Love

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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.

As a Christian, I can tell you that I believe in miracles. Nevertheless, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the awesomeness of God. Seriously, can any of us really wrap our mind around that? I think that the mind boggling, realization of the always loving God we serve is, never more prominent than when he reaches down, in our worst moment, and lifts us up, dries our eyes, and gives us instant peace.

That moment came for me on Sunday afternoon, October 14, 2018, in the Walmart parking lot on the east side of Casper, Wyoming at 4:45pm. Some things you never forget, although I might be a few minutes off on the exact time. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I had just finished buying groceries, and had loaded them in the car. Bob took the cart back to the cart station, and I opened the car and started it. Then, I looked at my phone, because Bob is a very social man, and almost always finds someone to talk to, no matter where we are.

I then heard a man, I now know to be Sean Pesicka-Taggart saying, “Sir…Sir?” I looked back and saw him kneeling near the back of my car, but there was a pickup right behind me, and it appeared that they were talking, so I did not get out of my car. The pickup, that I now know was driven by a Wyoming Medical Center, Progressive Care Unit, cardiac care nurse…Ginger Sims, pulled around the corner very quickly, and I thought she must be mad. Before I had time to contemplate that thought, a man knocked on my window and asked, “Do you know this guy?” It occurred to me that “this guy” must be Bob, so I jumped out of my car and went to the back of the car. The scene that met me there was…horrifying!! There lay Bob, blood flowing from his head where he had hit the pavement. While that would have been enough to bring fear to my heart, one look at his face told an even worse story. His eyes were blank and his skin had started turning blue. It looked as if he was dead, and that was my first thought…”I’m going to lose him right here!!” Then, I jolted my mind back to fight mode, and got down next to him and began talking to him.

At this point, nurse Ginger was behind him with her stethoscope…who has their stethoscope when they are off duty?? Thankfully Ginger does. Because she didn’t see him fall, she thought he had been hit by a car. She asked him to take a deep breath and when he didn’t respond, she asked if he could hear her, while checking for a pulse. Upon finding no pulse, she immediately got him on his back and began CPR. Working alone for a while, a WMC transport worker, Laura Lance spelled her doing CPR. Then, Wyoming Medical Center, surgical nurse…Val Boycheva, who was a friend of Ginger’s came on the scene and they worked together. When they heard me say Bob’s name, they asked if I knew him. When I said that he was my husband, they asked me to do rescue breathing. I did it…with instruction. I don’t think I could have done it without them telling me what to do…I was far too shook up to think straight.

As the CPR was going on, Sean was on the phone getting an ambulance, and Ginger had already told her son to push the OnStar button to give the ambulance driver the exact location. When the ambulance arrived, they took over, and the police officer, also at the scene asked who I was. When I said I was his wife, he had me come over and give him some information. While doing that, the ambulance crew hooked Bob up to the Lucas Compression Devise, and when I turned around, it was engaged. If you have never seen the Lucas Compression Devise in action, all I can say is that it is a shock to watch…especially when it is on your loved one. The devise gives perfectly orchestrated compressions, so the ambulance crew can focus on other tasks. To the untrained spectator, it looks like those compressions are going from chest to pavement!! You can imagine breaking ribs and smashed organs, but in reality, while the ribs are cracked, the heart is simply given the right amount of compression to help sustain life. Bob was quickly prepared for the ride in the ambulance to the hospital where he received the best care available.

It was at this moment that Casper Fire Department firefighter, Jerod Levin, who is a friend of Bob’s from his time as Fire Department Mechanic for the City of Casper, saw me. He knew me as well, and immediately came to me and gave me the big hug that I desperately needed at that exact moment. For all firefighters…never underestimate the value of your hugs at an emergency medical scene. When the ambulance leaves with the love one, that person is left with serious emotions and doubts. Your hugs and encouraging words mean more than you will ever know. No matter what the outcome, those hugs and words of encouragement are vital. Jerod asked me if I wanted to ride in the ambulance, and I said that I did. He got me in, even holding my purse while I stepped in, then helped me get buckled, asked if he could call anyone for me, and if I wanted him to bring my car to the hospital. Talk about going above and beyond!! While en route to the hospital, Bob’s heart had to be shocked once, and when we arrived he was in full arrest. I didn’t know it at the time, but that almost always means bad news.

Bob was treated so quickly that it was almost shocking. He was taken for a CT scan of his head wound, and while there, the Cath Lab became available. He was taken directly up there, where he was met by two techs that he knew, because he has worked on their cars. Jon Cooke and Sam Cann made him feel comfortable and safe during the procedure. They determined where the blockage was, at which time they realized that he was going to survive the Widowmaker Heart Attack. A stent was placed and from the time he fell to the time the treatment was over was two hours. Two hours!! That is an amazingly short amount of time.

