Love

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Everyone’s home life growing up is different. Some homes are very reserved, some are chaotic, and others, like mine are simply wonderful. We always knew that our parents loved us and that they loved each other too. In our house, there were kisses and hugs all around, but we got the biggest kick out of our parents kissing. Dad would come home from work, and give Mom a big kiss, and my sisters and I started singing a song we made up…”Mommy and Daddy are kissing!!” The more we sang the song, the more they continued to kiss. We loved teasing them about kissing, and they love having us tease them. Of course, there was no embarrassment on either side, because we loved that our parents demonstrated their love for each other. What makes a kid feel more secure in the stability of their parents marriage, than a daily show of love.

Of course, kissing wasn’t the only way my parents showed their love for each other. My dad was always the gentleman. He was very protective of my mom. He treated her like a queen, and made sure that we respected her too. He was a hard working man, and we never wanted for anything that we needed. Nevertheless, it was never the things that made us rich. It was the love of our parents that made us rich. There is nothing more comforting than to know that your parents will be there with you and for you. And mom, for her part, always made our home welcoming and inviting, not to mention teaching us to keep house and to cook. One of my favorite memories of my childhood was coming home for lunch on a school day, to find chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. That was my very favorite lunch, and it was great to come home to Mom’s cooking.

I’s like to say that there was never any drama in our house, but my parents had five daughters, and…well, drama is just a part of the deal. You get five girls to the age of their teens or close to it, with one phone, and everyone wanting to have their turn, and you have drama…not to mention the fights over the bathroom with all of us trying to get ready for school or a date. I suppose mom understood, but dad had to be a saint, and that’s all there is to it. With one bathroom, a wife, and five daughters, dad just had to wait…forever!!

Nevertheless, while there may have been a little bit of drama, our home was a house filled with love, laughter, singing, and yes with mommy and daddy kissing. Today would have been my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary. They will be spending it together in Heaven. I’m sure it will be a beautiful day, and I wish we could spend it with them, but for now, that is not to be. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.

Every wedding anniversary is special, but the anniversaries wouldn’t even exist, were it not for the day to day living of the couple. Marriage is a lot of work, and when a couple marries young, it’s hard to say if they will have the wherewithal to make a go of it. My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen was just two weeks past the age of 18 when she and her husband Kevin got married. Many people wouldn’t have give them ten cents for their chances of staying together, but they have proven people wrong time and time again. Now, a full 24 years into their marriage, they are like one unit. Of course, that is what God meant when he said in Mark 10:8, “And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.” That is how it is for Corrie and Kevin. They work so well as a team. Corrie and Kevin have gone through so many changes in their lives, and they have weathered each storm, to come out on the other side, stronger than ever. Oh, I don’t mean to say that there haven’t been some tough times, because every marriage has those times. It’s not the number of tough times a marriage goes through, but rather how a marriage comes through the tough times.

Part of what makes a great marriage, is when two people are going in the same direction, with the same goals. It’s not that they can never have differing ideas about things, but rather that they are able to see the other side of the coin, or the other person’s viewpoint. Corrie and Kevin do that quite well. They also support each other in every new venture they might take. I think most marriages find themselves with ever changing hobbies and such, and some can be time consuming. If the spouse is not supportive of the new hobby, there can be a few hard feelings. Over the years Corrie and Kevin have had a few side businesses, such as making cross necklaces, or stained glass, and Corrie was also a virtual assistant. Those things take time, and if you don’t have the support of your spouse, people can encounter problems. Sometimes, even if they are supportive, there can be time conflicts. There wasn’t for Corrie and Kevin, because they often worked together on these things. I’m sure that is not such a strange thing, but not every family has a good working relationship like that.

Corrie and Kevin are two very compatible people and while their marriage started out early in their lives, they are, and always have been very much in love. Theirs is a match made in Heaven and one that will last until death parts them…and I am very happy that they have each other. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 24th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!!

I’m sure that most people have seen the movie, Twister. It is a personal favorite of mine. There is one line in the movie, where Aunt Meg said to Jo, that Bill always went his own way, which was usually the same way Jo was going. Well, I can’t say that Bob was going his own way, or that I was, but I can say that we were usually going in the same direction. Maybe that is the key to it, I don’t know, but I like that Bob and I like to do the same things. I never have to find a hiking partner, because Bob and I both love to hike. I don’t have to worry about a bowling partner, because we do it together. We both tend to like to be at home in the evenings…at least after that evening walk, and of course, we both love our family. I think the thing we most like to do though, is to be together. We are best friends, and I like that very much.

