My cousin, Darla Stanko passed away on February 26, 2023, at 63 just years old. As I think of Darla, I remember her laugh, which was just like her mother’s. It was sweet and a little shy, but when they laughed…you laughed, because their laugh was contagious. As kids, we would all go down in Grandma Byer’s basement to play, while the grownups visited upstairs. Grandma’s basement was a little creepy and worked well as a “haunted” house…if the kids liked that sort of thing. Some did and some didn’t. I preferred other games. I think Darla did too. She had asthma and scary stuff could trigger things.
As kids do, we all grew up…quicker than we would ever have dreamed possible. Before long, babies were coming along. I remember talking to Darla once. She told me that without a doubt, the best thing she ever did was JeanAnn, and of that I have no doubt. For a mom to look at the beautiful little baby they have just given birth to…there is no greater honor. Kids are a big part of our lives, and games are a part of kids. JeanAnn told me about the times she and her mom played cards. Their favorite game was Speed…which is a high drama card matching game for two players. It was perfect for them.
The other thing that JeanAnn and her mom loved to do was to spend time jumping on the trampoline in their yard. I can just picture it now, a summer evening in the back yard, just the two girls, jumping and giggling the hours away. Of course, there was also their dog, Nelly with them too. Now Nelly was a different sort of dog. She was very gentle with JeanAnn, but then she was JeanAnn’s guard dog. She was also gentle with Darla too…except for that one time. JeanAnn could make Nelly mad and then point at a new person, and Nelly would go get that person. That was all well and good…until JeanAnn did that to her mom. My guess is that JeanAnn had no idea what was about to take place. Darla saw it coming, and she jumped on the furniture to get away from the guard dog that was now hot on her trail. She almost knocked herself out jumping down. JeanAnn says, “It was great” and maybe it was…for her anyway. Darla…maybe not so much, but I’m sure she laughed about it later.
Now, for me, possibly the funniest story about Darla’s life was the “fateful” trip to Denver. Darla decided to take her daughter to Denver, and to take her mom, my Aunt Delores Johnson with them. She needed a “navigator” and while I can’t picture my Aunt Dee in that capacity, maybe Darla thought map reading was like breathing…anyone could do it. My thought is, “Have you met your mother?” Anyway, off they went, and to make a long story short, they ended up on a one street in rush hour traffic, going the wrong way!!” Oh yes, that’s the Aunt Dee I know, and I can totally picture that whole situation…once I can stop laughing!!
My sister, Allyn Hadlock has had quite an unusual year. Allyn has worked at Wyoming Medical Center (now Banner Health) for twenty years now. She is the Senior Manager of the PFS Billing Unit. She is well liked and works hard, but with so many changes in the working world since Covid happened, Allyn has really had working from home on her heart. At first, it seemed like an impossibility, but when Banner purchased WMC, the idea surfaced again…both in my sister’s mind, and thankfully in the minds of the new owners. So, on Monday, December 12, 2022, Allyn went home to work!!! It was a dream come true.
Allyn and her husband Chris Hadlock had inherited his parents’ property on the Platte River after his mom passed away a few years ago, and they removed the old house that was there and in pretty bad shape. Then, they had a brand-new home built there. The home was finished a few years ago, except for the unfinished attic. They had a bed up there for when their kids came to stay, but the rest of the attic was open. Now, it is all finished, complete with a really nice guest suite, a sitting area, and two offices. Chris doesn’t work from home most of the time, but sometimes he does. Allyn, however, simply wakes up, has her breakfast and gets ready for her day. Then she and her dog, Liberty go upstairs for the day. She painted her office in her favorite color…yellow, and she has all her favorite things in there. Nevertheless, when she is in the office during working hours, she is all business.
