Monthly Archives: February 2015
Nineteen years ago today, I became a grandmother for the first time, when my daughter, Corrie, and her husband, Kevin Petersen gave me my first grandson, Chris Petersen. It was such an exciting time for me. It seemed like I had waited for this day for years. In reality, I was a young grandmother, not yet forty years old. Still, the wait for this little boy, and his cousin, seemed endless. Then suddenly, they were here and my world seemed so complete…until the rest of the grandbabies arrived anyway.
It seems impossible that so many years have passed so quickly and we are looking at a nineteen year old young man today. Chris is attending college in Sheridan, Wyoming studying the Culinary Arts, and plans to own his own restaurant someday. He is an excellent chef, who is the latest in a long line of chefs in his family. It is becoming quite a tradition, and one that Chris is proud to carry on into the next generation. College life takes Chris away from us for most of the school year, but thankfully he is still in Wyoming, and can come home on nice weekends. That doesn’t really make the rest of the time any easier on us, his family. We miss him very much. I am just thankful that his birthday fell on the weekend this year so he could come home to celebrate it on his day.
This birthday is even a little more special for Chris, since it was just two weeks ago that he had a car accident that could have been bad, but ended up good, in that all is well, and Chris is ok. We are beyond thankful that God’s angels had been given charge over Chris to keep him safe. While he was achy and bothered by recurring thoughts of the accident, he has no other ill side effects. The car was totaled, but it will be replaced. That is nothing really when compared to the life of my grandson. We will not dwell of the could have beens, because we know the reality of what was and is. Chris is still with us, and all is well. We rejoice in that fact. We praise God for His protection, and thank God for his life.
Chris is a young man with a healthy mix of responsibility and a fun sense of humor. He is a joy to be around. His kindness runs deep, as do his feelings. He is sensitive to the feelings of others, almost to a fault, but that is a trait that blesses us deeply. He will continue to grow into a great man, who will live up to his full potential. His love of the Lord has increased exponentially this past year as he has stepped into the position of Spiritual Head of his own life. He takes that responsibility very seriously, making sure that his spirit is fed and continuously growing. I am so very proud of the young man he has become. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!
As my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg has grown older, Alzheimer’s Disease has caused her to slip back in time in many ways. Her memories are of things in the distant past, while current events often elude her now. She doesn’t remember the passing of loved ones, and talks of them often, asking us when they will be back. That was hard at first, but we have learned to go along and tell her they are at Walmart or something, because it serves no purpose to tell her they have passed away. That satisfies her until the next time she asks. Nevertheless, our answers to her will always be the same, because for her not so much has changed.
My mother-in-law doesn’t have as many ways to communicate these days. Conversations often come down to simple answers to the questions we ask her. Nevertheless, parts of the funnier side of my mother-in-law have stayed with her. She really never liked having her picture taken, although she didn’t mind it as much as her dad always had. These days though, every time we ask her to smile for the picture, she scrunches up her face. That is also the way she tells people she likes them. The nurses and aids at the nursing home all know that if they get that look, they are one of her favorites. The funniest thing about that is that in looking at some of her baby pictures, I came across a picture of her making a very similar face to that scrunched up smile. So maybe that wasn’t such a new look after all.
She also has a way of playing games with her doctor too…and she has for years. Her doctor, Dr Schoeber has been taking care of her for a very long time. She always loved to tease him some, and since that is a memory that started prior to Alzheimer’s, Disease, it has stayed with her. Every time Dr Schoeber tells her to stick out her tongue and say “Aw”, she sticks it out as if she were mad at him. That always makes him smile, along with telling him that she is doing well, because if she ever did that the right way the first time, he would have to wonder if she was sick.
As she has regressed into her past, my mother-in-law has gone from being a bit more on the serious side, to being very funny. She is a delight to the staff and other visitors at the nursing home, and to her family members. You never know what she might say or do. Her newfound humor is such an awesome thing. And, the funniest thing is that she doesn’t really know that what she said is very funny. But, when she tells the staff that she cooked the dinner, that she went to Walmart and bought all the food, or that they need to shut the blinds because someone might see in and shoot them, they simply can’t help but smile…or even laugh. Then they go on about their day feeling just a little bit brighter, because that is what happens when she says something so off the wall. Today is my mother-in-law’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Mom!! We love you!!