Of course, there are a few things that Bob likes to do that I really don’t, such as mechanics. Bob is an excellent mechanic, and has spent the majority of his life working on cars. They say that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I think for Bob that is a true statement. He really loves mechanics…from the diagnostics to the dirt…he loves it all. I personally don’t want to be all greasy and dirty, but Bob just doesn’t seem to mind, and you just can’t spend much time under a car without getting grease and road dirt all over yourself. All I ask is that he doesn’t wear something that I care about, because after one car, any great shirt he is wearing is no longer very nice. Nevertheless, he sure does clean up nicely.

These days, Bob is trying to wrap his head around the fact that he has been retired for a full year. Of course, he can’t really say that he is retired, because he is still doing the same work…just in a different location. Now he does all his mechanic work at home. I’m glad that he has that, because I think he would go stir crazy if he was just sitting around. Mechanics is what he loves, and I’m sure it is what he will always be doing. If I want him to myself, I still have to take him out of town, where he doesn’t have cars to work on. The good news is of course, I always know where to find Bob…out in the garage. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday sweetie!! Have a great day!! I love you!!

It has been a very long time since my sisters and I took a trip together…just the girls, and I wish it could be all of my sisters on this trip, but sometimes that is not meant to be. Nevertheless, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, and I are heading out today to visit our cousin Shirley Cameron in Newport, Washington, with a stop in Coeur d’Alene to visit our cousins George and Greg Hushman too. Unfortunately, we are going for a sad reason…the memorial service for Shirley’s husband Shorty, but it will be blessed family time for sure. How often do sisters get to take a trip, during which they can see and do the things they want to…things that the husbands might roll their eyes at, like shopping, girl talk, and even chick flicks. Of course, I’m not saying we will do all those thing, or even any of those things, but most likely we will do some of those things, as well as girl talk…lots of girl talk, and sister time…lots of catching up on sister time. That is something we have really been missing. As you grow up and have families and jobs, it’s easy not to spend sister time together, and I want to keep that relationship with my sisters forever.

We will be stopping for an unfortunately short visit with our cousins George and Greg Hushman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We don’t get to see them very much, so even a few hours is very special to us. In our childhood years, our families spent lots of time together. Those were great years, and they went by way to fast. Looking back now, I don’t think we really appreciated the amazing opportunity that we had to see our cousins so often. Those years go by so fast, and when they are gone, they are just gone. I don’t want to miss the opportunities we are given to see these precious cousins. We are all looking forward to this wonderful visit, even if it is short.

On top of the sister time, will be cousin time. It has been four years since Cheryl and I have seen our Cousin Shirley, and even longer since Caryl has seen her. After a good number of years not seeing our cousin Shirley, my mom, Collene Spencer, Cheryl, and I made the trip to Washington in 2013…again under sad circumstances…the passing of Shirley’s dad, Jim Wolfe. While that trip was for a sad reason, it became one of the greatest blessings for all of us. Out of that trip, and events that preceded it, came a beautiful relationship with our dear cousin Shirley and I think it has been as much a blessing to her as it has to us. Families can drift apart, but I can tell you that it is always best if they don’t. Still, if they do, the reunion can be amazing. Such was the case with the reunion between our cousin Shirley, my sisters, and me. Since that reunion, we have all felt a more-than-just-cousins type of relationship…almost like having another sister in the bunch.

Life has changed drastically for Shirley over this past year, and in so many ways, it has been very hard for her. With our families living so far away from each other, the only support we can give her is over Facebook, which we have done, but that will never measure up to the support that a visit can give. We are all looking forward to this trip, and I know that it will be so very blessed. Like most trips, it will be over far too soon, but the blessings we will receive from this visit will be with us for the rest of our lives. I know that for Shirley, and for my sisters and me, this will be much like the first reunion, one of blessed connections that will stay with us until the next time we see each other, which we all hope won’t be too many years.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to realize that Father’s Day is again upon us. Since both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg are in Heaven now, the commercialized part of Father’s Day has little effect on me. I think about both of them daily, and miss them very much, but other than flowers for their graves, there is little in the way of things that I can give them. However, that does not mean that I don’t love, honor, and respect them today and every day. These days, I think that the best way for me to show honor to the two very special dads that God blessed me with is to try to live my life in a way that would make them proud. I suppose that a lot of people would say, “You are over 60 years old, you should do whatever you want to.” But, I don’t think that there ever comes a day when we should not try to make our parents proud. After all, they gave us life, and nurtured us all of the rest of their lives…yes, even when we were adults.

