When my sister Cheryl’s grandchildren, Jake and Siara were little, they loved to spend the night at her house on Saturday nights. So much so, in fact, that they spent just about every Saturday night with their grandma. They always had a wonderful time at Cheryl’s house, hanging out with their aunts and uncle and the variety of other kids that so many nights hung around my sister’s house…because it was the fun place to be. Saturday nights meant hanging out with grandma, watching movies and eating popcorn, and staying up late…probably a little too late into the evening, but what better thing to do than stay up later that normal because you could get away with it at Grandma’s..right?

The next morning always found my sister trying to wake Siara up for church…repeatedly. Siara was simply not a morning person. Siara loved to sleep in, like most kids do on the weekend. When Cheryl would go in to tell her to get up, she would just lay there for a while, and then begin the usual, “in a minute” or “I’m too tired” excuses. Cheryl would try just about everything she could think of…now this is where you might think Siara was going to be in a lot of trouble, as her grandmother lost her temper, but you would be wrong. Cheryl did try everything…including shaking Siara and finally threatening her with the secret weapon!!

What was the secret weapon you might ask? Well, the secret weapon was Siara’s brother Jake, and as with most big brothers, Jake was itching to go in and attack his sister. It was after all, fast becoming a tradition for every Sunday morning. Once given permission to attack, Siara really didn’t stand a chance. Jake would go into the room she was sleeping in, and stand on the bed with one foot on each side of his sister. Then he would reach down and pick her up with one hand on each side of her waist. He would then lift her up off the bed…bodily, after which she would immediately go completely limp and hang there like a rag doll…not that it did her much good. After a few mid-air shakings, Siara would finally admit defeat and drag herself out of bed. Which just goes to show that try as she might, Siara was no match for her grandma and Grandma’s secret weapon.

When children are little they normally follow their age, or close to it as to the range of heights, but in some cases where you have some very tall parents and some very short parents, that isn’t always the case. In our family, we have some tall people, such as Lynn, my brother-in-law, who is 6’6″ and then you have Debbie, my sister-in-law, and me, who are both 5’2″. So, this makes for a wide variety of heights in our kids.

Corrie, my daughter and the first born grandchild, is my tallest child at a whopping 5’1″, even shorter than I am, but not unusual considering that much of my family is short and some are shorter than I am. Then comes my second daughter Amy, the second born grandchild and the one who gets to have the distinction of being the runt of the litter as the family goes, comes in at 4’11”, or midget as her husband Travis likes to call her. Machelle, my niece and Debbie and Lynn’s oldest daughter and the third born grandchild, and her sister Susan, who is the youngest of this group, come in at 5’10” and 5’10 1/2″ respectively. And Barry, fell right in line with Machelle and Susan at 5’10”, just a little shorter than Susan, but with the right shoes, who would ever know. There are two other grandchildren, JD and Eric, who were born a while after the first photo was taken, and weren’t in the second for some reason. So I guess that we are really just a wide spread in there, and not anything like stairsteps…since my girls are just little, and the rest of the kids are just tall.

There is an age distinction that will always come into play where kids and grandkids are concerned, but it becomes very hard to tell as kids get older, because you just never know how things will play out in the height arena as they grow up. It is always interesting to watch them try to stand up tall…even on tip toe to remain the tallest for as long as possible, but in some cases, that doesn’t hold out for very long. Amy was fairly quickly relegated to the basement in the height arena, and initially Machelle raced out front, even though they are only 6 months apart in age. Corrie got pushed down to second to the bottom in the height race early on too, and there they have both remained from that time forward. So other than the years when JD and Eric were little, Corrie and Amy have always been the runts. The real fight for height has been with the rest of the kids. You guys should really just learn to get along…Hahahaha!!!

When Christopher and Shai were just babies, they spent much of their time together. My daughters, Corrie and Amy, had given birth one day apart, and Amy took care of the Christopher while Corrie worked. Christopher and Shai, grew to be almost like twins when they were young. Sometimes they seemed to be in their own little world. They shared meals and nap time. They shared playtime and their little secrets. We even had people ask us if they were twins. And like most kids, understanding much of what they said when they first began talking was difficult, to say the least. But they seemed to always understand each other…like a secret language or something.

