Posts Tagged ‘grandparents’

Empty Nester

Allyn HadlockInto each life, comes change. It is the one constant. My sister, Allyn’s life is no different. Allyn is my youngest sister, and within the last 6 years, the road of her life has taken many twists and turns, as does every life. One of the biggest changes, however is the empty nest. Allyn’s transformation to empty nester began with the marriage of her son Ryan to his wife, Chelsea.  Then, just nine short months later, Allyn and her husband Chris, became grandparents when their first grandchild, Ethan Christopher was born. Before long, Ethan was followed by his little sister, Aurora Briann. Allyn was now a grandmother of two, and she is loving every minute of being a grandmother…something any grandparent can totally relate to.

During this time, Jessi had moved out, and Lindsay was away at college, so all they had was their youngest daughter, Kellie at home. I’m sure the house fell pretty big in those days, but it wasn’t an empty nest yet. Through those years, the three girls might have move out and comeback home a couple of times, and I’m sure that felt kind of nice to Allyn and Chris, but then came the day, a year and a half ago, when their daughter, Jessi would get married to Jason, and she would permanently move out. Lindsay was living and going to college in Brookings South Dakota by then, and Kellie took over Jessie’s rented house, making Allyn and Chris officially empty nesters.

Of course, with all that change takes away from a person, it also adds to the person. Not only did Allyn and Chris now have a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law, and the two grandchildren, but this was also about the time that the grandchildren started to be old enough to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa…thus alleviating the loneliness that often accompanies the empty nest. It is really the biggest blessing of having grandchildren, as any grandparent will tell you. Your children’s children can fill that void left in your life when your children move out. And their parents don’t mind the free babysitting service either. Now, in just 4 days, Allyn’s daughter, Lindsay will marry Shannon in Florida, where they are moving. Her husband to be was just hired at Florida International University in Miami. While I know that Allyn is very happy for her daughter and soon to be son-in-law, I also know that she will Hadlock familymiss them very much, as it will be harder for them to run home for a weekend visit.

With all the twist and turns on Allyn’s life’s road have changed her life dramatically they have also enriched it. Before long there will be new grandbabies and one more wedding, and I know that Allyn is looking forward to each of them, as their time arrives, because as we all know a growing family is always a great blessing. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

She Was So Terribly Alone

Pearl Spencer 2Sometimes, it seems, people are dealt a very sad hand in life. Such was the case for my 1st cousin once removed, Pearl Ethyl Spencer. She was the daughter on my Great Uncle Clifford Herbert Spencer and his wife at the time, Annie Mae Jordan. As sometimes happens in marriage, Clifford and Annie divorced when Pearl was just a baby, and he moved to Rushville, Nebraska, where he would remarry, to a woman named Hanna (who went by Anna, making the records somewhat confusing), have 3 more children, and live out the rest of his life. To my knowledge he either saw very little of, or nothing more of, his daughter Pearl. Then, when Pearl was still very young, her mother, Annie passed away, leaving Pearl a virtual orphan. My Great Aunt Bertha always said, “Poor Pearl, she was so terribly alone!” Pearl must have had some contact with her grandparents, my Great Grandpa William MPearl Spencer 1alrose Spencer I and Grandma Viola Fuller Spencer, because Aunt Bertha Spencer Hummer knew enough about her to say that her childhood was very lonely.

Pearl grew up and married Claude Lawrence Coleman, and together they had six children, before he too would leave her around 1941. I’m sure that by this time, her children were a blessing to her, and she was no longer as lonely, but Claude’s decision to leave the family must have struck quite a blow to poor Pearl. It was about this time that Pearl and her children came to live with my Grandma, Anna Schumacher Spencer, who was her great aunt. The two families became as one, living and working together during those hard times following divorce and during World War II. They were really a big help to my grandmother, since my dad was serving in the Army Air Forces in England, My Aunt Laura was married and on her own, and Uncle Bill lived in Superior, but worked in the shipyards. Aunt Ruth was still living at home, and prior to this time, they ran the farm together, but it was hard work, and I’m sure the extra help was Claude Colemanvery nice.

Pearl’s son Claude was a hard working boy, who worked side by side with my grandmother on the farm, and his sisters helped out where needed too. Pearl’s life took many sad and difficult turns, but she raised very nice children. In later years, my Uncle Bill lost touch with Pearl, and to my knowledge never saw her again, but he reconnected with Claude in the late 1990′s, and in 2000, he sent him copies of the only pictures he had of his mother, Pearl. While the letter telling of Pearls history is a sad one, I’m sure that Claude was very pleased to get the two pictures of his mom.

