There are moments in every human life, when something that they have been trying to push to the back of their mind, comes to the forefront with no warning, and hits them like a ton of bricks…right in the stomach. Most of us have had them. They usually happen when you are having trouble wrapping your mind around a reality…that you wish was a bad dream. The passing of your parents or child, is a good example of such a reality. The loss of aunts, uncles and cousins have this effect too. In your mind, you know they are gone, but your heart refuses to accept the finality of it. Of course, I don’t mean the finality in that you will never see them again, because I know that I will see my parents and loved ones again. No, it is the finality of the fact that I won’t see them again in this earthly life, that really hits home in a painful way.
Those moments never allow you to be prepared for them, but rather they sneak up on you, and hit you at a point when you are totally unprepared. It’s times like new babies arriving, graduations, marriages, and other big moments in life. You think…I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad…and then you realize you can’t tell them. It’s also the little moments when you drive past their house, or it happens to be a day when you would normally take them to lunch or dinner, or when you reach for the phone to call them, and then realize that they aren’t there. The sadness and loneliness washes over you, and there is nothing you can do about it, but cry.
The really hard thing about it is that you can’t stop those moments from occurring. So many things in life can be avoided by simply not placing yourself in that place or situation, but you can’t do that, because they were involved in every part of your life at one point or another, or as is the case with parents, many, many points. They shared every accomplishment, every failure, every hope, and every dream with you. They were the wind beneath your wings, lifting you up and encouraging you to soar…and now, you must fly on your own, because the days of training are over. Yes, that training goes on into adulthood too, even if you thought it didn’t. They have given you every tool you need for success in this life, and now you have to go out an make use of them on your own. Maybe that is why those “ton of bricks” moments are so hard. You want to share the excitement with them and you can’t.
And then, there are the “ton of bricks” moments, when someone remembers your loved one years after they have passed away, and they tell you what an impact they had on their life, and you can’t hold back the tears or remove the lump from your throat. You had no idea that your loved one would be remembered by people who you would never expect to remember them…but they had such an impact on those people, that they felt compelled to tell you about it so many years later. In all reality, I wouldn’t want to trade those special, but really difficult moments, because they mean that someone hasn’t forgotten my dad or my mom, or other loved one. Those moments mean that someone else saw what really special people they were. It meant that while they are in Heaven now, and I can’t bring them back, I can be reminded that they will always love me, and they will never be forgotten. The people who’s lives they touched, family, friends, and yes, even strangers, will always carry them in their hearts too. While those “ton of bricks” moments are hard, they are also very sweet, because someone remembered them.
My grand nephew, Easton Moore is growing up so fast. At eleven years old, he will soon be starting middle school, and before we know it high school. Kids grow up so fast. It seems like only yesterday that Easton was all about hot wheels and super hero toys, and he may still play with them, but those days are numbered, because Easton is growing up fast.
Still, he is all boy, and probably one of his favorite things is to be outdoors…especially camping with his family. When you think about it, what could be better than spending as many summertime days outside as possible. School will start back up before you know it, and then you find yourself wishing for summer again. I’m sure Easton knows exactly what I mean, as does every kid in school. They live for summer and weekends, don’t they? Sounds like me!! I think we can all relate to those summer, lazy days, and wish we could have them back again.
Easton, being the little brother to Weston, has often had to be the one who gets to look at his older brother and wonder when his day will come. When will he get to stay at grandma’s house? When will he be old enough to go play at a friends house? So many whens. Unfortunately, whens are a part of every young life. Nevertheless, there comes a time when suddenly when is now. At eleven, Easton is getting to that age when his whens become nows. That is an exciting time in the life of a kid. They are finally old enough to be trusted to go places without their parents, because they either don’t get scared or act out when they are away from home. I suppose that school has a lot to do with that, because they have to abide by a certain code there.
Easton has always seemed like a bit of a shy guy, at least around those he doesn’t know well, but in his eyes, I can see an obvious glint of mischievousness. I think he could easily be a trickster, if given the opportunity. In a house full of boys, my niece, Machelle Moore is most likely the target of choice too…unless the boys are playing with their cousins Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Moore. Like most kids these days, Easton likes playing on the trampoline and of course, video games are another best source of fun. He and his brother, Weston like to play catch on the trampoline, because it’s almost impossible for the ball to get away, thereby eliminating the need to run after it. Don’t think they don’t get their exercise though because bouncing around on a trampoline is pretty good exercise too.
