Caryn

When I was a little girl, we had the most amazing German Shepherd dog ever. His name was King…for short. My parents actually named him LarKing Raesuekayal Vonlished. I can’t say for sure that I spelled that correctly, but if you sound it out, you will come pretty close to the correct pronunciation of his name. King was named after all for my sisters and me. Middle names were used for the three older girls, and the first part of the first name on my younger two sisters. Mom and Dad wanted his name to have special meaning. And it always has.

King was just about the greatest dog ever. When we were little he gave us girls “horsey” rides, and seemed to love doing it. He was very loving. King loved having the neighborhood kids come in to play, but we did have to tell them not to climb the fence without one of us girls there. Dad trained him not to bite obviously, but even more, you could put your arm in his mouth, and he would never even let his teeth touch your arm. But when it came to protecting his family, watch out. He wouldn’t have to bite…his bark was usually enough. He did bite one time, when a neighborhood boy was throwing rocks at him…boy was he in trouble with his mom when she found out. She wouldn’t even let the police issue any kind of ticket or warning, of course there was the required quarantine, but that was all.

The funniest thing King ever did though, was one time when my mom’s dad came over for a visit. Mom was on the phone when Grandpa knocked on the door. She motioned him to come in, and went on with her conversation. A few minutes later, she realized that he hadn’t come in. Thinking that he hadn’t heard, she motioned again. Then, she realized what the problem was. King was “guarding” the door. She said, “King, you let him in!!” She said it was the only time she had seen a dog smile. King sheepishly looked away, with a grin on his face, and my grandfather was able to come inside. I really miss that dog!!

The Love Of My LifeI met Bob when I was still in high school, though not in the way you might expect. We didn’t meet in school or at a game. We met at Kmart. We didn’t just casually meet there, I was working there, as was his sister, Debbie. I worked in the Millenary department…handbags, belts, sunglasses, accessories, and wigs, and I had a display near the delicatessen where Debbie worked. In fact, my display of winter gloves and hats was how I met my future sister-in-law. Every evening when I worked, I had to go over an straighten that display, and believe me it needed it after a day or even an hour of people going through it. When people would look for glove and hats, they would dig clear to the bottom to see if there was a set they liked more, nearer to the bottom. The display usually needed to be straightened twice in a shift. When I went to straighten the display, my future sister-in-law, Debbie and I would talk if it wasn’t too busy.

One day, Bob came in to take his sister on her break, and I happened to be there straightening the display at the time. She introduced us, and then they went to take her break. Bob took to coming by for Debbie’s breaks more often after that, but I didn’t know that it was because he wanted to get to know me…not right away anyway. Bob was a little bit shy, and didn’t know exactly how to approach me, so he and his friend, Paul would come in, dig to the bottom of my glove display and flip the whole stack of gloves upward, messing them up. I, of course, had just straightened them, not two seconds earlier. They would only do that if I was there straightening them. It was his way of being playful…and it was cute, after all.

Finally, he got up the nerve to ask me out…and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t that night. Being shy, as I said, Bob thought that was my polite way of saying I didn’t want to go out with him. That, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nevertheless, the guys decided to see if I would go out with Paul. When Paul asked, I did turn him down, because I wanted to go out with Bob. They thought that I didn’t like either of them, and pretty much dropped the subject…but, not coming up to mess up my display. I couldn’t believe that Bob and Caryn - the early yearsBob didn’t ask me again. Debbie and I talked about it, and she told me that he was shy. It was a big dilemma.

Finally, I had to solicit Debbie’s help. She kept talking to Bob to tell him that I did like him and I wanted to go out with him. It was no easy task. Bob had convinced himself that I didn’t. Eventually though, Debbie talked him into asking me out one more time. Of course, I said yes, and the rest is history…with a little bit of a twist. While I’m sure a lot of people have met their spouses at work, I still think ours is a unique situation. When people ask me how I met my husband, I still say that I met him at Kmart, but I playfully add that he was my Blue Light Special. I don’t think I could have found a better deal anywhere.

When I was a very little girl, my parents bought my sister and me a rocking pony. It wasn’t on rockers though, it was mounted on a frame with springs. You could rock it…if you were of a mind to, but I always felt it was destined to gallop. Most of this story is what I’ve been told, because I was too little to remember, but I have also seen a few movies of me on that horse.

