daughters

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As another of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s anniversaries comes around again, I find myself wondering how it could be that they have been in Heaven for so long now. Dad left us in 2007 and Mom left in 2015. They were so in love, for so many years, and now they are back together again, and I know they are so happy. Mom and Dad got married when she was just 17, and they were parents just 10 months later. That was common in that era. Most couple got married, and the babies started coming in rapid succession. For Mom and Dad, that meant a new daughter every two years, with the exception of my sister, Caryl Reed, who followed my breech birth at three years later. I suppose Mom should have had a C-section with me, but it seems the doctors thought it wouldn’t be a problem, if they just dislocated my hips for the birth. A strange thought these days, but I did survive, so I won’t complain.

Mom and Dad, were not to have a son, and I think that as the years went by, they considered their daughters to be a blessing…or at least we hope they did. When it came time to take care of them in their later years, they were very glad they had daughters, because we became caregivers without even questioning the idea. We all agreed that our parents were worth every sacrifice that might need to be made. They were such good parents to us, and we all feel honored to have be given such wonderful, loving parents to raise us and show us the right way to go in life. We never had to try to find God in our life, because we were raised in church, by our responsible parents, and I think each of us can honestly say that there is no time in our life when we didn’t know God. We didn’t have a day when we found Jesus. He lived in our house from the day they married, and we always knew him.

Mom and Dad had a wonderful, loving relationship, and they were demonstrative about their love. They kissed in front of us…daily. Dad gave Mom a love pat on the derrière when he got home from work, and we all knew it was in love. Dad always called her “Doll” and for years, I thought that was her name. He always sent flowers on their anniversary and her birthday, and chocolates on Christmas, and of course, with her January 1st birthday, there was always a big party for New Years Eve. Mom always treated Christmas and his birthday with the same special kinds of things, although, not the same ones as he gave her…of course. They loved spending time together, and eventually worked together. They relished their time together in retirement too…wanting nothing more than time together. Sometimes people fight when they are together too much, but not my parents. They just enjoyed their life together.

They loved going camping and made sure that my sisters and I always got a summer vacation trip. Dad loved to travel all his life, and so teaching his girls (Mom too) a love of travel was a big thing for Dad. He may have been outnumbered by girls, but I think Dad considered it a blessing, except when he needed in the bathroom, and it was occupied. How he survived that little house with just one bathroom and 6 women trying to get ready, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, with the many trials of having girls, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a wonderful life. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both very much.

No two people have the same personalities, not even when they are siblings. Having the same parents often gives siblings some of the same characteristics, but not all of them, and even growing up together does not give siblings the same personalities. I’ve seen that in my own daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. While they always were, and still are, very good friends, they had different tastes in most things, from boyfriends to musical instruments.

A few days ago, I was thinking about the girls’ color choices for their weddings, and it hit me that those color choices were, in many way, depictive of the differences in their personalities. Both of the girls chose colors from the red palate, but Corrie chose pink (her favorite color to this day), and Amy chose red (not her favorite these days, but it was then). Still, at that time in their lives, those color choices…looking back now, were very much like my girls.

Corrie has “pink tendencies” and Amy has “red tendencies.” Pink seems more reserved, shy even, and more frilly…for lack of a better choice of words. Red seems more flamboyant, more bold. Neither of these tendencies are better or worse than the other, they are just different. A pink personality is more likely to play a romantic instrument, like Corrie’s choice…the violin. Red is more likely to play a more flamboyant instrument, like Amy’s choice…the clarinet. It’s not that either instrument was better or worse than the other, and I loved hearing my girls play both of these instruments, and their choices fit their personalities…and somehow, their color choices fit their personalities too.

I think that both girls choosing colors from the red palate, shows that they had some similarities too. They don’t particularly like controversy, although they can hold their own in any situation. They are both determined, responsible people who don’t give up on things. It’s not that I think that a person’s color choices determine their personalities, but rather that their personalities, to some degree determine their color choices. I think that makes perfect sense.

Corrie still loves all things pink to this day, and I feel like pink describes her personality. Pink is rosy, romantic, and happy, and that is my daughter. Amy now likes blue as her favorite color, and I think that has very much followed along with her life changes. Moving from Wyoming to Washington, because she loves the sea, makes blue a perfect choice. I think maybe Amy was a blue all along. I think of blue as being peaceful, relaxed, and filled with wanderlust. Amy is a lot like my dad’s side of the family, in that she loves to travel to new places. While Amy has always been a blue, she has always had some red tendencies too, and that suits her well.