This year found Allyn making two trips to Arizona. In November, she went to Phoenix on a work trip. Of course, we were all jealous, because it was really cold here in Wyoming, and she got to take almost a week and go be in the warmth. It was a working trip, but she learned a lot, and the trip was very successful. Then, at the end of December, Allyn and Chris got to join daughter, Lindsay Moore; Lindsay’s husband, Shannon; and daughter, Mackenzie; as well as Shannon’s parents, Mary Jo and Tom Moore, in Tucson, Arizona for the Arizona Bowl game. Shannon is one of the coaches of the Cowboys. The team had won a spot in the game. Unfortunately, after a hard-fought game, the Cowboys lost, but the Hadlock/Moore families had an amazing time, and for the second time this winter, Allyn got to escape the cold in sunny Arizona. Today is Allyn’s 60th birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It seems like every year, right about Christmastime, I start feeling a longing for the trails and my summertime early morning walks. During the winter, my walking moves from the outdoor trails and particularly the Sage Trail at the end of my block to the now famous (at least for those who know me well) carpet trail that runs through a section of my house. I have a treadmill, but I seldom use it, because it doesn’t feel like a “trail” to me. The Sage Trail is really a walking path nestled between an alley and a creek bed with the Sage Creek, now contained in a blocks-long culvert to keep it mostly in check…unless we get a lot of rain, after which, the Sage Creek overflows its containment through the grates provided for such overflow events.
It is during this time, that my mind turns to trail pictures, trail information, and basically looking for the next trail challenge. The trail that has come to mind this time is the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Of course, we will not be hiking this trail anytime soon, but with tools like Google Earth, you can actually take a “hike” without leaving the comfort of your own home…which is the “hike” I can do at this time of year in Wyoming. My Husband Bob and I, during a visit to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, walked down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail for a very short distance. We weren’t really prepared for a long hike, and especially one that went down into the canyon and then, of course, back up the trail again. The signs warned people, not saying “What goes up, must come down,” but rather that “What goes down, must come up!!!” In other words, if you can’t hike out of the canyon, you had better not hike into the canyon. While we were is good shape, and probably could have hiked down and then back up, we simply didn’t have enough time to hike it. The trail is 8.1 miles…one way, and 8.1 miles back. The downhill version is said to take about 3.5 hours and the uphill version 4.8 hours. I guess that is why most people who hike the trail do it over a two-day timeframe. There is a ranch at the bottom that provides a place to sleep and meals, so it really would be a cool hike to take someday, but I don’t know if we will ever get around to it. Nevertheless, I can always dream, and the virtual views provided by Google Earth make me feel like I’m there…almost.
Summer will be here before I know it, and while most of my hikes will be taken on the Sage Trail, and maybe the nearby Platte River Trail, I know I will feel much better about it all, because while I’m fine with walking the “Carpet Trail,” the scenery leaves something to be desired. While I love my house, it just doesn’t have the classic scenic views of hiking or walking in the great outdoors.
Whenever our aunt, Pearl Hein talked about her husband, our uncle, Eddie Hein, she always called him Big Ed. It was her “pet name” for him…kind of like saying he was her superhero. That is truly how Pearl felt about Eddie. Theirs was a long-standing marriage of 52 years at the time of Eddie’s graduation to Heaven. He was her superhero, and she was his too. It was always fun to watch them, because their personalities were very similar, and yet each was unique.
I first met them on my first trip to Forsyth, Montana to visit my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family, and the trip was so much fun that for many years we went for a visit every summer. I loved all of the Forsyth family and looked forward to it every year. Eddie and Pearl lived at the edge of town beside the dike that held the Yellowstone River back from the town. Eddie and Pearl always had a vegetable garden, and they canned lots of their food. Eddie transformed their house from the original mobile home to a house and decorated it in various places with river rock. The fireplace was a beautiful focal point.
Eddie, and Pearl too, had what I call a smiling face. Their whole face smiled with they smiled, and that is a very cool kind of face to have. I think it is a sign of a really happy person too. They loved to entertain, and they loved to laugh and joke. Some of my fondest memories are when they were picking on my husband, Bob. He had long hair back then, but everyone in the hippy generation did, so he wasn’t alone. Eddie was always threatening to give him a buzz cut, and one time went after him with the shears, but of course, they weren’t plugged in. Nevertheless, it was funny, and unless you looked closely, you might think they were plugged in. The picture is funny anyway. It’s funny stuff like that that I think I miss the most about Eddie. There was really never a dull moment when we were over at their house.
Eddie went home to be with the Lord on October 16, 2019, and I still can’t believe he is gone. He had a stroke a few years earlier, and fought his way back, with much help from Pearl, who was his “rock” during those days. I think one of his happiest moments after the stroke, was when he was able to walk his daughter Kim down the aisle when she married Michael Arani on October 7, 2017. I don’t think he thought he would be able to do it, but Eddie was a strong man, and he was determined. I’m so happy that he got to see that day. Today would have been Eddie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Eddie. We love and miss you very much.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that four years ago today, my husband, Bob Schulenberg had a heart attack in the Walmart parking lot. It was the Widowmaker…one of the deadliest types of heart attack. MY memory of that event, however, is as vivid today as if I were standing there watching it happen all over again. That day could have changed my life forever and taken his life from him…but it didn’t. My husband is still here because there are heroes among us!! They are everyday people who see a deadly situation, and don’t just turn their backs. They take action. I didn’t see the attack, because Bob had gone to put the shopping cart in the rack. I was checking my phone when a man I don’t know to that day knocked on my window and asked if I “knew this man?” I immediately realized that Bob had taken too long to get into the car.
