I suppose my idea of life in the fast lane might seem very different from most people’s idea of it. When most people envision that statement, they think of rushing out to parties, clubs, dances, and other such social events. For me, life in the fast lane means a life filled with family, work, and responsibility. It means meeting yourself coming and going, because there is too little time in the day. It means staying up late in order to get the things done that didn’t get done during the rest of the day. It means using a little bit more gas, because I make extra trips to the homes of family who need my assistance. It means keeping my cell phone on and with me at all times, so that if I get that call saying that someone has fallen, I can go to them…even at 3:00 in the morning.

Sometimes I get weary, I’ll admit that, but I can’t say I would change what my life is. There is something to be said for being needed. It is rewarding to know that because of what you do, the life of another is made easier and better. Whether it is helping with my grandchildren or my mom and my in-laws, I know that what I do gives comfort and peace of mind. I love my family, and I enjoy nothing more than spending time with them, in any capacity.

Yes, I lead a very busy life. I work, walk, care for others, blog, Facebook, Twitter, bowl, read, spend time with family…basically I live my life. Yes, it is life in the fast lane, but I guess that is the only way to get into my life, everything I want most to have in it, and that is ok by me.

My dad joined the Army Air Force in March of 1943. The Army Air Force was a branch of the service that was pretty much unique to its time, and no longer exists today. Dad was trained at Miami Beach, Florida, Gulfport, Mississippi, and Dyersburg, Tennessee. He was then stationed at the 8th Air Force Bomber Station at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England as a member of the 385th Bomber Group for the next 8 ½ months. Dad was the top turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and also served as the flight engineer. At the time of his discharge, he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant.

During his service, he took part in two major aerial engagements including the D-Day attack on Normandy and the England-Africa shuttle bombing of the Messerschmitt aircraft factories in Regensburg. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, signifying extraordinary achievement, courage, coolness and skill while participating is numerous bombing attacks on military and industrial targets in Germany and installations of the enemy ahead of the advancing Allied Armies in Western Europe, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, signifying his shooting down 4 German fighter planes, and two gold stars, signifying his part in two aerial engagements.

Another notable experience that my dad had during his career was when the plane was coming back to base after a bombing run, and the landing gear would not come down. My dad then hung upside down in the open bomb bay doors area, while being held onto by several men, and hand cranked the gear down, getting it locked just moments before the landing.

My dad rarely spoke of the war, and never thought of himself as a hero, but I know better, as did, I’m sure, the men he saved by making sure they could land safely. I’m so proud of you Dad!! I love and miss you very much!!

Today I went to the funeral of a long time friend of ours. It’s strange that you can know someone for a long time, and yet be quite shocked at the things you didn’t know about them. Marge was 90 years old when she went home, but she just never seemed that old. She was always full of life and very feisty. Everyone who knew her…loved her.

So the new things I learned about her today, is that she was in the Navy and this little tiny woman, who was no bigger than a minute, was trained as a mechanic in the Navy, and served as a mechanic in Hawaii. I can no more imagine her as a mechanic than I can imagine that I can sprout wings. I was shocked and amazed.

Now her love for bowling, gambling, bingo, and cards, were things just about everyone knew about Marge. In fact the bowling alley is where I first came to know Marge. She seemed always to be there. She did bowl a lot!! When she wasn’t doing the other 3 things she loved to do.

Another thing I didn’t know, and found very interesting, is that she moved to Casper, Wyoming by looking on a map when she decided she wanted to move out West. She came here by herself, made a life for herself, got married, and stayed. That is amazing. What great courage that shows. Most women would never even consider such a thing, and yet Marge not only considered it, but made it happen.

Isn’t it odd how you can know someone, and not really know them. Yes, she was an amazing lady! And many, many people were blessed to have known her. And now she lives with Jesus, and we will see her again. So good bye for now Marge, til we all meet again.

My sisters and I have always loved a good surprise, especially when it came to my parents. When we were kids, Mom and Dad always made sure we had ways to get gifts for our sisters, etc. When I was about 13, the neighbor down the street, who owned a beauty shop, asked me if I would clean it and wash the towels every Saturday. I accepted, and suddenly had my first job.

When Christmas came that year, I had enough money, with what my sisters were able to put in, to buy my parents a nice 4 slice toaster, which our family really needed, and since it was a hot new item, many people didn’t have yet. So, Christmas morning, after all the gifts had been opened, and my parents had received the little school craft gifts from us, and had been told that the big box in the back was going somewhere else. Mom said, “Well, Merry Christmas everyone.” My sisters had agreed that I would hand them the gift, since I had put in the most money. So, I got up and handed them the gift. They looked at us in stunned silence and opened the gift. Then, came the greatest satisfaction a gift giver can receive…their mouths dropped open in pleased shock, and of course, my mom cried. We always knew how pleased she was, because she cried.

