My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was such a sweet man. The first time I met him, I immediately felt comfortable…even with his good natured teasing. Over the years of my marriage to Bob, my father-in-law was a second dad to me. Not everyone can say that they truly love their in-laws, but I was just that blessed. It was never a relationship of tolerance, but rather always a relationship of love and a deep sense of family. My father-in-law always had that deep sense of family, and it was something he passed down to his children. As far as he was concerned, family came first…no ifs, and, or buts. When family needed help with something, he was there to help. And every one of his children are the same way. It is a great heritage to pass on to your kids.
Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play with him. He loved to go visit his mother and step-father, Vina and Walt Hein, half brother, Butch Hein and family, and half brother Eddie Hein, his wife Pearl and family, sister, Marion Kanta, husband John and family, and half sister Esther Hein and her family, and sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Linda and Bobby Cole. Family was important, and that meant that you went to see them from time to time, because staying close was always my father-in-law’s top priority. I think it was this deep sense of family that made him so special to his entire family.
In his later years, he and my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg traveled south to Yuma, Arizona for the winter. We missed them a lot during those years. After a few years of that, their health didn’t allow them to take those winter trips anymore, and Dad settled in to take care of Mom, who by this time had developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Their lives would never be the same after that. Their health deteriorated, until that sad, sad day, May 5, 2013, when Dad left us to go home to Heaven. He had lived an amazing life, traveled, raised six children, made countless friends, and worked at many different occupations and hobbies. He had lived a full life, and he was tired. I will never forget the night before he passed. I was visiting him with my grandson, Caalab Royce at the nursing home, where he had decided to go, so he could share a room with Mom again, because she needed a level of care that we could no longer provide at home. He looked so tired and weak that night, that I really didn’t want to leave him. He had always been such a fighter, and now it seemed that the fight was gone. I asked him if he was quitting on me, because it was the first time in the years I had been his caregiver that it seemed that his journey was coming to a close. He told me, “I don’t know.” But, I knew. He was quitting me.
The next morning I received the call, that he had passed away…exactly as he had always said he wanted to go…in his sleep. It was a call, I dreaded, but it was not unexpected. My sweet father-in-law was gone, and the family would never be the same again. Two years and three months have flown by since that day, but I can still hear him. He loved nicknames for the kids, like Sport for my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, Old Timer for my nephew Barry Schulenberg, or for my girls, Corrie Lou and Amy Lou…which he made seem like a song of sorts. Today would have been Dad’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much.