Everyone thinks of boys and men being all tough and macho…at least when it comes to emotions, but that really isn’t always the case. In my experience, the fastest way to turn a guy from tough and macho to mush is a girl. Yes, girlfriends and wives will bring that out in a man, but the thing that really melts my heart is watching a man with his daughter or a boy with his baby sister. They just lose all that tough macho stuff, and become pretty much putty in her hands…living the rest of their lives wrapped around her baby finger, because she is quite simply their baby girl…their princess…their little darling…their everything.
The future will bring many frustrating times. She will be rebellious and argumentative. She will fight with them and annoy them. She will want to start dating and going out with friends, leaving her poor daddy to sit up, just waiting for her to get home, and then waking up after a late night to go to work, whether he feels like it or not. Her clothes will cost more than he ever dreamed, because obviously a girl can’t have too many outfits…or shoes. And yet, somehow all that doesn’t really matter, because she is their girl. They feel that protective instinct kick in. She is fragile and tiny, and they want to make sure nothing ever hurts their little girl.
It’s funny how even little boys can tell that their is something very different about this new baby. You have to be more careful and gentle than with a brother. For her…and no one else, they will change their play from rough and tumble to girly things…and you had better never tell anyone about it! She is simply special. She can make her brother play house…and have fun. She can make him stop running around…and run to pick up her dropped toy, without even trying. All they want to do is make her happy. They will turn into a clown, making little faces at her just to get a smile. And yes, they will hug and kiss this girl…at least for now, because we all know that at some point in a boys life, he figures out that even his sister can have cooties, and then for a time, she might have to realize that she is temporarily contagious. But then again, maybe she always was. Maybe the contagion has just changed a little bit…from “I love my girl” to “Girls have Cooties” and back again, because she will always be their girl.
Every year, usually around the first of March, but a little later this year because of spring break, Bob and I take a three day weekend and spend it in Thermopolis to celebrate our wedding anniversary, which is March 1st. It is our way of renewing our relationship. We renewed our vows on our 25th anniversary, when we took a cruise, and that was a beautiful time, but these mini renewing events are very much a blessing too. There is no real itinerary, other than a lovely prime rib dinner and multiple relaxing sessions in tho hot tub. If the weather if nice we go for long walks along the river and up to the hot springs, but if not, we might just relax around the motel room. We usually drive through the buffalo reserve before leaving, but rarely see what we saw this time…6 buffalo right on the road. We thought for a moment they were going to ram our car, but they decided that was too much work
We did take one walk this year, but it was pretty cold, so it wasn’t really the highlight of the trip, but then we were both pretty tired this year, so relaxing in the room watching television was ok too. When we went to dinner, the deer came out to eat the corn provided for them right by the windows of the restaurant…always a highlight of the trip. It is always amazing to me that the deer are unafraid of the people in the restaurant…even when they are close enough to touch each other were it not for the glass. This year too, we got to watch a couple of little girls get to feed the deer their corn. I’m sure that was a once in a lifetime event for the girls, and we enjoyed watching it too. Dinner was wonderful as usual, and we always enjoy the Safari Club. The animals on display there were mostly shot by the owner, some before they were listed as endangered. Most of his hunting now involves shooting the animals with a tranquilizer gun. Taking pictures of his kill, having a veterinarian check them over and treat anything that needs treating, and then he releases them back into the wild. I think that is an awesome thing to do.
All too soon, our anniversary trip is over for another year, but we always come away from these trip closer together than we were before. I think every couple needs those little romantic trips periodically. It reminds you why you are in this marriage, after all. It puts you in tune with each other, and for us it confirms the love we always knew we had.
A few days ago, my father-in-law received a phone message from an old family friend. She was calling to wish my mother-in-law a belated happy birthday, and to ask my father-in-law what he remembered about the 1949 blizzard in reference to Colstrip, Montana. Since my father-in-law was in the hospital at the time, I called her back and told her that I would have him call her. Meanwhile, my own interest was peaked about this blizzard, of which I had been totally unaware prior to this call. I got on the Internet and did some searching of my own, and I was quite surprised at what I found.
The 1949 blizzard began on January 2, 1949, and it was soon to be called the “worst winter ever” by anyone who had the misfortune to go through it. The storm roared across several states, and was actually a series of storms that raged on until February 22, and dumped between 50 and 60 inches of snow, depending on where you were. It put a whole lot of people, especially farmers and ranchers in dire straits. Before long everyone knew that something was going to have to be done. Emergency flights of supplies began bringing everything from food to hay to the desperate people in the area. Snow plows pushed through in an effort to get truckloads of hay into the ranchers. Still, it would not be enough to stop the massive loss of livestock that the coming spring would reveal, not to mention the 235 people across several states who lost their lives. My father-in-law told me that the cows tried to stay above the snow by walking on it as it fell. When the snow got very deep, the cows ended up walking above the trees. Then the weight of their bodies caused them to fall through the snow and into the tree tops, where the were trapped and died of starvation. Some ranchers lost entire herds of cattle, either to falling through the tree tops, or being buried alive. My father-in-law told me that the spring brought a horrible sight. Dead cattle hanging in the trees…everywhere.
