Loss

Whenever my sisters and I get together to go through some more of our parents things, I find that the time spent is bittersweet. We enjoy the time together, sharing memories and stories of the past, but there isn’t always regret, because our parents are gone and can’t be there with us. We were always a close family, and as we visit, I can’t help but think just how much Mom and Dad would have loved to be there, listening to the laughter of their girls. As we went through the attic this weekend, there much of the laughter and camaraderie that our parents taught us. They would have been proud of our teamwork, and of course, thrilled with some of the things we found.

It had been many years since either of our parents were able to get up in the attic, and Mom couldn’t figure out what had happened to some of the things she felt were precious. If she weren’t in Heaven now, she would know where those treasures had been, and that they had fared well through the years. Now, some of those treasures have been divided up between their girls, and some will be in time. I just wish that we could have found them before Mom passed away, because she always wondered what happened to some of their things. I suppose it happens to most of us, at one time or another. We put something away for safe keeping, and then, we can’t remember where we put it. Mom was right when she said that some of the things were precious, because they were.

As we planned the weekend’s work, we expected the items in the attic to be mostly junk…old toys, old clothes, and such, and we did find those things, but there were some surprises too. We found more of Dad’s uniforms from World War II, as well as the medals Mom thought had been lost forever. We found her antique sewing machines, and an antique typewriter…yes, the really old style. We found their bowling balls from the years when they bowled, and that made me miss them a lot. I remember all those bowling years, and I suppose that is why I still bowl today. Bowling was their sport of choice, and all of their kids and some of their grandkids bowl too. We made the decision to donate their bowling balls to Sunrise Lanes, so that other people could use them, and enjoy their sport of choice too. I think Mom and Dad would be pleased…I know the employees at the blowing alley were.

We also found many pictures, as well as negatives and film. We are excited to have them developed, but dividing them up will be a future get together, because we want them scanned so we can all have copies. We spent a little time looking through the pictures today, and I can tell you that they are precious. Baby pictures, baptismal pictures, baby shower pictures, and many others. I can’t wait to look through those, as well as the love letters Dad sent to Mom…and yes she kept them all tied in a neat little ribbon. Yes, the weekend was an exciting one in many ways, and a sad one in many others, but we would all agree that the treasures found were precious.

As the second anniversary of my mom’s passing drew near, my family and I have been talking more and more about the woman who was our mother. Mom was many things, as most mothers are, but one of the parts of my mom that never ceased to amaze me, was her ability to maintain a certain level of innocence, or at least what we thought was innocence. As I look back now, she was a wise woman, who managed to keep her world…quite pure and innocent. I’m not talking about her personal life, but rather our family life. There were certain lines we all knew not to cross. My sisters and I would never have cussed in front of our parents…if we wanted to live, that is, but somehow we knew that our boyfriends and husbands would be required to live up to that standard too…and they did. It was out of respect for her, my dad, and their home. That was something I always though amazing. I don’t think I even remember having to tell a boyfriend twice, not even the ones who weren’t the keeper I ended up with. It was as if they thought mom might pass out if they were to talk in an inappropriate manner. I don’t know…maybe she would have. I never dared to find out, and I’m not sorry that Mom was that way, because my sisters and I were raised to speak decently, and we have never regretted that.

Another way that my mom always seemed so innocent was in her sense of humor. Mom never cared if she looked silly, if it could make her arguing children laugh. When you have five daughters, complete with all the drama that can be associated with it, you either get silly, or you go crazy. Well, mom was an expert at making her girls either straighten up, or laugh, usually in a very unique way. I remember Mom clearing the living room floor so that two of us could “fight it out” and once we had a good hold of each other’s hair, and were both basically pinned to the floor, the room broke out in laughter, because lets face it, it was pretty hilarious. I remember Mom making some crazy faces that we couldn’t help but laugh at, and even if we knew that Mom was mad, it was sometimes hard not to laugh about her face, but we knew that it was in our best interest not to.

