she said, “The World Trade Center is on fire…and so is the Pentagon!” My mind couldn’t comprehend how that could be. I said, “How can that be…they are nowhere near each other?” It was just like finding out that President Kennedy had been shot on the street outside our home, when a friend told us as we went outside to play. These kinds of events and what we were doing when…are almost seared into our brains.

That was the way it was for my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher and her sister, Elsa. Bertha writes that she and Elsa were ironing clothes when the news came over the radio that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. She writes that they were dumb-founded because the ambassador from Japan had just visited FDR…talking peace! It was a moment that should have taught our nation that it is unwise to trust human beings without reservation…but we are FlakDad's military daysslow to learn that, and so things have happened again and again. For people like my great aunts and me, I think it is disheartening that these things happen within our own borders. For Aunt Bertha, it became a time to be chronicled. She believed that it was important for people to be able to read “simple, unvarnished accounts” of how people felt when these earth shattering events took place.

For my dad, World War II became a life changing event. He went from being a 20 year old young man, to a Top Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer in a matter of months. He had never kept big secrets from his family, and didn’t later on either, but during the war his letters had to be guarded. He couldn’t say too much because the security of their squadron and many others depended on absolute secrecy. He also had to be guarded because he didn’t want to worry his mother. He felt such a need to protect her from worry, and she, knowing what war really was all about tried to keep him from knowing that she was indeed worrying. No matter how hard we try not to be, we were affected by the events surrounding our lives, whether they are personal or environmental.

I know that for me, that sense of security that existed pre-September 11th, is missing. I know Bertha Schumacher Hallgrenthat an attack is possible, and that there are within our borders, people who want to destroy this nation. The United States of America is too amazing to think that events like these could take it down, but if freedom and security aren’t protected, they could do just that. When I think of Aunt Bertha and Aunt Elsa hearing about the war on television on December 7, 1941, and how frightening that must have seemed…how anguished they must have felt, I find myself thinking how awful that must have been. I have lived through several wars in my lifetime, but not a world war…although I think it is coming. I wish there could be less earth shattering moments, but I don’t think we have seen the last of them.

Lindsay & ShannonMy niece, Lindsay met her husband, Shannon Moore while he was coaching the Wyoming Calvary Indoor Football team. It’s amazing where that one moment has taken their lives. If she had to pick one thing about Shannon that stole her heart, it would have to be that he has the kindest heart of anyone she has ever met. Lindsay is a loving, kindhearted person too, and I think she just couldn’t imagine settling for a husband who wasn’t like that. I’m sure that is exactly why Shannon stood out to her, like her knight in shining armor or her prince charming. I think they both knew a long time ago that they would be together always. Shannon made her feel special, comfortable, and included in everything he was doing.

Shannon is a sports guy. His favorite sport is football, but he loves all sports. He played football at Black Hills State University during his college days, but he really never got football out of his system. After the Cavs, his coaching career moved him to South Dakota State University. It was difficult for Shannon and Lindsay, but after she graduated from the University of Wyoming, Lindsay did her graduate work and subsequently went to work at South Dakota State University. Almost immediately after their engagement, they were planning their wedding to take place in Florida on Deerfield Beach, when Shannon was offered his current position as Special Teams Coordinator at Florida International University. Shannon was living his dream. His life was getting better by the minute. Shannon loves sports, and he is blessed enough to have that be his life’s work too.

For Lindsay, I think possibly his contagious laugh was one of the things that made him a keeper. She calls his laugh big, loud, and from the heart. He is always saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” That is one of the things my parents used to say. Lindsay says that always makes her smile or giggle…even if she doesn’t want to. When I mentioned that it would be a Shannon & Rorygood way to end an argument, she told me they don’t really argue, but that it could make her feel better after a bad day…and isn’t that what it’s all about.

Shannon loves kids and really enjoys playing with them. He’s a great entertainer for them, which is a big pro as far as Lindsay’s niece, Rory is concerned. She loves her uncles, and getting a new one was just another plus in her book. His playfulness is such a big part of who he is. Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Aunt Mary-Carolyn Ingalls look-alikeEvery time I look at this picture of my great aunt, Mary Estella Pattan DeWitt, I marvel at just how much she looked like Karen Grassle…better known as Carolyn Ingalls of “The Little House On The Prairie” fame. Oh, I know it isn’t exact or anything, but I have to do a double take every time. I don’t recall an awful lot about my Great Aunt Mary, even though she passed away in 1996, giving me plenty of time to know her. And I did know her, but whenever the great aunts were around, so were a lot of other people. Everyone was talking at once, and there weren’t many times where you could just have a quiet conversation with someone, and I can’t guarantee that I would have had the forethought to ask her the right questions then. I was interested in the family history, but not to the degree that I am now.

Nevertheless, I believe that Aunt Mary was always a gentle spirit. Karen GrassleHer soft face and features tell me that she was. I don’t believe that the word kindness was missing from her thoughts either. She just looks to me to be the type of person who loved everyone around her in a very special way, and I think she might have truly been a lot like Carolyn Ingalls was. I don’t recall if I ever ate any of her cooking, but she was pretty famous for it…especially her pies. Her husband, Clinton Paul DeWitt loved her choke cherry pies so much he would even pit the cherries for her so it was easier to get to have the pie. While Aunt Mary didn’t really live during the same timeframe that the Little House series was about, I have a feeling Aunt Mary & Uncle Paulshe very much could have. She was a gentle soul, but she was not a weakling. She was a strong woman, who built her life into what it was. She didn’t just expect that things would be handed to her, while she did nothing. She worked hard on making her house a wonderful and welcoming home to be in.

It’s funny how there can be people in this world who look enough alike to be sisters…even though they are not related and even years apart in age. That is what happened with my Aunt Mary. While there is no relation that I know of, she and Karen Grassle could easily have been sisters, or some other close relationship. Other people may not see the resemblance that I see, so I’ll leave that confirmation up to each of you. As for me, she will always look like Carolyn Ingalls in these pictures.

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