Love

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Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Long before she became my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was friends with her future nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith. They didn’t know, when their friendship began, that one day, they would be related. As they all grew up, and began to marry, it was Machelle who instigated the union between Rachel and my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, that made Rachel my sister-in-law and “aunt” to Machelle and Susan, as well as all Ron’s other nieces and nephews.

Of course, Machelle could only be the instigator, Rachel and to be the one to win Ron’s heart, if she want to continue the relationship. Well, that was a slam-dunk. According to Machelle, Rachel is a “mother hen.” She is always trying to make sure that her friends and family have what they need. It really breaks her heart when she is unable to help people. It is at those times that she knows that she must put them in God’s hands, which as we know, is not an easy task. Her kind heart and loving ways drew Ron to her, and if that wasn’t enough, Rachel is a great cook. When Machelle was going to introduce Rachel to Ron, Rachel asked her what she should cook. For Machelle, it was another slam-dunk, Rachel’s lasagna!! She wanted to impress Ron, and feed him something besides the “frozen burrito” type meals he had been eating. Machelle calls Rachel’s lasagna, “the best in the west,” and Ron agreed. Rachel made a great first impression. Rachel loves to cook and is never bothered by extra people at dinnertime. She always has ways to make sure there is enough.

Probably the most interesting thing about the relationship between Machelle, Susan, and Rachel is the fact that, while none of them knew of it, until later, all three couples got engaged the same day…not the same year, of course, but the same day…February 13th. That has been a lot of fun for them. They call it Engagement Day, and they make a big deal out of it, texting each other to wish each other “Happy Engagement Day!!” The tradition makes it that much more special for all of them. And I think it is very cool too. It is something you just don’t see every day. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Forty-four years is a long time, but for my husband, Bob and me, it doesn’t seem like long at all. That is the number of years that we have been married. It’s over half of our lives!! We were just two kids back in 1975, when we said “I do” on March 1 of that year. Of course, we “knew” that our marriage would last a lifetime…doesn’t every married couple? Still, in reality, you hope your marriage will last a lifetime. You don’t know for sure until many years later, when that lifetime is in it’s golden years. If you are still together, then you know that yours is a marriage that will last a lifetime.

We were one of those blessed couples, for whom marriage stood the test of time, and still together, and still going strong. For us, the “mountain” has been filled with lots of trails and hikes, and mountains within mountains, and I many ways, that is what has given our marriage the color that it has been filled with. Every trail, whether outdoors, or just a “virtual trail” in a marriage taking us on a different path than we had intended to go before, or one that we had been working toward for a long time. Every trail, and every path became the journey our lives were meant to take.

With every passing year, our marriage becomes more and more precious, but this past year took a turn that made it even more precious, when my husband, Bob had a heart attack that was deemed the Widowmaker. At the time, God provided us with all the right people in all the right places to save Bob’s life, and I still find myself thinking about how very blessed we were and are. Our marriage could have ended that October day, but instead, everything was restored to us and Bob continues to be healthy, and our lives have continued on as before, only better. I guess that when you have a serious event take place, you discover just how precious the love of your life is, and that is a discovery that has not been lost on me. I know that I am very blessed to have Bob in my life, and I will love him for the rest of my life. I couldn’t be happier with my choice of a lifetime mate. Happy 44th Anniversary, my love!!

Many people think of some of the so-called commercial holidays, as being just a racquet to get people to spend money on candy, flowers, and cards, but in this day and age, I can’t think of a holiday we need more than Valentine’s Day…a day that is dedicated to love. We need more love in this world, and not just romantic love…but, love in general. I suppose it is a shame, in a way, that we need to have a day to remind us to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us, but in reality, we can get so busy that a reminder becomes a good idea. I think most of us tell loved ones how much we love them, but it never hurts to have a special day for that purpose.

While we need love in many places in this world, I still have to say that my favorite place is in my home. I married the love of my life almost 44 years ago, and we are still very much in love. And what better day to tell each other than on Valentine’s Day…the day that is dedicated to love. Every other day, with the exception of our anniversary, is probably considered pretty normal, even though we love each other every day. It’s just that while Valentine’s Day may seem corny to some people, it’s like a special date night for those who are in love.