Before long, Easton will begin to change before our very eyes. Middle school does that to a guy. I hate that kids always grow up so very fast. You always wish you had more time with them when they are little. But, that is not to be, because for every child there is a time when almost all their whens become their nows, and that is when you know that they are all grown up. Today is Easton’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The other day, I was talking with my cousin, Shirley Cameron on instant message through Facebook, when she brought up an old memory…a blast from our past. Shirley’s mom, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister, and our families were very close…especially when the Wolfe family still lived in Casper, and we were all little kids. Shirley was the oldest of the three Wolfe siblings, with two younger brothers, Larry and Terry. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson fell in between Larry and Terry, and I was four months younger than Terry. Our three younger sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock were the youngest ones. Back in those days, the fun you had depended on your imagination. I guess we all had imagination, but Shirley really seemed to be able to come up with great ideas. And she was able to carry them out too.
We started talking about the games we played when we were out at their place, like wagon train. Of course, we didn’t have a real covered wagon or a team of horses, but that didn’t mean that we would have to be the horses for our pull type wagons, because My aunt and uncle had a tractor, and Shirley knew how to drive it. So we hooked the wagons to the tractor, and headed down the road near their place. Oh sure, sometimes the whole thing would break down, but then what would a wagon train be without a breakdown. Even in the pioneer days, the wagons broke down…right?
Shirley had a set of dishes, and like the wagon trains of the wild west, we brought our own food the long trip…usually. Of course, sometimes we had to improvise. Since we didn’t really have a way to go hunting, we had to make due with what was available to us, and the best cooking we did was when we made mud pies. They probably didn’t taste good, and I’ll never know, because I never tasted them, but we could make them look pretty good…in a hamburger sort of way. I’m sure there were other things like vegetables picked out of Aunt Ruth’s garden, and maybe apples or berries that we came across, whether they were edible or not. No matter what we came up with, real or imagined, we always had a lot of fun playing wagon train or any other game we came up with to play. It was always interesting, but I think in reality it was Shirley who had all the great ideas…maybe with a little help from Cheryl.
We were all as close as sisters or best friends, but we were more than that…we were cousins, and that is a forever friend…kind of like a sister is a forever friend. For Shirley, we were like the sisters she never had. Of course, we didn’t really understand what a big deal that was, because we were five sisters. We had never really known a time without our sisters, but Shirley had two brothers, and even though they were close, they weren’t like sisters. Boys think differently than girls. They like to do different things than girls. It just wasn’t the same. Yes, we played the games the boys wanted to play too sometimes, but we sure had a good time playing wagon train with Shirley.
As I have been working through some of the hints on my Ancestry tree, I am amazed by the number of family members from varying sides of my family and my husbands family, who started their life in America, or moved early in their life in America, to the same places. I don’t know if they knew each other, or even if they were there at the same time, but the roots are there nevertheless. They may not have lived in the same town even, but sometimes it was close. One state that I just keep coming up with is Massachusetts. Who would have ever thought some of my roots would have come from Massachusetts?
Recently I started talking to a relative from my dad’s side of the family that was traced to me through DNA matching. We have been unable to connect our two trees yet, because of limited information back through the generations, but DNA doesn’t lie, and we both have Fuller relatives in our background…and both sides come from…you guessed it, Massachusetts. I have also been looking at the Shaw side of my mother’s family because of another recent connection in Ancestry, that I’m not yet sure is related or not. Nevertheless, once again, I have run into Massachusetts as their point of origin to the United States. In the Shaw family, we also find that we have a Mayflower connection, in the form of one Lieutenant John Shaw, who arrived in America on that ship.
