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!!
On Valentine’s Day, two very special people got engaged. My future nephew-in-law, Jason asked my niece Jessi to marry him. We are all so happy for them. They are so perfect for each other. They are both full of life and fun to be around. It is a great match.
Jason…known as Red, fits so well into the family. We are a family that likes to tease each other, so it’s a good idea to find someone who is an easygoing kidder. And that is Jason. Theirs is a relationship fulled with laughter, and what could be more wonderful than a home filled with laughter. I am convinced that that is the type of home Jessi ad Jason will have.
Still, behind the laughter, the silliness, the jokes and teasing, lives a love that is very strong. I have talked to Jason when he wasn’t joking, and before he knew me very well. Bob and I were on a trail here in town, when we ran into Jason. You could see the way he felt when he spoke of Jessi. It wasn’t so much in his words, but more it his way of talking about Jessi, and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing of our conversation. It wasn’t so much in the words spoken, but rather in the look in his eyes when he speaks of Jessi.
It is the same look I have seen in Jessi’s eyes when she speaks of Jason…along with a sparkle in her eyes and a glow on her face. It is a look I think most of us know, or at least those of us who have been there. It is a look of love. It is the look on both Jessi and Jason’s faces. Theirs is love, and I believe, it is forever…a match made in Heaven. And it makes me so happy for both of them.
I think Jessi and Jason have the three most important ingredients for a good marriage…God, love, and laughter. With those ingredients, along with hard work, because no marriage works if its members won’t work at it, Jessi and Jason will have the together forever kind of marriage. I am so happy for them as they begin their life’s journey.
I met Bob when I was still in high school, though not in the way you might expect. We didn’t meet in school or at a game. We met at Kmart. We didn’t just casually meet there, I was working there, as was his sister, Debbie. I worked in the Millenary department…handbags, belts, sunglasses, accessories, and wigs, and I had a display near the delicatessen where Debbie worked. In fact, my display of winter gloves and hats was how I met my future sister-in-law. Every evening when I worked, I had to go over an straighten that display, and believe me it needed it after a day or even an hour of people going through it. When people would look for glove and hats, they would dig clear to the bottom to see if there was a set they liked more, nearer to the bottom. The display usually needed to be straightened twice in a shift. When I went to straighten the display, my future sister-in-law, Debbie and I would talk if it wasn’t too busy.
One day, Bob came in to take his sister on her break, and I happened to be there straightening the display at the time. She introduced us, and then they went to take her break. Bob took to coming by for Debbie’s breaks more often after that, but I didn’t know that it was because he wanted to get to know me…not right away anyway. Bob was a little bit shy, and didn’t know exactly how to approach me, so he and his friend, Paul would come in, dig to the bottom of my glove display and flip the whole stack of gloves upward, messing them up. I, of course, had just straightened them, not two seconds earlier. They would only do that if I was there straightening them. It was his way of being playful…and it was cute, after all.
Finally, he got up the nerve to ask me out…and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t that night. Being shy, as I said, Bob thought that was my polite way of saying I didn’t want to go out with him. That, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nevertheless, the guys decided to see if I would go out with Paul. When Paul asked, I did turn him down, because I wanted to go out with Bob. They thought that I didn’t like either of them, and pretty much dropped the subject…but, not coming up to mess up my display. I couldn’t believe that Bob didn’t ask me again. Debbie and I talked about it, and she told me that he was shy. It was a big dilemma.
Finally, I had to solicit Debbie’s help. She kept talking to Bob to tell him that I did like him and I wanted to go out with him. It was no easy task. Bob had convinced himself that I didn’t. Eventually though, Debbie talked him into asking me out one more time. Of course, I said yes, and the rest is history…with a little bit of a twist. While I’m sure a lot of people have met their spouses at work, I still think ours is a unique situation. When people ask me how I met my husband, I still say that I met him at Kmart, but I playfully add that he was my Blue Light Special. I don’t think I could have found a better deal anywhere.