Some birthdays are different beyond anything we could have ever imagined. That is the kind of birthday my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg is having this year. Never in a million years did he expect to be a widower at the age of 53, but that is exactly where he finds himself, and his 13 year old son, Tucker, who also lost his mom. While Ron’s current situation is devastating, I am very proud of how he is handling it and the sadness that comes and go with both Ron and Tucker. While this year started it in the worst possible way, I pray that the rest of the year will get better. I know that his wife, Rachel would want Ron and Tucker, as well as her other children, Cassie and Riley, to be happy in life…as hard as that seems right now.
With Rachel’s passing came other changes for Ron. He had always worked nights, but with a 13 year old at home, he needed to change that to days, so that is what he did. It is a big change for him. He preferred the night shift, but it was important for Tucker, and that is all that matters now. Another change is that Ron is now the “Chief cook and bottle washer,” so to speak. He can cook, but Rachel was a phenomenal cook…a hard act to follow. I believe that Ron with find his own rhythm and cooking style. Tucker likes most of what he cooks now, and they will find things together that they like. Who knows, maybe Tucker will find some good recipes too.
We are all so thankful that Tucker has his dad, who adopted him on June 27, 2019. Tucker is not alone now. He has his dad to help him get through such a sad time in his life. And Tucker is helping his dad too. They depend on each other now, and work together to get through this. When I think of the terrible loneliness that happens after such a loss, it tears at my heart that these guys are going through it I know that in time, there will be less pain, but right now, it is so strong and we have no way to ease their pain. The future will be different than they every planned for it to be, but they will get through it and we as a family will help them to get through it. Today is the first birthday Ron has had without Rachel in ten years, and that will make it a hard day, but I pray that he knows how much Rachel loved him, and that she wants the best for him and her children. She is in Heaven now, but her memory will always live on in our spirits. I pray that Ron can find some measure of happiness today too. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
After the Wright brothers discovered a way to make a plane fly, all bets were off as to where the future would take us. It didn’t take very long to find out either. By 1907, a man named Paul Cornu came up with an entirely different type of aircraft, and built the Cornu Helicopter. As most of us know these days, the helicopter is a rotary-wing aircraft that creates its own lift. The Cornu helicopter was an experimental helicopter that was built in France. The craft had an open framework, that obviously didn’t provide much protection from the elements, and so was somewhat limited in when it could fly, but then there are still times when a helicopter can’t fly, so I guess that not much has changed in that respect.
Cornu was a bicycle maker, and so he built his craft around a curved steel tube that carried a rotor at either end, and the engine and pilot in the middle. Power was transmitted to the rotors by a drive belt that linked both rotors and spun them in opposite directions. Control was to be provided by cables that could alter the pitch of the rotor blades, and by steerable vanes at either end of the machine intended to direct the down wash of the rotors. On November 13, 1907, the helicopter was ready for its test flight. The Cornu helicopter is reported to have made a number of short hops, rising perhaps 5–7 feet into the air and staying aloft for something less than one minute…just long enough for Cornu to learn that the control systems he had designed were ineffective. He abandoned the machine soon thereafter. I find it sad to think that, while the design wasn’t going to work in it’s present form, it was certainly not something to give upon. I’m reminded of the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.” Perhaps, if Paul Cornu had kept trying, he could have succeeded.
Modern engineering analyses have demonstrated that the Cornu helicopter could not have been capable of sustained flight. The design was flawed, nevertheless, in order to commemorate the centenary of his achievement, a replica of the helicopter was constructed by the École supérieure des techniques aéronautiques et de construction automobile (ESTACA) and presented to the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace where it was placed on display on December 15, 2007. Another replica was also built. This one by the Hubschraubermuseum Bückeburg (Helicopter Museum of Bückeburg) to pay homage to the merits of Paul Cornu. It has been on display there since November 13, 2007. Though its fight was short, it did fly, after all.
