Posts Tagged ‘heart’
Yesterday, my dear father-in-law passed away. It was a hard day for all of us. I have been thinking back over the years that I have been a part of this family. There were so many good memories. I will never forget the first time I met my future in-laws. There is no easy way to meet your boyfriend’s parents. You are simply a nervous wreck. We were going out to their house for dinner, and once I arrived, my father-in-law, broke the ice with his teasing ways. As so many girls who have known him can tell you, his first words were about what a “pretty girl” I was. When I blushed, he knew that I would be a good one to tease. My mother-in-law immediately chewed him out for picking on me, but to that, my father-in-law simply grinned, and I knew I had made a new friend. By the end of the evening, I felt totally at home with my future in-laws.
This hard working man began working when he was just 13 years old. He worked at a ranch, milking cows before and after school. So began his working life, and he would be a hard working man for many years to come. While he was tough in many ways, when it came to his kids, he was a big teddy bear. His family was his life, and he had a soft heart when it came to them. All of his kids knew that they could call him whenever they needed wisdom concerning any situation. He always seemed to have an answer or at least an idea as to how to solve the problem. He had so much experience in so many areas, that often there was no need to call someone else to help. Even when they did need to call someone else, he probably knew someone who could do the job well and for less.
As for me…well, Dad always made me feel special. From that first meeting, until our last visit on Saturday night, his love for me was such a blessing. I felt so honored on the day he said, “You are no longer my daughter-in-law, you are my daughter.” I had the great privilege of taking care of this wonderful man since 2007. During that time I watched his brave struggle against the disease that would eventually take his life. He was not a man to complain, and he always hated to be a bother. Since we spent much time together these last few years, we became very close. His smile will always be in my memory. He was a man who returned the love he was given…in triplicate.
He had a team of caregivers, including his sons, Bob and Ron; his daughters Brenda, Jennifer, and Debbie, when she was in town; daughters-in-law, Rachel and me; his grandchildren, Corrie, Amy, and Barry, and Machelle, when she was in town; and great grandchildren, Chris, Shai, Caalab, and his special caregiver, Josh, who took extra special care of his great grandpa; his sister-in-law, Margee, and her granddaughter, Stasi, who did whatever we asked of them; and of course, his wife, Joann, who watched over him carefully, even though she had Alzheimer’s Disease, and was unable to fully understand what was wrong. There were so many others who showed him kindness and love in these last days, and their love and kindness was not lost to him…the doctors, nurses, and aides at Wyoming Medical Center; Dr Schoeber, Dr Dowell, Dr Hussieno, Dr Wilkinson, and their kind staff members; the staff at Sharon’s Home Health Care, especially Deb and Sherry; Angie, his respite caregiver; and the nurses and aides and Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, which he loving called the Sheep Herders Place…he had some good times there. I want to thank each and every one of you. Your kindness to him will never be forgotten. We love you Dad, and we’ll always miss you.
I wasn’t there when my future Uncle Jim met my Aunt Ruth, of course, because I wasn’t even born yet, but I can imagine how he must have felt, because he had found his one and only. All it took was one look at the two of them together, and you could see just how deep their love was. There would never be anyone else for either one of them. They were married on September 15, 1946, and began a life full of love, laughter, and later, a desire to see new places and find their special paradise.
After living several places, they found that special place in the mountains near Newport, Washington. There, with their family around them, they settled down in their last home. Grief had crossed their paths while living in California, when their middle child, and oldest son, Larry was killed in an accident. Washington would become a retreat…a way to get beyond their grief and feel alive again, in the beauty of nature. They had always loved the great outdoors, and now it would become a healing balm for their hearts too.
When my Aunt Ruth passed away, on May 11, 1992, Uncle Jim’s heart was broken, and maybe his spirit a little bit too. The love of his life was gone from him for now. She existed only in his future now…in Heaven, waiting for him to join her again. For many years now, Uncle Jim has been living in the past…the one thing that the Alzheimer’s Disease couldn’t rob him of. He could see his lovely bride…his one and only…beautiful as ever, always beside him, reminding him of the wonderful life they had shared and the wonderful future they would share soon.
Uncle Jim passed away yesterday at the good old age of 91. He lived a happy life but his body was tired and it was time for him to leave this life and start the next one. He was surrounded by his loving family, and the wonderful nurses and CNAs who had cared for him for the past 7 years, and who will miss him terribly. His joyful voice, singing as he wandered through the halls of the nursing home, is silenced now, no more to delight those who loved to hear it. His smiling face no more to brighten the day of all who saw it. And there will be more than one nurse who will miss being chased around the home by this little old man saying he loved them.