Bob is the most special part of my life. He is the father of my children, and we share four grandchildren and one great granddaughter. They are the rewards of the life we have made together, and because we have been together for so many years, we get to share the rewards of our life together. I couldn’t have asked for a better life than this life with my loving husband. We are so blessed, and that makes Valentine’s Day that much more special, because it is a day that is dedicated to our love. Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful husband, Bob, and to everyone everywhere.

This past summer, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; my cousin, Pam Wendling; and I went to visit Pam’s dad, our Uncle Bill Spencer at the nursing home where he lives. Uncle Bill has dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease, and so how the visits go, depends on the kind of day he is having. The day of our visit was a really good day. Uncle Bill may not have known who we all were, and even some details about our lives, but he had some funny stories to tell us…one of which was how his brother, our dad, Allen Spencer had never gotten married!! That one was new to my sister and me, who are the eldest of Dad’s five daughters with his wife, our mom, Collene Byer Spencer. I guess Uncle Bill’s mind went back to the pre-Collene era of Dad’s life.

Uncle Bill also told us about the days on the family farm. I think my sister and I always thought of it as a small little patch of land…maybe 5 acres or so, but Uncle Bill told us that the farm was actually 80 acres. The farm was big enough to grow enough vegetables to sell them exclusively to Stokely Foods Inc. Stokely foods is a large company and it was founded on August 18, 1943, later merged with Van Camp’s, and then sold the Stokely brand to Seneca Foods in 1985, and the Van Camp’s brand to ConAgra in 1995. I guess you could say that the Spencer farm got in on the ground floor of Stokely Foods, Inc. This was really interesting to us, because it was confirmed by Uncle Bill’s cousin, Les Schumacher. I suppose Cheryl and I should have assumed that the farm was bigger than we thought, because they grew hay, and it took days to get it all stacked, but when you didn’t grow up on a farm, I guess you don’t really have a good way to gauge such things. I think we should have had some inkling, however, because the pictures we have seen should have told the tale…to some degree at least.

As our visit with Uncle Bill came to a close, we found ourselves very sad about the speed with which the time had passed. We don’t get to see him very much, and he is such a precious person in our lives. He was really in rare form, laughing and smiling a lot. There were no awkward moments when no one knew what to say, and Uncle Bill carried much of the conversation, which was absolutely wonderful. Our only regret is that we can’t get up there to see him more often. Today is Uncle Bill’s 97th birthday. That’s amazing…97 and going strong. Happy 97th birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The Christmas season is always exciting, for old and young alike, and Christmas Eve is often a very hard day to settle down for. The reasons for the excitement vary. They are usually centered around the Christmas holiday, but not always. For my mother’s family, Christmas Eve holds an extra special significance because it was also their parents, wedding anniversary. Grandma Hattie and Grandpa George Byer were married on December 24, 1927. I always wondered why people would pick a holiday to get married on, but in times past, it was somewhat common. People could not easily get all their family members into town for a wedding, but people were often already getting together for a holiday. Of course, weddings weren’t often the great big affair that they can be these days either. Often the bride simply wore her Sunday dress, and carried a bouquet of wild flowers. I suppose it would be similar to the weddings held at the justice of the peace these days.

The reasons for the date and the simplicity of a wedding really didn’t make much difference, especially concerning my grandparents, because they were very much in love all of the years of their married lives together. I still remember all the times that Grandpa looked at Grandma with total love in his eyes. Grandma always knew that Grandpa loved her very much. Their marriage was blessed with nine children, four of whom are now in Heaven with them. They also have five sons-in-law and several grandchildren and great grandchildren in Heaven with them too. I would imagine that all of them are having a wonderful time there, because there are no tears and no sadness there. Of course, we here, who are left behind miss all of them terribly, and can’t wait to see them again.

Grandpa was a hard worker, who held many jobs in his lifetime. He was always a very respected worker. They knew he could be counted on to be there and to do his job well. Grandma was always a stay-at-home mom, who never learned to drive a car. It was just something she saw no need for. She worked in the home, and she cooked…man could she cook!! And there was always plenty of food on her table…no matter how many extras might show up. No one was turned away, and Grandma’s table was famous in this area. Today would have been my grandparents’ 91st anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Grandma and Grandpa. We love and miss you both very much.

