When Christopher was little, he wanted a baby brother very badly. His cousin Shai, who he spent a lot of time with had a little brother, and Christopher really wanted one too. A cousin can’t really compare to a brother of your own. When Corrie and Kevin found out that they were going to have another baby, they began talking to Christopher about being a big brother, and when they found out the baby was a boy, they began calling him by his name, Josh…so Christopher would already know it. It was a happy time, and Christopher was a happy boy. He was finally getting a brother too…just like Shai had!!
When Josh’s arrival came 5 weeks sooner that it should have, Christopher was taken to his Aunty Amy’s, and then when Josh had to be taken to Denver, due to immature lungs. Since Corrie was still in the hospital and Kevin had gone to Denver to be with Josh, Christopher came home with Bob and me. Corrie and Kevin had enough on their minds, and we wanted to assure them Christopher would be just fine. We then made plans to take Corrie down to Denver the next day when she was released from the hospital. We took Christopher to Denver too so he could see his new brother.
We stayed over night in Denver, and Christopher stayed at the hospital with Corrie and Kevin. We had one more visit to our little Josh, then Bob, Christopher, and I went back to Casper while Corrie and Kevin stayed to be with Josh. They would be there 2 weeks before Josh would be able to come home. They called Christopher every night to talk with him and tell him about his brother, but mostly to tell him they loved him and would be home soon.
Unfortunately, 2 weeks can be a very long time to a little boy who is only 2 1/2 years old. Corrie and Kevin tried to make him understand how much they loved him too, but he had seen their new baby and their new house, and he thought they didn’t want him any more. After two weeks of “living” with his “new family” he literally cried at the drop of a hat…his when it didn’t stay on his head. It broke my heart to see him so torn up. He just needed his mommy and daddy. He missed them so much, and just in time, they were able to come home.
Christopher was so happy to have his family back. And the really good news was that they brought that little brother that he had been wanting so badly. Most importantly though, his mommy and daddy still wanted him too. Christopher was the happiest boy ever. All was right in his world. It just doesn’t get any better.
When my oldest daughter was pregnant with her younger son, Joshua David, she had been given a due date of October 15th. That September, Bob and I were going to Denver for a Rockies Baseball game. I told Corrie that she was not to have this baby while I was gone, as I had been at the births of my other three grandchildren, and didn’t want to miss this one. I didn’t exactly expect Josh to come while we were gone, but I did have a sense of unease. Our trip to Denver was going along just fine, when Corrie called to tell us that she was in labor, and that they were trying to stop the labor. If Josh came at that time, he would be 5 weeks early. Some babies do ok that early, while others have problems.
Of course, my first thought was that she was kidding me, since I had told her that she was not to do this, but it quickly became evident that she was serious. I asked how much time we had, since it is a 5 hour drive home from Denver. She said that they were trying to stop the labor, and to wait just a little bit. We waited anxiously for the call to come that would tell us whether or not to race home. The decision was finally made to go home, as the labor would not stop. We headed out about 4:oo am and I was on pins and needles all the way, not to mention praying constantly.
I could not be on the phone with her constantly and that tore me up. It is hard to watch your daughter go through labor and birth, but far worse to have such a premature labor and you are 5 hours away. Every mile was excruciating. We did make it before Josh’s arrival, but not by much. I was so thankful. God saw to it that we got home safe and in time.
Joshua David arrived at 11:57 am on September 9, 1998, he weighed a pretty good 5 pounds 6.5 ounces, but plans were quickly made for him to be flown to Denver. His lungs were immature and he needed help with his breathing. It was decided that Kevin should accompany him on the flight. It was one of the hardest things the kids have ever done. Corrie was a wreck because she wanted to go, and Kevin was a wreck because she couldn’t. We assured them both we would bring her to Denver as soon as she was released.
Josh was placed in the Neo-Natal ICU at Presbyterian St Luke’s Hospital. His weight dropped to 4 pounds 3 ounces. Sometimes, as was the case for the kids, they had an available room on the nursing home side of the hospital where Corrie and Kevin could stay. The nice thing about that was that the kids could go over and see Josh, 24/7, and that is comforting to a parent. Josh was monitored constantly, and given superior care, for which we are eternally grateful to the staff. His weight began coming back up, but as they got close to coming home, he had a couple of Brady’s, which is when the heart skips a beat. It is normal for that to happen, even in healthy adults, but they won’t let the baby go home until it has been more that 24 hours, so they had to stay longer.
Finally the day came when Joshua David got to come home. We were so excited. His lungs had taken 2 weeks to mature, and he was healthy enough to come home. It didn’t take him long to make up for lost time once he got home. He quickly gained weight and grew into a wonderful little boy. We are so very blessed. God had provided a miracle for Joshua!! We love you Josh!! Happy birthday!!