Unbeknownst to me, there was at least one person who saw what was going on and called her dad to have him pray with her over the man who fell in the Walmart parking lot. When I called my boss, Jim Stengel, he felt led to call his prayer partners, Donna and “Page” LePage to pray with them. The girl, Chelsea Kessler, who was with her husband Zachary, who called her dad was Page’s daughter, and they were praying as Donna and Jim prayed. It is my belief that nothing happens by chance in this world. God is always involved, and if people listen, they can find themselves in just the right place to be part of a miracle. The two nurses almost never shop at Walmart, and yet both were there on that day at that time. The young man who saw my husband fall immediately thought that if it were his grandfather, he would want someone to help him, so he acted. Each of these people acted in a way that put them becoming God’s hands on this earth. Bob had angels watching over him, and a family who pray for him all the time. When he had a need, God was there to meet the need, and His people, who hear His voice, did what He told them to do, and in the end they were a part of a miracle. In just under two days, Bob was released from the hospital, and his life goes on. Then I found out at church that another church member, Lori Desanti was also praying. Every prayer, and every player in this was necessary, and I want to thank each and every one of those people who helped us. We can never repay your kindness. And I give all praise to our Awesome God!!

When two kids get married, or any two people for that matter, you never know if the marriage will last. You hope that theirs is a match made in Heaven, but only time will tell. My daughter, Amy Schulenberg, married Travis Royce in this day September 16, 1995, just a few months after Travis graduated from high school. Amy had graduated the year before. They were quite young by most standards, but that didn’t matter to them. Somehow, they knew that they were perfectly matched, and while others might not have seen that at the time, everyone sees it now. Each of them is what the other needs.

Amy is more of a shy person, like her mom, and Travis is very outgoing. For a shy person, that is very helpful, especially in a crowd. When you are shy, it’s hard to talk to people you don’t know well, and Travis has no problem in that category. Once a shy person gets to know people, they are fine, it’s just that awkward early stage that is tough. Amy is also more of a serious person, again like her mom, while Travis is an incurable comic. I really like that about Travis, because life is serious enough. We need people who can see the funny side of life to keep us from getting too serious about things. Travis keeps the laughter going in their household, which is something that I have always felt was a huge blessing to all of them. Amy is the more practical one, which is something Travis needed, not that he hasn’t become more practical over the years, but he was always more spontaneous about things like spending, until Amy kept him more grounded. Then he saw the value in that, and they are in agreement on things like spending.

Of course, there are differences that can cause “fights” too. If you could call them that. Travis is a Chicago Bears fan, while Amy is a fan of arch rival the Green Bay Packers. Football season is…interesting in their household…to say the least. It is about the only time they really have many “fights.” Nevertheless, not everything is about fighting. Amy and Travis agree that the family that plays together, stays together, and for them, that means music. Most Tuesday nights, after bowling gets over, the family heads back to their house for a family jam session before the kids go home. Travis and their son, Caalab play the guitar, while daughter, Shai is learning the ukulele. I’m sure that will add a fun aspect to their family band. I can’t wait to hear them now.

Over the years, much has changed in Amy and Travis’ marriage, but then again is some ways nothing’s changed at all. They are still perfectly matched. They still make each other happier than even they dreamed possible. They are still going in the same direction, and having a great time in this life they have made. Today is Amy and Travis’ 23rd anniversary. Happy anniversary Amy and Travis. Have a great day. We love you.

When I was a little girl, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. Those were wonderful years, but in more recent years we had not been back to Superior for a number of years. When my mom, Collene Spencer wanted to go back to Superior, my sister, Cheryl Masterson and I took her, since our dad had passed away by then. That, Ancestry, and Facebook opened up a whole new world for Cheryl and me. We got to know our cousins, and the list of cousins we know grows every day…or at least every year. This year, with the Schumacher Family Reunion, we knew we had to go, even though it would be without Mom this time. This trip was bittersweet, because of course, Mom was missing.

Nevertheless, we have had a wonderful time. When we were here the last time, our first cousins once removed, Les and Bev Schumacher had wanted us to come to their house, but our time was do limited, that we didn’t have time to. This time, their daughter, Cathy La Porte graciously invited us for dinner this evening. We got to meet her husband, Gary, as well as to see her brother, Brian Schumacher and his wife, Lisa again. It was simply a wonderful evening. Cathy is an excellent cook and we were treated to Walleye Pike and Northern Pike that Cathy’s husband, Gary caught in North Dakota with his brother this past week. Wow!!! Was it good. Dessert was a Cherry Crumble that Lisa’s friend had given her, and everyone loved it.

The evening was very enjoyable and will always be a sweet memory from our trip. The trip has gone by so fast, and what we thought was enough time, really wasn’t…it never is, is it? Nevertheless, the friendships (cousinships) formed will last for the rest of our lives, and while our parents weren’t there this time, we know they would be smiling…happy to see their daughters and granddaughter continue to reach out to the family as if they were with us. I guess we are carrying on the connections, and that would make them happy, and it makes me happy.

A few years back, I connected with a member of my Schumacher cousins, Tracey Schumacher Inglimo, in what would become a quest to get to know all of my Schumacher cousins, and like my Byer cousins, there were lots of them. The journey has been a wonderful trip, as my sisters and I have cultivated friendships with these precious cousins, some of whom we met on our 2014 trip back to our roots in Superior, Wisconsin. Now, four years later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; her daughter, Liz Masterson; and I have returned to Superior, Wisconsin for a family reunion. We have been so excited for this reunion to happen, and in fact, have looked forward to reuniting with all of our cousins since we first met or found each other on Ancestry and Facebook.