I jumped out of the car and ran to the other side. There on the ground, with blood coming from his head was my husband. His eyes were open, but he was not there. I immediately thought that I had lost him. Then I came to my senses…sort of and got down beside him. I “demanded” that he wake up. Looking back now, I must have looked crazy, telling my unconscious husband to “wake up and get back to life” basically. Then I noticed someone was there, with a stethoscope!! Who carries a stethoscope in their car, and how did she know we needed her? Only an angel, sent by God to be there!! There were many angels in that parking lot that day. Some I now know, like Sean Pesicka-Taggart, the man who first came to my husband’s aid, and his girlfriend Laura Lance, who was a transport worker at Wyoming Medical Center, at that time (I’m very proud to say that she is now a Radiologic Technologist). Laura assisted the nurse, Ginger Sims who was the one to realize that it was not a fall or hit-and-run, but Bob’s heart that had stopped. She told her son to push the OnStar button and tell the ambulance where to respond. Then, Ginger took immediate action, and if she had not, I would have been a widow today. Ginger was doing CPR, and told me how to do rescue breathing, because I couldn’t think straight. Laura assisted in CPR, thankfully, because that is a hard job, and no one can do it for very long. Then just as suddenly, another nurse, who worked with Ginger saw what was going on, and stopped to help. Valya Boycheva is also a nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, and she took over CPR for Laura. Together the three of them continued CPR until the fire department and ambulance arrived. I’m not sure, but I think Sean called them. When the paramedics took over, I stood back and thought…”How will I ever know who to thank for their assistance?” So many heroes had stepped out of thin air, to give their all for my husband. Somehow, God made sure that I found out who they were, and I have been forever grateful for that too.
There were other angels there that day…prayer warriors!! These people were in the parking lot, and saw the situation, and immediately started praying…Lori DeSanti (a friend of mine from church), Chelsea Kessler (who immediately called her dad and stepmom, Page and Donna LePage…who, not knowing who they were praying for, called my boss, Jim Stengel and got him in prayer too), and Chelsea’s husband, Zack Kessler. There were probably countless other people there praying, because there were angels all over that parking lot that day. I have no doubt about that, and because of all the heroes, prayer warriors and angels there that day, my husband is health and most of all, still with me today.
To add to the incredible events of that day, it seemed only seconds before the firetrucks arrived, with a friend of Bob’s on the crew. Jerod Levin saw me and immediately came to my aid. I was standing there feeling very small and totally lost, and he told me I could go with Bob in the ambulance, and that he would bring my car to the hospital for me!! And, when we got to the hospital…on a Sunday afternoon, all the right people, Jon Cook and Sam Cann (both of whom work in the Heart Cath Lab), just happened to be there, and they know Bob, because he had worked on their cars. From attack to full treatment took two hours…two hours!! How could that have all came together? Only God…only God!! And to this day, I give him all the praise, and I will be forever grateful for the heroes among us, who stepped up to the plate when Bob and I needed them most. They are family now, and they always will be.
My nephew, Steve Moore has had an interesting year and a half. March of 2021 found Steve in a position that no active person ever wants to find themselves…with an injured hand. For Steve this was especially bad, because he likes to do so many projects with his hands, and to suddenly find himself sidelined was devastating. Nevertheless, Steve turned his attention to doing whatever was necessary to find his way back to being able to use his hand again. Really, it’s a good thing that occupational therapy is time consuming, because occupational therapy is a lot of work, and if you want to get back to full use of your hands, you have to work hard and commit to the program. Steve did that and now he’s back.
While Steve was unable to do the wood for his father-in-law, LJ Cook last summer, he has been able to get back at it this year. The vibrations from the saw really gave him a lot of trouble last year, but this year has been much better. He has built up the strength to almost 100%, and while the vibrations still bother him, it’s not enough to not run the saw. I’m sure that LJ is happy about that too. Getting and cutting up wood is a big job, and every hand is a big help.