The ends of the earth…basically the poles…not exactly the most inviting places to visit…much less to cross alone. Still, there are always people who set lofty goals for themselves, despite grave personal risk and hardship. One such man, Børge Ousland, who was born on May 31, 1962, is such a man. Ousland is a Norwegian polar explorer, photographer, and writer, who became the first person in the world to do a solo crossing of the Antarctic. And, that wasn’t his only great accomplishment. On May 4, 1990, Ousland and Erling Kagge became the first explorers ever to reach the North Pole unsupported That trip took them on a 58-day ski trek from Ellesmere Island in Canada, a distance of just over 497 miles.

No stranger to hard work, Ousland started his career as a Norwegian Navy Special Forces Officer with Marinejegerkommandoen. Then, he spent several years working as a deep sea diver for the oil industry in the North Sea. I guess that time would have prepared him for the conditions the men would face in a trek to the North Pole. They trip must have sparked something in Ousland, because in 1994, he made the first solo and unsupported journey to the North Pole from Cape Arktichevsky in Russia. Most of us wouldn’t even go once, much less multiple times.

For Ousland, even that wasn’t enough. Between November 15, 1996 and January 17, 1997, Ousland became the first in the world to do an unsupported solo crossing of the Antarctic. In that trip, Ousland traveled 1,864 miles from the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf…completely alone. Ousland skied the long journey, with kite assistance. He holds the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole…taking just 34 days.

On January 22, 2006, together with Mike Horn he began a journey to the North Pole in full Arctic night. The trip was successfully concluded on March 23, 2006. Then, in September 2010, Ousland’s team aboard “The Northern Passage” completed the circumnavigation of the North Pole. A Russian team aboard the “Peter I” achieved the same feat in that season. These were the first recorded instances of the circumnavigation of the North Pole without an icebreaker. In December 2011, Ousland traversed Antarctica to the South Pole for the centennial celebration of the first expedition to reach the Pole.

Ousland loved the “ends of the earth” so much that the next logical step was to be married at the North Pole, which he did in 2012. He and Hege Rogeberg tied the knot at the Geographic North Pole, having been flown in by helicopter with “20 or 30 people” to celebrate with them. The wedding was held according to Lutheran wedding custom, with a pastor, candles, and a cross made of skies. Børge was dressed in national Norwegian dress. The bride, Hege was dressed in a warm, long, white dress. The couple flew in from Longyearbyen, Svalbard to Barneo Ice Station where they boarded the Russian MI-8 helicopter to the North Pole. The proceedings lasted 30 minutes. After the ceremony champagne was served together with a colorful fireworks display. The adventurer and his wife now have three daughters…Max, Eva-Liv, and Ingebjorg.

In 1995, during the Christmas season, Lena Paahlsson was baking Christmas cookies with her daughters at their farm in northern Sweden. As was her habit while baking, Lena took off her wedding ring, and placed it on the counter. While they were cleaning up after baking, Lena could not find her ring. It was a devastating end to the year. Lena and her family hunted for the ring everywhere, even pulling up floorboards…hoping against hope, but to no avail. The ring had vanished…lost forever, or so they thought.

Then, one day in October 2011, while she was pulling the last of the carrots from her garden, Lena was stunned to see her wedding ring wrapped neatly around the top of the carrot. Lena had given up hope of ever finding the ring she cherished. The family speculates that the ring must have fallen into the sink, and been mixed with the potato peels that were later composted or fed to the sheep, because the soil in the garden is made from composted vegetables and sheep dung. They have no idea why it took 16 years for the ring to work its way to the surface again, but they are sure that if the ring had not had a tiny carrot seed land in its middle, it would have still be hiding there in the rich dirt of the garden. In the end, it was a Carat Carrot that returned her ring to her.

Unfortunately, after all these years, the ring no longer fits Lena. It will need to be sized before she can wear it again. They fact certainly didn’t dim the joy and happiness the family felt at the return of the precious ring. Lena says, “I had given up hope. Now that I have found the ring again I want to be able to use it.” I’m sure that the Carat Carrot made the meal it was used in just that much better. Imagine…the carrot had a very special job to do, before it went on to do what it was destined to do in the first place.

