My husband, Bob’s Aunt Esther is the half sister of his dad, Walt Schulenberg. Times were different when Esther was a little girl, and children who lived in the country in northern states often stayed with families that lived in town during the winter because getting to school from the farm wasn’t always easy. Such was the case with Esther, and the family she stayed with was her older brother’s family, my future in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg. Walt and Joann hadn’t been married very long, but they took on the challenge of a school aged child to help out the family.
I’m sure that as with any child, my mother-in-law found the challenge of a school aged sister-in-law a little problematic at times. She once said to me, “Don’t Esther!!”, when she was frustrated that I was making her go to bed, after Alzheimer’s Disease had made it necessary to help her with these daily tasks. She doesn’t very often mistake me for someone else, but I must say that on that occasion, it was pretty funny to be mistaken for Esther, and from way back when she was getting in trouble for horsing around or some other such mischief. I told Esther, that it was nice to have someone else get the blame for once.
Esther told me once that she had always considered my father-in-law, Walt to be a second dad to her. I suppose that would be true considering that she lived with them. Esther looked up to both her brother and her sister-in-law, and often called them to visit or ask for advise. It was quite hard on her when my father-in-law was very ill, and my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m sure it felt like she was losing her parents all over again. I can relate to that, since they have been my second parents for the past 39 years. You grow close, and you don’t think that you will ever lose them…until you do. With her older brother gone now, Esther has felt a loneliness that probably will never go away…and I hate that, because she always had such a sweet smile and delightful laugh, and it hurts to know that she is sad.
My first encounter with Esther was shortly after Bob and I were married. Bob had asked me to cut his hair, and I had never cut a man’s hair before. Needless to say, it was horrible, and our wedding was just a couple of days away. When I met Esther, the haircut was still fresh on our minds, and after telling the story, she laughed about the whole thing and offered to teach me how to cut it correctly. What a lifesaver that was. I have been cutting Bob’s hair ever since, and every time I do, I think of Esther, and how she taught me to cut it. I think I do a pretty good job these days, and Bob must too, because he continues to let me get near him with the hair trimming scissors. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!