My father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg could build almost anything, and so it was that when the family moved 12 miles north of Casper he built the house they owned, as well as the big garage on the place they had lived prior to that. After they moved to a house on McKinley Street in Casper in May of 1989, he decided that he wanted to give the front of the house a little face lift. He had always liked the look of natural stone, so that was what he did to the lower half of the house. While I was watching the work on their house progress, I found myself thinking, “How does he know how to do all this stuff?” It looked amazing when he got it done.
I think a lot of people really liked the work he did…especially he brother, Butch Hein. Butch liked it so much in fact, that my in-laws made a special trip up to Forsyth, Montana, where Butch lives, so they could do the same kind of thing to Butch’s house. The rocks around Forsyth are quite different form the ones we have here, so Butch’s house looked very natural to the area. I assumed that the quarry, or wherever they got those rocks, must have been local, but I can’t say for sure. All I know is that any rock work he did, always looked great.
That is the kind of man my father-in-law was…always ready to lend a helping hand when it was needed. Whether it was a car that needed work, a new sink installed, or just somebody to sit at the house so a repairman or carpet layer could come when the homeowner needed to be at work, he did whatever was needed. His family has always come first, whether it was his wife and kids, or his in-laws, or his parents and siblings…they came first…and second to that, his friends. Isn’t that the kind of people you want in your life? I know it is for me.
Even during his retirement years, when he spent some time in Arizona, the people around him found out just what a talented man he was. I guess that wherever you can find or buy rocks, you can have rockwork to dress up your home, and it didn’t take very long before my father-in-law found rockwork jobs to occupy him in all his spare time. He was always a bit of a workaholic, and sitting around was not really his style. He wanted to be busy, and I suppose that is what kept him young for as long as it did. He wanted to be creative, and so he found people to put him to work…so much for retirement. He was too busy lending a helping hand.
When my nephew, Barry was a little boy, I used to get such a kick out of watching him open presents. Whether it was his birthday or Christmas made no difference, because Barry got excited!! I know, most kids do, but the looks on Barry’s face were just classic, and when his eyes lit up with pure excitement, it was impossible not to smile. For Barry, the best gifts were always trucks, but that didn’t mean that all the rest weren’t super cool too. I suppose that he initially thought that gifts were going to happen every couple of weeks, since his birthday is just two weeks before Christmas. For a little kid, that second dose of presents in such a short time could make it seem like this was going to be the new normal.
Of course, as time went by, Barry understood how it all worked, but he still got as excited as any other kid when his special day came along, or when Christmas finally arrived. The one thing he decided that he didn’t like too much was having that birthday so close to Christmas. That put all the excitement of receiving gifts in one short little time frame and then left a whole year until he got gifts again. In a way, that was a disappointment to the rest of us too, because we didn’t get to see how excited he got for a whole year either.
I can’t say that Barry still gets so excited about gifts on his birthday or Christmas, after all, he is a grown man now. Maybe he just holds that excitement inside…like we all do at one time or another. And he doesn’t have that little baby face anymore or his little boys ways, and in many ways, I miss both of those things sometimes, because like all kids, Barry grew up too fast. He has grown into a wonderful man, who is always there to lend a helping hand. He is someone you can always count on when you need something done. He still likes his trucks and other toys, but these days they are just bigger and more expensive. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day, and try to contain your excitement, ok!! We love you!!
When he was little, Christopher liked to copy those adults around him. That might mean that you would find him helping his mom with the laundry, which always included removing all the clothes from the laundry basket and climbing in himself. Or you might find him helping to babysit the younger boys. Christopher was always a helpful little boy. He was also very curious. Not only did he want to help with everything, he wanted to know about everything. It is a curious world, you know.
So no matter what Corrie or Kevin were doing, there was Christopher right in the middle of it all, lending a helping hand…even if that meant he had to crawl into the dryer completely to get the clothes out. He liked the work his parents did. It seemed like play to him, and he knew it must be something important, or his parents wouldn’t be doing it. It makes sense…right!!
Christopher, like most little kids, really just liked to mimic his parents. That is how they learn things. Kids develop their sense of self from their parents and grandparents. They are their first role models…or the lack thereof in some cases. Which is why we all need to do our best to teach them the right things to do.
And on that note, we come to what Christopher learned from his grandparents. Before Bob and I got our loungers, we had a couch with a coffee table. The only way to relax and put your feet up was to put them on the coffee table. Yes, our parents taught us not tuo put our feet up on the table, but we are grown up and this is our house right…right. We never really gave the whole thing much though for another. As time went on, we soon found out how much the things we did influenced those little people who were always watching and listening to what we said and did. One day when Christopher was over, he was relaxing with his orange juice…and, wanting to be just like Grandma and Grandpa, he decided to put his feet up on the coffee table while he relaxed. Well, as you can see, it was a bit of a stretch, but he managed to pull it off.