Two days ago, I wrote a story in celebration of my Uncle George Wave Hushman’s 92nd birthday. Little did I now that it would also be the day of his home-going, but it was. It is a rather rare thing, except in infant deaths, for someone to be born and die on the same day, but that is what my Uncle George did. He was born on December 20, 1926 in Rock River, Wyoming, and went home to Heaven on December 20, 2018 in Mills, Wyoming…exactly 92 years later.

Uncle George led an unusual life, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that his home-going would be just as unusual. He lost his mother when he was just eleven years old. I’m not sure how long after her passing, before he was sent to the Wyoming State Children’s Home in Casper, Wyoming, but during those years, his guardian was listed as Ethel S. Kittle. Uncle George didn’t know much about his family for most of his life, but his dad, also named George Wave Hushman was in the Navy, stationed in the Philippines when he was killed in action on November 21, 1943…Uncle George was just 17 years old. To his knowledge, that left him very much alone in this world, except for his friend James Wesley Saint John ‘Wes” and Wes’ family, who had unofficially adopted him as a part of their family. Wes, who was three years older than Uncle George was lost at sea on September 9, 1943. While Uncle George didn’t know his father well, he did know his friend, and I find it unusual that he enlisted in the Navy too, but he did. His Draft Card listed his next of kin as WE Saint John. He mustered out on May 31, 1944, and was later listed among the wounded. I am grateful that he was one of those who made it home from the war. Uncle George, was first assigned to LCI(L) 23…Landing Craft Infantry (L)23. He later mustered out on USS Gurke (DD-783), a Gearing-class destroyer.

By 1946, Uncle George was released from the Navy, and was living in Mills, Wyoming, and falling in love with my aunt, Evelyn Byer, whom he married on September 1, 1947. He had found the love of his life, and he only wanted to be with her for the rest of his life…missing her terribly after she passed away on May 4, 2015. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George would be blessed with five children, George Hushman, Susie Young, Shelly Campbell, Shannon Limmer, and Greg Hushman. They were also blessed with many grandchildren, great grand children, and great great grandchildren. Uncle George was also blessed to be able to reunite with his half siblings over the years, although their passings brought him a feeling of losing them twice. Now that they are together again in Heaven, Uncle George will never have to be away from his beloved Evelyn, or the other loved ones who had gone before him. Rest in peace Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

Time waits for no man, and it doesn’t slow down or stop while we grieve a loss. As a child and on into adulthood, it never occurred to me that I would live one single day without my dad. I can’t say why I thought that, because in retrospect, it was not really a logical way to think, but then are matters of the heart ever logical. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about romantic love or the love you have for parents or siblings. They should just never leave you, whether that is logical or not.

Nevertheless, as illogical as it seemed to me, my dad, Al Spencer went home to be with the Lord eleven years ago today December 12, 2007 at precisely 12:00pm. The world seemed so empty when we left the hospital that day, and I found myself wondering how it could be that the world and time kept moving when everything for my dad stopped at that moment. Again these were not the thoughts of a person in a rational state of mind,but rather a person who had just lost a beloved parent. I knew that my dad was in Heaven,because he had always believed in Jesus as his Saviour, but he was no longer here with us…his wife, Collene Spencer; daughters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryn Schulenberg, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Ally Hadlock; and their families, and that was what made the whole world…just wrong.

As the years go by…faster than any of us ever dreamed they would, we cherish the memories of our dad more and more,because they are all we have…because our dad and our mom are in our future now. My thoughts go back to the many times my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce and I had lunch at their house. It’s odd, I suppose that those lunches are what comes to mind, but they have been coming to my mind a lot these past few days. I remember going over to their house at lunch. Mom would make her specialties, Stuffed Tomatoes or Chicken salad with Shoe String Potatoes. As we gathered at the table to eat, the conversation covered everything from our families to how our jobs were going. Mom and Dad didn’t care what we talked about, they just wanted to be a part of our lives. Mom and Dad were always all about family. They loved their kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and great great grandkids. They felt so blessed by the family they started beginning back in 1954. Family was all they ever wanted. Family was everything. I still can’t believe that my dad has been in Heaven for eleven years today. We love you Dad, and miss you very much. We will see you in Heaven one day.