Transportation came to a standstill too. Before long trains were unable to move forward, and became buried in the snow, right where they stood. When the tracks were finally cleared, the snow would stand as much as 18 feet high beside them. I’m quite sure it was an eerie sight when the trains finally began to move again, because the piled snow was much higher than the trains, and so prevented any view from the train. Not that it mattered much, because there was nothing but snow to see anyway. I can imagine that if a person was at all claustrophobic, however, the feeling that they would encounter going down that track would be almost more than they could bear.
The spring of 1949, would bring to an end, “worst winter ever” and the beginning of healing for many people. Ranchers would have to begin again. Their herds would have to be rebuilt, and it would take much time and a lot of work. I can imagine that the flooding from all that snow was devastating too. Still, healing would take place too. That spring was also one of beginnings, such as the beginning that is so special to my father-in-law, because on June 6, 1949 he would marry the love of his life, my mother-in-law, and so began their years of marriage…63 years and counting.
Today is my sister-in-law, Rachel’s birthday, and it seemed to me a fitting day to pay tribute to the woman who gave birth to this girl who joined our family 2 years and 9 months ago. Rachel’s mother died when Rachel was a young girl, and yet I believe that the influence of her mother is alive in Rachel today. Rachel showed me this picture of her mother a while back, and told me a few things about her own life, but it wasn’t the things Rachel told me about her life, but rather the way she looked at the picture of her mother that struck me. There was such love in her eyes, mixed with a yearning for just one more moment with her mom. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to grow up without your mom, especially for a girl. Girls just need their mom at several key points in their life, and my heart hurt for this woman, my new sister-in-law, and the child she had been when her mother was taken from her by illness, as well as the teenager, young woman, and now the adult woman, who still felt the loss very deeply.
While I know that Rachel’s mother was not in her life during the toughest years of her life, I believe that deep down inside of Rachel, her mother’s influence lived on. As Rachel worked her way through the teenaged years, into motherhood, and beyond, the memories of the kind of mother her mother was lived on inside her. A little child remembers the way their mother was…her gentle touch, as she held them close…her perfume, as beautiful as she was…her voice, calling them in for supper…all the little things that made her their mom. I could see in Rachel’s eyes that she carried those memories into her life in the present, and the kind of mother she is to her children.
As Rachel grew, and her life moved forward, through the changes that take place, whether we like them or not, I believe that she chose to be the kind of woman her mother was, and the kind of woman that God would want her to be. And, it is that woman that came into the life of my brother-in-law, Ron 2 years and 9 months ago. With her she brought her daughter, Cassie and son-in-law, Chris; and her two sons, Riley and Tucker. Rachel’s grandson, Lucas would join their family on July 3, 2011. Rachel has made Ron’s life complete. She has brought love and happiness into his life again. Ron’s life following his own divorce was lonely and, to me, it seemed like he wasn’t sure he would ever be happy again…until Rachel came along…bringing with her the best qualities from the memories of her mother. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
Bob and I have reached another almost unheard of landmark in our marriage…38 years together. Of course, at this point in our marriage, we reach another almost unheard of landmark every year. It’s not that we are the only ones to ever reach this landmark, and in fact, I know several other people who have reached this one and beyond. It is simply that in a world where marriages have almost become disposable, those of us who manage to endure are rather rare.
When people have been married a long time, it seems like everyone wants to know what they attribute their marital success to, and everyone has some profound way that they managed such an amazing feat. Personally, I don’t think there is really any such thing as a perfect formula. Every marriage is different, the two people in the marriage are different, and the circumstances are different. What might work to keep one couple together, might just tear another couple apart. Therefore, I simply choose to say that by the grace of God we are still together. We aren’t perfect, but God loves us, and he has helped us through the difficult times and brought us to this place.
Through the years, we have been blessed with 2 daughters, Corrie and Amy, and their husbands, Kevin and Travis, and their children Chris, Shai, Caalab, and Josh. Our lives have been filled with much happiness, and a few sad times, but then we all go through loss and sadness. Nevertheless, we managed to cling to each other during the sad times, and rejoice together during the happy times. And we have worked together during the times when it was necessary to pull together to achieve the important goals. We have cared for our children, helped with our grandchildren, and now, we are caring for our parents. Yes, sometimes the work was very hard, and it seemed like we would not win against sickness or disease, but again, by the grace of God, we were able to pull through and not only do the things we needed to do, but have victory after victory along the way. There is such sweet victory when God guides your path, especially in caring for others.