The reunion took place today at Pattison Park, and it definitely lived up to every hope we had for it. These precious cousins were friendly, hospitable, and informative, while also being curious about us too. We all shared tons of stories about our families, and of course, pictures of our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. We hugged on the little ones, most of whom looked at us with a sense of wonder as to who we were, and maybe even wondering if we should be hugging them at all…at least until their parents said it was ok. We moved from group to group, and person to person trying to get to know everyone, all the while knowing that there just wasn’t enough time. We found out who the jokesters were too, because what family would be complete without those wonderful people who keep us laughing. We built bonds that will last a lifetime, and parted ways with expressions of sadness that the time had passed far to quickly. We tried to see how soon we could feasibly do this again, knowing that for most of us Facebook would have to suffice until the next reunion.

The time went by far too quickly indeed, and while we wish we could have had far more time to sit and talk, we all knew in our hearts that we had been given a precious gift…a gift of family, friendship, love, and a sense of belonging, because after all, that is what family reunions are all about. Families grow quickly, and the numbers can quickly grow to a point of losing sight of the ones who started the family in the beginning, but at reunions, those who have left us are remembered and discussed, because everyone is trying to put into context, just exactly where they fit in with all these people. We talked of those who weren’t with us with love and sadness, because they would have really loved that their families have made the effort to keep the closeness going. To all those who made this reunion so very special, we love you and thank you for making our family reunion amazing.

It was 65 years ago, when my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer said “I do” and began their life journey together. Theirs was a match made in Heaven and one that continued for the rest of their lives. They knew almost from the day they met, that they had found their soulmate. Of course, my mom was too young at that time to get married, so they had to wait, but their love was worth waiting for. Finally, when my mom was almost 18, they ties the knot, and immediately moved to Superior, Wisconsin to start their family. As often happened in those days, they were quickly pregnant, and a week less than 10 months later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born. I arrived a little less than 2 years later; my sister Caryl Reed a little more than 3 years later; my sister Alena Stevens a little more that 2 years after Caryl; and our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock 1 year and 8 months after Alena. By the time my sister Caryl arrived, our family had moved back to Casper, Wyoming.

Our parents gave their daughters a wonderful life. We may not have been rich, but we were rich in love and happiness. We traveled, we were raised to have good Christian values, and we were raised to know the value of money and hard work. It doesn’t get better than that. We grew up to be responsible citizens and my parents were proud of each and every one of their daughters. When my sisters and i grew up, Mom and Dad were blessed with 16 grandchildren, then gained 22 great grandchildren, with one more arriving in late August. They also have 5 great great grandchildren. What a crew they started all those years ago!!

Mom and Dad led a blessed life, through all their years together, and that made my sisters and me very blessed too. Our home was always filled with joy and happiness. When problems arose, Dad and Mom always had a way to fix them. I think a strong bond and two hearts in agreement can go a long way together. Being in agreement is the biggest key to a marriage, even if you don’t agree on every matter, just agreeing to work things out is huge. Mom and Dad had that. They showed us how to live, by the way they lived. And that is the best blessing they could have given us. My only regret now is that they are not here with us anymore. Today would have been their 65th anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both so very much.

These days, long term marriages are rare, but they can be done. It takes work, an understanding of what your spouse is going through on a daily basis, common goals, and most of all prayer. I know people would dispute that last one, but as I am a Christian, I believe that is what it takes, whether it is the couple praying, or their family praying for them. Some things should be handled with prayer, because getting along with a person day in and day out, is not always easy, as any married couple will tell you.

Nevertheless, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin are one of those couples who have beaten the odds, and today, they celebrate their 25th or Silver Anniversary. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday, because in a mother’s heart, that is exactly how it feels. They were to kids, and that’s a fact. Corrie was just two weeks past her 18th birthday, and Kevin was not quite 22. The first thought that comes to anyone’s mind is that there was no way this marriage had a chance, but these two kids loved each other so much. They had dated since Corrie was just 15 years old, and they had been engaged for a year and two weeks, since they got engaged on her 17th birthday. They were perfect for each other from the start, and never have I seen two people who were closer soulmates at such a young age. You just can’t mess with these matches made in Heaven, and that is what they were…a match made in Heaven.

Now, suddenly, here we are, 25 years later, and these two kids…who will always be kids to me…are still going strong. They are parents, and now have a new granddaughter, and they are as happy as they can be. They are supportive of each other as each one works toward their own goals for their lives. They are supportive of each other as they struggle with things that are difficult, knowing that everyone has struggles. No life is perfect, but when you have a good support system, you can do anything you set your mind to…be it health, career, finances, or any other challenge people can face. You see, it isn’t the marriage that has no challenges that lasts, because in reality, there is no such thing. It is rather the marriage that meets its challenges head on, faces them with courage and compassion, and comes out the other side better for having made the journey that lasts. That is the kind of marriage Corrie and Kevin have, and that is why it has lasted. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Congratulations to you both…you made it!! Have a great day!! We love you both!!

The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.

Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!

After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.

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