aunt

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My aunt, Deloris Johnson was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She has a shy, but sweet smile, and loving way about her. She loved to sing and dance, and to show other how to do so too. My mom, Collene Spencer would always remember learning the hat-dance when her sister was in fifth grade and she in kindergarten. It was a dance Aunt Deloris had learned in school. All her siblings learned the hat-dance, and all were excited about it, because Aunt Deloris was excited about it. Her excitement was contagious. Life was like that for Aunt Deloris, always some new adventure to excite the soul.

Aunt Deloris was never afraid to try something new, and I believe that had she not left us so soon, she may have discovered some very cool things. They may not have been some world-changing discoveries, but they would have been very cool. She was always figuring out a way to make things work better. Things like inventing the first shoe-watch, although she did not get credit for it. She also invented the great flying trench coat, and took my mom for the maiden flight in that “vehicle.” Of course, it didn’t exactly fly, but it made you feel like you were flying, and my mom never forgot that flight.

Mom and Aunt Deloris were just 5 years apart, and as often happens in families, they were best friends, as well as sisters. Their interests were similar, as were their personalities. My cousin, Ellen talks about her mom’s quirky ways, and I can tell you that my mom shared her sister’s quirkiness. They were both known for their silliness. They didn’t care if their special style of creating laughter was a little less than dignified, all they cared about was that it worked. The loved laughter, and they always seemed to be right in the middle of the laughter in a crowd…and I’m here to tell you that their laugh was very contagious, as was their own personal brand of teasing. I am reminded of the time my grandma, Hattie Byer, their mother, was over having her large family of children arguing while the dishes were being done. She yelled at the kids that she didn’t want to “hear another peep” out of any of them. They all knew that was the final say. Grandma always meant business when she yelled at the arguing kids. As silence reigned over the room, I doubt if any of the kids considered saying anything, including Aunt Deloris, but then suddenly and without warning, Aunt Deloris uttered the forbidden, “Peep!!” Now, having been that mischievous child myself, I can tell you that she may not have even realized that she was about to challenge her mom, but there it was, and her siblings assumed that her life was over. Nevertheless, somehow, her life was spared, simply because Grandma could not hold back the laughter over such a ridiculous response. When Grandma laughed, everyone else knew that disaster had been averted, and they laughed too. I can jut picture it, and each time I picture it, I laugh all over again. It was just a typical Aunt Deloris response to the situation, and it was hilarious. That’s just how Aunt Deloris was. Today would have been Aunt Deloris 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Deloris. I know you will have a day filled with laughter. We love and miss you very much.

My husband’s aunt, Marion Kanta was his dad, Walt Schulenberg’s older sister. It was just the two kids for the first 13 years of her life, and the first 11 years of his life. For much of his early life, Aunt Marion, like many older sisters, was the bossy one. She tried to make sure her little brother did all the things he was supposed to do…or at least, all the things she told him to do. As little brothers would tell you, that bossy big sister thing didn’t really go over very well. Nevertheless, while they did fight sometimes, he did love her. Don’t let that make you think that he never hit his big sister. It’s a sibling thing after all, but boys had to be taught to treat girls like ladies, and so hitting his big sister didn’t go over well with their mother, Vina. So, as time went on, Walt learned to be a nice boy, and not hit his sister.

Of course, as they grew up, all that childish squabbling was behind them, and they became good friends, even though they lived in two different states. Aunt Marion, her husband and 8 children lived in Helena, Montana; and Walt, his wife and 6 children lived in Casper, Wyoming. The families got together as often as they could, but it really was pretty much a couple of times a year. That is often the case when families live so far apart. Nevertheless, it doesn’t diminish the love between siblings.

I remember that whenever we would go to Forsyth, Montana to visit Grandma Hein, Aunt Marion would often come over from Helena for a visit. We enjoyed those visits so much. She was always such a sweet person. There wasn’t even a hint of that bossiness that she was famous for in her youth. I’m not sure her kids would agree, but then it is a mom’s job to be bossy, right. Aunt Marion left us far too soon, when a developed a blood disease in 1999. She was only 72 years old and she was still a very healthy woman in every other way. Today would have been Aunt Marion’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Marion. We love and miss you very much.

My Aunt Dixie Richards, the 8th child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Grandma and Grandpa kind of had three families…or so it seemed to all of us anyway. The first three were girls, Evelyn, Virginia, and Deloris. The second three were two boys, Larry and Wayne, with my mom, Collene in the middle. The last three were three girls, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy. By the time Aunt Dixie was five years old, she was an aunt. Her sister, Evelyn had married and given birth to a daughter named Sheila “Susie” (Hushman) Young. I’m sure it seemed strange to be a child of five, and have a sister who was married and a mother…but then, I was the second oldest child, so that situation couldn’t have happened with me. My youngest sister, Allyn (Spencer) Hadlock was an aunt when she was eight years old, so I’m sure she could relate to how Aunt Dixie felt at that time…both as a young aunt, or later as a teenaged aunt.