No one knows where the road will go from here, and what new challenges the journey might bring. What we do know is that because of God’s help, we will be together through our remaining years, and every day will bless us more, because every day in the Lord is sweeter than the day before. I can’t tell you any perfect formula for making marriage last, but I can tell you that for me God’s grace and patient leading, His son Jesus’ sacrifice in my place, and His comforting Spirit are the only way we could possible have managed such a feat, because with out God, I know we probably would have failed. So I give God all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise, and I thank He each and every day for the wonderful man He gave me to walk the paths of this earth with. What a blessing Bob has been to me. I love you Bob, and I thank God for you every day.
Today is one of three un-birthdays that Shai, my granddaughter will have before she gets to have her next real birthday. Shai is a Leap Day baby, and officially she is 4 1/4 years old today…or actually on that nanosecond between February 28th and March 1st…that is as close as we can get to her birthday, three out of 4 years. Most people, myself included, think the Leap Day is a cool birthday. It makes her 1 in 1500. That is the odds of being born on Leap Day. Not as rare as lots of other things, but rare enough.
Shai was a little grown up well before the years would make her a young woman, so it is fitting that today she is seventeen, but not really. That has always been the case with Shai, older than her actual years. She took care of my parents when they were sick and she was only 10 years old, or 2 1/2. She babysat for my niece Jenny at 12 years old, or 3. And like most kids, she drove at 16, except that she was really 4.
Like her cousin Chris born the day before Shai, I was there for Shai’s birth, and that was only a week ago, so how could she already be seventeen years old, even if seventeen is really 4 1/4, I take no consolation in the fact that we can call her younger than the years that have passed since her birth, because they have simply gone by too fast. My only consolation is the fact that Shai, like her cousin is a good girl who stays away from trouble and loves the Lord.
Shai doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life yet, and that’s ok. The possibilities are endless, and I know that whatever she does will be perfect for her. She could easily go into nursing, because she has had 7 years of experience in that area, but I’m not sure that is the choice she would make. She is a very social person, and it would not surprise me to see her go into a field like public relations. She worked in my office for over a year, at late 14 through 15 years of age, which is very unusual for a kid of that age. She did so many things early, and it made me even more aware of how fast the years were rushing by.
Today, Shai is unofficially seventeen years of age, and while it seems to me like a week ago, I have long been aware that she was growing up very quickly and right before our eyes. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day, and maybe slow down a bit, ok. We love you very much!!
As our 38th wedding anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the flurry of activity that was going on about this time in the planning stages of the ceremony. My wedding gown, which was made by my grandmother was finished, and it was beautiful. The rice bags were ready, and the flowers had been ordered. My cake, made by my Aunt Evelyn was ready, except for the final touches as it was placed on the reception table. Everything was coming together perfectly. We had only a few more days to wait until our wedding day arrived. My mind was filled with excitement, and my heart was filled with happiness.
My three younger sisters, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, were going to sing at our wedding, and they had been practicing, and a little praying, that their part would turn out perfectly. The song I had chosen was called, “O Perfect Love” and I couldn’t imagine a better song for the love Bob and I had, and still have. Their voices blending in harmony as they practiced their song, were beautiful. I was amazed at how well, these my little sisters, only 15, 13, and 11 years old, could sing. Sometimes, the age of the voice doesn’t really matter, it is the pure, crystal clear beauty of the voice that matters.
That is what my sisters had…pure, angelic voices. I was so pleased that they were going to be singing at our wedding, and the song they were going to sing was so beautiful. I can still hear every word…every note, as the girls sang that song for me and my husband. It was like they were singing a prayer over our marriage. It was not just a popular song of the times, it was a hymn. It was, and is the most beautiful wedding song I have ever heard, and it was sung for Bob and me by the three angelic voices of my little sisters. Thank you Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, for your beautiful contribution to our wedding day. I love you all.
O Perfect Love
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou forevermore dost join in one.
O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
and to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
that dawns upon eternal love and life.
While I was still in high school, I met the man who would be the love of my life. Since that day, I know that no other man would have ever measured up to him. Bob is my soul mate…the half that makes me whole. What would I be without him in my life. He is the father of my children and my confidant, but most of all, he is my best friend. I can’t imagine my life without Bob.
Bob and I married young. I was almost 19 and he was 20, and I’m sure many people would say that we were lucky, but I have to say that with hard work, we beat the odds. Marriage is not an easy undertaking. When we are young, we tend to think it is all hearts and flowers, but if you can’t weather the hard times, you will not keep the hearts and flowers moments for very long. We are stubborn people, who hate to lose a battle and I suppose that is what carried us through the tough times, and after a while, it just became second nature…we knew that our love would outlast the tough times, and endure through the years.
