I'm so blessedAs each generation in a family looks at the addition of a new generation, I have to wonder what is going through their minds, and if it’s the same as mine…amazement at where the family is now. I remember seeing my daughters and my grandchildren for the first time, and I know that I was thinking just how amazing it was that they were here, and they were mine. You have a tendency to marvel at how beautiful they are and that they descended from you. Every grandparent is excited about those little grandbabies, but you don’t always get a picture of the exact look that expressed just how blessed a grandparent is feeling.

Nevertheless, that rare shot was what we accidently got, when my husband, Bob’s great grandfather first met his great great granddaughters, Corrie and Amy. The loving look on his face as he held Amy simply said it all. He was feeling so blessed to be able to see this next generation of his lineage. Many people never see their great great grandchildren…they don’t always live long enough, so he was very blessed. He was blessed in his life…living to be 93 years old. It was only a couple of months later that a fall would break his hip and the shock would end his life. That made his chance to meet his great great granddaughters that much more special, whether he knew it or not at the time.

I think every grandparent feels that deep sense of great blessing when they see those babies for the first time, but so often it doesn’t show in a picture of such a loving look. This picture has become very precious to me for that very reason. I only had the opportunity to meet Bob’s great grandfather the one time, before his passing. We had planned a trip to Yakima, Washington to visit with them again, in September of that year, but he passed away in August. We made the trip to see Bob’s great grandmother, but I always felt sad that his great grandfather was not there for the visit. Mostly, I was sorry that he was gone so soon after meeting him. The picture of him was one of the few I have now. Having met him, I can say that he was a gentle hearted man who loved his family. I really think that he felt such a deep sense of accomplishment that his family had grown so much, and that he got to see it before he left this world. I was glad that we were able to give him his great great GG Gpa, Amy, GG Gma Corriegranddaughters before he passed away. I think it meant so much to him.

As my life moves forward into the next phases, I am beginning to look forward to the day when I will have great grandchildren too. It could be down the road a ways, but with two grandchildren out of high school now, it could be right around the corner. I don’t mean to say that I am pushing the grandkids, but I look forward to that special day whenever it happens to arrive. Babies and grandbabies are a great blessing, and I know that whenever my great grandchildren start arriving, I will feel just like Bob’s great grandfather did, so amazed at where the family is now.

BobCaryn and Bob share a laughNot everyone is so blessed, as I am, to be married to the love of their life…and I have been for nearly 40 years now. Bob and I met when I was still in high school, and married in March after I had graduated. He stole my heart the day I met him, and he didn’t even know it for a while. That’s how Bob is though. He really doesn’t know what a great guy he is. There is no conceit in him at all. That’s ok though, I know how great he is, so I’ll take care of that part for both of us. Bob has always been a hard working man, who never was one to act proud or arrogant. I suppose that is a big part of his charm.

As a dad, Bob was so sweet, but he was a little out of his league when it came to discipline with the girls…in reality, it is a well known fact that the girls had him wrapped around their little finger…at least a little bit. No, a lot. A little batting their eyelashes, and a little “I love you Daddy” and he was in a lot of trouble. Thankfully, I was a pretty strict disciplinarian, and I think it might have been easier for me to discipline the girls than for him. Maybe if they had been boys he could have done better. I’m not so sure. He is pretty soft hearted…but really, that is a big part of his charm too. I suppose some people might not think it is charming for him to be a softy, but to me it is.

As our family has grown up and moved into their own homes, Bob and I find ourselves in the couple time of our life again, but that doesn’t mean that we are without responsibilities. We take care of parents, and that is a big job, but it is one I would not want to tackle without the love and support of my man. There are times that I have to go to the hospital in the middle of the evening, and I’m there most of the night. Bob is so understanding about this situation. It frees me up to do the things I need to do to care for our moms.
Bob in the Black HillsBob with Corrie, Caryn with Amy - July 30, 1976
I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful man than Bob. The last 40 years have been amazing. I look forward to each new day with him, because it just gets better and better. Today is Bob’s 60th birthday. Bob it has been such an amazing life. I am so happy that we have taken this journey together. Happy birthday Sweetie!! I hope yours is a wonderful day!! I love you with all my heart!!