You never know what kind of an impact you really have on those around you until you leave this world. It is then that all those whose lives you touched step up and show what you meant to them. Oh they show it in many ways while you are here too, but the people who love you seldom know about all the others whose lives you touched, until you are gone. It is strange to think that you can go all of your life and not know just how many lives your parents impacted, until they are gone. Since my mother’s passing, the outpouring of condolences, food, flowers, Facebook messages, and love from so many sources, has been overwhelming. So many people whose lives crossed paths with hers, and they came away thinking just how sweet she was. She had so many friends that we didn’t even realize were her friends. I always thought of my mom as a bit of a homebody, but she was quietly building her legacy…a legacy of love.
We have been so surprised by the people who have told us how she impacted their lives. Mom was an idealist. She held herself to high moral and social standards, and encouraged others to do the same. We have heard from people who were saved much heartache because of her words of wisdom, and her guidance when they were heading the wrong direction. Her sweet, smiling ways endeared her to so many people from so many different walks of life. Her faith and joy caused her to find great favor with the members of our church. Her neighborliness through the years made endeared her to the whole neighborhood. And of course, there was the love she had for her family and extended family. So many lives, affected in so many ways over the years…all by my mom. She was quietly building a legacy of love, when we weren’t looking.
We have been so amazed by the outpouring of love we have received since Mom’s passing. The stories of how she affected each one, and how their lives were blessed because they knew her, have blessed us so much. It is amazing just how much love multiplies. Mom’s legacy of love has grown and become such a beautiful thing. Over the years, her little idiosyncrasies that might have even been a source of embarrassment for us growing up, I can see now, as just a show of love and kindness that was unique to Mom. It makes me so very proud of her, and it makes me hope that someday, I will leave a legacy of love that is remotely like hers. I know that it would be impossible to ever come close to matching hers, but if I could be half the woman my mother was, I will consider myself very blessed indeed.
It was really hard for Mom, as a widow to stay in this place after the love of her life, my dad had moved to Heaven. Her heart was divided between her children and grandchildren, and her desire to go home. She spoke to us about it. It was a conversation similar to the thoughts the Apostle Paul laid out in Philippians 1:23-25, when he said, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” This was exactly how Mom felt…a desire to go home and be with God and our dad, and yet she felt the need to step up into the position of spiritual head of our family. Mom spoke of the need to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour often. She wanted to make sure we were all ready to go to Heaven.
Nevertheless, the desire to stay and lead the family in the ways they should go is not an easy one when your heart is in Heaven. Mom and Dad rarely spent time apart in their latter years. I think that while it was needful for Dad, and later, Mom to work outside the home, those were the hardest years for them, because really, all they wanted was to be together. Not many couples can easily spend that much time together, but they could have spent their whole married life working and playing together, and the only thing that would have made that idea even better would have been if their children and grandchildren could have been right there with them too. That was just how much their love and their family meant to them.
While Mom’s desire to stay and be a leader and comfort to her children and grandchildren was a strong one, seven years can take it’s toll on a person who is waiting to go and join their other half in Heaven. Mom was simply not complete anymore. When the marriage vows declare that the two are become one, something changes. Each person in the marriage contract is now actually one half of the whole person. I don’t know how God does that, but He does, and Mom’s other half was in Heaven and she missed him very much. My sisters and I have been looking through pictures for Mom’s slide show, and it has been very hard to find really good ones, because we noticed something in those pictures that somehow we had missed when we looked at her. The sparkle in her eyes was gone. When did that happen? Why hadn’t we noticed it? Maybe because we were too busy dealing with our own grief over the loss of our dad.
This all seems so sad, and it is, but it is also a happy time. Our parents are together again. It is such a happy time for them. There is a party going on in Heaven, and they are singing happy songs. While our hearts are breaking, they will mend. It is only because we will miss her so much…we miss them so much. And yet, we could not be happier for them, because as it was in the beginning of their marriage, they have moved to their new home, and they are now awaiting the arrival of their children and their grandchildren. They are together again…praising the Lord…just as we all will be one day. We love you both Mom and Dad. We will step up now, and become the spiritual heads of our families…leading them in the way they should go. We will see you both when we can all be together again. We love you.