Through the years we have given Mom and Dad other surprises. One of the most fun times we had was for their 25th Anniversary. We went together and bought them new living room furniture and had it delivered while they were at the store. When they walked in, their mouths dropped open in total shock. They couldn’t believe we had pulled that off. And of course, Mom cried. It was great fun.

Probably the best surprise gift we gave them, however, was for their 50th Anniversary. We totally shocked them with a cruise to Alaska. They had always wanted to go to Alaska, but weren’t even remotely expecting a cruise. It was probably the greatest gift we could have given them. They had an amazing time. And that probably surprised them the most. They had never considered taking a cruise, and afterwards they wondered why they hadn’t.

Surprises can be so much fun and such a great blessing to the recipient, but in reality, they are at least as much fun for the giver. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I will always have the memory of the shocked…pleased…amazed…happy faces over something I have given them.

When I was a little girl, we had the most amazing German Shepherd dog ever. His name was King…for short. My parents actually named him LarKing Raesuekayal Vonlished. I can’t say for sure that I spelled that correctly, but if you sound it out, you will come pretty close to the correct pronunciation of his name. King was named after all for my sisters and me. Middle names were used for the three older girls, and the first part of the first name on my younger two sisters. Mom and Dad wanted his name to have special meaning. And it always has.

King was just about the greatest dog ever. When we were little he gave us girls “horsey” rides, and seemed to love doing it. He was very loving. King loved having the neighborhood kids come in to play, but we did have to tell them not to climb the fence without one of us girls there. Dad trained him not to bite obviously, but even more, you could put your arm in his mouth, and he would never even let his teeth touch your arm. But when it came to protecting his family, watch out. He wouldn’t have to bite…his bark was usually enough. He did bite one time, when a neighborhood boy was throwing rocks at him…boy was he in trouble with his mom when she found out. She wouldn’t even let the police issue any kind of ticket or warning, of course there was the required quarantine, but that was all.

The funniest thing King ever did though, was one time when my mom’s dad came over for a visit. Mom was on the phone when Grandpa knocked on the door. She motioned him to come in, and went on with her conversation. A few minutes later, she realized that he hadn’t come in. Thinking that he hadn’t heard, she motioned again. Then, she realized what the problem was. King was “guarding” the door. She said, “King, you let him in!!” She said it was the only time she had seen a dog smile. King sheepishly looked away, with a grin on his face, and my grandfather was able to come inside. I really miss that dog!!

The Love Of My LifeI 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 and Caryn - the early yearsBob 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.

When I was a very little girl, my parents bought my sister and me a rocking pony. It wasn’t on rockers though, it was mounted on a frame with springs. You could rock it…if you were of a mind to, but I always felt it was destined to gallop. Most of this story is what I’ve been told, because I was too little to remember, but I have also seen a few movies of me on that horse.

As a little girl, I had a head full of blonde curls, and from what I saw, I really kept them bouncing when I rode my horse. Our house had a wooden floor, and my mom told me that after the damage suffered at the hands of a little girl and her horse, there were ruts on the floor. Since I have seen myself in action in those movies, I can totally understand why that floor had ruts. As I would gallop, the horse would come off of the ground, come back down, and slide back to the starting position, where it would once again come off the floor.

Yes, that horse was for my sister and me, but it was my horse. I totally loved it. After I grew up, that horse was transportation to many other kids, but none of them ever rode it as long and hard as I did. We had many an adventure together, and I will always love that horse. It was so much mine, in fact, that when my mom decided that it was time to thin out the toys, since the grandchildren were growing up, that horse came to live at my house. It is a little worse for wear, but it had a good life. Now it is out to pasture, where maybe it will get a fresh coat of paint, a new saddle…or maybe not. The way it is shows that it was very loved. No, I don’t ride it, but a girl can still have her dreams…right.

It was 36 years ago today, that I said “I do” to my friend and soul mate. It seem like it was only yesterday. Many people, friends and family alike, never expected our marriage to last, but we beat the odds. Oh we had our fights, like every marriage, but they just didn’t mean anything. Bob is the love of my life. I can’t imagine ever being with anyone else.

Bob and I love to spend time together doing our favorite thing, hiking. It is so nice to be able to just get away from everything and be in nature, enjoying the quiet sounds of nature, away from all the traffic and city noises. We don’t even have to talk, because we can commune with each other without words. It seems like it was that way from the very start with us. So connected that we didn’t have to talk to know what the other was thinking.

