My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was a sweet, thoughtful girl who loved everyone she met. When Rachel left us to go to heaven on January 19th, 2021, we knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again. Rachel left a huge hole in our lives. Rachel wasn’t perfect…none of us are, but she never quit trying to make the lives of those around her happy. As I thought about her birthday this year, I decided to talk to her classmate, Jennifer Durante, who agreed to tell me about the Rachel she knew in school.
Jennifer first met Rachel in gym class, and they became good friends from that time forward. She was impressed the fact that Rachel was always “put together” at school. While most teenagers are lucky to get out of bed and get to school in sweatpants and a t-shirt, Rachel made sure that her hair and makeup were always perfect. She always dressed in skirts and heels, and always looked like a model. She was a classy lady, and anyone who knew her would agree to that statement. Rachel took pride in who she was, and that always showed. One day in gym class, a classmate made a rude remark about Rachel having stretchmarks on her legs, and Rachel, who didn’t like or allow bullying, immediately put that girl in her place. She told her that her stretchmarks came from her pregnancy, and that she was proud to be a mom. I can hear the silence now. That snotty little girl who thought she knew something, and knew nothing was immediately shot down. Rachel stood up or the little guy, and she was not about to be made a victim herself. That rude classmate knew nothing about Rachel’s life, and she had no right to bully her.
Rachel worked hard and got good grades in school. She was also very proud of being a mom, who wouldn’t let the circumstances of life hold her back from being the best she could be. She was determined to make a good life for her and her daughter, Cassie. In her Junior and Senior years of high school, she went to school during the day and worked at Wendy’s in the evenings and weekends to support herself and Cassie. Like most teenagers, Rachel didn’t always see eye to eye with her father, Cliff Franklin and her step-mom, Jan, but she never doubted their love for her, and she was always thankful for their support of her in being both a teenager and a mom.
Like most teenagers, Rachel liked to live life fast and play her music loud!! She loved to dance and because of her bubbly personality, she brought a ray of sunshine everywhere she went. Rachel was a great comedian and knew how to make people laugh, or even how defuse a bad situation. Those are such great qualities to have. Rachel was a mom first, and she didn’t really get to go out much, but on the rare occasion, when she was able to go out and be a wild teenager, Jennifer tells me that she was the life of any party. It was as if she walked into a room, threw her arms up in the air and proclaimed “I have arrived, let’s get this party started!!” Rachel lives in Heaven now, but I can just hear her as she walked into Heaven saying that very thing. Today would have been Rachel’s 46th birthday. Happy first birthday in Heaven Rachel, we sure love and miss you here.
My grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock is in his second year of preschool, and is excited to be moving on to Kindergarten next year. Like most kids at this age, Ethan likes school, probably because it makes him feel grown up. I have seen such a change in him since he started school. He is no longer the toddler he was, but is maturing into a big boy, who knows a little bit about the big wide world that exists beyond the confines of his home. It is a rite of passage that all kids go through at this age, and it is a cool thing to watch.
Ethan has a little sister, named Rory. Rory is a force to be reckoned with, and Ethan has a tender heart. All too often in these situations, Rory ends up bullying Ethan, and like lots of brothers, he won’t fight back physically against this weaker sex child he lives with. Oh don’t get me wrong, Ethan is not constantly bullied by Rory, but she does know that she has the power to do so, and it is an efficient weapon when she decides to use it. And Ethan does have his limits, and when those are reached…well, their mom, Chelsea just wants to lock herself in the bathroom for a Calgon moment.
Ethan is very much into Ninja Turtles right now, and like most boys his age, he fancies himself a super hero. Not a bad plan. I think the world needs more heroes anyway. His family recently moved into a bigger house, allowing Ethan to finally have his own room…a very special thing for him. His room is decorated with another super hero…Captain America bedding and cars pictures, typical of most boys, but his DVD player belongs to the Ninja Turtles.
Ethan got to go hunting with his dad, Ryan, and is getting a BB gun for his birthday, so he and his dad with be going out to teach him safety and how to shoot his new gun. He is very much into doing things with his dad. He broke his arm a while back, and he gets the cast off the day after his birthday, which will be perfect for learning how to operate that new gun. Today is Ethan’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a super hero kind of day!! We love you!!