Now, switch to my husband’s family, and you will find that the Noyes family, another connection I made recently, also hail from Massachusetts. I have known for some time now, that my husband, Bob Schulenberg, and I are cousins of varying degrees, depending on the side of the family you look at, and now I think I can understand how some of this might have come about. I think much of it can be traced back to Massachusetts. The connections don’t all trace there, but there are enough of them that it made me very curious about all those people who lived in Massachusetts way back then. Then I came across John Spencer, who is my 8th great grand uncle, and the Reverend James Noyes, who is Bob’s 7th great grandfather, both came over on a ship called the Mary and John, and were among the first settlers of Newberry, Massachusetts, so my suspicions are confirmed. That also brings in yet another side of my family…the Spencer side.
This will be a developing story, of course, because as I trace things further, and discuss more of the family history with these new found cousins, more information will come to light. Whenever I find these new connections, I get very excited, because you just never know where they are going to lead you. I had always through that most of my roots were in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area, but of course, that could not have been, because when our ancestors came to this country, they didn’t arrive in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but rather along the east coast, because that was the area of the nation that had been developed at that time. So in reality, I knew we came from the east coast, but Massachusetts…seriously!! I never would have guessed it.
Several of my cousins were talking a couple of days ago on Facebook, about our grandmother, Hattie Byer, and how she kept her numerous grandchildren in line when they were at her house. Now, in reality, I pretty much mean Greg Hushman, Elmer Johnson, and Forest Beadle, because most of the rest of us would never have done anything to provoke the Wrath of Grandma!! It’s funny, but I can almost hear the skepticism from every reader. Ok, I’ll admit that I was no less likely to get into trouble with Grandma than Greg, Elmer or Forest, but I truly don’t recall having her coming after me with the broom, although my cousin Shirley Cameron, who is from the other side of my family remembers it once or twice, when she was over there with us.
One thing I do remember, and that I know every one of Grandma’s grandchildren will agree on, Grandma was the boss when you were at her house. You see, those were the days when it didn’t matter if the adult in the vicinity was your parent, grandparent, or the parent of the friend you were visiting, they all disciplined the kids who got out of line. And if some adult caught you doing something in the public arena that you shouldn’t be, such as graffiti or some other such mischief, they weren’t afraid to tell you to “knock it off” either. That was just the way things were back then. From what I am told of this barely five foot tall, broom wielding grandma of mine, she was able to make that broom go around corners, so if you thought you were going to get away from her, you might just as well think again.
I certainly remember that when you found yourself in trouble with Grandma, you were about to get a very clear understanding of what the word “trouble” meant. Yes, I too, had my share of times in my childhood where I found myself on the wrong side of Grandma Byer. Oh boy, believe me, it was not a place you wanted to be. And don’t think she was going to threaten to tell your mom just how bad you were, and then conveniently forget to do it when the time actually came for your parents to come home. Grandma wasn’t about to be the helpless little babysitter who had to wait for your parents to make you behave…oh no!! Whether she used a broom, her hand, or some other punishment, believe me when I say the punishment was swift, and it fit the crime. You see, Grandma was old school, before there was a new school form of discipline. People weren’t afraid of some well meaning, but not too bright passerby telling them they shouldn’t spank that kid…those people didn’t exist then. People knew that most situations required a little whack on the seat to get through to the brain. For many of us those lessons made it crystal clear, who was in charge, who was acting up, who would refrain from such activities in the future, and who would apologize for their elders for acting such a horrible fashion in the first place.
For most of us, the discipline Grandma dished out, is looked back on with a smile, because we all knew how much she loved us. People who have never had any discipline simply don’t understand that discipline is a form of love. Does it hurt…yes, because it is tough love, but are you better for it…oh yeah, because they love you very much. If your parents or grandparents didn’t care about you, they would have no need to want you to behave. They just wouldn’t care, but since they do, they want you to know how to act in public, because then people are happy to have you around. And for any of you, who have ever been around an out of control kid, can you honestly tell me that you did not wish their parents would just give them a spanking? Of course you did. So to my grandma, to her broom, and to our parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers…I say thank you. Whether we felt the broom on our backside, or some other form of discipline, I can say that we all turned out pretty good. And people don’t seem to mind having us around.
As another year comes to a close, my mind drifts back to the events that have taken place over the last twelve months. it seems like every year I’m alive goes by faster than the one before it. Christmas last year was just here, and before my very eyes, it was Christmas again. As a kid, it seemed like each year took ten years to pass, and now it seems like mere days.