As a little girl, I had a head full of blonde curls, and from what I saw, I really kept them bouncing when I rode my horse. Our house had a wooden floor, and my mom told me that after the damage suffered at the hands of a little girl and her horse, there were ruts on the floor. Since I have seen myself in action in those movies, I can totally understand why that floor had ruts. As I would gallop, the horse would come off of the ground, come back down, and slide back to the starting position, where it would once again come off the floor.

Yes, that horse was for my sister and me, but it was my horse. I totally loved it. After I grew up, that horse was transportation to many other kids, but none of them ever rode it as long and hard as I did. We had many an adventure together, and I will always love that horse. It was so much mine, in fact, that when my mom decided that it was time to thin out the toys, since the grandchildren were growing up, that horse came to live at my house. It is a little worse for wear, but it had a good life. Now it is out to pasture, where maybe it will get a fresh coat of paint, a new saddle…or maybe not. The way it is shows that it was very loved. No, I don’t ride it, but a girl can still have her dreams…right.

It was 36 years ago today, that I said “I do” to my friend and soul mate. It seem like it was only yesterday. Many people, friends and family alike, never expected our marriage to last, but we beat the odds. Oh we had our fights, like every marriage, but they just didn’t mean anything. Bob is the love of my life. I can’t imagine ever being with anyone else.

Bob and I love to spend time together doing our favorite thing, hiking. It is so nice to be able to just get away from everything and be in nature, enjoying the quiet sounds of nature, away from all the traffic and city noises. We don’t even have to talk, because we can commune with each other without words. It seems like it was that way from the very start with us. So connected that we didn’t have to talk to know what the other was thinking.

As the years have gone by, our lives have been so richly blessed. Our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren have filled our lives with joy and happiness, and lots of activity. We are so blessed that they have chosen to stay right here and raise their families near us. There is just something about being able to see your kids and grand kids often that makes your life richer.

Bob has been the best thing to happen in my life. I wouldn’t trade one minute of our life for anything. These 36 years have flown by, and I know the rest of our lives will do the same, sadly, because when you love someone, you want the time to slow down so you can enjoy it more. Happy Anniversary Honey!! I will always love you!!

One day after the birth of my first grandchild, my life was again blessed with my second, a little girl named Shai. She was born on Leap Day, so she really doesn’t have a birthday this year…exactly. I tell her that in the nano-second between 11:59pm and 12:00am, between February 28th and March 1st, her birthday happens. My boss and hers, Jim, says she will need to “party fast” so she doesn’t miss it. Yes, Shai is a Leap Day baby. She gets a birthday only once every four years. Her brother and cousins used to tease her that they were already older than she was. And she hated that until I told her that it was true that they are “older” than she is, but she will get to drive when she is 4 and they will have to wait until they are 16. Another really cool fact concerning being a Leap Day baby that I’m sure she hasn’t considered yet, but every woman who thinks about it will appreciate…she won’t really be 15 until she is 60, and seriously…what 60 year old woman wouldn’t want to be 15.

When Amy told me that she was going to name her daughter Shai after a little girl she to take care of at the day care she was working at, I was…well less than excited about it. I worried that the name Shai, pronounced shy, would get her teased. So I suggested some “variations” on the name. They were quickly rejected, and Shai it would be. Now that I know her, the name just fits her so very well, even though she isn’t one bit shy, and when you add the fact that the name Shai means “gift” in Hebrew, well I’m sold, because that is what she has been. Being the only granddaughter we have, she most certainly is a gift to us.

Shai is very much the grown up young lady and a girly girl. She loves to shop, get manicures/pedicures, and she is a boy magnet. Her love of shopping came early, when at around the age of 4, she wanted to go to Target. When her mom said that she didn’t have enough money to go shopping that day, Shai simply said, “Well, charge it!!!” All kidding aside, I feel very blessed that she is also a very responsible girl and does an awesome job at work.

Her responsible ways came very early on, when at the age of 10, when my parents were both quite ill, and unable to care for themselves, she stepped up. Thankfully it was during the summer, because, my sister suggested that Shai come during the day and be with them. Like a little trooper, she stepped up and cared for them for more than a month, giving them their meds, getting them food and drinks, and every other job a nurse would do. We were very proud, and most grateful to her, and always will be. Happy Birthday Shai!! We love you very much!!