Like most grandparents, my parents loved being grandparents. It’s not something that is hard for any grandparent to understand. Each new baby brings ever increasing joy to your heart. That is how my parents felt about their grandchildren. The babies were like a never ending source of joy, and they looked forward to each new addition with great anticipation. I know it is the same with most grandparents, but the way my parents felt about those babies showed on their faces in every picture I have ever seen of them with the babies. Each new life was a precious extension of themselves…through their daughters. It truly was a way for their line to continue on forever. It was like looking into the future for them.
Sometimes, as I look at the pictures of them with the babies, I wonder exactly what it was they were thinking. Did they see the future in the eyes of those babies? Did they marvel at the reality of that new little life, knowing that it came about through them and their children? Or did they simply wonder what this child…this new life, would become in the future? I’m certain that had a big part in it. I remember my own grandchildren as babies. I couldn’t wait for their personalities to present themselves. I wanted to know who they would become, and I have not been disappointed in any of them. I’m sure that is how my mom and dad felt too. We have a family of wonderful grandchildren, great grandchildren, and now a great great grandchild.
When we have more babies, however, Mom and Dad won’t be here to see them, and that makes me a little bit sad, because I know they would have loved to see all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Of course, they will get to know them in Heaven, but oh, how they would have loved to know them here. Grandchildren are a blessing straight from God, and I know that my parents loved each and every one of them, and they couldn’t wait for the next arrival. As the new babies arrive, I know that I will find myself thinking about Mom and Dad, and feeling just a little bit sad, because…well, Mom and Dad would have so enjoyed each and every one of them. I just wish they could have been here for all of the new family members we will have in the future, both spouses and babies, because the family will go on.
Years ago, when my grandchildren were little, they went to the Boys and Girls Club as their after school daycare. At first, they went to a little west side branch of the Boys and Girls Club, until the larger club, that is now the only one in Casper, was built. The club was filled with things to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble after school. The main goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to prevent kids from being latchkey kids, who are home alone after school for several hours. It is well known that kids get in trouble when they have too much unsupervised time. At the time when my grandchildren were there, one of the projects was a very poignant correlation between the children and the future. The project featured handprints, including those of my four grandchildren. It was called the “The Hands That Hold The Future” and the kids were told it was going on display outside the Nicolaysen Art Museum.
That was years ago, and long forgotten, because somehow it was never displayed at the Nic. The kids, especially my grandson, Chris Petersen, were disappointed, because they thought it would be cool to see their work there. Still, time blurs the disappointments we have sometimes, and the display faded into oblivion…until three of my grandkids, Chris, Shai Royce, and Josh Petersen were going to the movies. They stopped at the Loaf and Jug near Sunrise Shopping Center, and Chris was stunned to see the display there. Apparently it was placed there years ago. It was quite weathered.
While my oldest grandson, Chris was pretty young when they helped make the display, the memory came back to him. He told Shai and Josh about it, and Shai remembered it too. They even recalled which hands were theirs. Chris had wanted to be on top, and Josh was under his and to the left. Shai wanted to be next to her brother, Caalab Royce, and she remembered cutting off her fingers because of the crease at the joint of finger and hand. She also remembers being quite upset when told that she had done it wrong, and how the teacher put it together and on the display anyway. In a way, that uniqueness makes it stand out even more.
The sign has weathered a lot over the years of being there by the Loaf and Jug convenience store since about the early 2000s. The paint is peeling and some people might think it should be removed. I can honestly say that the hands of the children I know, that are on it, have grown into wonderful people. If most kids of that era turn out as well as my grandchildren, I can say that our future is in good hands.
As children, we think that life is all fun and games. We don’t think about the future, because we are busy having fun. Kids have no idea what life is going to throw at them, and they don’t care. They live for today, and they know that their lives are going to be amazing. And of course, for the most part they are, but in reality every life has it’s challenges. good and bad times, as well as happy and sad times. It’s really what we choose to do with these times that shows the true nature of the person we have become.
My nephew, Chris Iverson, truly loves life. He is a family man, first and foremost. He loves to go fishing, and from what I have seen , he is a pretty good fisherman. I’m sure he finds it relaxing, and exciting, like most avid fishermen do. The rest of us…non-fishermen…just find it boring, but to each his own. Chris is an outdoorsy kind of guy, and I’m sure that all that goes together quite well with fishing.