For years now, part of our Mother’s Day gift to Mom was to clean up her yard, make necessary repairs, and plant flowers in anticipation of the coming Spring. Mom had decided that she really had everything she needed, and so asked that this be our gift to her, because these were things that she could no longer do. Mom and Dad had always loved their flower gardens, planning them out every year. They always had a beautiful yard, but with Dad in Heaven and Mom’s knees the way they were, she just couldn’t give them the care they needed anymore. And yet, her yard was very important to her, because it had been important to them. We were carrying on the tradition she and Dad had started, and she wanted to be out there with us, supervising and wishing she could get down there with us, because unlike me, she loved digging in the dirt to plant the flowers that would grace her yard. It is not my thing exactly, because while I love flowers, I don’t like digging in the dirt to plant them. Nevertheless, I understand why this was what she wanted, and that makes it important to me too.
Spring will come this year, as it always does, but my mom will miss spring and Mother’s Day this year. Her house will be my sister, Cheryl’s house now. It is my hope that the tradition of planting the flower garden in the planter that Dad prepared will continue in some way. I don’t know if it will be the sisters or Cheryl’s children, but I hope we at least plant the front gardens for Mom, Dad, and Cheryl, because like it or not, Spring will come this year, as it always does, the sun will shine and the flowers will bloom, and while Mom will spend this one with Dad in Heaven, enjoying God’s amazing gardens, she would not want their gardens to miss out on God’s glorious Spring gardening season.
It is so odd to think about taking the reigns on things like this, but as my cousin Elmer Johnson said, “Just remember they taught and trained us for this day, now it’s time for you guys to take your place at the head of the table.” They did train us well. They taught us things like never go to bed angry, keep on the sunny side, and that family is so very important. They taught us to help each other and stick together, no matter what the situations of life might bring. They taught us that love never fails. No matter what people do or say to you, react to it in love, because you don’t know what they have been going through. You might be the only bright spot in their day, but only if you walk in love. Yes, when I think about all of the life lessons they taught us, I can see that they did train us very well, and while we will never get over their home going, because we miss them so very much, we will get on with life, because that is what they would want for us. We will take our place at the head of the table. We will carry on with traditions designed to keep the family close. We will honor their wishes, hopes, and dreams for us, by always sticking together, and always putting God first in our lives. Spring will come, and with it, the flowers, the sunshine, and reasons to smile again.
From the moment he first met her, my dad always called my mom, Doll. It was a term of endearment reserved for Dad alone to use. To us, of course, she was mom, or mommy when we were little, but to everyone who really knew her, she was the keeper of the sunshine. Mom was a person who was always happy. Even when times were tough, she managed to lift our spirits by always telling us to, “keep on the sunny side” whenever we left her house. It was the way we went to school, and later to work. Those were the words we heard after we had lunch or dinner at her house. She wanted our world to always have a bit of sunshine in it…even on a cloudy day.
Mom was a dedicated servant of God…spreading His word to all who would listen…and some who didn’t want to. She wanted everyone, but especially those she loved, her parents, siblings, husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as all her extended family to be in Heaven when they left this world. She loved the Lord so much and looked forward to the day when she would be able to look upon His face, and thank Him for saving her. She loved going to church and singing praises to God, and hearing His word. She bought many teaching tapes and books, because she wanted to know all she could about this wonderful Saviour who loved her…no matter what!!
Mom loved a celebration. Being born on New Year’s Day, her birthday was always a celebration…Dad always made certain of that. He love a celebration too. Mom loved the Fourth of July fireworks, and the parade. Anyone who knows her…or ever sat next to her…will remember her whooping when a float or one of the fireworks particularly pleased her…and many of them did…many of them!! Looking back now on her whooping, it somehow doesn’t seem so embarrassing as it did in my younger days. I suppose all kids think the things their parents do are embarrassing sometimes. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Mom. She was filled with joy, and sometimes…no, most of the time…it just bubbled out. She couldn’t have stopped it even if she had wanted to. And that’s ok, because even if you were embarrassed about it, it always made you smile in spite of your dignified self.