Life with our mom was never dull, but then again, Mom would probably tell you the same thing about life with her girls. If there was some crazy antic that we could come up with…we did. I remember ruining my brand new penny loafers because I felt the need to go trudging through the mud and the construction site at the new Kmart building. The shoes cleaned up ok, but they were now of a size to fit my younger sister, Caryl. My sister, Alena was a whiz at concocting formulas. Of course, using the “shampoo” she created was out of the question, because it would probably burn your hair off. As far as terrorizing my sisters…that would have to be, yours truly. I was born with strong fingernails…well daggers actually, and I did not hesitate to use them. Sometimes I wonder how I survived childhood, because if anyone drove our mom crazy, it was me. I’m sure that my wedding day was cause for celebration on many levels. Just thinking about what I put my mom through…well, I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. I think that is how Mom had to have felt. It really was get silly, or go crazy in our house.

When we think of the White House, we seldom think of death. Oh, there have been presidents who were assassinated, or died while in office, but mostly not in the White House. It is too well guarded, and an ill president usually was taken to a hospital. Nevertheless, death has visited the White House, and the case I am referring to was not a president, but rather his son. Abraham Lincoln is my 7th cousin thrice removed, making his children, my 7th cousins 4 times removed. Lincoln married Mary Todd on November 4, 1842, in Springfield, Illinois. They were the parents of four sons Robert Todd Lincoln was born in 1843 and Edward Baker “Eddie” Lincoln in 1846. Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, probably of Tuberculosis. William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died of a Typhoid Fever on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns’ fourth son, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871. While three of the four boys died in childhood, only one, Willie passed away in the White House.

Disease was a scary thing in those days, because many serious diseases, which we have cures for now, were a death sentence in those days. Little Willie Lincoln had contracted Typhoid Fever. Typhoid fever, also known simply as typhoid, is a bacterial infection due to Salmonella Typhi that causes symptoms which may vary from mild to severe and usually begin six to thirty days after exposure. The disease was all over Washington DC, and even the White House was not safe from it’s deathly grip. In fact, Willie was not the only one to have it. His brother, Tad was in bed just down the hall, with the same illness. Tad would survive, but I have to wonder if his heart was not severely weakened by the disease, because he passed away just nine years later of heart failure. On February 20, 1862, little 11 year old Willie succumbed to the Typhoid Fever at 5:00pm. His parents were with him, and Abraham Lincoln said, “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!” Mary watched him bury his head in his hands, “his tall frame convulsed with emotion.” At the foot of the bed she stood “in silent, awe-stricken wonder,” marveling that so rugged a man could be so moved. “I shall never forget those solemn moments — genius and greatness weeping over love’s idol lost.” President Lincoln then walked down the hall to his secretary’s office. He startled the half-dozing secretary with the news: “Well, Nicolay, my boy is gone — he is actually gone!” John Nicolay recalled seeing his boss burst into tears before entering his own office. I think I have to agree with Mary. When we think of Abraham Lincoln, we think of a strong man, but if we think about it, he also had a softer side, and he loved children.

Willie Lincoln was a favorite around the White House. In the words of a government official’s wife, “The White House is sad and still, for its joy and light have fled with little Willie. He was a very bright child, remarkably precocious for his age, and had endeared himself to every one who knew him.” Mary Lincoln’s cousin said he was “noble, beautiful…a counterpart of his father, save that he was handsome.” Mary herself called him the “idolized child, of the household.” It’s somewhat strange to think that such a large household as the White House, with all of it’s staff who work there, could be so changed by the death of a child, but Willie Lincoln was not an ordinary child. Had he been, he might not have come to the attention of everyone in the White House. Most of us know who the first children are but the White House staff knew Willie Lincoln and dearly loved him. As dates in history go, while this little boy was not an important man is the way we think of that today, he had a impact that went far beyond his short time on this earth, and his dying day was one that saddened a nation.

These days, tornado watches and warnings are a normal part of life. They may not happen every day, but when they do sound, we know what to do to stay as safe as possible. The warnings don’t always mean that there are zero deaths from a tornado, but they do help. Unfortunately, the tornado warning sirens, Doppler radar, and television warnings did not exist in 1884. In those days, people had to rely on the skies to tell them what was coming, and as most of us know, that is not always an easy task. In fact, it has taken hundreds of years to even begin to come close to perfecting a system whereby the public could be warned of approaching severe weather, and even then, it hasn’t eliminated the deaths that can occur from these storms.