My mother-in-law shares her birthday with my grandson, Christopher. He is her first great grandchild, so that makes it even more special. This is an honor her mother also got to share with Christopher’s mother, my daughter Corrie. It is an unusual statistic indeed. My mother-in-law turned 80 years old today, but if you ask her, she is 65. You see, my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and she often lives in her own little world.

On any given day, if you ask her what she did that day, you will get a variety of answers, from doing laundry or other household chores to going to work. This is the really odd one, because she never held a job outside the home. Still, she thinks she worked in an insurance agency. Probably because I am an insurance agent. She thinks she works at a school, but I’m not sure where that one came from since we have no teachers in the family. She has also told us that she babysits on occasion, and we are pretty sure she thinks she is watching her granddaughters, as it has been girls and the only girls of that age don’t live here. I have found that the best thing to do is go along with the stories she comes up with, but some of them really take me by surprise, making it difficult to come up with a good answer in the conversation.

Sometimes she gets a little frustrated when we tell her it is time for bed. She always thinks it is too early. By the time we finally get her up, she is mad at everyone for “being so ornery” to her. That is the bad part. The good part is that by the time she is in bed, she is back to her sweet self and thanking you for getting her to bed, because she doesn’t remember that she was mad at you, not 10 minutes ago. I have been told that many Alzheimer’s patients are aggressive, and I am thankful that, at least up to this point, she is not one of them. Very little bothers her, and in reality the only things are exercise and bedtime. Oh, to have that be my biggest problem.

A sad side to Alzheimer’s Disease is that every once in a while, she gets an inkling of the fact that she should be able to remember some things, and when she can’t, she asks, “What is wrong with me?” That is so hard to take. It makes me want to cry for her, and her situation of moments lost. She still has many of her memories of the distant past, but she doesn’t always have her present life. From one moment to the next, something happens, and then for her it is gone. She doesn’t know that her younger son got married in June. She doesn’t realize that her grandchildren are grown adults…moments lost.

Christopher, my first grandchild, turns 15 today. He was born on his great grandmother’s birthday, Bob’s mother. That is unusual in itself, but when you add the fact that Christopher’s mom was born on her great grandmother’s birthday, and that grandmother was the mother of Christopher’s great grandmother, you have an unusual occurrence indeed. And, when you add to that the fact that he was the first great grandchild, and his mom was the same, it gets to be even more rare. This has been a fun fact in the family for years.

Christopher was the first in a series of grandbabies that I couldn’t wait to get. Moments after his birth, my daughter Corrie said, “We made it mom!!” I said, “Made what?” She said, “You are a grandmother before you are 40.” I had always told the girls that I wanted to be a grandma before I turned 40, because I was so ready for that next step in life. And, yes indeed, we made it…twice. I was 39 when Christopher was born, and didn’t turn 40 until that April.

Christopher was, nevertheless, a bit of a “culture shock” for me, in that I had been raised with 4 sisters (no brothers) and then I had 2 daughters (no sons) and suddenly there was this very different kind of child in my life. Christopher is all boy. He is into sports, cars, and of course, girls! As a boy he was rough and tumble, and filled with
energy. I wasn’t used to that type of personality…but he changed all that. His favorite sport is football. He loves to take out the quarterback…and it doesn’t make any difference to him how big the guards might be. He simply has no fear!! Girls are so different that that, so I was quickly initiated into a new world. Soon, I was very used to the antics of boys, who I have learned are very different from girls, indeed.

Now, my first little grandbaby is turning 15 years old. He is tall and strong, with a deep voice like his dad’s…just one more thig that I have to get used to. That little boy voice is gone forever, as is the little boy, but he has turned into a wonderful young man, who makes his grandma and grandpa very proud!! Happy Birthday Chris!! We love you very much!!

Grandma's gardenDuring the years of the Great Depression, people had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet. The backyard garden became a necessity, not a hobby. Hunting and fishing really became a vital part of life, not just a pastime. People had to make their own repairs around the house, rather than hiring it done. People put blankets up for curtains, and made their own clothes. I suppose it was like a move back in time…to the time when their ancestors didn’t have a store to go to, or a repairman to call, so they did what they had to do, on their own. I would imagine that there were a lot of repairs that the repairman would have scratched his head at…just trying to figure out how it ran at all.