I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would have been if we had never met, and I’m glad I have never had to find out. While there have been times that were hard in our lives, such as the hard work of the caregiving we are now working through, I think that we are both right where God wanted us to be. If we were not together, I can’t imagine where those we care for would be. You don’t know what kind of help your spouse will be in the care of your parents, until that time comes, and not all spouses are able to handle that job for their own parents, much less for their in-laws. I was thankful that Bob was there for me, and I was there for him through those tough times.
So much has changed as we have grown from love struck kids, through being parents, and then grandparents. I look back on all that our lives have been and realize that while it was hard work at times, the richness that has been our lives, was well worth the teeny seconds in time that were harder, and I wouldn’t trade one moment of what I have for any other kind of life. I have taken this journey with the man I love, and I am so thankful that God brought us together. He knew what was best for us, and He knew that this would be the love of our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day my love!! Thank you for my life’s richest journey. I love you very much!!
The first time I met my niece, Toni’s future husband, Dave, I thought that he was pretty quiet…which surprised me because Toni is so outgoing. Like most first impressions, this one was wrong, because Dave is very outgoing and quite fun. On Christmas I got to see the goofy side of him, when for lack of a chair, he sat on his brother-in-law, Steve’s lap. I could tell, that neither of them were surprised by his antics, but I certainly was. I won’t be fooled into thinking that Dave doesn’t have an outgoing, and very humorous side again.
Since that first meeting, I have watched how Dave is and looked at the pictures they have taken, and while his goofy side is fun to watch, the thing about Dave that most impresses me is the loving side. It is so obvious to me that Dave loves Toni with his whole being, and that is high on my list of what a husband should be toward his wife. It is so easy to see how in love these two are. Toni is absolutely glowing these days, and as her aunt, I can say that I really like seeing that. I think these two will have a long happy life together.
Another thing that really impresses me about Dave is the way he worked to make a relationship between him and Toni’s son, James work. Blended families are sometimes difficult, and for a kid, it’s hard to accept that your mom is marrying someone that isn’t your dad, but Dave has found a way to win James over. He won’t ever try to replace James dad, but they have a better relationship than so many steps do, because Dave took the time to let James ease into a friendship with him. He included him and even found things that they could do together…guy things, that are important to a kid. I think that has endeared Dave to many in the family.
I think Dave is a really good fit in this family, and will be great to be around. We are a family of teasers, and Dave is that way too, and yet that isn’t all he is about. He steps up and pitches in whenever he is needed, even offering his help with things like raking the leaves up when the rest of us just couldn’t get around to it. Basically, Dave is one of the family. Today is Dave’s birthday…the first since his marriage to Toni. And it’s Super Bowl Sunday too, so that should help make it a good day!! Happy birthday Dave!! We love you!! Have a super birthday!!
When my mom married my dad, on July 18, 1953, her life was about to change dramatically. Their honeymoon would be spent sightseeing along the route from Casper, Wyoming to their new home in Superior, Wisconsin, which is where they would live for the next 5 years. Being a young wife and soon mother, and living far away from your own family, and especially your parents can be hard, especially on holidays and your birthday, which for my mom, coincided with the New Year’s Day holiday. Mom was a New Year’s Baby, and that had always made her birthday extra special. As a young wife, you never know if your husband will remember your birthday, much less do something to celebrate it, But with my dad, Mom need not have worried. Of course, the day that was her birthday made remembering it easy, but the rest was all dad…well, with a little help from Mom and later the kids and grandkids. You can’t really plan a party like that every year, all by yourself.
As the years and their family grew, they would move back to Casper, Wyoming, where the younger 3 of their 5 daughters were born. Mom’s birthday would always be celebrated with a New Years Eve party, and the house would be filled joy and laughter, music and dancing, and of course, good food. Dad never forgot her birthday and made each one special. There was never a doubt as to where we would celebrate New Years Eve, because we loved having the big party at our house. Most of our friends didn’t get to do anything, but the Spencer house was always rockin’ on New Year’s Eve.
Since their wedding day, more than 59 years have come and gone. Dad left us and went home to be with the Lord, 5 years ago December 12th, and the torch has now been passed on to Mom’s daughters. Mom knows that her birthday will be celebrated in the usual style that is the Spencer tradition. The party was held, although it was, as always a little bit lonely, because Dad was once again celebrating with Jesus this year. Still, I know that if he was here he would have been proud of the way it turned out, because this year…like every year was better than the one before, and Mom’s birthday will be a beautiful celebration for our beautiful mom. She is one in a million, and each year starts out reminding us just how blessed we are that she is our mom. Happy birthday Mom!! We love you!!