Totally Outdated

Really old glassesFor those of us who have worn glasses, it is easy to look back at those old pictures with those old funky glasses and think to ourselves, “What was I thinking when I picked those out??” It doesn’t matter how old we are now, the glasses we picked out a few years ago, are totally outdated by the time we think to look back on the pictures taken with them on. I know that styles change, and at the time we got the glasses, they were probably very much in style, but years later, we can only laugh at how funny they looked on us.

When we look back on the really old pictures, like when our parents and grandparents were young, we have the opportunity to have a pretty good laugh at their expense, because those glasses were really old fashioned. Of course, we do need to be a little bit careful, because just remember that our children and grandchildren will someday be looking at our old pictures with those funky glasses, and having a good laugh at our expense. I suppose we just have to be good natured about it, because it is a fact of life that we will all be considered old fashioned at some point in our lives.

When I was a kid in 4th grade, I got my first pair of glasses. While they were not the cat eye type, they were a royal blue color. I thought they were so cool at the time, but imagine how much they clashed with a lot of the clothes I wore. It didn’t matter to me, they were the coolest glasses ever in my 9 year old mind. I think my mom even tried to talk me into something else, but I would have none of it. I wore those glasses much longer than I would have liked, but you can’t just switch back and forth, especially as a little kid. imageBuying several pairs of glasses for a kid who might just as easily lose them, simply makes no sense.

Then, there was my let’s make those glasses as small as you can stage…never mind the fact that they were black, so you weren’t hiding the glasses at all. I really wanted contact lenses by that time, but my eye doctor didn’t think they would work for me. They probably would have, because they did just a few years later, but that was how it went. So there I was wearing another funky pair of glasses for far longer than I wanted to, and more often than not, removing them before any pictures could be taken.

The Perils Of Travel

Raymon DunaheeTravel 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.

Missing Those Who Live Far Away

Jim hugging cousinsPho90As Bob and I were having breakfast this morning, I noticed a family leaving the restaurant. They stopped outside to hug each other and say goodbye. There were two little girls there that the elder side of the family seemed especially sorry to see go, and it didn’t take much vision to realize that the younger side of the family had moved away from Casper, and the grandparents missed them terribly. My thoughts journeyed back to when my sisters and I were much younger and living at home with our parents. Almost all of us have either stayed in the Casper area, or returned to it now, but that doesn’t change the feelings that happened when we had to say goodbye to the ones who moved away for a time, or the feelings we felt when our cousins would visit and then had to go home.

It seems like more and more, families live in various places around the country, and even in totally different countries from their parents. While sometimes it is necessary for jobs and such, it doesn’t help the loneliness that it always creates on both sides of the situation. The hardest part is always the little kids, who don’t get to know their grandparents. Oh, they will get to know the a little on visits, through phone calls, and Skype, but they never really know them well…never feel the real bond. Those things are left to the family members who live nearby, and are privileged enough to have lots of contact with aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren.

Of course, that is not the only way that people can miss their family members. So many people get wrapped up in their own lives, and forget that there are loved ones out there who would love grandpa spencer059Chantel, Mom, Cheryl, and Dad ( we were getting ready to leave New York after a visit) 1972to have a visit from them. People who can’t get to them so easily, and so depend on them to bring those little ones around so they can get to know them. Sadly those little ones have no say in the matter, and the time to let them share in the lives of their elder relation is so quickly lost…and once it’s gone, there is no going back. People really should try to think about how badly their loved ones could be missing those who are far away…or even those, who aren’t so far away.

Sharing The Spotlight

imageWhen my daughters had their first children one day apart, almost 18 years who, I thought that was the coolest thing, and it was, but sometimes, sisters get to have their babies on the same day, and that it very rare indeed. Nevertheless, that is the case for my Aunt Dixie and my Aunt Bonnie. Their sons, James and Michael were born 49 years ago today. As a grandmother, I can imagine how busy things were for my grandma and grandpa. Of course, back then they couldn’t be in the room when the baby was born, nor could the father…which seems very odd to us now, but they were definitely in the waiting room pacing the floor. And the excitement must have been very high. Just think, to get two grandchildren on the same day, and they weren’t twins. That doesn’t happen very often. Now, top that off with both babies being born in the same town, in the same hospital, and you have real excitement.