While the things the people of the Great Depression era did were a bit unusual, and were an essential part of making ends meet, they were also a part of their independence. They didn’t want a government handout…even when they had to take it, they didn’t want it. They were used to taking care of themselves. Nevertheless, jobs were scarce, and often required the men to travel for work, leaving their wives and young children to run the farm. School became a luxury, because the kids were needed at home to plow, weed, and harvest the crops to put food on the table. Nothing was wasted either. They cooked the feet, tongue, and even brains of an animal for food. They didn’t necessarily kill an animal, if all they needed was the feathers for a mattress. Can you Grandpa by the Gardenimagine plucking the feathers from a goose while it is alive?? I would be afraid it would come after me, but it was well known then, that the feathers would grow back, just like our hair, of course, cutting our hair doesn’t hurt.

Tough times can make or break a nation and it’s people I guess, but if we are a people, determined to make it on our own, and help this nation be great at the same time, then we can be a nation who can handle difficult times with grace and dignity. If we become a nation of people who are willing to sit back and let the government take care of us, then we will be a truly poor nation indeed.

Little RonYears ago, when my husband, Bob had just started his first job, his family took a trip to California. It was to be the first time Bob didn’t go along on the family vacations, and I’m sure it felt odd to the whole family, but perhaps none so much as his little brother, Ron. As the only two boys in a family of six kids, Bob and his little brother had a bond…or maybe it was simply the need for an ally. Two boys against four girls doesn’t always bode well for the boys…especially when two or all of them are older than you. Bob has two older sisters, and two younger sisters, and finally 14 years after his own birth, Bob got his little brother, Ron. Needless to say, the girls dominated the household for the most part, and for most of Bob’s life at home.

The family set out for California, leaving Bob to work, and hopefully, stay out of trouble. The trip was fun filled, and as most vacations do, it went by far too fast. They were sightseeing and visiting family, and just having a great time. All this was so new to Ron, who was just a little guy, and so when the time came to start back home, he was clearly not the happiest person in the group. He wanted to stay longer. Home was boring. It meant going back to the same old everyday things…no more fun and exciting new things to see and do.

The family tried to explain to him that they had to go home. His dad had to work, and the Bob at about 16girls had to go back to school in the fall. Their had a house and all his toys back in Casper. Nothing seemed to work. Finally in a last ditch effort to convince Ron that they simply could not stay on vacation forever, the said that Bob would be lonely if they never came back home. Ron had seemed to have an answer for every other argument, but they thought they had him on this one…not so!! Ron was quick to solve that problem as well. He quickly explained, “Just send for him in the mail!” I’m quite sure that took them all by surprise, and while he didn’t win the war to stay on vacation, I think he might just have won that battle, I mean…how can you argue with logic like that.

Dad and MomHaving been a caregiver since October of 2005, I find myself coming face to face more and more often with the Winter of life. It is the time in someones life, when they have far fewer days in front of them that they have behind them, and in many ways, I find that sad…especially when it is my parents or in-laws that I am talking about. I understand…all too well…that life on this earth is finite, and that we will all leave here one day, but still, it is hard to face that day as it applies to my parents, in-laws, grandparents and other loved ones in my life. I guess I just don’t like change very much and especially when it means having a loved one get old and leave this life.

Change is, unfortunately, inevitable, and their is nothing we can do to stop it, or slow it down even. Like the seasons, life has a cycle that cannot be changed. Like Spring, bringing newness to the Earth, birth is also a new beginning, and young life. Summer is the youth Dad and Momand young adulthood, Fall is middle age, and finally, we arrive at Winter, bring late life and finally death. I have never liked Winter in any form…be it weather or life cycle. It is a depressing time to me that always feels sad.

The only consolation is that we have the promise of eternal life in Heaven, and I know that I will see my dad again. It was never about a lack of belief that I will see him again…it is more about the wait for Spring…eternal life, that seems so long. When we are the ones left behind, the wait seems to take forever. I’m not in a hurry to leave this Earth, I just wish that the getting to Heaven could be sooner. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but that is exactly how I feel about the Winter of life.