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!!
Our New Years Eve party is a time of joyful celebration, as are most, but ours celebrates the new year and our mom’s birthday which is on New Years Day. We bring in lots of snacks, and in fact we almost compete to see who makes the best one. We clear the kitchen of the table and chairs so there is room to dance, because Mom and Dad always liked to dance. There will be lots of visiting tonight, but there will also be lots of dancing. Everyone gets in on the fun, from the littlest kids, to the oldest adults there.
The dancers have changed over the years. These parties started when my sisters and I were little kids. As the years have gone by, our spouses and kids have danced on that kitchen floor, and now it’s our kids and their spouses and their children who grace the kitchen floor. The music has changed over the years too, from country, to a little bit rock and roll, to disco, and back to country, and all the dance styles that go with each of those genres. We have seen slow romantic dances, and fast dances that were just because the dancers were feeling happy. If these walls could talk…the stories they would tell.
The dancers were festive and the music cheerful. We have had some memorable dances, such as the rubber knee, performed by my brother-in-law, Mike, and for me, it was sweet to see my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin strutting their stuff. I didn’t even know they could dance so well. The many adult/child and adult/baby dances are always dances that put a smile on your face. But, the dance that will always hold the place in my heart for the most amazing, special, beautiful dance ever is the dance my parents had after both had been so ill that dancing seemed like it would never be possible for them again. It was a dance that showed their deep, lasting love for each other. It was a dance that we all gathered in the kitchen to see. The floor was theirs. We didn’t want to dance at that moment. We wanted to watch. It was a beautiful dance…not because of the steps taken, but because of the hearts that had been joined together for all those years…hearts that would belong to each other, forever.
Christmas Eve in 1927 was a special Christmas Eve…at least to my mom’s soon to be large family. That was the day her parents were married. What started with two young people is love, has grown in those 85 years to a family of more than 300 people. There are new babies being born all the time. I know that if Grandma and Grandpa could see their family now, they would be very pleased, but I don’t suppose they would necessarily be surprised. They were surprised at one time, however…or at least in awe.
I recall their 50th wedding anniversary in 1977. By that time I was married and had two daughters, so I was one of those who were growing the family. It was a wonderful party. Our family has a family Christmas party every year, but this one was very special. We were celebrating the patriarchs of the family…the ones who, at least in our remembrance, started it all. Grandma and Grandpa looked great. They were so happy, but then that was nothing new. They had been happy all their lives together. They celebrated life and the joy of living every day of their lives together. Singing could often be heard in their home, as well as the continuing laughter of the little children and grandchildren that loved to spend time in their home.
At that special party in 1977, I recall Grandpa and Grandma’s glowing faces, as they looked at each other. You could tell that theirs was an everlasting love…a love that grew bigger with each passing year, and each additional member. They were so happy and they felt so blessed. Their marriage had been such a happy one, and their family had grown to such an amazing size, seemingly overnight. The conversation turned to the size of the family, and Grandpa looked at Grandma and said, “Mommy, look what we started!” He was amazed on that day at the bigness of the family, because when you think about it, who really expects or thinks about how big their family will be, when they are a young couple just starting out. Yes, Grandpa was right. They had started something great on that special Christmas Eve 85 years ago today.
Today, my niece, Toni will marry her best friend, Dave. I am so happy for both of them. They will be married on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii, in the warm sun, with temperatures around the 80’s. The day will be as beautiful as the couple standing on that beach dedicating their lives to one another for the rest of their lives.
The road to Hawaii has been a road Toni and Dave have traveled over the past several years. I have watched their relationship grow and blossom during that time. They just seemed to click from the start. I have never seen Toni look happier. My beautiful niece literally glowed with happiness. I didn’t know Dave very well then, but I could see how good he was to Toni…how good he was for her, and I liked him immediately. Dave always looked so happy around Toni, and I could tell that she was changing his life forever…they were changing each others lives forever.
So, today is the day…the moment that they will say “I do” and become husband and wife. The excitement travels through the air from Hawaii to Wyoming, because while we are not there on that beach with them physically, our hearts are sharing in the joyous event that is taking place on that beautiful beach so far away. Our minds will wonder if the event has taken place yet, because while we know the day, we do not know the time of the wedding. We look forward to seeing the pictures they will take, and their glowing faces, and then they will go forward as a married couple to spend time seeing the sights and then home to begin their married life together. We pray God’s greatest blessings over their marriage and their little family, and wish for them all the best. Congratulations to you Mr. and Mrs. Chase on this your wedding day. Have a lovely honeymoon. We all love you very much!!
A couple of years ago, when it was my family’s turn to host the annual family Christmas party, we decided to update the family phone book that we had made for everyone over ten years earlier. This was more than a phone book as it included names, addresses, phone numbers, names of children, and birthdays, anniversaries, and memorials for the family members who had gone home.
So much had changed in all those years, and we were faced with the monumental task of gathering all this information. We talked to the aunts and uncles, but there was still a lot of dates missing. The solution I found was to go out and friend every family member I could find on Facebook. So many wonderful relationships have come out of that single event.