One of the largest and most widespread tornado outbreaks in American history happened at a time when warnings did not exist. It happened on this day February 19, 1884, and into February 20, 1884. The precise number of tornadoes, as well as fatalities incurred during the outbreak remains unknown. The outbreak was nicknamed “Enigma outbreak” and is well known by that name. Research of newspaper reports and governmental studies published in the aftermath reveals tornadoes, or in reality, long-track tornado families, struck Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It is estimated that at least 50 tornadoes struck those states that day. Some events that had been counted as tornadoes in initial studies, such as those by John Park Finley, were actually downbursts, especially in northern and northeastern portions of the outbreak. Nevertheless, the damage done was nothing to be overlooked.

The majority of the reported tornadic activity was seen across Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, which were all struck severely by multiple waves of tornado families. In the Southeast, the outbreak began during the late morning in Mississippi, preceded by severe thunderstorms in Louisiana. Shortly thereafter, the outbreak widened and intensified, progressing from Alabama to Virginia between noon and midnight. In addition to the outbreak, wind damage, flash floods, with homes swept away by water in Louisville, Kentucky, New Albany, Indiana, and Jeffersonville, Indiana and other towns along the Ohio River, and Derecho-like effects in the Ohio Valley were also reported in published accounts of the outbreak. In case you didn’t know, a Derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms. In addition to that, blizzard conditions occurred in the eastern Midwest, as a part of this storm series. According to an article appearing in the Statesville, North Carolina Landmark three days later, the damage tally in Georgia alone was estimated to be $1 million, in 1884 dollars. Today, the damage would have been approximately $23,660,667. That is an astounding figure, and that is just the property damage numbers. Loss of life simply cannot be measured in money. In fact, the greatest mystery surrounding this horrific event is the possibility that, in all likelihood, as many as 1,200 people lost their lives that day at the hands of the 1884 Enigma Tornado Outbreak.

When we think of a series of disasters, it is usually tornadoes, earthquakes, or floods that come to mind. On February 11, 1952, none of the usual suspects were at fault in the series of disasters that began across central Europe. Snow storms don’t normally fall into the category of a series of disasters, but when a storm stalled over middle Europe during the first week of February of 1952, it dumped two feet of snow in parts of France, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. In the vast area of middle Europe, life quickly ground to a standstill. Everything was closed, and travel was impossible. Germany recruited thousands of people and their shovels in an attempt to make the streets passable. In France several people died when their roofs collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow accumulation.

The worst of the storm, however, was felt in Austria, when a series od deadly avalanches took a heavy death toll. It was during the early hours of February 11, 1952, at a ski resort in Melkoede, when a huge mass of the newly fallen snow suddenly crashed down the mountain from above. There was no time to react, and no time to get away. They were trapped. Fifty people were sleeping at the resort. Twenty of them, mostly German tourists were killed, and another ten were seriously injured. In Switzerland and Austria, authorities issued urgent warnings about potential avalanches and some villages were actually evacuated. Nevertheless, all that was not enough. The next day there were more damaging avalanches. In Isenthal, Switzerland, hundreds of cattle and several barns were buried by an avalanche. In Leutasche, Austria, a twelve year old child was saved by people who risked their own lives in the face of a second avalanche that was poised to fall. Seven members of the child’s family were killed by the avalanche.

Avalanches kill more than 150 people worldwide each year. Most are snowmobilers, skiers, and snowboarders, and most deadly avalanches are triggered by the victim or someone in their party. Given that count, I suppose that the 78 people who perished in the February avalanches in middle Europe in 1952, might seem like a small number, but when you consider that these deaths occurred over a period of a few days, and the rest of the deaths by avalanches from that year were not included in that number, the death toll is staggering. This was not the worst avalanche death toll, however. That record, if it is right to call it such, goes to the Huascarán avalanche that was triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake in Peru. On 31 May 1970, the Ancash earthquake caused a substantial part of the north side of the mountain to collapse. The avalanche mass, an estimated 80 million cubic feet of ice, mud and rock, was about half a mile wide and a mile long. It advanced about 11 miles at an average speed of 175 to 200 miles per hour, burying the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca under ice and rock, killing more than 20,000 people. This avalanche, in my estimation, might have been more of a landslide than an avalanche, and so it’s very possible that all of these people would have died had there been snow or not.

Young Frank KnoxEarly in my married life, I met a precious part of my husband, Bob’s family, in the form of his great grandparents, Edgar and Nellie Knox; his great aunt and uncle, Helen and Frank Knox; and their youngest son, Richard. They were wonderful people, and I loved them right away. I always thought it was awesome of Frank and Helen to bring their parents out to Casper to visit their son, Bob Knox’s family, of which I was a part. At that time, I didn’t really have a lot of time to get to know Frank and Helen, but got to know them on subsequent trip, and found them to be very interesting…but, little did I know, that I had only scratched the surface of who these people were.