When you look back on the lives of your babies, whether it’s your children or grandchildren, you see that there is an age at which you wish time would stop. They are at that perfect point between the sweetness of a baby, and the fun age of a child. You look at their little face and you see all the promise of the future, and yet you want to hold on tightly to the present. It is a mix of who they are, and who they will be, and you want to know who they will be, but yet you hate to lose who they are.
I could hardly wait to become a grandmother. I was ready for those babies to come, and every moment that I was blessed to spend with them, I have cherished…will always cherish, but when I look back at some of those pictures, each one has that one picture that holds such sweetness that it just melts your heart. Those are the ones that I just wish I could stop time for. My grandchildren are precious to me every day, and I love each one of them with all my heart, but there are moments and ages that will always live in my heart as being so special. That moment you wish would never end. Of course, you would miss out on the next special moment, if that one never ended, so you really don’t want that, and you are thankful that there is a picture to mark such a wonderful memory.
I have found that there are so many such moments that when you think about it maybe you wouldn’t want to stop time after all. That moment when your teenaged child or grandchild comes up to you for no reason and just gives you a hug and tells you they love you…or posts that they love you on Facebook. It sometimes surprises you so much to think that they don’t care if their friends see it, because it is simply how they feel. Does life get any better than that…ever?
I find myself very thankful for my memory, so I can store all of those sweet moments in it, for review later on…especially during a bad day. Those memories can change any bad day into a good one, just by looking into that sweet little face. I guess that is really my reason for having children and grandchildren. There is no greater blessing than to have a sweet little person who loves you so much, just because you are Mommy or Grandma. It doesn’t mean you are perfect, or even all that important to the rest of the world, but to that child, you are important, and you are great, and at least for a moment in time, you are their whole world…and they are yours…them and that sweet little face.
When our girls were little, Bob and I took them to Helena, Montana to visit he Aunt Marion’s family. Aunt Marion was Bob’s dad’s older sister. She and her husband John lived in Helena with their 8 children. Bob and I had not gone to see them since our marriage, and we were on our way to visit his mother’s grandmother, so we decided to take a couple of days to visit Aunt Marion and her family too. It was September and the weather can be unpredictable.
We were going to run a couple of errands, and the sky was clouding up. Aunt Marion suggested that we leave the girls at the house in case it rained. So we headed out to the store. We completed our shopping much more quickly without two babies to carry too, so we were thankful that Aunt Marion had offered, and of course, her kids were excited about having some time to play with their little cousins too. And our girls were having such a good time when we left, that we knew they would be fine with it.
Nevertheless, I had an uneasy feeling as the sky got more and more black and the clouds began to look menacing. As we finished up our errands and headed back to Aunt Marion’s house, the lightning and thunder began. The weather almost reminded me of tornado weather, and I definitely didn’t like that. As we pulled up to Aunt Marion’s house their was a flash of lightning directly in front of us. The lightning hit the power line in front of her house, and literally danced along the power line for several seconds. I had never seen anything like it. Now I had a new dilemma. To go into the house…under that power line, or to stay in the car and leave my babies
in the house with that monstrous lightning storm threatening my girls. I knew it was unreasonable. The girls were in no danger, but I just couldn’t get past the obstacle that stood between me and my girls.
Of course, everything was fine in the house, and I was just being silly, but I can tell you this. Seeing lightning strike…in any of the dramatic forms that can take, is something that you never forget, and to this day I can still see it in my mind. That has been 35 years ago, and I have never seen lightning strike in front of me again, something I can honestly say I’m not sorry about, but I will never forget the day in Helena, Montana when I did.
Bob and I used to make frequent trips to Montana to visit his grandparents, and sometimes there would be a special occasion in which the whole family would go, or at least a lot of them, for a reunion or some other bigger occasion. Often that would mean some of us staying at the homes of family in Forsyth, while others stayed at the ranch. But no matter where they had everyone stay, at some point, everyone would end up at Grandma’s…the ranch.
The times spent out at Grandma’s always meant big, delicious meals…all home cooked and fresh from their own cattle and garden. Everything tasted so much better there. The cream in the coffee is like nothing you have ever had, unless you got it right from the cow. It was not that tasteless stuff you get at the store, but rather, rich, creamy, thick cream that you had to spoon into your coffee. I’m partial to cream in my coffee, but I have never found anything to compare to that real cream. It just tastes heavenly. The Strawberry-Rhubarb jam that Grandma made from fruit grown in her garden. The beef that Butch raised on the ranch, and eggs right from the chickens. My goodness, I can still taste those things in my memories.