His antics done here on Earth, Uncle Jim has gone home, to begin his future in Heaven. He was met by his one and only, Aunt Ruth, his son Larry, and all the family who had gone before him. He is free again, with his body and mind intact. The disease that had kept him bound all these years, no longer has its hold on him. He is free, healthy, happy, and surrounded by the loved ones who were awaiting his arrival. We love you Uncle Jim, and while we will miss you very much, we are thankful that you are safe in God’s loving arms. We will see you again very soon.
My dad was always a cowboy at heart. In his younger days, he rode horses, worked on the family farm, and did all the other cowboy type things. He listened to country music, and liked old westerns on television, or attend the rodeo. But, the one thing that that, in my opinion showed his cowboy style the best, was the cowboy hat that he so often wore. You almost never saw him in any other hat on vacation, and he wore it if they went someplace that it would fit in for. I’m quite sure he hated not being able to wear it to the places that it just wasn’t appropriate.
Dad always took such good care of his hat, and you could always tell that he was one of the good guys, because his hat was always white, and of course, the good guys in any old western, wore a white hat. I suppose that was like the football teams of today. If all the helmets looked alike, how would you know which team was yours. So we always knew that Dad was a good guy, because he wore a white hat.
Oh, Dad had other hats too, and in fact I can vividly see him is one of the many baseball type hats he had, and of course, there was the hat that was a tool of his trade…the hard hat. I clearly remember him in those, but I never felt like they fit his personality like the cowboy hat did. Dad was always the guy I thought of when someone said cowboy. He wore the Bolo ties, and the western belt and vest, and what cowboy would be complete without the cowboy boots, but none of that said cowboy as much as the cowboy hat.
When I think of my dad, I have to say that one of my favorite pictures is of Dad on a horse with his white cowboy hat. He was doing one of his favorite things…taking his family on a vacation. They had taken a horseback ride on a trail, and Dad looked so happy. He was in his element, in the mountains on vacation, and riding a horse. Just what a cowboy would want to be doing.
As much as I dislike snow, and the inevitable wind that always seems to come with it, there are times when, if I have just a moment of free time, and if I stop long enough, I can look at the snow and possibly see something beautiful. It’s hard to do that though…slow down…look around…stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Everything in life these days demands a hectic schedule. Every day I try to cram everything I need to do into a day that doesn’t have enough moments in it, let alone hours.
I had just such a moment on New Years Eve. I had the day off, and Bob had to work. I still had my caregiving duties, but I had a little bit of quiet time late in the morning. I took a look outside, and there it was. The wind had quit. The snow was a little bit windblown, but smooth in many ways. The sun had come out and was shining brightly on the snow. The air was cold…frigid really, but it didn’t matter. I stepped outside, and looked at the snow. The sun was so bright, it made my eyes water, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
The snow was beautiful, but looking deeper I saw what the snow tries to hide from those who just casually glance at it. So often we miss the deep inner beauty of the snow. There in front of my eyes I saw the riches of the snow…the gems that it had been hiding…snow diamonds. “What”, you might ask, “are snow diamonds?” Well, they are not just ice crystals sparkling in the sunshine. They are much more than that. They are the little glimmer of hope that no matter how heavy our burdens are…no matter how tough our job or our life is…there are still beautiful things around us that can lift our spirits, brighten our days, soothe our souls, and mend the brokenness that comes from a life that is lived far too often in a hurry.
As I stood there in the crisp cold air, looking once more at the beauty that had been pointed out to me by my Lord, in an effort to show me the things He has made that I might have missed, I felt a warmth inside me…a smile that started in my heart and after making a brief stop in my consciousness, it came to rest on my face. I closed my eyes so I could fix the image in my memory. With their beauty, the snow diamonds had completed their appointed work. They had lifted this caregiver’s spirit…brightened my day…and made me feel like I could breathe again.
My niece, Susan was the last of the nieces on Bob’s side of the family, and in fact there would not be another girl born in the family for 15 years. That, in itself, was surprising, because up until that time, the family had been mostly girls. You could say that we were very used to little girls and their ways. Susan was unique in some things, such as her imaginary friends. Yes, many people have imaginary friends as children, but she was the first, and I believe the only one in our family to have them, and we all thoroughly enjoyed their antics.
Through the years, I have watched Susan go from being a cute litle girl, who always made us laugh, to a beautiful woman, wife, and mother to her 2 daughters. Susan has a sweet spirit, and a bit of a shy smile, but inside her lives a heart of gold. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like, since she lives in Powell, and in many ways I feel like those of us who live here have missed out on all the good things Susan is.