Being an aunt when you are just a kid yourself, means that you are a fun aunt. When the nieces and nephews are over, you get to take them outside or to your room to play. Of course, as the aunt gets older, those little ones might not be so much fun to have around. Teenagers aren’t always fond of little tag-a-longs. Of course, they forget that for their older siblings, these teenaged aunts were the tag-a-longs once. I’m sure that the older kids didn’t always want to have the responsibility of taking care of the little ones.

I think that Aunt Dixie must have liked taking care of the little ones though, because in later life she even ran a daycare, and took care of many of the children in the family…as well as her own grandchildren, Jacob Liegman, Charles Williams, Gideon Williams, Noah Williams, and Mayme Williams. Taking care of her own grandchildren was a highlight of her life. She still sees them every day, and they love spending time with her and their grandpa, Jim Richards. The blessings of having children are the continuing line…the grandchildren. Today is Aunt Dixie’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

After a number of years of wondering what happened after the writing of my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journals, or my reading of them…I have wondered about so many things. Bertha’s journal was so detailed and so interesting, but it left me feeling a little bit “at loose ends” about the lives of my aunt, and the Carl and Albertine Schumacher family, of which I am a part. I knew some things of course, like the fact that my Aunt Bertha had breast cancer, and that Aunt Mina had rheumatoid arthritis, as did her mom, my great grandma, Albertine Schumacher, and her siblings, my grandma, Anna Spencer and my Uncle Fred Schumacher. It left me wondering why it is that so often our lives come down to what illness we might have had? And then Aunt Bertha answers the question I had, when she said, “Only deep impressions are held in the conscious mind…ever present, while the sub-conscious may retain all experiences.” I suppose that our lives are marked by events, but surely there must be things that are more important that what disease a person had. Nevertheless, Aunt Bertha was “in my opinion” and that of my family, an excellent writer. She told the human side of history, and not just the historical events. Without the human side, history can be very boring, but you put in the hopes, dreams, feelings, illnesses, and everyday lives of the people involved in the history being discussed. That is when history comes to life.

My Aunt Bertha and her sister, my Aunt Elsa took care of their parents who were ill, and in doing so, they gave up the chance to have a family of their own. They “adopted” their sister, Mina’s children as a replacement for children of their own. They both assumed that marriage was also one of those things they would have to give up, but in their latter years, both were given back that part of their lives, when they met and married their husbands, Arthur (Bertha) Hallgren and Frank (Elsa) Lawrence. Unfortunately, neither marriage lasted long, with Elsa’s ending in Frank’s death after 6 years, and Bertha’s ending in Arthur’s death after 2½ years.

Aunt Bertha fretted some when Elsa got married, not because Elsa was getting married. Bertha was happy for her, but she and Elsa had lived together all their lives to that point…42 years in all. Bertha said that it felt like a divorce…dividing up the household, “you take this and I’ll take that.” Bertha had never lived alone before. I’m sure she felt lonely…even before Elsa left. Then, after Elsa returned home when her husband passed away, when Bertha was ill, she worried about how Elsa would do when she was gone. Bertha was really very protective of her little sister, who had never lived alone. In the end, Elsa would live 17 years beyond Bertha’s life. She was ok, but I know she missed Bertha terribly.

I knew that my great grandparents were Christians, and had raised their children as Christians, and that teaching came down through the generations. Nevertheless, I was very moved by the way my aunt expressed her faith and trust in God. She knew that her life would not have been nearly as blessed as it was, if it had been lived without God in her life. I don’t know why it seems new to me, but I guess it’s because people don’t often talk about their faith, here she was, telling about the deep relationship with God. It was very moving, and sweet. Bertha was a woman who had been single for all but 2½ years of her life. She learned to depend on God…to trust Him. She loved her Lord, and I love that.

My aunt, Bonnie McDaniels often reminds me of my mom, Collene Spencer, who is her older sister. I don’t think it was as noticeable when they were younger girls, but later it became very obvious to me, and to many other people in the family. Aunt Bonnie and her siblings have long been close, but these days, their numbers are getting smaller, as more and more of them go home to Heaven. Aunt Bonnie’s husband, Uncle Jack among them. That has been hard on all of us, but especially Aunt Bonnie, who lost the love of her life when he went home. Still, her family is very close, and they are making sure that she has what she needs, and the she is not lonely.

