My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a very busy guy. If he is not working, he’s outdoors in one capacity or another. He and my niece, Amanda Reed have a 15 year old daughter, Jadyn who is very busy with horses, and that means the family attends lots of competitions. Sean and Amanda are very supportive of their daughter’s dreams, and they will do whatever they can to help her accomplish them. Sean loves his girls, and they love him. They are a wonderful family unit, doing lots of things together.
Sean and Amanda also have a great group of friends, and they all love to go camping, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling, or any other sport you can think of. Rarely do you see a family who is so outgoing, all the time…nor one that is good at so many types of sports. They always have fun. Recently they all went camping for nine days. They went with a large group of people and everyone had a wonderful time, even Carp shooting. I wouldn’t have ever thought of fishing that way, but these guys seem quite skilled at shooting a fish with a bow and arrow. Sean’s brother, Tyler and his wife, Heather were among those who went. These two couples have a great relationship. They enjoy being together.
Sean is an active guy, who enjoys being very goofy, but then so do their friends. Everything from goofy wigs to wild outfits. He’s up for anything that will get a laugh out of his friends. Still, when it comes to work, Sean is all business. Sean has worked at Sinclair Oil Refinery for a while now, and is good at his job. There are many reasons to work carefully and observe safety regulations in a refinery, and Sean is diligent in both work and safety. After all, he has two great girls to come home to every day. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a child is born, you have no idea what the future will bring for them. You want the best for them, and you pray that all their dreams will come true, but you always wonder if their dream will be to do something that they are not suited for. As their parent, all you can do is let nature take it’s course. Then suddenly, they are almost all grown up, and there, standing in front of you is everything you ever dreamed they would become and more. That is exactly where my niece, Susan Griffith finds herself today as she looks at where her daughter, Jala Satterwhite is now.
Jala starts 10th grade next week, which is a huge shock to her mom. Jala has been an amazing athlete in school. As a freshman, she was in swimming, indoor track, and outdoor track. She actually lettered in track last year as a Freshman, which is pretty rare…and very impressive!! Her parents are hoping that one of her athletic skills will get her into the college of her dreams. Jala doesn’t know yet what college that will be or what she will study, but she has many skills that she could take and make into a great career. Her future is definitely bright!!
Of course, college is a little way off, but it will be here before she knows it. For now, Jala is looking forward to getting her driver’s license next week, and hopefully a job shortly after that, so she will be able to pay for the fuel. That last part might have been what her parents want, because as you know, gasoline is expensive, and we all know that once they can drive, kids like to be on the go as much as possible. Of course, that’s helpful for their parents too, because the kids can run errands and transport younger siblings too.
Jala is growing up to be such a great person…the pride and joy of her parents. She still enjoys riding her horse, Lilly, of course, and hunting with her step-dad, Josh Griffith. Hanging out with her friends is obviously a big thing for her as well. She is very social, and has great friends. Today is Jala’s birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sometimes, when I look at the younger versions of my parents’ pictures, I find that I can see the promise of the future in their eyes. Their young faces reflect the plans they have in mind for where they are going, and how their lives will play out. Some of those plans will come to fruition, and others will not…or maybe those that didn’t, were later deemed not important. Plans and dreams change as time goes on. I suppose that no one really knows how they want every part of their life to go, but as a young married couple, most people have definite ideas of what direction they expect their lives to go.
I wish I had thought to ask my parents about the plans and dreams that were dropped from sight, if they had any regrets, and if they feel like their life is better or worse due to the changed plans and dreams. I don’t really think my parents would have felt that their lives were worse for not having fulfilled some of the dreams they had as young people, but it’s hard to say for sure. I know that there are some times that I look back on a few things I had planned, and wonder if I would have been happier if I had done those things. Of course, after that moment, I look at the life I have and I think, “No, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Even the sad things, are the way they should be.
Young couples tend to have lofty goals and big dreams, and then life gets in the way. There isn’t always time to do some of the things you thought you would. I suppose that is often because the dreams of your children come first, and you always think that you will do those other things later on…when the kids are grown up. Of course, then the grandchildren come on the scene. Before you know it, the plans and dreams you had are so far from your mind that you barely think about them anymore. I suppose you could think of them with regret then, but I don’t think most of us do, because there is always the promise of the future. As long as we are alive, we have the option to dream new dreams, or fulfill the old ones. Life is filled with possibilities, even if some of them seem to be out of reach for now. With the promise of the future comes the reality that the possibilities are endless, if we don’t give up, or change our minds.