Last year ended with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg beginning a journey toward health, and this year, she has shown us just what determination and consistency can accomplish, by losing over 275 pounds. She looks amazing, and her new active lifestyle is giving her a new found happiness and a definite glow. Her success has motivated several others in the family to get back on the bandwagon toward health, myself included.
The grandkids have grown up before your very eyes, and we now have two high school graduates. Our grandson Christopher Petersen, left us this year to venture off to Sheridan to begin the journey to build his dream of becoming a great chef, and or restaurant or hotel owner. It’s been hard having him be away from home and yet we are thankful that he isn’t so far away as to make trips home impossible. Our granddaughter, Shai Royce has entered the workforce full time, at the Hilton Inn. She is unsure of her future goals, so working is a good option. Our grandson, Caalab Royce is a senior in high school and will graduate in May. He is exploring the options for college to learn to make guitars…a longtime dream of his. And our grandson, Joshua Petersen is a sophomore in high school this year. Josh loves track, but with a knee injury, the season, or at least the indoor season, is up in the air until the doctor gives him the go ahead.
The past year has proven to be a pretty good one for The Moms. My mom, Collene Spencer took a couple of falls, but other than a couple of staples in her head, she is fine, and we are planning on physical therapy to strengthen her legs in the new year. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg continues to thrive at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center, where she has lived for almost two years now. Both moms are happy where they are, and their living situations are a perfect fit for them. My mom’s mind is clear, so being at home is a workable situation, and since my sister, Cheryl Masterson lives with Mom, there is someone with her in the evenings anyway. Alzheimer’s Disease has made it impossible for my mother-in-law to live on her own, but since she doesn’t realize that Dad is gone, and that she is in a nursing home, she experiences no sorrow over her situation.
The past year brought our family a new addition, when Hattie Joy Parmely arrived, right on schedule. She joined her parents, Eric and Ashley Parmely, and big sister, Reagan Kaylynn Parmely, to give them a blessed home indeed. There were new additions in our family in other ways too, as I was able to connect us to many previously unknown cousins all over the country. I would love to tell you just how many new cousins there are, but there are too many to count, and more that will continue to join us through the ones we have already found. We said good bye for now to my grandniece, Christina Masterson, who moved to Germany to live with her mom. And we acquired a new driver, when my grandson Josh got his license.
Bob and I took a lovely cruise to Alaska this past summer, and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. My dad had always wanted to go, and take his family with them, but while we sent our parents on a cruise for their 50th anniversary in 2003, we couldn’t join them. Well Dad…I’ve been there now, and you’re right…it was amazing. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken, and I would love to go back someday. Mom, Cheryl, and I also went on a trip this year. It was a trek to meet all the new Schumacher cousins that we had met online, and to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, and our precious Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill. The trip was far too short, but it has left us with precious memories, and new relationships that we will always have. We thank God for giving us back such wonderful family members, and adding so many new ones to our lives.
This is a time when so many people are making new years resolutions, but that is something I just don’t do. I prefer to reflect back on the passing year, and rejoice in all the blessings I have been given over the year. This year, has brought blessings in many different forms, from Facebook and Ancestry, to face-to-face blessings. I could not ask for more. Happy New Year to all of you from all of us, and may God’s blessings overflow in your lives. I love you all very much!
As I was researching some of the latest Ancestry.com hints for my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s side of our family tree, I came across another name that sounded familiar to me. Having been all over the family tree countless number of times, I was pretty sure where I had heard the name before. After checking back in my side of the family, I found that Bob and I share a yet another set of great grandparents. John Collamore and Margery Hext are my 11th great grandparents on the Spencer side of my family, and they are also Bob’s 15th great grandparents on the Leary side of his family. I’ve heard it said of several family trees, including my own, that the owner was not looking for fame…they were just tripping over it. That is the case in my tree and in Bob’s. We are related to presidents, princes, pioneers, and other famous people, but in my case, I also keep tripping over my husband’s family.