They were best friends for a long time, maybe because there was no one else in their little world. They played their own funny little games in their own little playhouse of choice that day…usually they would choose the dog’s kennel, which always seemed odd to me, but it was where they wanted to be. They would sit in there and play for hours, talking in their own little language. Totally entertaining themselves. They also enjoyed going out for lunch…usually in a kitchen cupboard, or exploring…usually under a table, or chair, or climbing to new heights…on top of Amy’s hope chest, or really getting out of a rut…by going out in the back yard, when the weather was warm. Yes, they shared many good times, and we get to have many special memories from those times.

I don’t pretend to know what they were talking about when they were playing. They just chattered on like two little birds, paying no attention to those around them, and saying some of the funniest things. I suppose they were just doing what we all do, socializing. It was like a private club. They held meetings Monday through Friday, and only members were allowed. I find it so fascinating how two little babies could have so many things to say to each other, but in today’s society, if you are going to get ahead of the pack you need to start early developing your skills. You need to know how to walk and talk. And one very important skill…social networking!!

When my nephew, Barry was little, he spent a lot of time with his grandparents, my in-laws, while his mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer worked. Like most little boys, Barry had at least one hero. Often a boys hero is a television character, and that may have been the case for Barry, but his real hero was his grandpa. He wanted to be just like him. In fact, he told us once that he didn’t need to go to school, because he was going to “stay home and work” with Grandpa.

Oh, and work he did. From the time he was a little boy, he wanted to be on the tractor, or using his wagon to help Grandpa haul in wood for the fire. Anything his grandpa was doing was simply ok in his book. Barry helped him with snow, wood, cars, cows, just about everything. His grandpa was his best buddy and hero. Yes, Barry wanted to be just like Grandpa, and oddly, he got his way in more ways than just work and other activities. It amazes me just how much Barry looks like his grandpa. Looking back at old pictures of my father-in-law and comparing them to my nephew, they could almost be the same person.

Pretty much every boy, and child for that matter, has a hero or two in their lives, and if you ask me, Barry could have chosen a far worse role model than my father-in-law, who is a hard working and very caring man. In many ways, Barry’s life has been modeled after his grandpa’s. Barry works hard and holds himself to high standards. He is a man that can be counted on whenever you need him. And to this day he would do just about anything for his grandpa. It’s is sort of like the tables have turned now. My father-in-law is 82 years old, and can’t do all the things he used to. We, his children and grandchildren, help him out with whatever he needs, and Barry is one of the grandchildren that we can always count on to come and help out with whatever needs done.

Barry has turned into a good man, and it has been a pleasure watching him grow up. He could have chosen to be wild and crazy and to mess up his life, but he chose to model himself after a good man, and become one himself. As his aunt, that makes me very proud and grateful to my nephew. Thanks for all you do Barry!!

We all have people that we look up to. Someone who inspires us…makes us want to be better than we are now. For me that person is my dad. My dad was the type of person who worked hard every day of his life to give his family the best he could. He sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet in the tough times, and he never complained. He just took in all in stride. The love he felt for all his girls, my mom, my sisters, and me, was first and foremost on his mind. He was a person we could go to in times of trouble, worry or fear. He never looked at us as if we were being silly or ridiculous, but took our problems seriously, and did his best to help us with whatever it was.

My dad was not a man to cuss or to do anything that displayed a lack of self control. He was very slow to anger and quick to forgive. He hated injustice and even more, he hated disrespect, especially of the rights of other family members. He taught us to be the same, especially stressing that we “never let the sun go down on our wrath” or be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. We knew from an early age that to hold a grudge was wrong and only hurt the person who held a grudge. I can’t say that I have never held a grudge, but his words are something I have never forgotten and have tried to live by.

My dad had a kindness about him. He never liked it when people were mean to other people. He didn’t care what faults people had. They were people and should be treated with respect. He taught us to speak respectfully to others, especially our elders, something that we often see sorely lacking in today’s society. He taught us not to judge, because we had no way of knowing the whole story behind someone else’s actions.

There are many ways that I know I have not measured up to what my dad was, nor will I ever be able to. My dad was a rare breed. A gentleman in a time when they often didn’t exist. Kind when the style was to ridicule and tease others. Loving, when I was being rude, insesenitive, and unloveable. And mostly a friend and helper in time of need, but always, always a dad, who could be counted on in every way a dad should be able to be counted on. A dad who is there to guide, protect, teach, and nurture his children. I really miss that…love you Dad!!