Then, ultimately, after dinner, while the women cleaned up the dishes and kitchen, the men would retire to the front yard, for a meeting of the minds. They would talk about the ranching business, and whether or not they would get a good price for their cattle that year. They would talk about how the mining business was going, since Uncle Eddie and my father-in-law both worked in mines. They might talk about the rain, or maybe the lack thereof, depending on the year, because the life blood of a rancher is the rain. They have to have it if at all possible. These were men who knew what they were talking about. They had watched the trends and made careful decisions based on what they knew of the business they were in.
It was always such a heart-warming thing to watch this father and his sons and step-son talking things out together…each one giving their input while the others listened intently, gleaning every bit of wisdom that the others had to give, and tucking it away in the innermost recesses of their minds, knowing that some day the information stored there would come in handy. These men knew their businesses and had the wisdom of many years behind them. And the memory of those little meetings warms my heart, and I wish with all my heart that those meetings were not just a memory, but since Grandpa has gone home to Heaven, that is what they must sadly remain. Memories of a different time and place.
All too often, there are people in our lives who work hard, help others, and sadly, get very little appreciation. They just do what they do, because they are needed. My sister-in-law, Brenda is one of those people. She has a job that requires her to put in many more hours than most people work…sometimes from 8 in the morning to 10 at night. That in itself would be enough to exhaust most people, and it exhausts her too, but when she gets off work, her first concern is her aging parents. She also calls them several times throughout the day to make sure they are ok.
Her mother, my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease and Chronic Bronchitis, and her dad, my father-in-law has Emphysema. They still live at home, and my father-in-law is my mother-in-law’s primary caregiver. With his own problems, he cannot do this alone, nor would we want him to. We have a great group of family members who help out, but today I want to talk about Brenda. She spends as much time as possible helping them, and I know that they greatly appreciate it.
With her busy schedule, trying to find the extra time for caregiving can be a huge struggle, and that is just the time struggle. There is also the emotional struggle…wanting to be there and yet needing to have your own time too. How do you live with yourself, for needing that time? It is the question that every caregiver lives with every day, because every moment used on self makes you feel guilty, even if you desperately need it. And yet, your body and mind are screaming for a few moments to just stop.
When the times occur that require extra time, it is even more tearing because you know that you are giving all you have, and somehow you will need to dig deeper, to find more. And…you want to because you love them. So the struggle comes when you need to give more time, but there simply is no more time to give. Sometimes, no solution exists. We just have to keep on keeping on. And that is what Brenda does. In the face of the hardest struggles, and the total exhaustion, the guilt over time for self, she just keeps on keeping on.
When you first meet your daughter’s boyfriend, you feel uneasy. You don’t know what kind of a person he is, if he will treat your daughter like the princess you know she is, and ultimately, if he will break her heart in the end. It is real easy to just wish she was a little girl again, so you wouldn’t have to go through all this, but dating and marriage are a part of the growing up process, even if it is a hard part of it for parents.
When Corrie met Kevin, it was our first time in dealing with the whole dating thing, and I just wasn’t too sure about it all. Kevin seemed so much more a grown up than Corrie did, even though they were only a little less than 4 years different in age, but the Lord knew what He was doing when He brought these two kids together. I get to call them kids, even though they have kids of their own now, because that is a mother’s privilege.
Kevin is such a blessing to our family. He is loving and caring, and kind to people, but is able to pull off a joke with a straight face…something his boys inherited. I often find myself wondering if he is serious or not, and of course, once he reaches that point of knowing that he got me, he laughs and I know I’ve been had. I’m sure he takes great pleasure in getting the better of me, but it’s all in good fun. Kevin is just pulling off another good joke.
It isn’t all about jokes with Kevin though. He is a deep thinker. He works things out in his head…plans ways to make their lives better. He is great with design and creates beautiful rooms in their home, making the rooms unique and yet useful. Of course, Corrie helps too, but a lot of the design comes from Kevin’s artistic mind. When they have finished something, we get a call, wanting us to come and see. I always know it will look fantastic.
Kevin is also a hopeless romantic. He works very hard to find romantic gifts for Corrie…yes, I guess he does treat her like a princess. When he finds a gift that particularly excites him, and he can’t stand it any longer, he calls me up and says, “You have to see what I bought for Corrie.” It’s always something very special, from a very special guy…a hopeless romantic. That’s my son-in-law. Happy birthday Kevin!!
My family recently re-connected with a side of the family that we had been out of touch with for a few years. Since that time, we have been going over some of the old memories that have a tendency to live in the hidden parts of your mind for many years, and then when the first little recall is triggered, they come flooding back like a tidal wave. We have talked about my dad and her mom, brother and sister, now both living in Heaven, and of course still getting choked up at times, but still very much enjoying the memories. We talked about all the great times our parents used to have.