Few days make me dread writing my daily story, but then few days in my life have marked the beginning of such drastic change in my life either. It was December 12, 2007, twelve years ago, and my dad, Allen Spencer had been sick, or recovering for a little over two years, after being hit by Pancreatitis on October 1, 2005. My sisters and I had been caring for Dad, and our mom, Collene Spencer, who was diagnosed with Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma in her brain in July of 2006. Mom’s tumor was gone quickly, and there were no other serious concerns with her, but Dad’s care required much more. Everything seemed to be going well, but Dad’s liver was giving out due to the intravenous feeding, something we couldn’t really see…or at least something we didn’t know to expect as a possibility.

My dad had always been the “rock” of our family. None of us ever considered that he was not as strong as he once had been. We knew that no matter what was going on around us, Dad always knew what to do about any problem. It was a very comforting feeling in a family where he was the only original male. Of course, his daughters were married now, and a few grandsons had also been added to the mix, but for our childhood years, my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I were the kids they had, and so Dad was the only male. He was used to being the man with the answers, and we always looked to him when we needed those answers. It was difficult to see him in a state of weakness, but we would fight for his survival with all we had…never expecting to lose the fight.

With Dad’s passing on that awful December day, our world was forever changed. We were now going to need to take care of our mom, who needed us more than ever. While her health was ok, she didn’t drive anymore, and wasn’t as mobile as she had been before. We had promised Dad, we would take care of her, and as with Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way for Mom. It wasn’t just the change is our care structure that changed either. Everything changed with Dad’s passing.

We had seriously never expected to live on this earth without our parents, and now that entire perspective had changed. We knew that very likely the day would come when both parents and our parents-in-law would be gone. We knew that we were going to be the leaders of our families. It was up to us to keep our families close, as Mom and Dad would have wanted us to do. There would now be great grandchildren who have never met their Great Grandpa Spencer, and later Great Grandma Spencer. It was up to us to tell the kids about their great grandparents, so they wouldn’t be forgotten. t was up to us to tell them that their Great Grandpa Spencer was a World War II Veteran, who fought bravely for his country…to make sure that his legacy lived on. It is a big responsibility, and sometimes seems impossible, but we must, because our Dad showed us the way we should live, and we must now live it. There is no other choice. Twelve years ago today, my dad began his life in Heaven, and we miss him every day. We can’t wait until we will be reunited again. We love you Dad.

Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.

After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.

I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.

by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg

Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 44 years ago, when she married my brother Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s Grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a Mother and Grandma…and on May 30, 2018, Caryn became a Great Grandma to Chris’s daughter who is a sweetie and is very special to all of us, but especially to her Great Grandma Caryn!

On October 14, 2018 Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.

Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.

Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also travel for bowling tournaments too.

Caryn has spent the last year focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area!

On May 1, 2019 Caryn is going to start a new journey…it is called semi-retirement! She is still going to help out at The Stengel Agency some from home and when they need her (oh no she may be working more than she did before)!!!! Bob and Caryn have an adventure coming up towards the end of June. They will be flying to Everett, Washington, then driving to Bellingham, where they will visit Amy, Travis, Shai and Caalab. Following that visit, they will board the Amtrak Train in Seattle for a trip to Chicago, and then flying back to Denver before driving home. Caryn and Bob are very excited for this trip and many more to come. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired will find herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grand-daughter and of course blogging!!!! Watch for information on her upcoming Retirement Party which will be held at a later date when the weather is good enough for a fun outdoor party.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my Sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

My brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, who goes by LJ, has always been a guy who loves to joke with those around him. Making people laugh is one of his favorite things to do, but he is also a family man, who really hasn’t ever wanted to be anything else. He drove truck for many years, and spent a number of years as a deputy sheriff in Casper, before moving his family to Thermopolis, Wyoming and then Powell, Wyoming, where they put down roots. At the time of his retirement, LJ was working in on of the area mines in Powell. As I said though, in all reality, LJ was a family man, and that was what he loved.

LJ and his wife, Debbie had three daughters, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, who both live in Powell too; and Nancy Cook who died a few minutes after her birth in Casper. That was the worst day of their married life. The loss of a child can tear a marriage apart, but their marriage was strong, and it endured. They have been blessed with four grandchildren, Weston Moore, Jala Satterwhite, Easton Moore, and Kaytlyn Griffith. They have been the continuing blessing of a long marriage. These days, LJ spends as much time with the grandkids as he can. They help him at the house, so he teaches them how to do things like mow the lawn, and to be safe. They love spending time with their grandparents. LJ also loves his dogs. They are practically inseparable. Of course, that is how most pet owners are. Our pets become a part of the family. They are just like a child or grandchild, and we love them. LJs dog is very faithful to him.