We look back on the wars of the past and where we fought them, and no matter how hard we try to cover up those places…to erase the past as it were, the earth remembers. My dad was stationed at Great Ashfield in Suffolk, England during World War II. That was a very busy place in those days, and the people who lived there during the war were grateful to the men of the 8th Air Force. Great Ashfield was largely a B-17 base, and the towns around the base were fairly safe, because the 8th Air Force was very capable and much feared. Their very presence made people feel safer, in a time when feeling safe was…well, a precious commodity.

The area where the air base was at that time is still marked by the memorials to the men who kept them safe during that awful time. A beautiful sign decorated with a B-17 Bomber still marks the Great Ashfield Gate. It is a tribute to those great men who fought and died to protect the lives of people they didn’t even know. Fighting for people they don’t even know is after all the core of every person in the military. It is maybe something we civilians don’t really understand…until someone steps up and does it for us. That is how those people felt, and why they continue to honor those great men to this day…the earth remembers.

I looked Great Ashfield up on Google Earth. We are blessed today to have the ability to take a virtual tour of places we might never have seen otherwise. When I first looked it up, while I was making a book of my dad’s war days for my dad and my Uncle Bill, all you could see was from the air, and while the air base is no longer an air base, you can still see exactly where it was, and a small part of it is still used for small planes today…the earth remembers.

Tonight as I write this I looked it up again, and now you can actually get right down to the edge of the base, as if you were standing right there. Google Earth now takes those street views, and Great Ashfield is one of them they have done. As I looked at the edge of the base, tears came up in my eyes, and I got a lump in my throat, because I knew that this was a place where my dad had walked…his old stomping grounds, as the old saying goes. Dad had told me about three Poplar trees at the end of the runway, and all the men knew that when you saw those three Poplar trees, you were safe. The enemy wouldn’t dare follow you here. As I stood there at the edge of the base, looking around the area, I was almost dumbfounded when those same three Poplar trees came into view…just like in the pictures I had found. They are still there to this day, as a reminder, at least to me that my dad always made it safely home…the earth remembers, and so do I.

These days is people want to dance, they go to a bar. Yes, most people want to drink, but not everyone wants to go to a bar to do it. When my parents were dating, they often double dated with her sister, my Aunt Evelyn and brother-in-law, my Uncle George. They loved to go dancing. Back then there were several balls that were held, such as the Military Ball or the Fireman’s Ball.

They had the opportunity to dress up in uniforms and ball gowns, or dress suits and ball gowns, and go out and enjoy a long night if dancing and socializing. I know that my parents enjoyed these dances, because they continued to go when we were kids growing up. I remember them even after we were old enough to stay alone. Ballroom dancing seems to be a thing of the past now, although I’m sure there are places where the still hold balls and dance those old and very beautiful dances, but they are becoming fewer and fewer.

I also know, from my cousin Shirley that her parents, my dad’s sister, Ruth and brother-in-law, Jim enjoyed going with them to those Firemen’s Balls and other dances as well, sometimes the kids even got to go along. A rare but exciting event. We, who had the opportunity to go along, will always remember how very cool it was.

There are other dances that people go to that are a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong. Square dances, and bar room dances are all great, but the elegance of ballroom dancing is all but gone from our society and our dance style. Even at proms and other school dances, while the gowns are elegant, the dancing is formless, with free style steps. Anyone can create their own dance…or just move around and no one thinks anything of it, but looking back in time, I can see something others might not…elegance lost.

Sixteen years ago, my youngest daughter married her best friend, Travis. It is hard for me to believe that it has been sixteen years. I remember thinking how young they both were, but with them, it didn’t seem to matter. I suppose that is a very common thing for a mother to think when her daughter gets married. It is inevitable that you children never seem old enough to get married. Nevertheless, they were very much in love, and they have stayed very much in love all these years. Today is the 16th Anniversary of that marriage, and it has been a blessed union.

They have both worked very hard over the years to give their family the best they can afford, but more than they, they give their family love…and just as important, laughter. Their union has been blessed with 2 children, my only granddaughter Shai, and her brother Caalab. The kids are as quick witted as their parents, and that makes for lots of joking around. I remember stopping by to pick up one or both of the kids, and hearing the laughter coming from inside, quite often. You see, Travis is a bit of a class clown type, and that makes for a home filled with joking and laughter. That is not a bad thing. I think that if a family can laugh about life, they are far better able to keep their family life strong, and possibly more sane…although that might be argued by some.

