Friends

Dad in uniformWhen the United States entered World War II, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we were a nation with a score to settle. The Japanese had killed our people, and we vowed to make them pay. In addition to that, the Nazis were killing the Jewish people, and they had to be stopped. Their cruel killing of so many people in their gas chambers could not be tolerated. Revenge against the Japanese would have to wait for now, because the Nazi cruelty could no longer be kept hidden.

On of the biggest battles fought on German soil was the Battle of Berlin. It was fought over the course of a couple of years, and Britain’s Royal Air Force had been badly beaten by the Germans. Then when the United States joined in, things began to take a 8th Air Forceturn for the better. On May 7, 1944, the United States 8th Air Force sent 1500 bombers in to attack Berlin. More were sent the next day. The headlines were exuberant. Headlines like Berlin “Condemned to Death”, U.S. Planes Blast Berlin Twice, Capital Lies In Stark Ruins, and Berlin Again Plastered By Yank Fliers, were splattered across the papers. It was the ultimate attack on the heart of Nazi Germany from the Mighty 8th Air Force. I think everyone knew that Hitler’s days in power were numbered. It was true. The Nazis surrendered unconditionally a year later.

My dad was a Top Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer on a B-17G Bomber at this time, and while I don’t know if Dad took part in this attack, I can say that it is entirely possible. My dad didn’t talk about his war days much…most men from that era didn’t. I Dad with B-17G Bomberhave to think that it was hard to remember those missions, because no matter how distanced you were from your target, you were still very aware that people were dying because of the bombs you were dropping. Sure, they were the enemy, and you were doing your job, but the were also humans. I think, if it were me, I would rather have to kill in the way my dad did…not looking into the eyes of the person you are about to kill, and in some attacks, the people didn’t have any idea that they were about to die. They, like my dad, were just doing their jobs. Still, they were soldiers under a cruel dictator, with no choice but to obey orders. Nevertheless, sad as it was for those people to die, I am very proud of my dad’s service. And if he was in this battle, then I am proud of that too.

11138583_10205158822163710_7811955475298618260_nWe have all heard of the World’s Fair, and I think most of us know about the big push between nations to have it held in their country. After World War II, the United States didn’t get to host the World’s Fair until April 21, 1962. I think that most of us knows of the Seattle Space Needle, and I think that most adults know that it was a part of the World’s Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition. The fair ran from April 21, 1962 to October 21, 1962, in Seattle, Washington, of course.

Nearly 10 million people attended the fair in Seattle that year. So many World’s Fairs did not make a profit, but unlike the other world’s fairs of that era, Century 21 did make a profit. After the expedition, Seattle Space Needlewas left with a fairground and many public buildings and public works. It really revitalized Seattle’s economic and cultural life. The Space Needle was built there, of course, and the Alweg monorail, as well as several sports venues…Washington State Coliseum, now Key Arena and performing arts buildings…the Playhouse, now the Cornish Playhouse. Many of these have been remodeled or replaced now, but the whole area started around the World’s Fair. The Space Needle was built to withstand wind speeds of 200 mph, double the requirements in the building code of 1962. An earthquake registering 6.8 on the Richter scale jolted the Needle enough in 2001 for water to slosh out of the toilets in the restrooms. The Space Needle will not sustain serious 11036888_10205159004168260_7395084702609884511_nstructural damage during earthquakes of magnitudes below 9. I think it is an amazing structure.

Since my daughter, Amy Royce and her family have moved to northern Washington, we have had the opportunity to visit the area and the Space Needle. I had been there before, but my husband, Bob had not. It doesn’t matter how many times you go up in the Space Needle, because each time is spectacular. The view is amazing, and since you can walk all the way around it, you have a different view on each side. The area is beautiful to be sure. I don’t know how often Amy and her family will get down there, now that they have moved to the Bellingham/Ferndale area, but I don’t think I would live that close without taking a trip to see a little bit of history once in a while.