It must have been interesting to the hospital staff too, because they had sisters in hospital with newborns for several days. Back then, the mom and baby stayed in the hospital for 5 days or so. I’ll bet it was the talk of the nursing staff. And for the sisters, they got to share the experience on a much closer basis than sisters usually do. They didn’t have to wait for visiting hours to see their sister’s baby, and in fact, I believe that only the dad and grandparents were allowed to visit back then, so they would have had to wait until their sister and the baby came home. Nevertheless, for the sisters, like their own son, they could easily go and see their nephew anytime they wanted to because he was probably right next to their own son, unless he was having his dinner, which would imagemean that their own son was doing the same.

Babies arriving in this world is always such a special day, and when you double that…without having twins, the day becomes even more special for the family. How wonderfully unique to be able to share the birth of your child with your sister. It adds a bond to the sisters and their families that might not have existed otherwise. Today is my cousin, Jim’s birthday and also my cousin, Michael’s birthday. I’m not sure who is the oldest, but I’m sure they will let me know as they read their story. Happy birthday Jim and Michael!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you both!!

A New Journey

JDWhen we were moving things out of my in-laws’ house, so it could be sold, I noticed how lonely the house felt. A house needs people in it, creating memories, so that it can really have…life, so to speak. When its occupants are gone, taking with them all the memories that they made there, it just feels sad, somehow. Most times when that happens, the other people who spent time in the house never get to see it when new memories are being formed and the house is filled with people again. That is not to be the case with my in-laws house, however, because our nephew, JD is buying the house.

It will be a bachelor pad, at least for JD with Grandpanow, but that’s ok. The memories that still live within the walls will continue to echo for JD and for any of us who visit him. There were many good times had there, and because some of the things that belonged to my in-laws will remain in the home, we will often be reminded of their time in the home. I think especially for JD, the memories will remain strong, as he spends time in his new home, with the memories of his grandparents.

JD used to love to go over there and share talks and laughs with his grandpa. In fact, JD has never known a time when his grandparents lived anywhere else, since he was less than a year 93old when they moved there. All of his childhood memories of visits to his grandparents are centered there. I’m sure that JD will have many moments when he feels like his grandparents are right there with him. I know I would, but it will be a warm cozy feeling, like being wrapped in a warm blanket of memories.

It seems fitting that now, as JD is turning 25, and the house needs someone to live in it, that the two of them should come together. Both of them will be starting a new life…a new journey. Today is JD’s birthday. We are glad you are buying the house. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Old Home Movies

Angry Jennifer age 3There’s just something about watching old home movies…I mean the really old ones…from when you were kids, that is not only funny, but enlightening. While watching some old home movies from Bob’s family, one thing that I have noticed is that there are lots of people who don’t know how to act when they are being filmed. Some of them get nervous or embarrassed. They try to hide from the camera. Some people even get mad about being filmed, and what I found really funny about that is that one of those people who got mad, was Bob’s sister, Jennifer!! And she was only about 3 years old at the time. Even at that young age, she didn’t like being filmed, and she was clearly telling the person behind the camera just that. She tried to go in the house, but couldn’t open the door, so she turned around and started shaking her finger at the camera, and the look on her face clearly told the story…”I am not in the mood to have you film me!!”

Brenda, on the other hand, at just 1 year old, didn’t mind being filmed at all, because she Jennifer 3 - Brenda 1was just too busy learning to walk. She toddles toward the camera with a great big smile on her face. Clearly she has no idea that she is being filmed. All she knows is that she love the camera’s operator. Like all kids who are learning to walk, Brenda takes a few unsteady steps and the plops down on the ground. The she gets back up and tries it again. At one point, Jennifer who has decided that helping her sister is more important than not wanting to be filmed, decides to help her little sister learn the walking ropes. She is learning that being filmed isn’t so bad after all, because she smiles and even poses for the camera.

A little later in the movies, the youngest child, Bob’s brother, Ron arrives. Everyone is so excited about having a baby in the family again, and everyone wants to hold him. He is passed back and forth from sibling to sibling, being a good sport about it all. Maybe that is where he got the nickname he carried for all the years I have known him…Sport. I suppose, being the youngest child, and having four older sisters, Debbie and baby Ronone might have to be a good sport just to survive, because as we all know, big sisters can be very bossy.