Late Sunday night, February 22, 2015, my dear mother left this world to go and meet the Saviour she had so long dreamed of meeting. I know He greeted her with the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”, because she was definitely that. I also know that she was met with some other cherished words. I expect, like my niece Jenny said, that my dad was standing there at the gates, and he immediately said, “Hello Doll.” It has been just over seven long years since he left us, and Mom has missed him so much. The next sweet words she likely heard were, “Hi Grandma!!” spoken by her two little great granddaughters, Alyssa and Laila, “We’ve been waiting to get to know you!!” And of course, there were greeting from her parents, in-laws, siblings, and other family members who have gone ahead of her. Yes, Heaven gained a new little bit of sunshine last Sunday evening, and the Earth just doesn’t seem quite as bright as it was before, because our Keeper of the Sunshine has gone to her Heavenly home.
Mom went home on her terms. She went healthy. She had a great week, having lunch with her kids, and going to dinner on Thursday night with my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me, at her favorite place…Red Lobster. She went to church on Sunday morning and very much enjoyed being surrounded by her beloved family and church family, all of whom she considered to be a great blessing. She set up a visit with her sisters, brother, and other family members to go spend the afternoon with her sister, Evelyn, who was in the hospital. She and Cheryl had a nice quiet evening, and then Mom was going to bed, but she decided to go to Heaven instead. Mom, we miss you so much already. Our lives will never be the same again…until we are together forever in Heaven. We love you so very much. We will see you again very soon.
My niece, Christina Masterson recently moved to Germany to live with her mother for a while. It is a wonderful opportunity for her to see the world, and still spend time with family. During the time she has been living in Germany, her family has traveled to France, as well as visiting many of the castles in Germany. I would love to have the opportunity to visit some of the places she is visiting, so I hope she knows what a blessing this is for her.
Christina is just four days older than my grandson, Christopher Petersen, and five days older than my granddaughter, Shai Royce. The three mothers shared their entire pregnancies…first for all three. It was a wild time. In fact, Christina’s mom, Angie almost had to leave her baby shower early to go have a baby. The funny thing was that the baby who was born last, my granddaughter, Shai was due first, and the baby that was born first, Christina was due last. Nevertheless, babies have their own timetables, and they are born when their time is right.
The three kids shared so much, but it was Christina and Shai who would become close friends. I’m sure it was because they were both girls and so they shared similar interests. For years, they were inseparable. I suppose that is what makes Christina’s move to Germany seem so strange. It’s not strange in that Christina moved, but rather that the girls wouldn’t be together anywhere near as much. That is odd, but you just don’t know what turns life will take you on. Not everyone knows what their life’s work will be, and so trying out new things is important. I’m think that time will return Christina to the United States to stay, but you simply never know.
It is so hard for me to believe that Christina is nineteen years old today. I remember so vividly the days that her mom was pregnant with her, and her arrival. I remember so well her childhood, and all the time she and my granddaughter, Shai spent together, being crazy kids, and sometimes even driving all of us crazy with their antics. Now…suddenly, those days are over and before us stands a beautiful young lady. She is making new friends, and she has become a world traveler. I can’t believe how much has changed. She has so much potential and so much life ahead of her, and it will be exciting to see what her future brings. I know that is will be wonderful in every way. Today is Christina’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! We miss you, because you are so far away. Have a great day!! We love you!!
I never had a little brother…or any brother for that matter, until I married Bob. I had a brother-in-law then, but no brothers. If I could have picked a little brother, I think he would have been just like Bob’s brother, Ron Schulenberg, so I guess it’s perfect that he was the one I got. Yes, he was my brother-in-law too, but he was so young when I married Bob, just six years old, so he just didn’t seem like a brother-in-law to me. I remember taking him with us on dates sometimes. He got to go to Dairy Queen more than any six year old there ever was, I’m sure, because how many little kids got to go on dates with their older brother. Most older brothers didn’t want their kid brother hanging around them at all, much less on dates, but Bob and Ron always got along well. They still do to this day too. Whenever one of them has a project going, and they need help, they know that they only have to call, and the other one will be there to assist. It is a blessed kind of relationship that the two of them have always had. Oh there were the ups and downs too, I’m sure, but the bad times never lasted very long.
Ron was an uncle pretty early on too, since my daughter, Corrie Petersen was born when he was just seven years old. Growing up, my girls must have almost felt like he was their older brother too, because they saw a lot of him. I don’t recall them ever fighting too much like siblings do, so I guess he took his uncle duties very seriously, and acted very mature. Of course, by the time my girls were old enough to fight with him, he was closer to being a teenager, so maybe he didn’t feel the need to fight with them. I remember one time when we were out cutting down trees for firewood, Ron found a deformed tree, and since the girls had come along that time, he took them out to that tree, and set them up in it. It looked like a chair. They thought it was the coolest thing, so we got a picture of them in that tree, and their Uncle Ron standing proudly beside them.