1901177_1471143999768586_1314387885_nThere comes a time in every child’s life, when they hit that magical age…the age when they can drive by themselves. For my nephew, Weston Moore, that day has arrived. Of course, each child has to pass the driving test, and most of them do. They are so anxious to be independent, that they study as hard as they can, because they want that license. Having your own license means that you don’t have to be driven around by your parents anymore. It means that you can get a job and have your own money. It means that when you take a girl on a date, you can drive. Of course, it also means that your parents will ask you to drive your younger brother around, or go to the store, or 11892064_973495936035064_875279534068125191_nrun some other errands. It is just part of the territory. Weston has reached that age. I’m sure that he can’t wait to go and get his license. It is an exciting day for him. For the rest of us…well, that remains to be seen.

Weston is my niece Machelle Cook Moore, and her husband, Steve’s son, and like most kids his age, Weston likes to hang out with his friends, play video games, and of course, he likes girls. He likes going to dances, and is enjoying high school. Still, like most kids, he can’t wait for summer…but then I think we all feel that way. Summer for Weston brings camping in the Big Horns with his family and cousins. Weston also helps out his grandparents with their lawn and such. Now that he has turned 16, I wonder if he will still be able to do 11253_1533940126822306_7776747781160954750_nthat. If he gets a job, he may not have time to mow the lawn as often. I suppose that job will be passed down to his little brother, Easton. Time will tell.

Weston is a great young man, and I am amazed that he is 16 years old already. The years have flown by so quickly. Before long, he will be graduating from high school and going on to college, or a career, and then marriage and children of his own. I know we will be shocked at how quickly the time flew by then too. Nevertheless, that day is down the road a little bit yet. Today is Weston’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

DebbieMy sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook, is a woman of many talents. Over the years she has made clothing for her girls, Machelle Cook Moore and Susan Cook Griffith, including Machelle’s wedding dress. She made lots of other clothes for them through the years too. One thing that I never really had the patience for, was sewing, but Debbie was quite good at it. She sewed most of her own clothes too. I always thought it would be nice to be able to do that, but it just wasn’t going to be something I would master, and my shoulders just couldn’t stand the aching I got when I sewed, so it was what it was.
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Debbie took up cross stitch, and made many pretty things to give away and sell at the craft fairs that she, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my parents-in-law used to participate in. Now cross stitch was something I could sink my teeth into, but I didn’t ever get involved in the craft fairs, because by then, Bob and I were bowling seven days a week…fanatical, absolutely. Nevertheless, they all did pretty well with the craft fairs, and very much anticipated each one with joy. I know that the people who bought the items they sold were very pleased with them, but I think the gifts she made especially for one family member or another were the very best, because of all the love that went into them. Something that is made with love is always a keepsake.

scan0078 (4) After her dad’s passing, almost three years ago, and after we had to place her mother in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s Disease, we decided to take the clothes that didn’t go to the nursing home, and any material he mom had left, and make quilts for everyone. Debbie single handedly took on the task of making quilts for the grandchildren. It was a huge undertaking, because there are eight grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Debbie did a wonderful job on those quilts, and they are something the grandchildren and great grandchildren will treasure forever, because the are from their grandparents clothing, and made with love for them by Debbie. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Carol Carlson with Uncle Bill 3When someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, or any form of Dementia for that matter, their family and friends know that there will be moments of clarity, amid many days in the fog. Those are the precious moments. Such was the case a few years ago, when my first cousin once removed, Carol Schumacher Carlson and some of her kids went to visit my Uncle Bill Spencer, who is Carol’s cousin. I’m not sure how long it had been since Uncle Bill had seen Carol, but it was one of those wonderful days. He looked at her and said, “Well, Carol, how have you been?” It was such a sweet moment for both of them. I’m sure that Carol expected that her cousin would have no idea who she was, but he knew her.

Carol Carlson with Uncle Bill 2I have had those moments when I have been so pleased that the person I’m talking to, knows me and times when they didn’t. I can tell you that the times they know you are far better…but you don’t get to choose those moments. It’s just not up to you, nor is it up to the Alzheimer’s patient. It just is what it is. You have to treasure the moments of clarity, and deal with the fog, because the patient has no control of it. Believe me, if they could control it, they would. No one wants to lose their memory. Everyone treasures those memories, and when they start to fade, it is sad for them…at least until they just don’t remember them anymore. At some point, it becomes more sad for the visitors than it is for the patient, because they no longer remember that they forgot.