One of those relationships was with Melodie and Brian Dobson. I love watching the comments that come from this lovely couple. They love God and their family. To me that says so much. Facebook is notorious for allowing the negative comments to prevail, and we have all done it, but when the majority of posts are loving, Christian, and beautiful, you have a friend that you want to follow. That is how this couple is.
Brian and Melodie were married seven years ago today. Their marriage has been blessed with 3 beautiful children, Parker Kinkade, Payton Kendall, and Pyper Kadence. I love that they can all go by PK, although my guess is that if that happens, it will be Parker who will do it, as it is more of a boy thing than a girl thing. Looking at the pictures taken of this beautiful family, I see a family that is full of love and laughter. The children are happy and secure in the love of their parents. A great way to live.
About a year and eight months ago, an event occurred that could have been a very sad moment in this marriage. Melodie lost her wedding rings, and with 3 children, there would not be money to replace it. They had splurged on the ring as a young couple, because they wanted it to be a lasting reminder of their unending love for each other. She mentioned the lost ring on Facebook, and the prayers began in earnest. Melodie and I spoke back and forth about the lost ring, and stood in faith together, and on March 29, 2011, Melodie and Brian got their miracle, when a woman found and returned her wedding rings to her. It was a blessed event, and I’m quite sure that their next anniversary was just a little bit more special, because of that miracle. Today is their 7th anniversary. Happy anniversary Melodie and Brian!! Have a wonderful day!!
Couples have a way of showing their true feelings of love for each other with their eyes. When couples have been married for a long time, there just seems to be a look, or even a tilt of the head that shows the deepness of their feelings for each other. They know each other better than anyone else in the entire world possibly could. They have been down the road together, through good and bad times, through sickness and health, through happy and sad, through arguments and solidarity…they have been there. They know how their spouse will react to different situations. They know they can count on that person being with them until death they do part. Their love has withstood the test of time, and come out victorious. It is a place every young couple hopes to arrive at someday, but many don’t. So when you see a little old couple still holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, it is impossible not to be affected by it.
Sometimes, you can find a young couple who has that same look of love. No, that isn’t a guarantee of lasting love, but sometimes, you just know they will beat the odds. They will become that little old couple holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes…you just know they will. They have that look of, “My life was so empty, before you came into it.” or “My love for you is so strong that I can’t begin to express it in words.” It is a look that goes beyond physical attraction and into the realm of two hearts/one person…soul mates. It is a look that warms your heart, and touches you deeply. It’s a look that, while we love to catch it on film, almost makes you feel like you are intruding on a moment that should have only been between the two people involved, and yet it’s a look you want to see, because it shows just how much they love each other.
That look of love is something we all long to receive. We pray for our children to receive it someday. We are thrilled by it when we see it in our parents and grandparents. Love is the hope of the future and the promise of the past. Love is something that no one can live without…not really. We need love in our lives, and so when we see couples expressing it with their eyes, we walk away with that feeling of everything is right in the world, no matter how messed up things in this world are, my parents, my children, my nieces and nephews, my grandparents love each other. Yes, everything is right…at least in my world.
I have been caregiving for my parents and my in-laws now for almost 7 years. In the last couple of days, I have spoken to clients and business associates who know about my situation, and as we spoke, the conversation turned to the blessing of my girls and my grandchildren. I don’t know how I would have made it through these last 7 years without them. Each and every one of them has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and their husbands have given up time with my girls and their kids to make sure that I had the help I needed. How do you ever re-pay such love, kindness, and compassion? You can’t, of course. You are simply forever in their debt…and forever grateful that they answered the call of duty and took on a responsibility that was bigger than any they had ever known, and one for which none of us had any formal training.
As I told of the help I received, I felt such a sense of pride in my family. I am able to count on my whole family to step up and help me in caring for their grandparents. Right down to my teenaged grandchildren. In fact, my grandchildren have been helping out in the field of caregiving since the youngest was 7 years old. They were not squeamish, or grossed out by blood or any of the other things they saw. These were their grandparents, and they love them. The rest didn’t matter. I was and still am so proud of them. Words cannot say how proud, because there are no words big enough. I am also grateful beyond words to each one of them, because they never let me down…not once in those 7 years, and I know I can always count on them. It was not with a sense of gloating that I told of the help my family stepped up to give me, it was more with a sense of gratitude and pure awe at all that they had done. Talk about heroes!!! Heroes don’t come in a finer form than my kids and grandkids.
No one ever wants to be in a position of having to make life changing decisions for their parents, but the harsh reality is that before this is all over, most of us will have to make those decisions….and I’m not just talking about life support and nursing homes. Many of us have to make the decision as to “do we go to the doctor or the hospital” over and over. Many of us have to help out with daily activities too, such as dressing, bathing, meds, shots, and bedtime. Sure, these are hard things to take on for your parents, in-laws, or grandparents, but for me and my family, the decisions are a no-brainer. Do everything to help them to live, and live life to the fullest extent that they possibly can. And when it comes to doing that, I know that my kids and grandkids are right there with me…on board in every way. I just can’t ever thank them enough for the awesome support they have given me and their grandparents at this difficult stage in the lives of my parents, their grandparents. I love you all…more that I can EVER say!!