As I was reading the notes I was given on Frederick Schumacher and his wife, Anna Richard Schumacher, I read that they lost their home to a fire in 1956. I can’t imagine losing your home and all of your precious memories in a fire, and yet it does happen. I don’t know what memories Fred and Anna lost, but my guess is that it included photographs of their babies as they grew up. Those are things that are so hard to get back. All you can do is hope that someone among your friends and family members has pictures they can share with you. I’m sure it was such a shock…everything was gone…in an instant. All you had left was your family and the clothes on your back…and you were grateful. How could you feel gratitude after such a devastating loss? Of course, it is because your family had survived, and in reality, everything else is just stuff. Nevertheless, as time goes by, you begin to realize that you really lost a lot that dreadful day. It’s no wonder you seem to be having a hard time getting past it. I have to wonder if sleeping at night is difficult, because you feel a deep need to be on your guard. Still, you have to move forward for your family.
A fire affects everyone in the family…even grown children who have homes of their own. When fire destroyed my Uncle Jim Wolfe’s home on Wolfe Mountain outside of Newport, Washington, there was no way to get help up there in time. The road is just too rough and the area too remote to get fire trucks up there, so when Uncle Jim’s home caught fire, the only thing they could do was to try to save what they could…and it was not much. All of the memories were lost…pictures, keepsakes from my Aunt Ruth’s life, all of the pictures of the childhood days of my cousins, as well as all of Uncle Jim’s items for day to day living. Before long, Uncle Jim needed to move into a nursing home where he could get 24 hour care for his Alzheimer’s Disease. For my cousin, Shirley it was like losing one more of her precious memories…having her dad living just down the road from her. Her mother, my Aunt Ruth had passed away, in 1992, and this was just one more blow to Shirley.
Fires destroy the dreams, as well as the memories, of those who have an unfortunate encounter with them. For my cousin, Shirley, it has meant trying to find friends and family who might have childhood pictures that they could copy for her. We have been searching for pictures, but have not found a whole lot for her. I am still hopeful that someday we will stumble across a huge cache of pictures that will fill all the memory holes in her life right now. It is amazing to me that in this day and age, we are still unable to save some homes from fire. It’s not so much a remote home, like my Uncle Jim’s, but even homes in town, are completely destroyed be fire. Still there are factors like how long it took to report, and what type of fire it was that can affect the ability to save it too. Whatever the reason, dreams and memories are lost in the twinkling of an eye, and they are really hard to get back.
On this, the 130th anniversary of the arrival of my great grandfather, Carl Ludwig Theodor Schumacher in the United States, I have been thinking about how it must have felt for him. He had made the most difficult decision to leave his homeland at the very young age of 25, and board the SS Gellert, leaving from Hamburg, Germany on April 6, 1884 to start a new life, far away from his parents and family in the United States of America. He had been reading letters from his uncle and cousins about how wonderful America was, and in particular, how wonderful Minnesota was, since he was 18, and he had made up his mind to go. He would work seven long years taking care of the horses of a wealthy landowner to earn the $50.00 needed to pay his fare. He knew that travel by ship across the Atlantic could be dangerous, and he might be very homesick for his family, but he was determined to go. He knew, also that it would take years of hard work to build the American Dream that he had in mind for his life. My great grandfather would be successful in building his American Dream, but today my thoughts go not to thinking of his dreams, but rather to how he must have felt as he made such a life change.
A young man of 25 years is really not so grown up that a move half a world away doesn’t feel scary. That kind of a move would be a daunting experience for anyone, no matter how old they are. And then to arrive at a place like Ellis Island, or in my grandfather’s case, Castle Garden, since the Ellis Island facility wasn’t built until 1892…not really knowing what you would be put through before you would be allowed to enter the United States. Many people were required to Americanize their names, so it would be easier for them to fit in…forever altering their identity. That was the case for my great grandfather, when his name was changed from Schuhmacher to Schumacher. Still, the immigrants felt like this was a small sacrifice to make for the gain of the American Dream, and in fact, many immigrants felt like that name change was like a rite of passage into this great country.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that my grandfather must have felt some level of sadness at the change of his name, even though he would use it again when he was married. Still, the census records, and other records show it as Schumacher, thus muddying the waters when it comes to genealogy records. I don’t suppose that was the thing my great grandfather was thinking about as he waited for his turn at Castle Garden on April 21, 1884, but as my mind looks back in time to that day that would end up being so very important to my life, it is something that definitely occurs to me. My great grandfather had been through so much to come to this new land filled with opportunity, and I’m quite certain that the overwhelming changes must have made him quite weary, but as he arrived in Minnesota and began the work of building that dream, I suppose that all of the uncertainty of the journey to get where he was, became simply a distant memory. He was home…the home of his dreams.