The children aren’t the only ones who don’t know exactly how to take the whole filming event either. Moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and even grandparents, dodge the camera, tying to hide behind anything form the house to the clothesline pole, and one person even slapped at the person trying to get her into the picture. How funny that these days we take self portraits with our cell phones, and when someone is filming a video, we start everything from posing to dancing to making faces. I guess we have come a long way since those early old home movies days.

Where Would We Be…Without Her

Fashionable in ShortsI have always thought that my Aunt Virginia was glamorous. It wasn’t that she lead a rich type of life or was a model or anything, I just thought she could have been. She was always beautiful, and dressed in pretty clothes. Even in a simple pair of shorts, she managed to look glamorous. I guess that as a little girl, you could say I always kind of wanted to be just like my Aunt Virginia. Of course, little girls always have people they look up to, but we have to make our own lives.

Aunt Virginia is my mom’s older sister. She is the second born of my grandparents’ nine children. I’m sure that was a very big responsibility. In any family, the older kids help with the younger kids. That said, you can imagine the experience Aunt Virginia had when it came to babies, and little kids. She helped with seven younger siblings. I was also the second born, but I only helped with three younger sisters. Nevertheless, I had plenty of experience, and when it came time for me to have my own kids…well, lets just say I knew how to handle babies, as well as little kids. I’d been around it all my life.

As I said, Aunt Virginia was my mom’s older sister, and I’m sure she watched out for her whenever she could. As kids get older, their siblings become friends. That was also the case for my mom and my Aunt Virginia. In fact, they were such good friends, that it was Aunt Virginia who introduced my mom to my dad. Now, you might be thinking that was a Aunt Virginiavery nice thing for her to do, and I would have to agree with you on that one. I mean, when you think about it, without my Aunt Virginia, where would my sisters and I be. I suppose you could say that my mother still would have had children, whether she married my dad or not, but those kids would not have been me or my sisters. I guess you could say that we very much owe our lives to Aunt Virginia.

Today is Aunt Virginia’s birthday. I can’t think of a better time to tell her thank you for introducing my parents, so we could be her nieces. I can’t think of a nicer way to become someone’s niece. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! I hope you have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Fire In Ranger, Texas!!

Ranger, Texas 1919Ranger, Texas had been an agricultural center, becoming a wheat producing center for the north, until a drought in 1917 hit the town crops very hard. That was when a few residents encouraged William Knox Gordon (who could be relation to Bob’s family, but I have not confirmed it) who was vice president of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, to test for oil in the area. He found oil, but the first well drilled, the Nannie Walker No. 1, was somewhat of a disappointment, as it first produced gas and only later blew in oil. Then, in October 1917 the McClesky No. 1 came in, reached a daily production of 1,700 barrels, and began a mammoth oil boomOil Well Ranger, Texas that drastically changed Ranger and Eastland County.

In the summer of 1918, my grandparents sold their homestead in Minnesota and headed south, finally settling in the town of Ranger, Texas. Like so many people, the oil boom in Ranger had drawn them in search of better times, and oil meant better times. There were many oil wells near and even in the town of Ranger during those years, and that meant that the residents could never escape the smell of oil. That is something we here in Wyoming can understand…or at least any of us who have been through the town of Midwest. You know you are getting close to Midwest, because your proximity is announced by the pungent smell of oil. I suppose if you are an oil tycoon, that might just smell like money, but to me…it smells awful.

During those years, there was a danger that the people of Ranger lived with every day. With so much drilling going on, so close and within the town and with the drought continuing, the possibility of out of control fires when an oil well came in and caught fire was a daily concern. There were several such fires, including the one on April 6, 1919, which took out 2 city blocks in the town. It is hard for me to think about how my grandmother must have felt with those fires being a daily possibility…especially after the one that happened on April 6th. Fire in Ranger, TexasMy Aunt Laura was just a little girl of 6 years when the April 6th fire hit the town. The worry of trying to get your little girl out of harms way, must have weighed heavy on my grandparents’ minds. She could be outside playing with friends, or sleeping, or any number of other reasons that could make a quick escape difficult. Nevertheless, the little family survived that constant threat of fires and after getting their fill of the Texas oil fields, returned to Wisconsin, at some point before my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.