Steve loves doing projects around the home he and his wife, my niece, Machelle Moore share. Earlier this spring he did some work on the front of the house. This has been an ongoing project. The cement work was done about 5 years ago, and just they then had to wait to do anymore digging so the cement was well cured. They then had to move about 16 sprinklers, before they hand dug the front and side part of the cement area. They didn’t want to take a chance on cracking the cement by using equipment for the dig, so they did it all by hand. The plan was to move the rock out to the sidewalk all along, but it’s a big job, and they had to get motivated for it. This summer was the year. Maybe the time of sitting around made him want to get back to it. Anyway, it was time, and Steve tackled it and now it’s way better than what Machelle had envisioned. It’s amazing how much things like that came make you feel a sense of pride of ownership.
Steve is a good man to have around, as his in-laws, Debbie and LJ Cook, have found. He is the kind of guy who will drop everything to help someone out when they need it. Plus, he likes to build things, and he has a real knack for it. The raised gardens he built for his in-laws, have made their gardening so much easier on their backs, and the fact that they are beautiful is a definite plus too. Steve stepped in to help Debbie and LJ with their freezer defrost project this past week too. That is a really hard job, and it’s always nice to have an extra set of hands. I know that Debbie and LJ really appreciated it. Steve is just a great guy to have around, and he has been a huge blessing to the Cook family. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It’s strange how the longer a person has been in Heaven, the more you sometimes find yourself talking about them. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was like a second dad to me, in fact, my mother-in-law was also like a second mom to me. I was very blessed to have the sweetest in-laws in the world. The first years of having my in-laws were wonderful, but the last years of having my in-laws were quite possibly the ones I will always treasure the most.
While my mother-in-law wasn’t always able to contribute much to our conversations, she always added a bit of a humorous flair to them, because of her dry sense of humor and her off the wall moments of lucidity. My father-in-law, on the other hand, had a sharp mind. He also had a great sense of humor, and we had many times of laughter. We also had many conversations about their care. I wanted Dad to be involved in the care they were receiving. He needed to be comfortable with all of it. He never felt like he understood the medical side of things, and so he was happy to turn that over to me, and even have me speak for them with the doctors…a plan the doctors didn’t always get until we explained our arrangement to them. Then they were on board, and everyone was comfortable. Dad and I became very close in those years. It was like a partnership of sorts.
While some time was spent with medical things, there was also lots of time spent just visiting. We talked about so many things, and I really felt like I got to know both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law much better than I ever had. It’s amazing just how much you can become good friends with someone, when you spend a lot of time together, and we really did, especially when my mother-in-law began to need more care. I went over four times a day in those days, and I believe they really looked forward to the increased visits. It can get lonely when there are just two people in the house, and one can’t really carry on a conversation very well anymore. Dad got a chance to visit when I was there four times a day, his sons Bob Schulenberg (my husband) and Ron Schulenberg were also there pretty much every day, and his daughters Brenda Schulenberg, Jennifer Parmely, and Debbie Cook were there at times too, along with my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce and their children, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen. And we had the occasional help, when needed of my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce. We were a team, and for my in-laws, that made all the difference. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much.
Each year, approximately 40 million lightning strikes hit the ground in the United States, with Tampa, Florida having the most, and Florida being listed as the Lightning Capital of the United States. While Florida is known as the Sunshine State, it is notorious for thunderstorms, lightning strikes and fatalities. On average, Florida has 3,500 cloud to ground lightning flashes per day and 1.2 million flashes per year. Nevertheless, the odds of a human being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in a million, and strangely, almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive. The odds of being struck multiple times is even less, with the record being seven times in one lifetime. According to the National Weather Service, lightning causes an average of 62 deaths and 300 injuries in the United States each year. People can be at greater risk for being struck if they participate in outdoor recreational activities or working outside. Regional and seasonal differences can also increase the risk of being struck by lightning. Being outdoors in a lightning storm is certainly not a good idea.