I have found a connection on the Knox side of the family that makes Bob and I 10th cousins twice removed. Bob’s mother’s maiden name was Knox and since Bob and I are 10th cousins twice removed, his mother is my 10th cousin once removed. It’s odd to think of your mother-in-law also being your 10th cousin once removed. Nevertheless, that is exactly what we are. I suppose that many people would consider that relationship to be enough distant that it would make no difference on all reality, and they might be right in many ways. Still, I find that relationship very interesting. Family lines can be so complicated, and yet, they are undeniably relationships…however distant they may be.
As I said, in my research of my family history, I keep tripping not only over fame, but also over my husband’s family, and that has once again occurred…and I found it totally by accident. It has taken me a little bit of time, but if my calculations are correct, then this new relationship makes Bob and I, 12th cousins 4 times removed on the Leary side of the family. The Leary side of the family is Bob’s dad’s mother’s side of the family. So then, my father-in-law is also my 12th cousin 3 times removed. Once again, to many people, this relationship may seem unimportant, since they originated in the 1500s and beyond, but to me it is very interesting.
Finds like this one get the gears in my mind turning. I understand the relationships. I can put them down on paper. But that kind of a find is nevertheless, complicated to wrap your mind around. Things like the realization that I was related to my in-laws, before I was married to their son, and I was related to my husband before we were married too. The thought that my father-in-law is also my 12th cousin 3 times removed…is mind boggling.
Of course, when we think about it, we did all come from the same place ultimately, so I suppose we are all related in some, or even in many different ways. Nevertheless, it is really strange when you start stumbling upon so many different ways you are related to your husband…other than the fact that you are married. I am reminded of the time when my mom mentioned how much she thought Bob and I looked alike. I thought it a strange thing to say at the time, but maybe it isn’t so strange after all. It could be because of the different ways that we came from the same ancestors.
For most children, their first friends are their siblings or cousins. Their families get together, so the kids get to see each other often. The days flow from one to another, and for a time, everyone expects that nothing will change. I suppose that is why change always hits us so hard. We have convinced ourselves that it will never happen. Then comes the day when one of those first friends moves away. For some people it doesn’t happen until a sibling moves out of the house for the first time, but for others, as was the case for my sister, Cheryl Spencer Masterson and our cousin, Pam Spencer Wendling, it can come at a very young age, and it can feel quite devastating, for everyone involved.
So often, the two friends only hear one side of how the two of them are feeling. I know that my sister missed Pam a lot. I don’t recall my own feelings concerning the matter, but then I was only two and a half, so that isn’t surprising. In reality, it was Cheryl and Pam who played together every day, and who were so close. They did everything together. It didn’t matter if the day was warm or cold. They were outside playing in the snow or taking care of their baby dolls in the warm sun. It was so cute.
Recently, on our visit to Wisconsin, Pam was telling us about a baby album she had with lots of those early childhood pictures in it. They included Pam and Cheryl, and me too, but there were several of the two little friends going about their daily play. It was so obvious that these two cousins loved each other very much. Our two families lived just across the yard from each other, and since the alley ran along the side of the house, the two yards shared a common fence. In those days, you could let your kids go outside to play with a lot less supervision and worry, so Cheryl and Pam were outside playing together all the time. It was the perfect setup…until all that changed.
In November of 1958, our family moved from Superior, Wisconsin back to my mom’s hometown of Casper, Wyoming. As I said, I was really too little to understand how much Cheryl missed Pam, and until this trip, we hadn’t heard just how much Pam missed Cheryl. Apparently, Pam must have asked her mom why she couldn’t go play with Cheryl, and was told that the family had moved to Wyoming. I’m not really sure where the discussion about trees came into the whole thing, but somehow Pam associated the move with trees. That is odd, because I would have to say that there are a lot more trees in Wisconsin than in Wyoming, but Pam didn’t understand that. She just knew that the move made her sad, and there had to be a reason…in her mind anyway. When that subject came up, Pam cried and said, “Cheryl’s Wyoming has trees!!” Maybe she thought that was why we moved, or maybe she just thought that everything must be better in Wyoming, but whatever the reason, she knew in her heart that Cheryl’s Wyoming had trees.