My niece, Dustie Masterson has been a part of our family, since she married my nephew, Rob Masterson in 2003. Dustie is the perfect wife and best friend for Rob, and they are very happy together. They truly are best friends, who are going in the same direction in all their hopes and dreams. They have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson; and Dustie has what she calls her bonus baby, Christina Masterson, from Rob’s first marriage. I hadn’t heard the term “bonus baby” before, and I really like it. Blended families aren’t always easy, but when people view their step-children as a bonus, it becomes blessed. That kind of attitude is what endears Dustie to all of us. It’s not just how she views Rob’s daughter, Christina, but also, it’s also how she views our whole family. She has family in Ohio, but she also views her family here as her bonus family so to speak. she has embraced our family as if we were her own.

When our parents were sick and in need of help,Dustie always did her share. She was willing to do what was needed. She often bought groceries for my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is her mother-in-law, and who lived with our parents. Getting groceries was not the easiest thing for Cheryl while she was also cooking and taking care of our parents in the evenings. We took turns with their care, and since Cheryl lived with them, it was logical that she have the night shift. Dustie saved Cheryl the extra job of going shopping, and she never complained about it. She had a helping heart, and we needed her. It was another of the things that endeared Dustie to all of us.

Dustie works hard at her job as the Grocery and Consumables Lead at Sam’s Club in Casper. She is well liked by all her c-workers, because Dustie gets along well with everybody around her. Dustie is just a friendly kind of person who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Dustie is always smiling and is a happy person, and that makes everybody love being around her. She is a great mom, and her kids all feel very blessed to have her. She helps them get their homework done, and makes sure they are ready for the coming day. They always feel confident in their parents, their home life, and their lives in general. Those things…peace of mind and security, are the mark of good parents. Dustie is a blessing to all who know her. She talks about having a bonus child, and a bonus family, but I think that she is the real bonus to all of us. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I’m sure that most you have heard of the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, but in case you haven’t, it is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. I can’t say that I have ever doubted that idea, but I really never gave it much thought really. The idea was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized in an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare. It is sometimes generalized to the average social distance being logarithmic in the size of the population. It is all about what a small world it is. That each person is connected to every other person by just 6 steps. It was something I never have given much thought to.

As I became interested in family history, I could see how that could work in the grand scheme of things, with relation. I came across people who were related to me, as well as, being related to my husband. Those relationships had meaning to me and it also made me think about the six degrees of separation that I had heard about years before.

But the reality is that the six degrees of separation never became so obvious to me as last Sunday when my husband had a heart attack. Instantly, we had a group of people around us. Of those people, all concerned for my husband, I knew no one. I only knew that the two women were nurses, and there was a young man who had seen my husband fall. Somewhere in the parking lot was also a woman who knew she needed to pray for him. When we left for the hospital in the ambulance, I thanked the man from across the distance between us in the parking lot, but I still didn’t know his name. I had no idea how I would ever find out who these people were. I knew they were all heroes, and I didn’t know them. Then the six degrees of separation came into play.

First, my husband was saved, and that was a miracle. It was because of 4 people I not only didn’t know, but had now way of finding. They did what they needed to do, and left expecting nothing in return. We owed them so much, and had no way to thank them. Enter the six degrees of separation. I told my husband’s nurse about what had happened, and when her relief came on the next day, she told her about it, and Stephanie, the day nurse already had the first connection for us. The first nurse to help, Ginger, was her sister. And Ginger had the second connection, because she knew the second nurse, Val. Within a few hours, 2 out of the 4 were now known to us. When when I posted about my husband’s miraculous recovery, our friend, Sierra Schamber tagged someone. It was Sean, the young man who helped him first. Then, a woman named Chelsea called her dad to pray. My boss called a prayer partner, who just happened to be on the wife of Chelsea’s dad. I know all those heroes. I think I fully understand the six degrees of separation.

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