Nevertheless, life happens, and on July 3, 2011, Chris, and his wife, my niece Cassie, had a baby named Lucas. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, which they knew about in advance. I suppose that some people would have told them to abort the baby, but Lucas was their son, and it didn’t matter. Over the past 3½ years, Chris and Cassie have been amazing parents to Lucas. Lucas is a happy and quite active little boy, and he fills every day with so much joy for his parents, and everyone else who knows him too. Chris and Cassie could have been saddened by their son’s diagnosis, but instead, they have chosen to take the lemons that other people might find distasteful, and make some of the best lemonade in the world…the memories they are building with their little boy. I know that the parents of Down’s Syndrome children are always a special breed of people, because there are those who give these children up for adoption or abort them before birth, but as Chris would tell you, “Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy.” And to that I will add, that it takes a real man to be a daddy, when the going gets tough…no matter the reason.
No matter who we are, life hands us situations that we have to either deal with or run from, and it is my opinion that the strongest people deal with those new things with grace, giving it their all. Strong people don’t give up, whine and cry, or run from their problems, but rather, they take what they have been handed and turn it into something very special. This is what I see in the parents of Down Syndrome children, and this is what I see in Chris and Cassie. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a child goes away to college, there are so many emotions that both the parents and the child feel. The child goes through homesickness, and the parents are trying really hard to adjust to this new independence that their child suddenly has. Those things are really hard, but I think that the hardest thing to deal with is that empty room in the house, that empty place at the table, and that missing face and voice that they are so used to. The first month is probably the hardest, but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that it gets easier, because it doesn’t, at least not for a long time. Eventually almost all kids grow up get married and move out, so it is something that you have to get used to, because anything else is not normal. But when they are fresh out of high school, and in their first year of college, all you can think about is the next time they will get to come home.
With the Christmas season upon us, having my grandson Chris home from college is very much on our minds. I am reminded of that old song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” which is a kind of sad song, because the person in that song doesn’t really get to come home for Christmas…except in their dreams. I know that lots of families have loved ones who aren’t able to come home for the holidays, and I find that very sad. I know that life takes people in different directions, and sometimes that means holidays away from family, but I like spending the holidays with my family the best. Which brings me to the fact that as of today, Chris is home for Christmas!! We are all very excited to have him home, and very excited about the fact that he will be here for a little over a month. That is one nice thing about college…long Christmas breaks.
Oh, I know that all too soon, January 20th will arrive, and he will be heading back to Sheridan for his next semester. And we will be looking forward to every weekend he can come home, and most especially to summer break. Having a kid away at college is hard, as is having any loved one who lives away from home. Nevertheless, it is a fact of life, and one we will live through. No one knows where the future will take each person, and the main thing is that they remember the way home, because there are those who miss them and love them very much.
For today, and this year at this time of year, I am thankful that Chris is home and we will all be together. I can’t think of anything that is more important to me than my family, and I love spending time with them, so the holidays are extra special. Family is such a blessing. I thank God for each and every one of them, and I am so glad that we have everyone, and especially this year, Chris, home for Christmas.
Veteran’s Day is a day about sacrifice and honor, duty and dedication, war and peace, but the day cannot pass for me without thoughts of my dad, and how much I miss him. I know I am not alone in these thoughts, because my mom and sisters also miss him, as well as the rest of our family. Still, no one who has lost a loved one who was a veteran, whether to war or after, can pass this day without thoughts of their loved ones. I think of my Grandpa Byer, my uncles Ted Byer, Cliff Byer, Larry Byer, Jim Wolfe, and my cousin, Larry Wolfe…all gone now, but not lost in war, thankfully. I think of those who, in World War II, couldn’t serve in combat, and so they served at home in the shipyards as builders and Rosie the Riveters, like my Aunt Ruth, Aunt Laura, and Uncle Bill, who couldn’t go because of a hernia and flat feet. And I think of the loved ones…too many to list here…who have fought and returned, and those who continue to fight to secure our nation, and stop terrorist acts all over the globe.