Aunt Bonnie has always been a very hands on mom, grandma, and great grandma, and that has not stopped. Just the other day, my husband, Bob and I ran into Aunt Bonnie with her grandson, Peter, and his daughter at the mall. The smile on Aunt Bonnie’s told me that she was, as always, very excited and happy to be included in her grandchildren’s family. I’m not sure where they were headed in the mall, but due to her great granddaughter’s influence, I’m sure they were planning on some fun activities.

Aunt Bonnie and I have that “hands-on” grandparenting style in common. We wanted nothing more than to spend lots of time with our grandchildren. It is our opinion that kids need their grandparents as much as grandparents need their grandkids, and I know that many grandparents share that view. Aunt Bonnie has the added fun item for kids, of living out in the country. Her place is beautiful, and all of the family members who have been there, would agree. It’s like going out to a park along the river. Summertime at her house is beautiful. I’m so happy that she has such a beautiful sanctuary. I’m sure it is a very relaxing place to be. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For the over 45 years that I have known my husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz, I have understood that she is the rock of her family. I say that I understood it, because over the years I have watched as different events have unfolded within her family, and it is Margee who always steps in to hold the family together. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. Her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have always been the joy of her life. Margee’s life has not been without loss…a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus her parents, and both of her sisters. Margee is the last one of her generation in her family who is still living.

Margee stepped in to help raise her son’s two children, and to give them a stable life. She also helped to raise her daughter’s three children. I learned when I had my own grandchildren that with working parents, it takes a village to raise a child. Our kids need “involved” grandparents, and I can’t think of a greater blessing for a grandparent than spending time with their amazing grandkids. Margee has been a great help to her kids and grandkids, and they are very close to Margee, even as adults.

These days, the grandkids are the ones to help Margee. As her health isn’t as good as it was, she sometimes needs help with things. Because of the close relationship the grandkids have had with Margee, they are happy to help her. They love her after all, and anyone who knows Margee, and what a loving and caring person she is, can see exactly why they love her. Margee is the person who would give you her last nickel, if you needed it.

For as long as I have known her, I have felt very blessed by her. From her cake decorating years, during which we could count on the best looking cakes for parties, to her willingness to help with any event that was being held, made her a valued member of our family…and one we never want to be without. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Our aunt, Linda Cole was the middle child of my husband, Bob’s Grandma and Grandpa Knox. She and her husband, Bobby moved to Kennebec, South Dakota early in their marriage, and raised their two children, Sheila Gregory and Patrick Cole. In Kennebec, Linda and Bobby owned a hotel, and when people came to visit, they always had enough room for everyone to stay. My husband, Bob and I took our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce to visit them once a year. It was a nice trip for us and they got to see family too. Running a hotel didn’t leave much time to travel, so the family that came to visit them was often the only time the saw the rest of us. Linda’s sister, Joann Schulenberg and her husband, Walt, my in-laws went often too. We all went in the summer, so it was often really hot in Kennebec. Nevertheless, the visits were fun, and I will always be glad we went.

Later, after a fire burned most of the hotel down, the family moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, where Linda and Bobby both found work in the casinos. They really liked working there and also enjoyed gambling on their days off. I don’t know how they fared in their gambling, but they didn’t really spend a huge amount of time at it. They liked the warmth and easy winters, and enjoyed the place they had out in the country. It was quiet, and that was nice after the noise of the casinos.

My in-laws visited them periodically in their travels as snowbirds, and the sisters got to know each other again. For so many years they had lived far away from each other, that they were more like acquaintances than sisters sometimes. The girls’ younger sister, Margee lives here in Casper. She and Linda talked on the telephone often, and they were very close. It was hard on the sisters to be so far away from Linda, but as time goes on, you get used to things.

In May of 2014, Linda lost her husband, Bobby, and then Linda passed away in September of 2016. It had been a number of years since her sisters had seen Linda, and that made her passing especially sad. It always seemed as if there would be time, but when time ran out, it left only sadness where Linda had been. We can only look forward to seeing her again in Heaven. Today would have been Linda’s 73rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

From the moment he first saw her, my future uncle, George Hushman, knew that Evelyn Byer was the girl for him. He was taken by her beauty, and he never had eyes for another…nor did she. Theirs was a match made in Heaven. They married on September 1, 1947, and they would go on to celebrate 67 years of marriage together. Her passing on May 4, 2015 was the saddest day of his life.

Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George decided to build a house for their family soon after their marriage. They, with the help of family members built the iconic house that stood next to the Mills Fire Station ever since. Everyone in town knew the beautiful house. Until Uncle George’s passing, they would be the only family ever to live there. That is a sad thought to me, but some things cannot be helped. A home is meant to be lived in, not held as a shrine to it’s builder.

Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George would be blessed with five beautiful children, Susie Young, George Hushman, Shelley Campbell, Shannon Limmer, and Gregory Hushman. They would also be blessed with grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, who are too numerous to name here. I have been blessed to be a niece to my aunt and uncle, as ar so many other nieces and nephews. Aunt Evelyn has always had a generous spirit, and many of us credit her with making our weddings perfect, by making the perfect wedding cake.

For years, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George bowled as teammates to my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer (Evelyn and Collene being sisters). They had often double dated years ago, so bowling together was a logical next step. When the team decided they didn’t want to bowl any longer, Aunt Evelyn continued on by getting a team of some of her daughters together. I had the pleasure of being a substitute for them, whenever they needed one. We always had a great time. Those were really great days, and I miss them very much. We were close, and enjoyed each other’s company. There was lots of laughter and fun, every week. Time goes by so quickly, and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Aunt Evelyn and then, Uncle George. As it was with my parents, aunts, and uncles before them, we find ourselves losing all the elders in our family, and I find that very sad, because they were in great respect the glue that held us all together. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

Where my Aunt Evelyn Hushman was the beginning of my grandma and grandpa, Hattie and George Byer’s large family, Aunt Sandy Pattan was the end. Between them were 17 years and 7 siblings. When Aunt Sandy arrived, my grandparents had a disagreement as to what her name would be. My grandfather wanted to name her Sonya (or maybe Sonja, we will never know, since the name lost), but my grandmother wanted to name her Sandra. They simply could not agree, so the decision was made for Grandpa to go home and tell the rest o the children about the birth, and let a majority rule vote of the children settle the dispute. So, Grandpa went home and told the children about their little sister. Then he told them about the name dispute. They were to decide. Trying as hard as he could to make Sandra sound as plain as he could and, Sonya sound like the most beautiful name in the world, Grandpa waited for the decision. He didn’t have to wait long. Almost the split second he said Sonya, the children all said, “Eeeeewwww!! Sonya!! No way!! We choose Sandra!!”

Poor Grandpa. The decision saddened him. He liked the name Sonya. Nevertheless, Grandpa was an honorable man. The name Sandra had been chosen, and Sonya was out. He would accept that. I’m sure Grandma was happy, and my Aunt Sandy has told me that she is thankful, because she doesn’t think she would have liked the name Sonya. Maybe not, but once a name is given, most people can’t imagine themselves as anyone else. People tend to fit the name given, whether it is unusual or common. I can’t imagine having an Aunt Sonya, but then that is because I have always had an Aunt Sandy. That’s who she is, and it’s as simple as that.

Aunt Sandy must have some of the name/heritage gene in her blood, because she is as curious as I am about things like family history, and name history. We like to know if a name came from way back in the family, was made up, or picked out of a book. It doesn’t really matter which one it is, it’s really about the search. Aunt Sandy is a great teller of family stories. She remembers them in great detail. I could sit and listen to her all day. Many people don’t understand the importance of the family history, and people like Aunt Sandy and me, are important, because without someone to keep the stories alive, the family history could die, and that would be truly tragic. I’m grateful to have Aunt Sandy, who is still able to tell me the stories, so that when some of the kids in the family discover their interest, the story will still be there. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s not a common thing…having your first child on your birthday, but it is what my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer did when she gave birth to her first daughter, Laura Spencer Fredrick, on August 3, 1912, when grandma was 25 years old. It would be ten years before my grandparents would have another child, but no one in the family knows why. After my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, my dad, Allen quickly followed in 1924, and my Aunt Ruth in 1925. Nevertheless, they had just Aunt Laura for ten years. I really wish Grandma had known that her 2nd great granddaughter, Elliott Stevens would share in that joint birthday too. I think she and Aunt Laura would have liked that very much.

Grandma and Aunt Laura did everything together. They were not just mom and daughter, but best friends too. They shopped and traveled, and they worked around the house together. Grandpa was often away working, so Aunt Laura was Grandma’s companion much of the time. They were very close, and Aunt Laura was a big help to her mom.

When Uncle Bill came along, Grandma was running a hotel, and ten year old Aunt Laura became her right hand helper and almost full time nanny. I don’t know how Grandma could have done it all without the help of her dear daughter. They shared much more than just their birthdays, they shared the workload, the child rearing, and their memories I’m sure. When Aunt Laura married in 1932, just before her 20th birthday, she and her husband, Fritz moved to Minneapolis from their home in Holyoke, I’m sure that Grandma felt the loss deeply. Minneapolis isn’t that far, but too far to visit daily. Today is the day 132nd anniversary of Grandma Spencer’s birth, and it is the 107th anniversary of Aunt Laura’s birth. Happy birthday to both of you in Heaven. We love and miss you both very much.

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