Shirley GraduationSeveral years ago, our family reconnected with my cousin, Shirley Wolfe Cameron. Since Shirley and her family moved away from Casper many years ago, we had lost touch with her, and so I didn’t really know much about her except for during her teen years and once after she was married. The teenage years are not much to go on when it comes to what kind of a person someone is, because as most adults will admit, the teenage years find many of us mad at the world, and often most of the people in it. Oh, we all have our good days and bad days, but as teenagers, often the bad days far outweigh the good days. Since Shirley was a few years see than I was, I’m also quite sure that I was a huge annoyance. When it comes to teenagers and adolescents, I’m not sure who is more obnoxious…but I know that I had a well tuned ability to be irritating.

Now that we are both adults, our relationship is so different. Looking through adult eyes, I can see what a wonderful person Shirley is. She has a heart of gold and she is such a generous person. I find myself feeling so very blessed to have her back in my life, because she is such a sweetheart. It’s funny that people can grow up so far away from each other, and yet have so many views and ideas that are exactly the same. I don’t know how that happens, but for us it did. I am so often amazed at how many things Shirley Shirley Cameronand I agree on…good upbringing, I guess. Shirley’s mom and my dad were sister and brother, and I’m sure that would account for the many similarities there are.

Shirley and I have such a good relationship now, and one that warms my heart every time I think about her, or see her Facebook posts…and that would make it every day. She always puts a smile on my face, and since we agree on everything political, we can get each other pretty hyped up when it comes to things that are just wrong. Today is Shirley’s birthday. I love having you back in my life, Shirley, and I know that the whole family feels the exact same way. Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

When you marry a man who has a daughter, you aren’t marrying just the man, but rather the family that he really is. That is what Dustie did when she married my nephew, Rob. He came as a package, with his daughter, Christina. It is hard to step into a situation where you are expected to help with a step-child, but you have to be careful not to step on the child’s mother. It was a challenge for sure, but Dustie has done a good job, and she and Christina have a good relationship now. Yes, there are the occasional arguments, but for the most part they get along well. Many step-relationships are never good, so that is an amazing feat. I think the ability to blend and then add to a family unit is a skill that is learned, but you have to be willing to compromise and to open your heart to this child.

Dustie has opened her heart to Rob’s daughter, and she has also made her place in our entire family. She helps out with anything we ask her to do. I can’t count the number of times she has gone for groceries so her mother-in-law, my sister Cheryl could take care of the things she needs to at my mom’s house. There were many times that Dustie saved the day, just by taking that one thing off of our hands. When you are a caregiver, you need lots of help in many areas, and Dustie was always willing to provide that help.

Dustie is a wonderful girl, with a sweet spirit. She is a good step-mom to Christina, and a good mom to her own three children with Rob, Raelynn, Matthew, and Anna. They are all very blessed to have her in their lives, as are we, the entire family. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! We all love you and hope your day is as beautiful as you are.

Bob’s great grandmother was a truly amazing woman. She lived to be 97 years young…and she lived at home. She just never seemed to age. She loved them, and she was patient with them. She didn’t mind their play, and in fact, she loved it, noise, mess, and all. She loved their laughter, and she laughed with them. Many older people get grouchy and don’t like noise, but she loved it when kids were involved.

I first met Great Grandma Knox when she traveled from her home in Yakima, Washington to Casper, Wyoming with he husband Edgar, her son Frank and his wife Helen. She was such a sweet woman. I enjoyed talking with her immensely, so I can totally understand why the kids all loved being with her. She was blessed enough to spend time with 4 generations of her offspring, from her children to her great great grandchildren…or was it her offspring that was blessed. I tend to think the latter, because Grandma Knox just simply had a way with kids.

When Bob and I went up to visit her in September of 1976, just a month after Grandpa passed away, she still had a gentleness of spirit, and the ability to enjoy her great great grandchildren, my daughters, Corrie and Amy. A number of years later, she would again travel to Casper to see the remainder of the grandchildren born during her lifetime. The kids had such a great time. Again,I marvelled at how she took such great pleasure in the laughter and play of her great great grandchildren, just as she had her children and grandchildren. The kids giggled and played, running around the house, like they always did when they were together, and instead of seeming annoyed, Grandma Knox seemed delighted. I suppose that is the reason the kids were still smiling in the pictures we took. It was because she had a way with kids and they truly loved her.

There are all kinds of special birthdays, and our family has a few of them. My mom was born on New Years Day, and my granddaughter was born on Leap Day, but we had never had a birthday on a day that was special because of its date and year. We got that on July 7th of 2007. The date 07-07-07 according to many people would be the luckiest day of that year. Many people set up their weddings to be on that day. Now personally, I don’t believe in luck. I don’t think certain days have anything to do with whether or not a marriage will work, or a child will have a good life.