LJ loves the outdoors, and is happiest when they are camping in the Big Horn mountains. Like his kids, he and Debbie would live in the mountains if they could. LJ has always liked hunting and fishing too. But sitting around the campfire with his family is the priority in his life these days. Being retired gives him more time to spend with those he loves. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It was 65 years ago, when my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer said “I do” and began their life journey together. Theirs was a match made in Heaven and one that continued for the rest of their lives. They knew almost from the day they met, that they had found their soulmate. Of course, my mom was too young at that time to get married, so they had to wait, but their love was worth waiting for. Finally, when my mom was almost 18, they ties the knot, and immediately moved to Superior, Wisconsin to start their family. As often happened in those days, they were quickly pregnant, and a week less than 10 months later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born. I arrived a little less than 2 years later; my sister Caryl Reed a little more than 3 years later; my sister Alena Stevens a little more that 2 years after Caryl; and our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock 1 year and 8 months after Alena. By the time my sister Caryl arrived, our family had moved back to Casper, Wyoming.

Our parents gave their daughters a wonderful life. We may not have been rich, but we were rich in love and happiness. We traveled, we were raised to have good Christian values, and we were raised to know the value of money and hard work. It doesn’t get better than that. We grew up to be responsible citizens and my parents were proud of each and every one of their daughters. When my sisters and i grew up, Mom and Dad were blessed with 16 grandchildren, then gained 22 great grandchildren, with one more arriving in late August. They also have 5 great great grandchildren. What a crew they started all those years ago!!

Mom and Dad led a blessed life, through all their years together, and that made my sisters and me very blessed too. Our home was always filled with joy and happiness. When problems arose, Dad and Mom always had a way to fix them. I think a strong bond and two hearts in agreement can go a long way together. Being in agreement is the biggest key to a marriage, even if you don’t agree on every matter, just agreeing to work things out is huge. Mom and Dad had that. They showed us how to live, by the way they lived. And that is the best blessing they could have given us. My only regret now is that they are not here with us anymore. Today would have been their 65th anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both so very much.

For people who don’t have a dad on Earth, Father’s Day always arrives with a hint of sadness. Most of us would love to have just one more day, just one more moment to spend with our dad again, but that can’t be, so we quietly wish him a happy Father’s Day in Heaven, knowing that he is ok…even more,that he is happy. It is us, his kids who feel the sadness. For me, both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg are in Heaven now. I often find myself almost forgetting that Father’s Day is coming, maybe my mind is just trying to blur the ensuing sadness that always follows the realization that they are gone. My only consolation is the knowledge that I will be seeing them again when I get to Heaven. For now, to my dads, I say Happy Father’s Day in Heaven. I know it will be an amazing day!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg comes to mind next. This is the man with whom I share my life. The man who gave me my family, two beautiful daughters, Corrie and Amy.I couldn’t be more blessed. Bob took our marriage vows very seriously. When he said them, he meant that he would stand by me through everything life would throw at us. He has been my best friend, my partner, the love of my life. He has also been there to take care of life’s little problems. He’s my mechanic, my handyman, the strong man whenever I need one. I am so thankful to have been able to travel life’s journey with him. We have so many things in common, that we can finish each other’s sentences, or just know instinctively what the other is thinking. We are soulmates, and I love him more with each passing day. Bob, I wish you a wonderful Father’s Day. I love you more than you could possible know.

My life has been blessed with two wonderful sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, who have, along with my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, have given me four amazing grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen. As my family has grown, and grown up, the blessings have just kept on growing. My sons-in-law, have truly become my sons, the sons I never had. They both have different personalities, and each one is perfect in their own way. I can’t imagine either of them being like the other, because that would be all wrong. They each have an amazing sense of humor, each in their own way. They both have different talents, and each is great at what they do. The one thing they have in common is that they are both great dads. They would do anything for their kids. They have raised them all to be amazing people, of whom I am very proud. To my sons-in-law, I say Happy Father’s Day…and thank you for being you!!

This Father’s Day is particularly different, because for the first time, I have a grandson, Chris Petersen, who is a dad now. His little daughter arrived a little over two weeks ago, just in time to celebrate Father’s Day. It is so precious to see. Being a dad has completely changed Chris. He has a new sense of contentment. He is complete. Oh I know that there will be more children for him, but that will never be able to change his status as Daddy. That change belongs to her alone, because it was her entrance into the world that made him a Daddy. Chris, along with his fiance, Karen, has a family. He is a Daddy, and this is his first Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day Chris!! I hope your day is amazing.And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!! You are all loved!!

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