Our trip back to Superior, Wisconsin was to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, Pam and her husband, Mike Wendling, Bill, wife, Maureen and daughter, Kristin Spencer, our cousin Jim’s son, Cody Spencer and his girlfriend, Emma Rainey, Uncle Bill Spencer, Aunt Doris Spencer. We did that and had a wonderful time with them. They also took us to some of the old places our family had lived, and especially the old places that my dad and his siblings had lived as children. It was a way of walking where my dad had walked, and it made me feel closer to him again. It also reiterated to me, just how much I miss him. I am so glad we made that trip, because we don’t know how long we will have Uncle Bill and Aunt Doris with us, so we wanted to see them again. That was cherished time for us.
We also went out there to meet our cousins on the Schumacher side…some of whom we had never met before, and some to reconnect with. They were so gracious to us and we had such a good time with them too. We met Carol Schumacher Carlson and her kids, Don and Judy Carlson, Steve and Nancy Carlson, Laurie and Rick Stepp, Dave and Michelle Carlson, Jim and Kari Carlson, Julie and Marty Soukup, and Jeanne and Creston Dorothy; Les and Bev Schumacher and daughter Cathy Schumacher La Porte, and Bernice Schumacher Hutchison. There was just not enough time in the short visit we had to spend all the time we wanted to spend with everyone. The great visit with our cousins, the Schumacher family left us wanting more time together. My only regret is that we didn’t have the chance to meet all of the Schumacher family members that we have met online. Some were unable to make it because of prior engagements, and we were sure sorry to have missed them. Maybe next time.
Our final family get together took place in Madison, Wisconsin, with Tracey Schumacher-Inglimo. It was Tracey who first connected with me through Ancestry.com and then Facebook, and basically got this entire trek started. She was unable to come to Superior to see us because of school for her kids, and we could not imagine going all that way without meeting her, so in the end, we met for dinner in Madison at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italianio. The food was wonderful, but the company far more so. As with the rest of the Schumacher cousins, we found Tracey to be our kind of people. I have to think that’s because we are all cut from the same cloth. When you have a past that is much the same as someone else’s, you find similarities that can be surprising. Personality traits, voices, and even looks can be very similar. That seems strange when you have never even met before, but it still happens. That’s what being cut from the same cloth is all about. We are all family. We are all connected, and that is very cool!!
From the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, JD Parmely loved little kids. He got so excited whenever he knew he was getting a new cousin. He wanted to be involved in everything, from the baby shower, to holding the baby, to playing with the kids as they grew. Sometimes, it’s a big help to have JD take over the entertainment of all the little kids…at least until they start making too much noise or rough housing too much. I suppose that is because JD is, in reality, a big kid himself. In a lot of ways, I think he has decided that growing up is overrated, and sometimes I have to agree with him. Plus, he has lots of uncles who have never really grown up either, so he is in good company in that department. I promise you, that his Uncle Bob has never really grown up either…not one bit, in fact.
One of the coolest things to happen in JD’s recent life is the family addition of his niece, Reagan Parmely, who is his brother, Eric and his wife, Ashley’s daughter. He and Reagan get along famously, because both of them like to play. JD has the energy to chase Reagan wherever she decides to go, and for her, that is lots of fun. And now that Reagan is getting a new sister or brother in September, JD will soon have a new little one to play with. At this point, JD really has no desire to get married and have kids of his own, but he is having a great time with his cousins and niece. I guess it pays to be a kid at heart, because all the kids want to hang out with you…and that is exactly what has happened to JD. My grandchildren felt the same way when they were little. JD was the fun guy at all the family gatherings.
Last year, JD bought his first house. It had belonged to his grandparents, and in my opinion, the house had felt so lonely. I was so glad that he bought the house, because a home should be lived in, not sitting empty. When JD moved in, there was activity there again. I can’t say if the house feels any less lonely, because those walls can’t talk to me, but I am pretty sure the garage has never felt better. JD loves to work on his multiple vehicles, and therefore, spends hours in the garage…even into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes. JD would have to be called a Vehicle Fanatic, because his must own twelve or fourteen of them. It’s just what he does. And that’s ok. If he enjoys it, he should do it. It’s what makes JD…well, JD!! Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day. Don’t work too hard on your cars, and try to get some sleep!! We love you!!