A couple’s wedding day is quite possibly the most wonderful day of their lives. It is that moment when all their hopes and dreams begin to come to life. The wedding day is quickly behind them and they begin their journey out into the future to build the life of their dreams…but not always. Theirs was a love, young and hopeful. Her family, my great great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer, loved the young man their daughter, Matilda had fallen in love with. They nicknamed him W Biller, although his name was William Beller…it was their way of showing him that they liked him, and they were happy to welcome him into their family. Although their daughter, Matilda was young by today’s standards, at just over 17 years of age, she was of an acceptable age for marriage in 1879, and so she married the man of her dreams, but theirs was not to be the fairytale ending of happily ever after, because in just three short days, Matilda’s life would be over.
The death records would show Brain Fever as the cause of death, and these days few of us would even know what that is. It is a term, not commonly used today, that described one of three illnesses that most of us do understand today…Meningitis, the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord; Encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain, commonly caused by a viral infection; or Cerebritis, inflammation of the cerebrum. I can’t say which of these diseases caused my great grand aunt’s death, but I can imagine the devastation her husband of only three days felt as his precious bride was taken from his life, leaving him to wonder what had happened, and how he could possibly go on. A young man of just 19 years of age should not have to experience marriage and widowhood within three days of each other…truly, no one should.
As I read the account of the short marriage of my great grand aunt and uncle, I felt the pain he must have felt. Without the knowledge we have today, my guess is that he had no idea that something was terribly wrong. He and his young bride traveled from her home in Webster City, Iowa to their home in Boone, Iowa, just 32 miles away, but when the time came, I’m sure that distance felt like thousands of miles. Getting her parents to her before she passed probably didn’t happen, and he must have felt like he failed her in every way possible…failed them. I’m sure he felt like he should have been able to take better care of their daughter than that, and yet he didn’t know what he could have done, because he had no real idea what had happened. His life had gone from married bliss to lost dreams practically overnight.
It would take him three years to finally move forward with his life, when he would marry Nellie Vanderbilt. Their lives would take a different path, and they would have six children. I’m sure he loved her very much, but I have to think that as he was having his second set of wedding pictures taken…in the exact same pose as his first set of wedding pictures, that his mind wandered back, just for a moment…to the bride of his youth, that seemed so far away now. His face looked a little distant…sad even. At 23 years of age, my guess is that he felt old…much older than his age would have you believe, but widowhood at such a young age would do that to a person. I’m happy for him that he had a good life in the end, and yet still sad that he had to live with the lost dreams of his youth hiding there in the back of his mind.
Through the years, my Aunt Bonnie has made dreams come true for many brides in the family. I know that might sound odd to many people, but my Aunt Bonnie made wedding cakes, and cakes for many other events. Her creativity was amazing, and her cakes beautiful.
Aunt Bonnie made my wedding cake, and my 25th Anniversary cake. She also made the wedding cakes for both my girls weddings. These were exquisite cakes that would have cost a fortune anywhere else, but she wouldn’t take payment for them. She said it was her wedding gift to the couple. And what a wonderful gift it was. Her cakes tasted wonderful, so they made the party a great success, but that isn’t all they were. The cake is the central focus, other than the couple, at the reception. The pictures are taken around it, and it is always featured in the photographs. So it was a gift that is forever treasured, and never forgotten.
As I said, Aunt Bonnie is very good at making cakes. They are truly a work of art, as you can see. She takes the design the bride picks and the ideas in the brides dreams, and turns them into a stunning reality. It is one part of the wedding day the bride can completely relax about, and just leave it in the capable hands of my Aunt Bonnie. She always has the bride’s interests foremost in her mind, and because she has such a sweet heart and spirit, the cakes she creates simply shine on the special day.
While she doesn’t make the cakes anymore, the memories and happiness she gave to those who were blessed enough to receive them will last a lifetime. You have given more than you will ever know Aunt Bonnie. Thank you. I love you more than words can say.