I am so glad that my Uncle Bill and cousin Carol had such a nice visit, and that my Uncle Bill was having a 384188_2661409807172_728643262_ngreat moment of clarity, because the visit meant so much to both of them. Carol suffers from Dementia as well, and while neither probably remembers the visit now, the rest of us could tell that it was a very special moment. Sometimes, without even realizing it, kids can do something so special for their parents that, whether the parents remembers it forever or not, makes no difference, because the other people who witness it or see pictures of it, can see just what an amazing moment it really was. This was one of those amazing moments that will live in my memory files forever. I think Carol’s kids are all pretty amazing. They love Carol, and see to her needs in such wonderful ways. I love each and every one of them.

 

Anna Louise Spencerimg392Autographing a yearbook, or in the past, an autograph book is a tradition that really never goes away. The school year…or a certain period in a person’s life is coming to an end. Friends want to be remembered and people want to remember their friends, so they write something in their yearbook that they hope will sound profound, sophisticated, grown up, or at the very least, not sound too stupid. It doesn’t matter that you know the annual yearbook signing is coming, when the moment arrives, you find yourself on the spot again. Do you write a poem? Do you say something goofy? Or, do you say something with deep feeling, knowing that you may not see these people much anymore…if at all? Of course, it depends on who you are speaking too. Goofy works for the class clown, and profound might be great for the valedictorian, and if these are your good friends, you might write something with a little more feeling, but if the classmates are little more than acquaintances, what do you want to say to them? I suppose that is more when the poem or saying of the day comes into play. I mean, you are on the spot, and you can’t take all day.

Still, there are times when the poem of the day says exactly what you are feeling, like the friends of my grandmother’s and my dad’s who had hoped that they would not be forgotten as the years passed. In reality, I think most of us remember most of our classmates, whether it’s is just their face, or even their name, but that doesn’t mean that we spend a lot of time with them over the years, unless they were really a good friend. Nevertheless, there were very few classmates who completely faded into obscurity to the point that we don’t even remember that they were classmates at all, and sometimes classmates come back into our lives to a degree, as is the case with people we reconnect with on Facebook or in some other online form of social media. That still doesn’t mean that the friendship has been completely rekindled, but rather that curiosity came into play a little bit, for a little while.

The main reason for autographs, I think, is to make a way to remember a time in our lives that we really can’t visit again. Even with class reunions and such, you really don’t go back to that time exactly. You and your classmates might talk a little bit about what you did in school, and a lot about what everyone is doing now, but Allen Spencer as a boyimg487at some point, there just isn’t that much to talk about anymore. Your lives have taken different directions, and you have very little in common. That’s probably why class reunions last for just a weekend, because if they were longer, no one would go. There just isn’t a weeks worth of conversations, unless you continued on as friends after your school days were over, And then you wouldn’t need a class reunion to get you together so you could catch up at all. I guess that’s why I think class reunions put you on the spot all over again.

Super Bowl 50This year’s Super Bowl game will the historic 50th Super Bowl. That’s a milestone by any standard. That made me start thinking about the origins of the Super Bowl. Now I’m sure that most men can tell me all about it, but let me see if I can tell them something they didn’t know. The Super Bowl is the championship game played annually between the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). It must be played at a different stadium each year. As most of us know, it is the most watched professional sports event in the United States. The Super Bowl even draws the football widows in to watch the game…and the Super Bowl is the game that sometimes, as in my case, turns a football widow into a football fan. It has been likened to a national holiday. The half-time show is performed by popular musicians and singers and the only day in which more food is consumed…is Thanksgiving. I’m sure many of you knew or could guess all that.

So, what brought on the need for a Super Bowl in the first place? It was a result of the NFL (National Football League) merging with the AFL (American Football League). The NFL fought for dominance in the professional Devner Broncos helmetsport, fending off several professional leagues, including the AFL. The fierce competition for players finally led to merger talks in 1966. On June 8, 1966, the merger was announced, the winner of each league’s champion would meet in a final game to determine the world champions. Of course, that game would need a name. AFL founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt jokingly referred to the proposed game as the Super Bowl, after watching a group of kids play with a toy called a Super Ball. The name was consistent with college “bowl” games, and became the permanent name of the football championship game.