After Helen’s passing recently, I found out so much more about her childhood, and the life she and Frank lived. In many ways, it was destiny that they should meet. Helen’s family had moved to California because of her mother’s illness, and after her mother passed away, the three older children were raised by her mother’s sister, while her younger siblings were adopted out. It was a sad time for Helen, but when she grew up, she decided to earn a degree in Social Work. When World War II finally drew the United States into it’s clutches, Helen became active in the USO, and it was then, during a homecoming dance, that she met a handsome young captain, named Richard F (Frank) Knox. They were smitten with each other right away, and married on June 13, 1946.

It was time then for Frank to go to college, so they moved to Pullman, Washington and he attended Washington State College, now Washington State University. When he graduated, Frank and Helen had planned to move to Vanport, Washington for a job he had lined up, with the Clark County PUD in Vancouver, WA, but the Vanport Flood of May 30, 1948 ended that dream. The flood wiped out the up and coming town of Vanport, Oregon, leaving no housing for Frank and Helen. It was then that Frank took an instructor position in Pullman, Washington, and that was where he and Helen lived for the next 40 years, and raised their five sons, Robert, David, Greg, Wesley, and Richard. I find it amazing, how God can have a different plan for us than our plan. I Frank and Hellen Knox Familydon’t know how things might have worked out had the flood not happened, but Frank and Helen and their sons lived a wonderful life in Pullman, Washington.

With Helen’s passing, comes a new kind of loneliness for Frank, and I am glad that he has his wonderful sons and their families to help him get through this difficult time. Nothing will ever replace the love of his life, and I’m sure that this…the first birthday without he beloved soul mate, Helen, will be a difficult on for Frank, and I will be keeping him in prayer today and always, that the Lord with comfort him all the days of his life. Today is Frank’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday Frank!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12742348_10208513107568216_4472158606894877096_nNot every person in a family is related by blood…or even by marriage. Sometimes, a lifelong friend is, in reality, as close as family. Such is the case with Burl Ford. Burl was one of the neighborhood kids that my mother, Collene Byer Spencer and her siblings played with as children. The first time I heard that they had been childhood friends, I was amazed, because by that time, we were living just down the street from Burl and his family, and in fact we were all friends, with them and their kids. Burl’s kids, Lisa, Susie, Burly, and Judy, were all in gymnastics, and his wife, Thea had learned how to coach and spot for the tumbling. So when my younger sisters and I were at their house, the natural next step was to do tumbling in their basement. It was Thea who instilled in me, the love of gymnastics, which I continued doing through high school.

Cheryl remembers playing Jacks on the patio in their back yard with Burl. That is an unusual thought, because Jacks was primarily a girls game…at least in school. Burl didn’t care about that. He loved kids, and playing with his kids and the neighbor kids 16387182_10202403016154753_4437392044467414144_n[1]was totally within his nature…and in fact, growing up was totally not in his nature. Burl was a kid all his life. And…Burl loved his pranks!! I suppose these days he might have found himself in trouble, but those were different times. One prank, in particular, that lots of their family friends remember is the cherry bombs. In those days, kids could safely have sleep overs in someone’s back yard. The Ford’s back yard had a slight slope to it, and made for a perfect sleep over spot…in theory. You did have to take Burl into account. He would wait until we were all settled out there sleeping, and out of the blue, in the middle of the night…a cherry bomb would go off. Burl was careful of course, and never threw it near anyone, but it was something that definitely got your attention.

Today, we said goodbye to Burl…all of his friends and family. It was a beautiful service filled with happy 16299244_10202403012874671_3342523734846440219_nmemories, and yes, the shedding of tears. Thea’s sisters reminded us of his love of sports, including the Broncos and the Colorado Rockies, as well as the Super Bowl games he got to attend, and throwing out the first pitch at a Rockies game. They told of his love of fishing, camping, snowmobiling, golf, travel, and precious time spent at their mountain cabin. And they told us about the many pranks and his bag of tricks. Burl was a member of the Oil City Slickers and Gentleman’s touch, both barber shop musical groups. The group sang at his service, and it occurred to me that, while the songs were beautiful, there was one voice missing. Those were wonderful memories, but it was something the minister said that particularly struck me as amazing. As he told of his last visits with Burl, and many before that, he said that the one thing he noticed was that Burl was always so happy and full of life. Then, he said that he wished that he could take some of Burl’s happy, joyous spirit and zest for life, and throw it out into the world. Instinctively, I thought…just pack it in a cherry bomb.