With the passing of each of my dads, came the promise to take care of the moms. And to that task, we set ourselves. It wasn’t always easy, but my dads loved their wives, and had taken care of them all of their married lives. One of the biggest worries of an elderly married person, is the thought that when they are gone, no one will take care of their spouse, and that is not a needless worry sometimes. Nevertheless, my dads knew that when they went home, my mom, Collene Spencer and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg would be taken care of, and they were not wrong on that. My Dad passed away December 12, 2007, and we cared for my mom for seven years and two months, until her passing on February 22, 2015. My father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013, and my mother-in-law is still alive today, and we continue to show her the love and respect she deserves, and he would want for her. These things were not a burden to be borne, but rather a privilege that was given to us…the privilege of still having our mom. No, there may not be much I can give my dad or my father-in-law, but I can do my best to always be the kind of person they would have wanted me to be.

Of course, Father’s Day for me always takes in my own sweet husband, Bob Schulenberg, and my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, all of whom are amazing dads, and all of whom have enriched our family by being a part of it. Every day, they add richness to our lives with their hard work, sense of humor, and their deep love for us…their family. To me, that is the most important thing a man can do. These men have been in our family for many years now, Bob for 42 years, Kevin for 24 years, and Travis for 22 years…unheard of lengths of time in marriages these days. They have proven time and time again that they are worthy of our love and respect. God gave each of us such wonderful blessings in these men. I love each of them very much, as I do my two dads in Heaven, and I wish each of them and all dads everywhere, a very happy Father’s Day!!

I read somewhere that the Sunday before Father’s Day is Write a Letter to your Father Day, and I found myself wishing this was a day I had known about a long time ago, because while Father’s Day is traditionally a day on which we show our dads that we love and appreciate them, Write a Letter to your Father Day, in my opinion really had a far deeper meaning in so many ways. Looking back on my life, there are so many things I would love to thank my dad for, and indeed, my parents for, but since this is about dads, I’ll take this one step at a time. Since my dad, Allen Spencer is in Heaven now, my letter will not be able to be sent or received, so I’m sure my dad won’t mind if this is all done in cyberspace.

Dear Dad, Words can never really express how deeply blessed I feel to have been born your daughter. I came home to a house filled with love, and parents who raised me and my sisters in God’s ways. We learned the basics, of course, have faith in God, share with others, helpout around the house, have respect for our parents and those in authority, and to always be honorable in all things. We always knew that no matter what, we were a family, and family came first. We learned that there was nothing we could ever do to lose your love for us, and that no matter how badly we messed up, we could always come to our parents for help and guidance. The one thing we never received from you was judgment and condemnation, because those things are totally out of character with love, and you totally loved your family.

Over the years, you showed us this great country we live in and taught us to love camping and all kinds of travel. You kept the fires going to scare away the bears, because we thought it would work, and you never made us feel silly for suggesting such a crazy thing. As we grew to our teen years, you understood that getting five girls ready in the morning was not a simple matter, but rather a two hour ordeal, while you patiently waited drinking a cup of coffee. There was so much you wanted to show us, but we were girls, and while we wanted to see most of it, vacation simply did not mean that we went out in public, sans makeup. Dad, you were so outnumbered, all of your married life, but you always seemed to take it in stride.

You and Mom taught us how a marriage and family should look, and how parents should raise their kids. Our families have been enriched by the family life we lived as kids. You always wanted your family around you, and Dad you made sure that if we got busy in our lives, we didn’t forget to come and have lunch with you and Mom. It kept us connected. You loved to hear about our lives, our work, our kids, our husbands. You wanted to be a part of our lives, but you were never intrusive…just interested. I always loved that about you and Mom, and those lunches will always have a very special place in my memory files. They were among the sweetest memories.

Dad, I could go on and on about how wonderful you and Mom made our lives, but I guess that will be a letter for another day. I just want to thank you for making life for my sisters and me, the most wonderful kind of life in the world. We have been so wonderfully blessed by God when he made you and Mom our parents. Today isn’t a traditional special day, but really just a day to let you know that I am thinking of you always. I love you so much, Dad. Your daughter, Caryn.