One thing I didn’t know about Susan is the outdoorsy girls she is. When I look through her pictures, I see her camping with her family and fishing with her little Kaytlyn, which is quite funny, since Kaytlyn was not impressed with the fish they caught. And I can’t blame you Kaytlyn. I like to eat fish, and I don’t mind fishing, but someone else needs to put the worm on and take the fish off…that is just a rule!! But Susan took it all in stride, and Kaytlyn made it through that horrible ordeal with that monster from the water. Whew!!
The years have flown by so fast Susan!! I remember when you were just a newborn, and now you have children who aren’t even babies anymore. It just doesn’t seem possible. Today is Susan’s birthday, and we want to wish her the very best of birthdays. Have a great day, Susan!! We love you!!
When you marry a man who has a daughter, you aren’t marrying just the man, but rather the family that he really is. That is what Dustie did when she married my nephew, Rob. He came as a package, with his daughter, Christina. It is hard to step into a situation where you are expected to help with a step-child, but you have to be careful not to step on the child’s mother. It was a challenge for sure, but Dustie has done a good job, and she and Christina have a good relationship now. Yes, there are the occasional arguments, but for the most part they get along well. Many step-relationships are never good, so that is an amazing feat. I think the ability to blend and then add to a family unit is a skill that is learned, but you have to be willing to compromise and to open your heart to this child.
Dustie has opened her heart to Rob’s daughter, and she has also made her place in our entire family. She helps out with anything we ask her to do. I can’t count the number of times she has gone for groceries so her mother-in-law, my sister Cheryl could take care of the things she needs to at my mom’s house. There were many times that Dustie saved the day, just by taking that one thing off of our hands. When you are a caregiver, you need lots of help in many areas, and Dustie was always willing to provide that help.
Dustie is a wonderful girl, with a sweet spirit. She is a good step-mom to Christina, and a good mom to her own three children with Rob, Raelynn, Matthew, and Anna. They are all very blessed to have her in their lives, as are we, the entire family. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! We all love you and hope your day is as beautiful as you are.
On Saturday, at a baby shower for her sister, I watched my niece, Chantel struggle with the fact that her daughter is going to be going to college in Montana, and it is a 10 hour drive, which will make weekend visits impossible. As the tears flowed, triggered by advise she was reading to her sister on raising kids, my heart just ached for her. The game was meant to be fun, but for Chantel, well, it just made her wish she could turn back the clock. She and her daughter have always been close and the thought of her moving so far away leaves an emptiness that can’t be filled. Yes, they will Skype and there may be a trip or two before the weather gets to where that is dangerous, and they will fly Siara home for Christmas, but that still leaves a lot of days without her daughter…her baby being in her everyday life.
That is a tough place to be, but unfortunately it is also one of the seasons of life. My thoughts went back to some of the seasons of life that have torn at my heart. Probably one of the first ones that I remember, and was when my sister, Cheryl who is Chantel’s mother was moving to New York. We were also faced with the fact that we would be able to see her, maybe once a year, and the days leading up to that move were filled with quite a few teary moments too. Then there came my sister Caryl’s move to San Diego, and while that move was easier in terms of the fact that we had been down this road before, it was still very hard. We are simply a family of people who stay close to home. We are all in Wyoming at this point, except one nephew, Allen, soon to be stationed in Japan for 2 years and one niece, Lindsay in college in South Dakota, and now Siara in Montana. We just like to be close to each other.
I remembered my own seasons, which while not as hard were nevertheless, hard at the time. Corrie getting married. That first child leaving home moment is a hard one, even when they don’t move away, and then there is a semi-funny moment, when Amy went to pre-school, and was so excited that she left me at the door. I was the whiny one who had to go in the room and kiss her goodbye, hahaha.
My thoughts wandered back to Chantel, and her breaking heart, and while I knew that this moment felt to her like she would never feel better, I knew also, that she would. The sting of those feelings eases with time, and while a dull, lonely ache hurts in its own way, it is easier than the intense pain of the moment. My guess is that Siara, like most of our family, will return to Casper after college, and the season for leaving will be for Chantel, a distant memory.
When my niece, Andrea was a little girl, she was a sweet, smiley girl who had cute little blond curls. When Andrea was little, my sister, Caryl and her then husband, Warren lived in several other states, because he was in the Navy. We didn’t get to see much of Andrea or her brother, Allen, but when Warren had to go on the long cruises required by the Navy, Caryl would often come back to Casper for a few months to a year at a time. One time, I was babysitting Andrea while her mom worked at the hospital, and I had to go bowling, so Andrea went with me. She was such a sweetheart. She sat quietly and watched me bowl. I guess it fascinated her, because she watched every frame, and she was only about 2 or 3 years old at the time.