Helen KnoxNellie , Nettie, and Helen KnoxThe first time I met my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s great Uncle Frank Knox and his sweet wife, Helen, was in the summer of 1976, when they and their son, Richard so graciously brought Frank’s parents, Edgar and Nellie Knox to Casper to visit their son Robert’s family, of which I was now a member. It was such a kind act for them to bring Edgar and Nellie, and it showed the kind spirits that they were. Edgar and Nellie were getting on in years, as was their son Robert, who was their eldest son. Edgar was 93 years old at the time, and little did any of us know, that his life was nearer its end than anyone could have expected. The visit took place the end of July of 1976, and Edgar would pass away on August 28, 1976, just about a month later. Nellie would live another 8 years and was blessed in that Frank and Helen would again bring her out to Casper for a visit, about four years later. Again, I was moved by the acts of kindness they showed to Frank’s parents. Nellie passed away on February 10, 1984, at 97 years old, having lived a good long life.

I am reminded of the fourth Commandment of God, which says, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” I know that for their kind and loving acts, over the years, Frank and Helen have been very blessed. Frank and Helen married on June 13, 1946. Their marriage was blessed with five sons, Robert, David, Gregory, Wesley, and Richard. They were good people, and raised good children, and the rest of the family feels very blessed to have known them. Over the years, they made several trips to Casper, and it was always fun to see them. Frank and Helen have long since retired, and their memories have faded, which I find very sad, because they both had amazing minds. They knew so much and they were willing to share their knowledge with anyone who was interested in listening. The last time I spoke to Frank was when my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg passed away. I could tell that his memory was diminished, but it was a good visit, and he did remember some things He told me that Helen’s memory wasn’t as good as his was, and that made me sad too. I haven’t spoken to her in a number of years.

Last might, we got the word, that Helen had passed away on January 11, 2017. While I was very sad that she is gone, I know that she was very blessed. You see, Helen was 99 years old. How many people get to live to be scan0099 (2)scan0129 (2)99 years old. Helen’s kindness over the years to everyone she knew, but especially to her parents and to Frank’s parents have given her the benefit of God’s promise of a long life, and since Frank is still living, at 96 years old, it is very obvious that he will also reap the benefit of that same promise. They are both wonderful people. Rest now in peace, Helen Knox. You will be greatly missed, but I know that you are happy in Heaven, and your memory has been restored to you again. We love you, and miss you already.

Mom aYoung Mom and DadNew Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have always held a special place of significance in my family, because my mother, Collene Spencer was born on New Year’s Day. We always held a New Year’s Eve party, and I guess as kids, we thought that everyone did that, but it wasn’t so. I know lots of people have a party on New Year’s Eve, but not really as many as I had always thought. Most people just go out to a bar, and celebrate with a large group of people, but that would never have been the same thing in our family. Now that Mom is in Heaven, we still have the party, and as many of us as can, come to it. We do it in honor of Mom, because even though she is in Heaven…it’s still her special day. The traditional beating the pans…which my mom came up with, because we didn’t have noisemakers years ago, just doesn’t feel the same, however. That was always a favorite part for Mom. Once we rang the new year in right, we all go around to each other and wish each other a Happy New Year…and for Mom, a happy birthday. Then we all sang happy birthday to her. Of course, this wasn’t her birthday party…that would come on New Year’s Day. It was a two day celebration in Mom’s honor. Some things just cannot stay the same after the passing of a loved one, and I suppose this is one of them. We can tall Mom happy birthday, but not in person.

Sometimes, I think God places people in our lives for a specific moment and a specific reason. As my husband, Bob and I were leaving Denny’s this morning, after having breakfast, I glanced at a couple sitting in a booth we passed on our way out. At first glance, the woman looked a lot like my mother when she was young…enough so, in fact, that I had to do a double take. Yes, there were similarities, but she didn’t really look enough like Mom to mistake her for my mom after a good look, but I walked out of the restaurant smiling anyway, because it seemed such a sweet gift from God. It was like seeing my mom on her birthday! Of course, I know it wasn’t her, nor did the woman look totally like her, but rather it just seemed like a reminder that she is with God, and that she is very happy. Mom had been on my mind much more than usual for the past several days…probably because of her birthday. Nevertheless, that woman, in that place, for that moment, made me smile, because just for a second, at a quick glance, she reminded me of my mom.