Since the first two Super Bowl games were completely dominated by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, there were doubts as to whether or not the AFL was an inferior league. All that changed the third year when the AFL’s New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The following year, another AFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs won the game against the Minnesota Vikings to put the two leagues at a tie for games won. Super Bowl IV was the last championship played between the two leagues. After that the two sides were called the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference), but the championship game would Panthers helmetcontinue. The trophy that is given to the winning team at the Super Bowl is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the coach of the Green Bay Packers who won those first two Super Bowl games. It was first given to the Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl V.

This year’s Super Bowl game will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The teams playing are the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. That makes it especially exciting for me, because the Broncos are my team. The Panthers are good team too. This game could prove to be a nail biter, so hold onto your seat…the game is on!! By the way…did I tell you something you didn’t know before?

Jim StengelNot everyone can say that they truly have the best job on Earth. I know that lots of people think they do, but I can name so many ways that they, if they thought about it from my perspective, would have to admit that they just don’t. For most people, going to work means getting there on time, doing your job, and going home at quitting time. Loving your job sometimes falls into this mix, and sometimes it just doesn’t, for the sad truth is that millions of people really hate their job. They know that they could find a better one, but they just don’t know where to start, or they don’t have the training, or the job market is just so poor that they don’t dare try to look somewhere else right now.

For the last 19 years I can honestly say that I have been extremely blessed to have the job I do, with the boss I have. It’s easy for me to use the term boss, because in reality Jim Stengel is nothing like a boss…in fact, he is the epitome of the un-boss. He doesn’t even like the word boss…choosing rather to call his employees, associates, and glaring at the person who forgets and calls him boss. It’s his way of reminding us that he doesn’t like the “B” word. Jim tells us about his dad’s way of looking at it. Jim Stengel Sr was the owner of Dakota Granite, and it was his belief that if you hire the best people for the job, and let them do their job without micro managing them, they will do their very best for you, and be happy in the process. I think he was on to something there.

One of the best reasons that I have to say that Jim is the greatest person to work for, is that he knows how to keep the priorities straight. Over my ten years as a caregiver, I have had to put that theory to the test. Lots of bosses tell you that family comes first, but if you need time off to go take care of someone in the family, they aren’t so happy to accommodate that time off. Apparently, it’s ok make family your top priority, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job. Not so with Jim. During the times when my caregiving duties required me to miss quite a bit of work, he didn’t complain, and that made me want to work even harder for him when I was there. Both my family and Bob’s family are fully aware of the huge debt of gratitude we all owe Jim, and for that reason they have virtually adopted him as a son in the family. Not only that, but they keep him in their prayers. We can never repay that debt, and if you ask Jim, he would tell you that we don’t owe him a thing…Jim & Juliebut that’s just him being kind, because we really do. Had he not given me the time off I needed, even at a moments notice, to take care of a parent or sister-in-law who needed my help, I don’t know what we would have done.

Jim will try to blow this off as being what any boss would do, but we all know that isn’t so. Most bosses expect you to put in your full hours, and find someone else to take care of things when you are working. That is no easy task, as any caregiver will tell you. Jim is a one of a kind…the un-boss, and we who have the privilege of working for him understand just how very blessed we are by him. Today is Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you and are proud to call you…friend!!

Roller SkatesAs a kid, going to the roller skating rink was not always an option. Nevertheless, we all loved to skate. Not being able to go to the skating rink all the time didn’t bother us, nor did the uneven sidewalk in front of our house. We learned to overcome those obstacles, because we loved to skate. I suppose it was that age old desire to have wheels to take you where you wanted to go, without having to depend on your parents to get you there…or maybe it was just because it was a lot of fun. The skates I had as a kid were not the fancy ones with the shoe built onto it, because…well our shoe size was always changing. It made no sense to buy new ones every year. That was simply an unnecessary expense.