Theirs is a sacrifice beyond measure, a debt we cannot repay. Every day of their service they work, without knowing if they will return to their loved ones, or if this will be the day that a bullet, rocket, or bomb will have their name on it. They go to work knowing fear, as if it was their closest friend, and yet knowing that it is no friend at all. They have to bite back that fear and do their job…because it is needed…they are needed…because without them we are a nation unprotected. Most of us go to bed at night, secure in what the next day will bring, because we live in a nation where freedom belongs to everyone. Nevertheless, we must remember that it is not free. Over the years, our nation has lost so many young people to war. They were really our hope for the future. They were people full of promise. People with plans and dreams…all gone now.
War is a horrible thing, and none of us really want to engage in it. Still, evil exists out there, and it does its very best to reek havoc upon the world. If we do nothing, many innocent people will die. And so God created soldiers. He knew that they would have to be people of honor and dedication, with a strong sense of duty and love for their fellow man. They would have to be people of courage and bravery…able to bite back the fear that dwells all around them. God knew the kind of people they would have to be…Heroes. And that is what every veteran is, was, and always will be…a hero. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day to honor those who have given so much to keep us free. Thank you all for your great service. God bless you…everyone of you.
My Dear Grandson, Chris, today your life will change forever. Today you have reached a milestone. You now have your high school diploma…the first degree of your adult life. You have met all the requirements to receive your diploma, and that means the end of your high school career. You are an adult now, with the right to make your own decisions. You are really a whole new person. That is hard for the rest of us to accept, because while we know your age, and your schooling level, we can still see very clearly the baby and little boy you once were. We see him in every room you have been in…whether it is your parents house, or one of your grandparent’s homes. That little boy isn’t really gone now, but rather will live in our memory files, peeking out on occasion to run across the floor, in our memory anyway, giggling all the way. That little boy will always be there in my mind, but I am so proud of the man that little boy has grown into.
Graduation from high school is probably the most special graduation you will have, because it has taken so long to get there. In many cases it is the longest time you will spend in school. I can’t believe you are really at this point already, because like you, we thought the time from birth to graduation was about 18 years, but in reality, it flies by in the twinkling of an eye.
So much of life is ahead of you now. You are embarking on an exciting adventure as you spread your wings and fly a little ways away, to chase your dreams. I’m glad you won’t be too far away, but my heart misses my first grandchild already…and you haven’t even left yet. When you return to us next summer, you will be different…independent. You will have had the experience of living on your own, setting your own rules, and being your own boss. I have to wonder if we will even know you, when you return to us. Of course, I don’t really think you will change in such a total way, but my heart doesn’t always think straight when it comes to my babies. I have seen my nieces and nephews return home from college or living in another city, and there is a definite difference in them…one that was ok for my nieces and nephews, but this is my grandbaby now, and I don’t like this new idea very much.
Of course, for you…I want the moon. I want your plans and dreams to be exactly what you had in mind. I want everything to go your way, and I want you to have great success, but I don’t want you to forget where you came from, the good moral upbringing you received, and I don’t want you to forget your way home, because we are still here, and we will miss you terribly. I know that you have your next three years well planned, and you will do amazingly well in school. I can’t wait to hear about all you are learning, so don’t forget to call your grandparents from time to time. We are so proud of all you have accomplished and of the man you have become. Words cannot fully express just how proud. We love you so much. Congratulations on your high school graduation, my dear grandson, Chris!! Way to go!!
What is it about reading a story that intrigues us? It is the content, of course, but there is something more. Sometimes, we just want to take a few minutes outside ourselves…to lose ourselves in another man’s mind. It was a quote by Charles Lamb in 1890, who wrote “I love losing myself in other men’s minds” that came to me in a cover letter for my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal. It was written to some of her grand nieces and grand nephew, her sister, Mina’s grandchildren, when she gave them a copy of her journal…the writings of her thoughts. And when I read the letter, I was intrigued. I was very curious about her mind. I never had the opportunity to know Great Aunt Bertha, who went by Bertie, and I find that very sad. It is my opinion that she was an amazing woman. In her letter, she points out that all too often, historical writings take in simply the events as they occurred, but leave out the human side of things…the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and the impact the events had on the lives of the people who lived them. She also points out that the family stories told by the very of people who lived those stories will impact the lives of their descendants for years to come. She looks ahead to the 23rd century, and wonders what they would think of the events that shaped the lives of their ancient ancestors. After reading her letter, I realized that my stories had barely scratched the surface of the events I was writing about.