Every year since 1907 (or 1914, if you go by the day that Congress designated the day) children have celebrated a day of remembering all the wonderful things their mom has done for them. Being a mom is often a thankless job. It involves long hours, filled with worries, headaches, weariness, and work…and it’s an all volunteer job. Of course, if we had to pay our mother for all the things she did for us, we would all be broke, and the moms would have all the money in the world…or a good chunk of it. The job of Mom, is a highly skilled job, encompassing many different careers. Moms are nurses, teachers, chefs, nannies, coaches, maids, chauffeurs, financial advisors, tutors, counselors, advisor, judge, and jury, just to name a few. Most of her training is on the job training, because motherhood is a career that starts the instant your first child arrives, and lasts for the rest of your life. There are no days off, no passing the torch, and no retirement. And the funny thing is that no mother ever wants to retire, in fact, they wish their babies would stay little forever.

My own mom, Collene Spencer was a most amazing woman. She raised five daughters, teaching us to cook, clean, take care of a home, and how to be moms. She taught us that we could do anything we set our minds to. As our lives progressed and we took on our adulthood, she became our cheerleader…even if what we were doing was a hobby, she always had faith that we could do it. I remember when I started writing, she wanted to have me read the stories to her. She missed so many of them, because I didn’t see her that day, so I finally made sure she got them on her Kindle. She read every single one. She was my biggest fan, and I miss having her tell me how much she loved this story or that one. And I miss calling Mom to ask her about a detail from her childhood. Her information enriched my stories, because she knew all the little details of the events. Many times, while I’m working on a story, I think, “I need to ask Mom about that”…then, I realized once again…that I can’t. It would be nice to have a phone to Heaven, because I have questions for my mom…and my dad too. And I miss them, and just saying hello again would be wonderful.

When I got married, I assumed that I had learned everything I needed to know, but that was not so. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg had been raised on a farm, and had a very different take on life and caring for a family. So, once again, I had things to learn. Having a vegetable garden meant that rather than buying vegetables at the store, you got them out of the cupboard, and that was because you had picked them from the garden, and canned them. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t know how to do that, but we didn’t have a garden, so we didn’t can. My mother-in-law sewed, knitted, and crocheted, and while I knew how to crochet, I hadn’t been exactly willing to learn much about sewing from my mom. I learned how to do these things, but unlike my mother-in-law, they would not become a big part of my life. Some things just simply are, what they are. Nevertheless, I am thankful for the things I learned from my mother-in-law, who also taught me that you never really know it all. My mom is in Heaven now, but we still have my mother-in-law for a while longer. Happy Mother’s Day to my Moms!! I love you both very much.

For the first 51 years of my life, my birthday was always celebrated with my dad. It was our tradition. I was supposed to be born on his birthday anyway, and what difference did two days make…for birthday parties anyway. We always like having our party together. Now that Dad is in Heaven, we can no longer do that, on Earth anyway, and believe me…it has been a long ten years. He is always in my thoughts on my birthday, and every day, as is my mom.

I think that as we get older, our birthday becomes a day to reflect on all the blessings we have been given. In my mind, there is no greater blessing than the parents who have me life in the first place. I just couldn’t have asked for better parents than they were. They taught me all of life’s important lessons…the ones I needed to know to become an independent and responsible woman, and trust me when I say that I was not always the easiest student. I would not be where I am today, were it not for them. I am also thankful for my sweet sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock…and for their families. We always had each other, and we knew that we always would. I knew I could count on them…no matter what.

As I grew up, I met the love of my life, Bob Schulenberg. He is my support system through everything life brings my way. When he took our wedding vows over 42 years ago, he meant every word, and he has kept every vow perfectly. He has been a huge blessing in my life. He is the father of my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. My girls…wow!! Where do I begin? Besides being the wonderful children they were and the beautiful women they have become, they were always there, willing to do whatever was needed, especially in the years while we were taking care of their grandparents. We couldn’t have done it without them. Caregiving is truly a unique situation, and anyone who has done it knows that it definitely takes a village. My girls were an intricate part of that village, as were their husbands, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, who both sacrificed so much time with their wives and children so they could be there for their grandparents. My grandchildren…another wow! How many children, ten and under, willing come in and become CNAs in every sense of the word…and do it well. None I can think of. Each of my grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, are more of a blessing to me than they can ever know. I want my family to know that I am so proud of each and every one of you.