In a time when many marriages fail within a year or two, their marriage becomes more and more rare with each passing year. I guess that just goes to show that with hard work and much love a marriage can grow stronger through the passing years and can stand the test of time. You just need to focus on the one you love, and not the distractions that try to come into your lives, and be true to your spouse, and you can make it. That is just what they have done, and I am very proud of both of them.

Beyond the laughter, I can say that even though sometimes there were tough times, that weathered the storms of life and came out on the other side…still in love. The kids who I wasn’t sure were ready for marriage are gone now, and in their place are two grown up, hard working people who can be counted on in times of trouble, as well as in the good times, to be an irreplaceable part of our family and a great blessing to all who know them. Happy 16th Anniversary Amy and Travis!!

When our children are little, we don’t know who they will grow up to be. We hope they will be responsible people, who will be there for those who need them. We hope they will be the kind of people who will leave this world a better place than they found it, but when they are just little, you don’t know. You try your best to raise them in the way that will make them successful and responsible, as well as capable of handling whatever comes their way. As every parent knows, children do not come with instruction manuals, which leaves their parents on uncharted waters. So you do your best and pray that your meager ability is enough. My prayers were answered in abundance. My children and grandchildren are the best. I am truly blessed.

Of course, the child has something to do with who they turn out to be as well, perhaps even more than we do in the end, and that is when they can become truly amazing. My girls amaze me every day. They have grown into compassionate, caring people, who help others in a selfless manner. I could not get the things done that I need to do, if they were not there for me, and willing to help me with the many important things involved in caring for elderly parents. Many things would not get done, or would be done poorly, without them.

I think that the way a child handles caring for their grandparents is a good indicator of how their own parents can expect to be cared for when their time comes. If that is true, I know that my daughters and my grandchildren, who have also all pitched in to help with their great grandparents, will be loving and compassionate to me and my husband. I just hope that I can stay healthy and active enough to make it a very long wait for that needed care. Nevertheless, I know they will be there.

As I write this, my children, grandchildren, sister and sisters-in-law, have taken over the load, so that Bob and I can get away for a 4 day weekend in Denver. I am so blessed. My family is the greatest in the world, and I want them to know that I love them more than words can say.

My sister-in-law, Debbie was injured at work about 10 years ago, when she fell while carrying a heavy crate. She has had back problems and multiple surgeries in the years since that injury, and has been unable to work or stay in one position for very long. It has been a long, hard road for her, and her family, all of whom have helped her through this ordeal.

On August 30th, the day after his 82nd birthday, my father-in-law, Debbie’s dad, was struck with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). While BPPV is not life threatening, it is seriously problematic. BPPV is a condition that brings on dizziness…the kind that makes it almost impossible to locate a safe place to sit down. It also brings with it, nausea that will quickly bring a strong man to his knees. The condition comes and goes throughout the day, and is the worst right after standing up from a sitting position, making its victim a serious fall risk.

Immediately after the first episode, I recruited the family to take turns staying with my in-laws, until we could figure out what to do about this. We heard from my mother-in-law’s respite care giver, about the Dizziness and Balance Clinic at Wind City Physical Therapy. We made an appointment with them, and a wonderful therapist named Kathy, did two treatments on my father-in-law. She showed me how to treat him at home, and we are now in the midst of daily treatments to fight off the dizziness…and it is working well. In the interim, however, my father-in-law has fallen twice, and we just can’t leave them alone safely at this time. It is hard for people who work to be caregivers during the work day, and that is where my sister-in-law, Debbie comes in.

Debbie came down from Powell for a doctor’s appointment in Casper.  She usually stays with my in-laws. She came to town last Saturday and was to leave this Saturday, but after seeing how bad things were here and knowing that everyone needed to go back to work, she has not only stayed all week, but will likely stay until Wednesday of the coming week. While it is hard for her to do a lot things, she has really stepped up and set aside her own pain to do many things for her parents, so that my father-in-law will not have to try to get up and down too much. Many people might not think that cooking and straightening are a big deal, but my father-in-law is normally the one who does all the household chores, since my mother-in-law can’t help with things like she used to. Debbie has also taken on the blood sugar checks, day time meds, and helping her mom with grooming. The things Debbie has done, are monumental in the situation in which we currently find ourselves. I want to thank Debbie for her sacrifice. She has been a tremendous help in a time of serious need. Love you Debbie!!

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