Wearing SkatesOf course, the problem with those skates that could grow, was that you needed a key to change the length and the width of the skate to fit your shoes. Since feet didn’t grow that fast, it might be a while between the times you needed to change the size, by the time you needed it again, the key was nowhere to be found. This was such a big problem, in fact, that at one point someone came up with a song about two kids…one who had the skates, and one who had the key. It made for a good partnership…or maybe it was just necessity that they become friends. Either way, having a skate key made one a valuable friend to anyone who had skates and no key.

I think if the inventor of the skates had given any thought to it, he might have figured out a different way to do the size changes, or at the very least, put in a place to store the key, so that if it was lost, it would truly be Skate Keythe fault of the child, and not just the fact that the key had no safe storage place to be. Of course, in all reality, the skating years were pretty short lived. All too soon, we were on to the next great toy or the next cool set of wheels…such as the skateboard. Once those came out, kids who were still using skates were considered babies…until Inline Skates came out. Then the ones who still had four wheeled skates or even skateboards were considered babies, who couldn’t balance on two wheeled skates…until trick skateboarding came along. Before long, that old pair of four wheeled skates and their corresponding key, were no longer the latest thing…and no one wanted them anyway, so the key no longer mattered.

Thanksgiving DinnerAs Thanksgiving approached this year, I found myself thinking of the things I’m thankful for. Of course, I’m thankful first and foremost for my loving Heavenly Father. He is always there for me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. How could I possibly ask for more than to have a God who cares deeply about every little tiny part of my life. No human cares that much, not even those who love me with all their hearts, because…well humans just don’t have a love so deep and unconditional.

While this year will find half of my family here and half in Washington, it will feel very lonely, but what I really care about is that my family is all happy, healthy, safe, and sound. And I hope they have a wonderful Thanksgiving too, even though we will miss them very much. I think the holidays are the hardest time to be apart, because the rest of the time work and activities keep you busy and you can forget that they are so far away, but the holidays…well, they are just different. The holidays are all about family. Maybe next year we can be together for one of the holidays. That would be really nice. For now, I am thankful that all of Amy’s family is together for this Thanksgiving holiday. And I’m lonely and sad because of the empty chairs we will have at our table this year.

And this will be the first Thanksgiving with both of my parents in Heaven, and that is very hard for my sisters, and our families. Yet, we are still thankful that our parents are together with other loved ones who have gone to Heaven too. I am so thankful that our parents brought is up to know the Lord, and to know the comfort of knowing where they are now and that they are safe in the loving arms of our Heavenly father. While we will Thanksgiving dinnermiss them terribly today, as we do every day, and the empty chairs that they would have occupied will make us lonely, we know that they are celebrating with us, because they celebrate God’s love with thanksgiving every day, as do we. We will also be missing my father-in-law, and in reality my mother-in-law, who is in a nursing home. For Bob’s siblings, the loneliness is the same as my sisters and me, the empty chairs speak volumes, if we will listen.

Still, not all things about this day will be sad and lonely, because last month, right after I broke my shoulder, I was so blessed when Bob and I were “adopted” into my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s family. His parents, Becky and Duane Skelton invited us to spend Thanksgiving as part of their family. Kevin’s parents have been friends of ours for a long time, and it was just such a wonderful thing to do. I don’t think I was ready to try to put on a Thanksgiving dinner. By Christmas, I expect that I will be much more ready, when I host Bob’s family, but for now, I am very thankful for the kindness of such amazing friends. I love both of them very much, and I look forward to the memories we will have of this day.

Lastly, but in no way the least, I am thankful for new and renewed family connections. Over the past couple of years, we have reconnected with cousins that we haven’t seen in quite some time and some we had never met, which has expanded our family in areas that were lacking before. It is so wonderful to have such a large family, Becky & Duaneand to have the opportunity to get to know these cousins that we never knew. They are all such wonderful people with so many different interests and life stories, and yet, we are all connected in the deepest of ways…we are family. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.

While this Thanksgiving is filled with mixed emotions for me and my family, I am truly thankful for every day of life, for every member of my family, for each friend, for job, home, and the beauty of God’s creation here one Earth. And I am thankful that when this life is over, I too will live forever in the loving arms of my Father in Heaven. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Have a blessed day!!

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