It’s hard to believe that my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg has been in Heaven over four years now. She was such a big influence in my life for over 43 years. She was my second mom, and I loved her very much. I know that not everyone can really say they love their in-laws, but I was blessed in that I could. My mother-in-law was a capable homemaker, and she did all the “homemade” things she could. From her cooking and baking, including “murder” cake (a fudge-lovers dream) and the best caramel pecan cinnamon rolls you have ever tasted, to her clothing and knitted sweaters, she was someone who was impossible to “live up to.” I say that in a loving way, but you couldn’t out “homemake” my mother-in-law. And her work was perfect. Still, she was one that was willing to teach you what she knew, without making you feel inadequate.
For almost all of her married life, my mother-in-law was a homemaker. I believe there was a short time…maybe a year early on, when she worked, but mostly, she had a family to take care of and that was her career. I know that many people think that a woman should have a career, but the truth is that most of them would just love to be able to stay home and raise a family. There are a few out there, who are blessed to be able to do just that, and she was one of them. Now don’t get me wrong, a homemaker works as hard as any other career, and maybe harder. They have to wear many hats…nurse, chef, maid, seamstress, accountant, counselor, chauffer, teacher, and many more. They don’t work an 8-hour day, their day starts early and often goes into the late night. Still, my mother-in-law loved her job, and she loved her family. She also found time to make things like afghans that she could sell at craft fairs in town. She also made dish cloths and hot mits. Her things were beautiful and sold very well. She reminds me of the verse in the Bible, “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants,” Proverbs 31:24. That was what she did.
I think though, for my mother-in-law, that one of the greatest things to have happen was that her first great grandchild was born on her birthday. Her mother, Nettie Knox, had the privilege of having her first great grandchild, Corrie Petersen, being born on her birthday. Then, Corrie managed to give her grandma the very same gift…her first great grandchild born on her birthday. Mom and Chris Petersen loved that as much as Corrie and Grandma Knox did. It was their special thing. And today marks the 26th anniversary of that gift…as Chris turns 26 years old. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom Schulenberg. We love and miss you very much.
I always thought I knew so much about Bob’s grandmother on his Dad’s side. We didn’t get to see her as much as we would have liked, but when we did, I was sure I could see in her home, all the things she liked and disliked. Looking around her home you would find the piano and the sewing machine in the living room, along with a small television that was never turned on. Grandma was always working on something. Over the years she made many quilts and afghans, and of course, she sewed many clothing items. Her living room also housed a collection of photo albums, that hold the treasures of her life…her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her kitchen was a flurry of activity almost from morning until night. The radio was the main, and usually the only form of entertainment and it was usually on the station with the farm and ranch report. It seemed like Grandma was always cooking. Living on a ranch meant that she was up with the sun. Grandpa had to have breakfast early so he could milk the cows and feed the livestock. Lunch was always the biggest meal of the day. After breakfast, Grandpa worked up a big appetite taking care of the animals, and nothing would take care of it like a big home cooked meal.
Grandpa liked to play cards whenever we were there, and we always needed a fourth player, so Grandma was pulled from her duties so we could play. I could always tell that she didn’t feel like she should be sitting down wasting time playing cards, when there was so much work to be done. Nevertheless, she played, because she wanted our visit to be fun for us. She was quick to abdicate her chair, if anyone else was willing to sit in it, however. She finally got a break from cards, when we went to town to visit the rest of the family in Forsyth, or when Grandpa needed to take a nap, which he did every afternoon. But that never meant that she would sit and idly watch television. No, Grandma took that time to bake, clean, quilt, or some other productive activity.
Grandma just never liked having idle hands, which is why I was so surprised to find out that Grandma was a San Francisco 49er’s fan. Football seemed so far outside of her nature that it was something akin to having an elephant sitting in the chair next to you. Now more and more women are getting into sports of all kinds, and watching football on television is a big part of that. I am a Denver Broncos fan, myself. But for Grandma, that just seemed so foreign. And then to top it off, I found out that she also loved baseball. Now, more women liked baseball in times past, but it still seemed foreign to Grandma…at least the Grandma I thought I knew. And, I’m not alone in that thought, because my family didn’t know it either. I have to wonder what other little things there are about Grandma that we never knew.