I began to think of the day to day moments of our lives, and how much of the future history is being lost, because we have not recorded the thoughts and feelings we experienced at the time that we experienced them. Great Aunt Bertie suggested that if a person was interested in writing about family history, they should question their parents about the lives of their parents and grandparents. I immediately felt a sense of loss, because my dad and my father-in-law are both gone, and the opportunity to talk with them is gone too. I also felt a sense of loss, because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and doesn’t always remember the events from her past anymore. I did feel an urging to sit down with my mom to see what things she could tell me, and also with my aunts, because I still have a chance to get their perspective on things. It occurred to me that while the desire is there, time will be the biggest problem, because of work and other obligations. Still, I want to take the opportunity while I can do so, and I know that I will learn many interesting things about my family.
I look forward to reading more of Great Aunt Bertie’s journal. She was an amazing individual, and she had the presence of mind to think in the future. She knew that the past has a very important place in the future, and that the future generations will never know the great things their ancestors accomplished, unless someone tells them about it. They will never know how their ancestors felt when they made the decision to immigrate to a new country, with their future very uncertain, but knowing that they had no future where they were then. And yet, she saw the importance of the here and now too…the everyday changes in the lives of family members around us…the accomplishments, hopes, and dreams for their future. She knew the importance of documenting the everyday moments of a life. Thank you for your wisdom, Great Aunt Bertie, and thank you Julie Holmberg Carlberg for blessing me and the rest of the family with this wonderful journal and the pictures you sent too. Great Aunt Bertie’s legacy will always be our priceless treasure.
Travel these days is so common that we really don’t give it much thought at all, but travel or moving in days gone by, was a very different matter, or perhaps it is just that some things worry people of different ages more that other people, or shall we say older people. I was reading a story written by my cousin Raymon Dunahee, who is my Grandpa Spencer’s sister, Alice’s son. The story begins, “I slept soundly (I guess we all did) all night and woke up the next morning to find that I was still all there. If anything had carried us off during the night they brought us back before morning.” When I read that, it reminded me of some of the camping trips my family took when we were kids, and my sisters and I kept waking my dad up so he could put another log on the fire to keep the bears away…like that would have made any difference. As I read through the thoughts of a little boy as he embarked of an unknown, and maybe a little scary future, my thoughts turned to how different travel was back then.
As I read through the rest of his story, and the continuing mishaps they had, I could see why he felt a little apprehensive about things. The vehicle they were traveling in had a couple of “bum casings” and he was concerned that if the roads got bad at all they might end up stuck in a very desolate place. They were trying to make Kalispell, Montana that day, and they still had a hundred and twenty five miles to go. They were in the mountains when the rear tire blew. The spare was not good either, so they limped along the six miles to the next town and got a new tire. It was another forty miles to Kalispell, but they made it without further mishap and bought another tire there. The trip to Kalispell was a side trip to visit his grandparents before they went on to their final destination…Twin Falls, Idaho. During the visit with his grandparents, they decided to go on to Twin Falls, Idaho with them. The rest of the trip was filled with similar troubles and I’m sure that Raymon wondered if they would make it at all, and if he even wanted to go to this place when it seemed that everything was against their move as it was.
Then, to add to Raymon’s concerns, their trip started to become very slow going…not because of car problems, but because of fish problems. It’s hard to imagine that fish could cause such big problems, but they can for a boy who is really ready to get where they are going. It seems that over the next three days, they family only made twelve miles!! “How could that be?” you ask. Well, they were traveling in an area where there were lots of mountain streams, and every time they came upon another stream, the men wanted to stop and fish!! I don’t think they caught very many fish, but according to Raymon, there were plenty of mosquitoes, and he was really ready to be away from them. I’m sure he was thinking, “Let’s just go!!” And there was no reason to even ask, “Are we there yet?” because you have to be moving for that question to even make sense. In the end, they did make it to Twin Falls, Idaho, where they lived out their days.