Ron is grown and married now. His wife, Rachel had a daughter, Cassie, who is married, and two little boys, Riley and Tucker, so he gets to spend lots of time with little kids again. I think he is so good with little kids, because he has had so much practice…practically all his life. He went from being a good uncle to being a good dad. Nevertheless, while he is over six feet tall now, he will always be my little brother, so he might as well get used to that. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Over the years, my sister-in-law, Debbie Cook has tried her hand at a variety of different crafts. Debbie had always done a lot of sewing, and had made her daughters clothing. Sewing was never really my thing, although I could sew if I wanted to. I just never really wanted to. Debbie enjoyed it though, and the clothes she made were very nice. It was something she shared with her mother…that ability to sew and to enjoy doing it.
Debbie also took up cross stitch and for years made pictures that she sold at the many craft fairs that she and several other family members had booths at over the years. For the most part, the cross stitch projects were done by Debbie and Brenda, but there were a few others in the family, myself included. Nevertheless, Debbie made a number of sweet pictures to give as gifts to many people in the family, and we who have received them, have cherished them ever since we got them.
More recently, Debbie got into quilting, and like most people who find that they like quilting, she found that it was maybe her calling. I’m not sure when she got started exactly, but I remember that while her dad, Walter Schulenberg was alive, she made a quilt for him. I don’t recall exactly if she made the original one for him, but I think she did, and then, because of how cold he always got, she actually took it apart and turned it into two lap quilts. Now that ability really impressed me. It is one thing to make a quilt, but then to alter the quilt in such a way…well, that takes a degree of talent, especially when the quilt had the frayed edges that are so popular these days.
After Dad’s passing, we, the kids and children-in-law, decided that since Mom was in a nursing home now, we wanted to turn their old clothes into quilts to be cherished memories for all of us. We weren’t sure how big they would be able to be, and we had asked a family friend, Linda Hall to make the ones for the five living children. Then Debbie approached me and said that she had really wanted to help with those, so it was decided that she would use part of the material to make memory quilts for the grandchildren. Those were exciting days of anticipation for the children and the grandchildren. It was such a great idea that my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg had come up with.
All of the quilts were finished between Thanksgiving and mid-January. They were such a blessing to receive. Both of the girls did a wonderful job on them. Debbie has now decided that she wants to make a set for the great grandchildren, and we are all looking forward to seeing those too. What a blessing that will be for the great grandchildren, some of whom have never even met their great grandfather, or their great great grandparents, whose clothes will also be used in these, but will now have a memory of them anyway. We can’t wait. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The other day, I decided to make a crock pot of homemade Chicken Noodle soup. It had been years since I had made it, because life had become so busy and I just didn’t seem to have time…especially when I could easily open a can of soup and it was ready in five minutes. No, it didn’t taste as good as homemade Chicken Noodle soup…not by a long shot, but it sufficed on a cold Monday night when we had to get to the bowling alley for our weekly bowling league.
Nevertheless, it sounded so good that I decided to go for it. When I came home at lunchtime, prepared to add the noodles to the soup, the delicious smell of the chicken and broth hit me as I opened the door. It wasn’t just the smell of the soup that hit me though, but the memories of so many other times I had come home at lunch as a little girl. Mom was always there when we got home from school, back in the days when kids went home for lunch. The smell of soup, always filled the air, and my favorite was Chicken Noodle, so those days were especially great for me.
I know a lot of people have a certain memory when they think of home, and this is mine. Of course, many people live far away from their parents’ home, and maybe that makes memories sweeter, but I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter how close or how far you live from your childhood home, or even if your parents still live there, home is where your heart is.
I added the noodles to my soup, and spent the rest of my lunch hour smelling that savory goodness. When I came home that evening, the delicious soup awaited me and soon we were off to the bowling alley. There would be frozen leftovers for the next week, and while I would not be treated to that amazing smell when I came home for lunch the next week, I would be treated to the soup for supper, and that brought the memories back just the same as it would if it was cooking in the crock pot, because there is nothing like a bowl of soup to give you that warm, cozy, down home feeling at any age…even if it is now in your own home.