As with my dad, I somehow never expected to live one day on this earth without my mom here on Earth. We were always such a close family, and I never expected that to change, and in reality, I suppose it hasn’t. The Final New Years Dance - Jan 1, 200711 Mom and her girlsRather, we just have to wait to see our parents again. That is the sad part about getting on with life after your parents have gone to Heaven. You have to take the reigns, and lead your family in the way they should go, just like your parents did, but often you still feel like that little daughter would love to ask your parents’ advise about life again. There is a little joke on Facebook about wishing you were a kid again. Basically, I want my mommy and daddy. I’m tired of adulting.” Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.

Chantel and IzabellaimageDad and MomOn the last day of the year, many people are busily planning the festivities for the evening. Others are contemplating the coming year and how they might make it better than the last. These are things that I am doing too, but I am also looking back on the year that is quickly coming to a close. Every year has it’s good things and it’s bad things. This year is no different. As the year began, I was recovering from a broken shoulder, while my niece, Chantel Balcerzak was getting used to her new role as grandma to little Izabella Siara Harman. February brought a promotion for my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock to Lieutenant with the Casper Police Department, and then the sad 1st anniversary of our mother’s passing. I couldn’t believe she had been gone a year already. March brought the 41st anniversary of my marriage to Bob Schulenberg, and the love continues to grow. It also brought the purchase of a home in northwestern Washington for our daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis.

April brought my 60th birthday, although I felt no upset by that. I have always felt that the key is to enjoy the age you are at, and I will continue to do so. May 5th brought the sad reminder that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg has been in Heaven for 3 years now. May also brought the graduation of my grandson, Chris Corrie, Amy and meimg_8305Dad SchulenbergPetersen from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. It’s hard for me to believe that his college years are so quickly over. My daughter, Amy made the trip to Wyoming to attend the graduation, and it was so good to see her again…even if it was for such a short time. June brings the birthdays of my daughters, and these days it’s a little bit bittersweet, because Amy is so far away. My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin went camping for her birthday, so we joined them on Casper Mountain for a birthday evening. We all had a lovely time. I just wish Amy’s family could have been there too.

July brought with it one of the biggest changes of my life, when my husband, Bob Schulenberg retired from the City of Casper. It was a day of rejoicing, because he had been ready to retire for some time now. July also brought with it, another loss…of sorts, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce moved to Washington to be near her family. It was hard on me, but I knew it was best for her, because she had been so lonely for her parents and her brother, Caalab. While we continue to miss her and the rest of her family, we are happy, because they are happy. July also brought wedding bells for my nephew, Garrett Stevens as he married his best friend, img_9127IMG_4538img_5927Kayla Smiley. August brought a beautiful new addition to our family when my niece Jessi Sawdon and her husband, Jason welcomed daughter Adelaide Ione to our family. Addi was named after Jessi’s great grandmother and Jessi’s grandmother, my mom, Collene Ione Spencer. In September, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, had skin removal surgery after losing 350 pounds. She had a bleeding issue, but she is doing well now, and we are very proud of her. September also brought with it the sadness of loss, as we said goodbye to Bob’s aunt, Linda Cole. Hers was a shock, because her passing was so unexpected.

October found my grandson, Josh Petersen actively pursuing his dream of becoming a firefighter as he took Boces classes to get a head start on the Fire Science degree he needs. It also found us celebrating with my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, as he became the Peace Officer of the year. November brought an unusual Thanksgiving as Bob and I traveled to Ferndale, Washington to spend the holiday with Amy’s family, in a week that went by way too fast. Then, as we were on our way home, we found out about the passing of my cousin, Shirley Cameron’s husband, Shorty’s passing…another shocking passing that was very unexpected. December img_5862michelleblue-jean-brendabrought the sad reminder that my dad, Allen Spencer had been in Heaven now for 9 long years. That seems impossible to me. December also brought college graduation for my niece, Michelle Stevens, who will now start her teaching career. This was most certainly a year of ups and downs, but with the coming new year, comes the hope for a great future.