One thing I do enjoy though, is birthdays that occur on special days…not because they are lucky…just because they are…cool!! I don’t think that a child born on July 7, 2007 is any luckier than anyone else, but in this case, I believe that we were the ones who were blessed by this birth. It was such a surprise to all of us when Audrianna arrived on July 7, 2007. Who would have ever thought it would happen? It just seemed so unlikely. Her mom was due on July 9th, so we knew it was possible, but still unlikely.

Audrianna was born in Zanesville, Ohio, which is where my nephew, Rob and his wife, Dustie were living at the time. They have since moved back to Casper, and we are all very happy about that fact. Audrianna was a very quiet girl for a very long time. I began to think she was either terribly shy, or couldn’t talk…then, she decided to talk, and she said some of the funniest things. It wasn’t that it was anything in particular, it was just the spur of the moment funniness. That was the kind of humor Audrianna had. And she often didn’t even understand what you were laughing about.

Today, Audrianna is 5 years old. She will start Kindergarten in the fall. I can’t wait to see what funniness she will come up with in the next 5 years. If the first 5 years are any example, then, the next 5 years should be great. Happy birthday Audrianna!! We love you!!

Few times in a woman’s life can compare to becoming a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, or great great grandmother. Holding that little baby in your arms is so special. And when you become a grandmother twice in 2 days…well, that is amazing. While waiting for the grandbabies to arrive, you have a profound sense of expectation, and yet still empty arms, because your little one hasn’t arrived yet…you just know the baby is coming. And the excitement is almost overwhelming.

That is just how I felt when both of my girls were pregnant at the same time. The were due about 2 weeks apart, but that was not to be. We were going to be blessed with grandbabies that were 1 day apart. The idea of having 2 grandchildren in 2 days…and they weren’t even twins. My arms like my heart were filled with so much joy that I felt like I was floating on air. I wanted to hold both of them constantly. It was an amazing feeling.

I think that can be a universal feeling, because when we took the babies up to Montana to visit Bob’s grandmother, the look on her face reminded me of exactly how I felt when holding my 2 grandchildren. They weren’t her first great great grandchildren, but it didn’t matter of course, because they were still her little babies, and there were two of them at the same time.

That is really how all babies make their grandmothers feel, no matter what level of grandmother you are. Babies are just the greatest blessing there is. That new little life, so sweet and cuddly…full of giggles and smiles, making the goofiest faces. And if you have ever been a mother or grandmother, you will know that there are no babies that are a sweet, as cute, or as wonderful as the ones that belong to you, no matter how many you have at one time.

Since Christopher and Shai’s arrivals, we have been blessed with 2 more grandsons, Caalab and Joshua, and while they didn’t arrive a day apart, they are as wonderful as our older grandchildren. I love being a grandmother as much as I loved being a mother. Life is good, and I’m still floating on air.

My dad always liked exploring. I guess I get that trait from him, because I do too. He loved to see what was around the next corner, or over the next mountain. He loved to travel, and wanted to share that love with his family. As a result of his need to wander some, we enjoyed a rich and unique view of the country we live in. Dad’s curiosity and imagination made every vacation an adventure. When we were in grade school, and the teacher said to write a story telling about our summer vacation, we had plenty to say. We had been so many places. It was something we took for granted really. It never occurred to us that our friends didn’t go places too. Looking back now, I can see just how blessed we were.

I have been told that my dad’s family all liked to wander a bit. His dad worked on the railroad. Like many people who work on the railroad, part of the draw is seeing the country. I can understand that, because that is a part of me too. I love to see new places, especially on foot. Hiking in the back country where you can be walking along in the trees one minute and then suddenly there is a river with a beautiful waterfall that most people don’t even know exists…well, the feeling is exhilarating.

Dad loved to follow historical markers and trails. It was something that filled the explorer need in him. I think Dad was a bit of a history buff, as am I. It is very cool to research the past and learn about things that happened so long ago, and yet not so long ago. When you look back in time, is a hundred years really that long? It’s basically one lifetime. To see how people lived just a hundred years ago. So many things change in a hundred years. It makes you realize what you have and how very blessed you are.

This is the kind of legacy my dad passed on to his kids. He had an interest in the outdoors and the history of our great country. These were things we got to learn about. As kids we may not have had a real appreciation of the history, but those lessons he taught us have never gone away, and when we were older, there was an appreciation that grew out of the seeds he planted. The grew into a love of history, at least they did for me, and now when I read about the past, I can picture some of the places the events took place, because I have been there, and almost feel like I’m an explorer too.