Over the past few years, my aunt, Sandy Pattan and I have found that we have some things in common…besides the fact that we are related. One of the most interesting things to me is a mutual love of the family history. All her life, Aunt Sandy has been listening. She listened to the stories her parents, aunts, and uncles told her about the family. She, like me, could picture it all in her head, as if she were standing there watching the whole thing. She could picture the Indian chiefs that her grandfather and her dad, not only knew, but were even respected by, in a time when the Indians and the White Man didn’t necessarily get along. It was a time that she and I could never relate to, were it not for the stories of her parents, my grandparents. And now…in their honor, Aunt Sandy is passing along the history she received from her parents, so that the family history will not fade away. I think that is the reason that she and I love the family history so much. It is like the blood that flows in our veins, a part of our DNA, it is our story, because we came from our ancestors, and their past experiences shaped their lives, and therefore, our lives too.
Aunt Sandy is a loving, caring person. She is quick to do nice things for others, like taking her sister, my Aunt Virginia Beadle to brunch after church on Sundays; or picking my mom, Collene Spencer up, when she was still alive, to go to get togethers with their siblings. Being the youngest of nine children, Aunt Sandy is still able to drive, while some of the siblings aren’t…or weren’t. Of the original nine siblings, only five remain. That is a fact that weighs heavily on Aunt Sandy, and the remaining siblings. I suppose that is partly why she tries to spend as much time as she can with those who remain, and I understand that train of thought. She doesn’t want to waste the time she has left with her siblings. That shows a great degree of not only wisdom, but a deep love for her siblings.
Aunt Sandy is a deep, logical thinker too. I think that is one of many reason that we connect so well. I love our conversations, whether they are about family, politics, or just general interest, because she has amazing insight to so many issues, as well as a great sense of humor. Of course, being the humble person she is, Aunt Sandy would most likely disagree with me when it comes to her amazing mind, but as I have said before, “I call ’em as I see ’em.” Aunt Sandy has a wide range of interests, as do I, and that is part of what makes or conversations so interesting. I feel very blessed to have Aunt Sandy in my life. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Last night my sisters and I, along with our families, got together for our 2nd annual Spencer Family Christmas Party. Our family made a commitment long ago, to stay close as a family. Family is so important, and all too often, people lose touch, because they don’t realize the importance of family, or they think there will always be time later. It is never a good idea to put off family until later. I’m thankful that my mom’s parents, George and Hattie Byer asked their kids to stay close, inspiring the annual picnic and Christmas parties to keep us all close, because it was those events, that gave us the inspiration to do the same. Then, our sister, Allyn Hadlock, and her husband Chris decided to host the annual party at their house. What a wonderful blessing that has been for all of us. This year was a smaller crowd, as there were several family members who will be spending Christmas in various locations across the United States, but I know they were there in spirit. Of course we missed each one of them, but we understand. I hope that maybe one day, we will be able to have a party with all of us together again.
The one thing that I have noticed about each of the two parties we have had since our parents left us, is that when we are having the party, it’s like Mom and Dad are there with us. Part of the reason is because of the fact that the conversation always turns to them, and to Christmastimes of the past. The memories of special gifts given and received, moments of surprise, and comical moments too, flood the room…along with the laughter as we reminisce about the Christmases of our lifetimes. Still, it always leaves us with an almost bittersweet feeling. Sweetness, because we have been blessed with such great parents, and that we are making the proud, but bitter, because they aren’t here with us. Nevertheless, we know that we will all be together again.
We really have been blessed with wonderful sisters, and all of the other family members. The family has grown exponentially. Like my mom’s family, we are related to about half of the town. That part in itself is an amazing and wonderful thing. We all feel very blessed by all of the nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the wonderful additions that have joined us by marriage. This time of year, we start to think more and more about family, and while I miss my parents more that I could ever say, I am thankful for my sisters, everyday, because sisters really are forever friends.
Today marks the first time in my life that I don’t have a dad to celebrate Father’s Day with. After my dad passed away in 2007, I still had my father-in-law that we celebrated Father’s Day with. Nevertheless, it was very lonely, because I missed my dad. And yet, I was blessed in that I still had my father-in-law. Now, those days are over, and I feel very sad again. And when I think of how my sisters-in-law and brother-in law and my husband must be feeling, my heart aches for them, because this is their dad and they have never had to deal with those feelings before…the emptiness that only comes from the loss of a parent. I feel sad for my sisters too, because we know that the death of your parent is not something you ever get over. You simply have to go on with life…because time marches on.
Still, today is Father’s Day, and in our hearts we will all celebrate the men who were our dads. The fact that they live in Heaven now, in no way diminishes the blessing they were to us in their lifetimes. We were so very blessed to have them in our lives for those years that we had them. We were very blessed that they each lived to be over 83 years old…long lives each one. We were very blessed that each of them had sound minds right to the end. They gave us their wisdom through the last conversations we had with them. So many of the elderly have had their minds and memories stolen from them by dementia, so this was a blessing beyond measure for us, and one I wish everyone could have.
My dad and my father-in-law were both hard working men. Their families came first in all things. They would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it, because they both walked in love. We were so blessed to have witnessed the kindness they showed to those around them. It sometimes amazes me just how very much alike they were in so many ways. How I came to be so blessed in that way…overwhelms me. I was blessed beyond measure by the two dads God placed in my life, and my heart acutely feels the pain of their passing to this day. I know that it will feel that way until I see them both again in Heaven…a day I look forward to with much anticipation. Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to my two dads. I love and miss you both very much.
A few days ago, I got a message on Facebook that would bring full circle another chapter in my family’s past. My cousin Pam, who is my Uncle Bill’s daughter, and her husband, Mike were planning a spontaneous vacation, and wanted to come to Casper to visit us. We were beyond excited!! We quickly contacted all the local family so they could plan to attend, and then sat back to wait with great anticipation on Thursday’s arrival. It felt like a long wait. We had been in contact through Facebook, and we were thankful for that, because of it we had been given the chance to get reacquainted with Pam already. The visit here would be a face to face continuation of our Facebook conversations.
Finally, the moment arrived. It felt almost like we had never been apart, except that there was so much to catch up on. We talked about the usual things, like family, lost loved ones, our sadness over Uncle Bill’s Alzheimer’s Disease and his struggles to figure out what happened to his sisters and brother, who have all passed away. And we talked of the old days, when we were all kids. They funny things her brothers used to do, and all the trips we got to go on together. Very quickly he years just melted away like ice cubes on a hot day. It was wonderful to be back in touch, and especially wonderful to see Pam again and meet her husband, Mike.
The evening went by far too fast, and before it hardly got started it was 11:00 and time for everyone to get some sleep, so we said good bye to Pam and Mike, and they headed back to their hotel room. Our time was over…the precious moments had slipped by so fast, and we knew that it might be a while before we will see each other again. It makes me sad to think of that, but we are going to try to make plans to head out there sometime soon, to see Pam and Mike again, and hopefully many other family members that we haven’t seen in far too long a time. Sometimes it takes a spontaneous visit to remind you that precious moments are just far too important to miss out on.