My sister, Cheryl had asked my cousin, Shirley if she remembered the Onion and Mustard Sandwiches that they had eaten and loved as kids. Shirley said she did, and that it was her dad, my Uncle Jim, who started those with onions and butter, and then somewhere along the way they tried it with mustard and liked it too. Now to me, that’s is totally disgusting, but to each his own…as long as they don’t try to feed it to me, of course, I suppose the fact that I don’t like onions could have something to do with my reason for not wanting anything to do with this concoction.
That conversation turned to a blog I wrote a couple of days ago called The Dance. That story got Shirley to thinking about the dances my parents and hers used to attend, and sometimes the kids got to go too. And the New Years Eve parties with dancing and fun for all, but the thing that really dominated the memories in this conversation was the “contests” our dads used to have to see who could come up with the most outrageous food combinations, and them eat them…good, bad, or horrible!! And whether these concoctions were designed to torture my Aunt Ruth, or my dad and my Uncle Jim, we aren’t entirely sure, but all I can say is I would love to have seen the look on their faces, when one turned out to be “the horrible” because I’ll bet it was great!! And to top it off, these stubborn…or is it crazy men, ate those goofy concoctions…just to prove that they would.
Those memories are so funny, and now that they have been stirred again, we will be reliving them for many years to come, I’m sure, but what really strikes me as wonderful about this whole thing, is listening to my sister and my cousin going back and forth with memories and sharing a laugh…even if it is a virtual one via Facebook. It just warms my heart to have this precious cousin back in our lives again. And as the years go by, I know the memories will continue to flow like a river over parched land, quenching the thirst in our hearts where we keep our parents who have gone on ahead of us, until we all see them together once again, in Heaven.
When my girls were little, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law lived in Thermopolis. Their daughters, Machelle and Susan, and our daughters, Corrie and Amy, were friends, as well as cousins. It became a summer tradition to let the girls spend a couple of weeks together. Often we would make it a family day when we took our girls to Thermopolis for their cousin time trip. My mother and father-in-law often went along, so they could see their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters. We would make it a family day, with a picnic in the park at Thermopolis, before we would head back home.
It was always odd to get back home to a house void of children, and know that they would be gone at least a week. Sure, we didn’t need a babysitter if we wanted to go out, but I still missed my girls. I suppose that was normal for a mom. Meanwhile my girls were having a great time.
I’m quite sure there were fights, because…well, that’s what kids do, but when you put 4 girls together, there is a lot of imagination and fun going on too. And of course, when you are in Thermopolis, there is also swimming going on, and what kid doesn’t like that idea. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had passes to swim as often as their family wanted, so it was a good deal for them and the kids. That was one of the highlights of the time spent there for my girls. Swimming in the warm water of Thermopolis ia a treat for anyone.
The rest of the cousin time was spent with dolls and tea parties, and all the other fun things girls can think of to do, but it wasn’t so much what they were doing that mattered. It was that they were spending time together, staying connected with each other. It was something that was hard as they grew older, but I think that the time spent together when they were little, built a foundation that they have kept strong to this day. They have turned into wonderful women, all of whom I am very proud, and I’m very thankful that we gave them that cousin time when they were little.
New Years Eve around our house always meant a party, because my mom’s birthday is January 1st. The party always included a dance in the kitchen, which we empty of all the furniture for the occasion. One of the highlights of the evening was when Mom and Dad would share a dance. It is one of the moments that I will always remember, as will my mom, I’m sure. It wasn’t New Years Eve until they had their dance. Their dance had the same importance on the evening as the bride and groom’s dance at a wedding, and the same feel. It almost brought a tear to your eyes, especially in those last two years, when we weren’t sure Dad and Mom would be able to have their dance.
New Years Eve was not, however, the only time when my mom and dad danced. I remember many times when Dad would come home from work, still in work clothes and the would share a dance in that same kitchen. It was one of their ways of expressing their deep and abiding love for each other, and one of the ways we, their children could enjoy the fact that our parents were and always would be in love.
That is what life can be compared to also…a dance. We don’t know the twists and turns life will take until we live them. We don’t know the hurts and loss we might have to endure. Every life has its sorrows, as well as its joys. In a life where the joy outweighs the sorrow, you find a very blessed person or persons. That is the kind of life my parents lived. Their dance was one of joy and happiness, and very little sorrow or loss was added to it.
When I look back at all the pictures of trips we took, and places we got to go, our family’s dance was a great waltz, if you will, with a lot of country swing and a little bit of rock and roll mixed in. My cousin Bill commented on my dad’s life after his passing. He said, “Wow, he really lived!!” How true that is. My dad always made sure the dance of our life was a wonderful dance set to a beautiful song. Whether we were traveling, or just spending time in the back yard around a picnic table, or working together, he tried to add fun to every part of our lives. And the dancing continued until that last New Years Eve party, when we were blessed one last time with my parents special dance…the last dance.