And no reflection over one’s life would be complete without considering the blessing of loving in-laws. Bob’s parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg became like a second set of parents to me, and with my marriage I also gained four sweet sisters-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg, Debbie Cook, Jennifer Parmely, and Brenda Schulenberg, as well as a brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg. They, along with their families have made my life complete. As my birthday arrives, it is with sadness, because of those who are in Heaven now, but also with a deep understanding of just how very blessed my life has been. I thank God for each and everyone of my family members, as well as wonderful friends, like Jim and Julie Stengel, Carrie Beauchamp, and Becky Thorne, who have also been a great part of what makes my life blessed. Looking at my past, I know that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect just the way it is. Life doesn’t get sweeter than this.

These days, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I, and a few other people we know, have become an anomaly. Our marriage has weathered the test of time, and we are well on our way to growing old together. I say that not so much with a sense of pride, although I am proud of my marriage to Bob, and happy that we are still together, but with almost a sense of awe. Many people who everyone just knew would make it didn’t, so why did we make it? I have never been sure, except that we usually didn’t let things bother us very much. The old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” comes to mind, as does “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care.” Those sayings remind me to focus on what is important…us. Things will come and go, storms will dissipate, seasons will pass, but as long as we are on this journey together, we are going to be blessed.

When I met Bob, I was a senior in high school. I didn’t know what love was. I just thought he was cute. Little did I know that from that day forward, he would always be a wonderful part of my life. Now, I can’t even begin to imagine my life without him. We are so connected…so well suited for each other. My mom, Collene Spencer commented one time that we had even begun to look alike…taking on the same facial expressions and mannerisms. I thought that was a strange comment at the time…at lease twenty years ago, when she said it, but she was right. As I watch us in our daily life, we can finish each other’s sentences, crack the same jokes, and think alike on world issues…all of them!! How amazing is that? Bob knows what to do or say in any situation, to bring me comfort. The Bible says that in marriage, the two become one. That is so evident in our lives, and we couldn’t ask for more. Ours is a beautiful life. We are so very blessed.

It’s not that we are spending lots of money, or traveling to exotic places, but we might someday. It’s just that we like doing the same things. I don’t think it matters where you go, as long as you go together…at least most of the time. More important than money and things though, is loving the person you have chosen to be your life partner, and that is what we have done. We just couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. There is no big secret, or magic formula, we just love and respect each other, and we love just living our life. Happy 42nd anniversary to the most wonderful husband ever!! Forty two years and still going strong. I love you Bob…forever and ever!!

Every year, right before Valentine’s Day, men begin the sometimes stress filled process of making sure that the gift they get for their girl, be it wife or girlfriend, is the right thing. They don’t know if they should get chocolates, flowers, diamonds, stuffed toys, or something else. They just know that they want to make their girl happy. They want her to feel loved. In my almost 42 years of marriage to my husband, Bob Schulenberg, I have received all of the above gifts, and many others, along with a nice dinner out each year to celebrate our love, but I have to say, that while it’s nice to get those things and I love him for doing it, in all reality, it’s not about all those things. It’s about the love we have for each other. In fact, it’s all about the love. Without the love, there is no reason for all the rest of it anyway. Marriages don’t last 42 years just because the husband, wife, or both remembered the special days, although it does help…especially the anniversaries. Nevertheless, it is the love and respect that a couple shows each other in their day to day life that make the marriage great.

I like getting gifts as much as the next girl, but for me, a favorite thing is to go for long walks with Bob. We both enjoy walking and hiking, and just being together. We don’t have to talk a lot on our walks, we are just enjoying the time we spend together. We have always found ourselves going in the same direction, so to speak. Our interests are much the same, and we just enjoy each other’s company. We don’t have to have a crowd of people around us all the time to be happy, because after 42 years, we have found that we “sort of like each other” and that is all that matters.

Every marriage has it own special times. Whether you like camping, movies, dinners out with friends, or just a cozy evening at home, in the end it’s all about what makes you and your spouse happy. The main thing is being together, because lets face it, marriage is about companionship…growing old together. I want to be that little old couple walking hand in hand down the paths of life. Maybe we move a little slower than those people rushing by in a fast paced world, but the main thing is that we are on that road together. Maybe there will be storms along the way, but we can weather those, because we know the secret…it’s all about the love. Happy Valentine’s Day to the love of my life, Bob Schulenberg, and to all our friends and family.

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