As the years have gone by, our lives have been so richly blessed. Our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren have filled our lives with joy and happiness, and lots of activity. We are so blessed that they have chosen to stay right here and raise their families near us. There is just something about being able to see your kids and grand kids often that makes your life richer.

Bob has been the best thing to happen in my life. I wouldn’t trade one minute of our life for anything. These 36 years have flown by, and I know the rest of our lives will do the same, sadly, because when you love someone, you want the time to slow down so you can enjoy it more. Happy Anniversary Honey!! I will always love you!!

One day after the birth of my first grandchild, my life was again blessed with my second, a little girl named Shai. She was born on Leap Day, so she really doesn’t have a birthday this year…exactly. I tell her that in the nano-second between 11:59pm and 12:00am, between February 28th and March 1st, her birthday happens. My boss and hers, Jim, says she will need to “party fast” so she doesn’t miss it. Yes, Shai is a Leap Day baby. She gets a birthday only once every four years. Her brother and cousins used to tease her that they were already older than she was. And she hated that until I told her that it was true that they are “older” than she is, but she will get to drive when she is 4 and they will have to wait until they are 16. Another really cool fact concerning being a Leap Day baby that I’m sure she hasn’t considered yet, but every woman who thinks about it will appreciate…she won’t really be 15 until she is 60, and seriously…what 60 year old woman wouldn’t want to be 15.

When Amy told me that she was going to name her daughter Shai after a little girl she to take care of at the day care she was working at, I was…well less than excited about it. I worried that the name Shai, pronounced shy, would get her teased. So I suggested some “variations” on the name. They were quickly rejected, and Shai it would be. Now that I know her, the name just fits her so very well, even though she isn’t one bit shy, and when you add the fact that the name Shai means “gift” in Hebrew, well I’m sold, because that is what she has been. Being the only granddaughter we have, she most certainly is a gift to us.

Shai is very much the grown up young lady and a girly girl. She loves to shop, get manicures/pedicures, and she is a boy magnet. Her love of shopping came early, when at around the age of 4, she wanted to go to Target. When her mom said that she didn’t have enough money to go shopping that day, Shai simply said, “Well, charge it!!!” All kidding aside, I feel very blessed that she is also a very responsible girl and does an awesome job at work.

Her responsible ways came very early on, when at the age of 10, when my parents were both quite ill, and unable to care for themselves, she stepped up. Thankfully it was during the summer, because, my sister suggested that Shai come during the day and be with them. Like a little trooper, she stepped up and cared for them for more than a month, giving them their meds, getting them food and drinks, and every other job a nurse would do. We were very proud, and most grateful to her, and always will be. Happy Birthday Shai!! We love you very much!!

My mother-in-law shares her birthday with my grandson, Christopher. He is her first great grandchild, so that makes it even more special. This is an honor her mother also got to share with Christopher’s mother, my daughter Corrie. It is an unusual statistic indeed. My mother-in-law turned 80 years old today, but if you ask her, she is 65. You see, my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and she often lives in her own little world.

On any given day, if you ask her what she did that day, you will get a variety of answers, from doing laundry or other household chores to going to work. This is the really odd one, because she never held a job outside the home. Still, she thinks she worked in an insurance agency. Probably because I am an insurance agent. She thinks she works at a school, but I’m not sure where that one came from since we have no teachers in the family. She has also told us that she babysits on occasion, and we are pretty sure she thinks she is watching her granddaughters, as it has been girls and the only girls of that age don’t live here. I have found that the best thing to do is go along with the stories she comes up with, but some of them really take me by surprise, making it difficult to come up with a good answer in the conversation.

Sometimes she gets a little frustrated when we tell her it is time for bed. She always thinks it is too early. By the time we finally get her up, she is mad at everyone for “being so ornery” to her. That is the bad part. The good part is that by the time she is in bed, she is back to her sweet self and thanking you for getting her to bed, because she doesn’t remember that she was mad at you, not 10 minutes ago. I have been told that many Alzheimer’s patients are aggressive, and I am thankful that, at least up to this point, she is not one of them. Very little bothers her, and in reality the only things are exercise and bedtime. Oh, to have that be my biggest problem.

A sad side to Alzheimer’s Disease is that every once in a while, she gets an inkling of the fact that she should be able to remember some things, and when she can’t, she asks, “What is wrong with me?” That is so hard to take. It makes me want to cry for her, and her situation of moments lost. She still has many of her memories of the distant past, but she doesn’t always have her present life. From one moment to the next, something happens, and then for her it is gone. She doesn’t know that her younger son got married in June. She doesn’t realize that her grandchildren are grown adults…moments lost.

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