As Andrea grew up, she found that she had a heart for the disabled and down trodden. She never liked seeing people who were unable to defend themselves, being picked on. When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to work with a group of developmentally disabled children, and she found that it was her calling. She decided that she would love to go into counseling or working with the developmentally disabled citizens in some other capacity. It is a noble calling, and one that few people take to. It takes a very special person to go into that field, but I believe that Andrea will be good at it, or any other career she chooses. And the people she works with will find themselves quite blessed because of her skills.
On June 28, 2005, Andrea gave birth to her son Christopher. He has and always will be the most important thing in her life. He is the love of her life, and they have so many great times together. They are always goofing off together, and I really love being able to see the silly pictures of the two of them. They don’t live here, so we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, but she takes pictures of them often, and posts them a lot. Christopher, nicknamed “Topher” has begun to follow in his mother’s footsteps, at least on the funny side of life. And from the looks of things, the funny side of life is a great place to be. Happy birthday Andrea and Happy Mother’s Day too. I hope you have a great day. Love you!!
It seems like every family has a comedian or two in it. My grandson, Caalab definitely falls into that category. He is constantly coming up with new ways to be silly and to make other people laugh. And believe me, he is pretty good at it. From the time he was little, he could tell a joke and never forget the punch line. Or he would make up his own funny stuff, and it was really funny.
The other day, he was helping me scan pictures onto my computer, and as we were finishing up for the day,he said, “Would it be ok if I scanned my face?” Now we have all seen the jokes where people copy their face on a copier, but I hadn’t seen a scanned face before. As crazy as it sounded, I couldn’t exactly see a problem with it, so he scanned his face several times.
Of course, he had to try several different looks to see what might be the funniest, and then he wanted to make sure the scans were saved…for some future joke, I’m quite sure. As I have looked over pictures for my blogs, I have come across these scanned pictures of my silly grandson, and laughed about them every time. It is amazing to me that even without trying, he has figured out a way to make me laugh.
The really funny thing is that once Caalab has created the funny thing, the moment for him is over, and he can walk away, leaving you with the memory of the funniness. He will now save it in the archives of his mind, bringing it up at some later date to see your reaction over and over again. The cool thing is that he doesn’t overdo the whole thing either. It just comes up once in a while and then as quickly as it appeared, it is gone again. He’s good that way.
Our comedian grandson will always be that way, because being a comedian is as much a part of him as his great smile. It is part of his wiring, if you will. Everyone is crafted differently. We all have our strong suits, and our weak ones. Everyone excels at something. And most of us have several things we are really good at. Caalab is no exception. He plays the guitar…and is getting quite good, he loves dogs…of every kind, he has a good heart…filled with kindness, and he is a funny guy…a comedian. Yes, Caalab is always coming up with some new and very funny way to make people laugh. You might say he is…Scanning the Possibilities!!
Every once in a while, you find a person who seems to be living in the wrong time. My Aunt Ruth always seemed like that to me. Don’t get me wrong, she functioned very well in the time she lived in, but her true calling was always in the wild. She thrived on it. She was at home the most when she was out in the woods and especially with her beloved animals. She loved the land, and everything that went with it. She probably should have lived in the old west, when the pioneers were making their way to the wide open spaces where they could get land.
Sure, she did just fine when she lived in the cities too, but her heart always seemed to yearn for the land. She reminded me of the women of the west, for whom the land seemed to almost run in their veins. It was a part of them and they were a part of it. When her family moved to the mountains of Washington, she finally found the place of her heart.
When my Aunt Ruth was a girl, her family spent a lot of time at the family farm, when her mother taught her to garden and cook and live off the land. And all of her beloved animals where there too, and she loved them all. Animals of all kinds. She had several dogs that always seemed to hang around her, because animals can tell if you have a kind heart. She was a natural on a horse, and was able to ride like a pro, of course, again, the horses knew that she was the kind of person they wanted to be around. They loved her as much as she loved them.
There are people who seem to be living in the wrong time. They love everything about a past era, and they seem to be so suited for a different time. And yet, here they are, in this time and this place, because what era we are born in is simply not our choice. And maybe they don’t even think about the fact that they seem more suited to another era, but it is something that can be obvious to those around them. That is how my Aunt Ruth always appeared to me. I had never known someone who so loved the land…the woods…the animals…gardening, growing things out of her precious earth. But that was my Aunt Ruth…a beautiful face, a loving heart, in an era where she seemed a bit out of place, because she was more of a pioneer spirit. And that is what she will always be to me.