Lightning strikes to humans have been going on as long as times and lightning strikes have been going on. We just hear about them more today than in the distant past. Rarely, humans are struck by lightning, and even with the record of known strikes to humans in one lifetime being seven, it is still a very rare phenomenon. The first time Major Walter Summerford, an Englishman, was said to have been struck by lightning was in 1918 on a World War I battlefield. He was reportedly riding a horse at the time and, while the animal died, Summerford was only temporarily incapacitated by the strike. It’s possible the horse took the bulk of the hit, because Summerford’s feet were not on the ground, meaning that it traveled through Summerford, through the horse, and then on into the ground. That is the nature of lightning. It travels through something with electricity (which humans have, by the way) and then into the ground. So unfortunately, the horse became a part of the connection and actually finished the connection…costing the horse its life. Sad, for sure, but the horse saved the life of its rider.
Summerford’s documented additional strikes included two more times…in 1924 and 1930. Then to make him even more unique, Summerford was technically struck after he had died. It happened that two years after he was buried in Vancouver, Canada, a lightning storm went through the area, and lightning actually struck his gravestone in 1936. The bolt was packed with so much power, that Summerford’s gravestone was completely destroyed by that fourth lightning strike. Now that’s got to be the most unique human/lightning encounter story in history.
My sweet sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg has been in Heaven for 33 years, and yet at times it seems like she was just with us yesterday. Time is a fickle thing that way. Maybe it’s because God blurs time to help us cope with sad things. Losing Marlyce was so hard on everyone in the family. She was developmentally disabled, and yes, Mom and Dad (Joann and Walt Schulenberg), worried about what would happen to her when they were gone. Of course, they needn’t have worried, because we would have taken care of her. Nevertheless, it was their concern. Marlyce was probably 13 years old mentally…old enough to take care of her own daily needs, but no old enough to live on her own. I guess, in the end, they needn’t have worried, because she went before them.
I miss so many things Marlyce did, mostly because while they were not vital to our days, they made our days. That was really a big part of who Marlyce was. She liked bringing joy to those around her. Her baking skills were always a big hit, with her chocolate chip cookies being a big favorite. She also made stocking caps, and a lot of people were a little bit warmer as a result. Marlyce loved being useful, and she loved it when people recognized her hard work. You were her favorite person, if you appreciated her work.
As time marches on to the place where Marlyce has been gone longer than she was here, I’m having trouble sorting out just how that makes me feel. When I married into this family, Marlyce was expected to always be a part of that, but then she got cancer when she was just 39 years old. So very young to be facing cancer, especially since she didn’t really understand all that was going on. Watching her lose so much weight as she fought the cancer in her esophagus was just so hard…and even harder when she went into the hospital for the last time. Marlyce lost her battle with cancer on August 13, 1989. Her cheerful voice was silenced and the beauty that Marlyce created with her gifts was gone. While I know she is in Heaven, happy and fully restored in her mind, her presence here is forever gone, and that makes me sad. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.
My nephew, Lucas Iverson is growing up so fast. It’s hard for me to believe that he is eleven years old already. Lucas has been through a lot. He was born with Down Syndrome, and that has made his road a bit longer and more difficult, but his mom, Cassie Franklin is such a great mom, and she works tirelessly to get him the best education and the best care possible. Learning difficulties are not the only challenges Lucas has faced. He has had health issues most of his life too. A lot of his problems are in the digestive system, which can be very painful, and while I’m sure there are a plenty of tears and fussing when he doesn’t feel well, Lucas is also a real trooper during these hospital stays. He is a wonderful boy, and very, very brave.
Lucas works very hard in school. He is getting special care and help to communicate, and he is doing so well. His little sister, Zoey has also been very helpful in Lucas’ development. Zoey just naturally understood, from the time she was born, that her brother, while the sweetest brother ever, was not able to do all the things she could do. She took it upon herself to help Lucas to excel. One of the biggest ways Zoey helped him was in learning to walk. She never got upset with him, and never left him behind. She was patient and kind, and Lucas responded so well. They are and always will be best friends.
Recently, Lucas’ mom, Cassie Franklin; her boyfriend, William Burr; and sister, Zoey got to take a trip to Oregon. I don’t know if they knew it was there or not, but they found a whole park that was dedicated to disabled children. This park has Lucas’ communication board there in it, and they were all so excited. The communication board is the same one Lucas uses at school on his tablet. It was an amazing find. Lucas knew immediately what it was and what it was for. It was like finding a place where he could play without having to think about his disability. Everything they played on was for children just like Lucas, and yet it was also geared for Zoey. They could play together, and each could have a fantastic time. I was so excited for Lucas when I saw this, because he could just be a kid, and fit right in at the same time. How very cool is that. Today is Lucas’ 11th birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!