ice cream

My grand-nephew, Matt Masterson has grown from being a multi-faceted little boy, who loved to pick on his sisters, Raelynn and Anna, but would also fiercely defend them, if anyone else picked on them. He loves his family and is very loyal to them. When his parents are working and the children are home alone, he is their protector, whether protection is needed or not. It just a part of the man in him. Raelynn is the older child, still at home. She is 16, while their half-sister, Christina is 23, and living on her own in Colorado, and younger sister, Anna is 12. In reality, they probably don’t need his protection, but they are grateful for Matt’s protective ways. He is also very protective of his mom, and takes on the “man of the house” role whenever his dad has to be out of town, or at work.

Matt is going into 8th grade this year, meaning he is in the last year of middle school. High school awaits him in just one year, but already I can see the high school student coming out in him already. It always seems to me that the last year of school levels, like elementary, middle, and high school, have the student oddly out of place among the younger students, but they would be out of place in the upper level too, I suppose. It’s all just a part of the transition from child to young adult, but I think Matt will make the transition with his usual ease.

Matt is an easy going sort of a guy, and there isn’t too much that bothers him. He like online gaming, like most kids his age. He likes hanging out with his cousins, and is good friends with his cousin Zack Spethman. Matt and Zack have been friends for their entire lives. The only thing that has changed is their size. Like most kids, they are not looking forward to summer’s end, even if school isn’t a bad thing. The boys like walking places like Cold Stone for get an ice cream treat. I can’t say as I blame them. That’s what summer’s all about, hot days and cold treats. Nevertheless, all too soon, summer will give way to Matt’s last year of middle school. I know it’s going to be a great year. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jim hugging the cousinsWhenever our cousins came to visit from Wisconsin, we always had such a great time. Hanging out in Uncle Bill’s bus, playing in the yard, playing cribbage, going for ice cream, or just hanging out with the cousins…it didn’t matter what exactly, just that they were here to visit again. We felt that way about all of our out of town cousins. In fact, the only thing that was bad about those visits was the end of them, and it always came too soon. I’m one of those people who really hates to say goodbye, especially when I know it will be for a long time. If I had my way, all those people that I love would live in the same town.

When it was time for them to begin the journey home, everyone tried to lighten the mood. We did goofy little things to make each other laugh, even though we were all sad. Of course, we had to take the pictures that last day too, because we wanted something to remember each other by, until the next time we got to see each other. There was still so much to say, and everyone wanted to talk at once, hoping to get just a few more moments with the cousins. A week just isn’t enough time to spend with your cousins. We promised to write to them more often, even though we had promised before and did for a while, and then got busy with our own lives again. I think we knew that writing wasn’t really going to happen, as we promised. Finally it was time to go, and all that was left was the hugging and waving goodbye, and the wishing that the week was just starting, instead of ending. Life seemed a little more mundane after they left. We had to think of things to do, and nothing seemed interesting now. Even the things we had done when they were here were less interesting.

The sad thing is that as we grow older, and have families of our own, sometimes those relationships are lost and become distant, because everyone is so busy. Seldom do the kids Cousins and Jimmyget together they way they did when they lived at their parent’s home. Families grow apart, and then comes the point when they almost don’t feel comfortable sitting down to talk, because they don’t know what to say to each other. They have both lived such different lives, with little in common, and it just gets awkward. Soon, it’s just easier to forgo the visits all together. Then comes the moment when the cousin or their parents pass away, and you feel bad because you have been out of touch for so long…and you feel great regret, but it is too late. I wish I had more time with all my cousins and I’m thankful for Facebook, which has reconnected so many of us virtually, and that is the next best thing to being there.

Bob, Ron & 67 MustangWhile brothers have long been known to be best buddies, and most get along pretty well as kids, it seems like that isn’t always the case when a number of years separate the two. Bob was fourteen years old when his only brother came on the scene. Sisters had dominated his life from his birth in 1954 to the birth of his brother, Ron in 1968…four sisters, to be exact. I’m sure a brother was a welcome change, still fourteen years is a great distance to overcome when it comes to being best buddies. Ron wouldn’t even be someone Bob could play with much before Bob was sixteen, and then driving and going out with friends and girlfriends would be more the things on Bob’s mind.

In most cases, all the things a teenager wants to do, when they get to the point of driving, put a quick end to the time they want to spend with their little brothers and sisters. That was not the case with Bob…at least not where his little brother was concerned. They had always been close, and still are today. Bob has always had a way with kids, and his little brother was no different, and once he is friends with someone, it takes a lot to change that. And Bob doesn’t care about their age. His little brother has always been special to him. It has always been a special relationship.

I will never forget some of the dates Bob and I went on…with his six year old brother. It was not what I would have ever expected, but found to be very sweet. Sometimes, it isn’t the normal things about a person that make the person, but rather the unusual things they do that can endear them to you…sometimes forever, as is the case with Bob and me. He just had a special quality, a kindness to others. I could tell that he could no more have hurt his brother’s feelings than he could grow wings and fly, a trait I’m sure my brother-in-law also appreciated as well.

Of course, as with any boy or man, the car they drive is a big deal, and for these brothers, cars were something they had in common, and still do. It was a bonding thing for both of them. Maybe that is why they were such good friends, and still are today.

We just got back from taking our grandsons Chris, Caalab, and Josh for ice cream. Our granddaughter, Shai couldn’t come because she had to work unfortunately. That seems like such a little thing, but when I see the faces of the Connecticut school shooting, I realize just how thankful I am that my grandchildren are here with me. So many people are hurting right now. Whether they knew anyone involved or not. Not knowing anyone involved, does nothing to stop the pain a nation feels on this day. You can’t think about it without feeling pain…pain for the parents who lost children…pain for the children and spouses who lost their mom, dad, husband, or wife…pain for friends who have lost friends…pain for a town who has lost so many of its members…pain for a nation who must watch in stunned disbelief as we go through this…again!!

We each have a tendency at a time like this to want to hold our loved ones just a little closer…to try to ease the pain that each of us feels inside. No one is immune. Everyone knows that this has happened, and no one can understand why. Why did this man decide that his life was over, and why did he feel the need to take so many with him? Questions that will never really be answered, and even if they are, the answers won’t make sense…because this act was senseless.

As I sat at Dairy Queen, enjoying the time I feel so very blessed to have, my mind drifted back to the poor families of Newtown, Connecticut, and their empty homes and arms tonight… to their broken hearts, and the nightmare they can’t wake up from, because it is real. A renewed sadness filled my heart, as well as a sense that things are very wrong in our world these days. All we can do now is pray over those with broken hearts and lives, and those who would destroy the lives of others.

My Uncle Bill is a man of many talents. He hates to see something be thrown away or junked out if it could have some value. Now, I’m not saying that he is a hoarder, because that just wouldn’t be accurate. He just sees value in things that others don’t…such as an old bus. Uncle Bill came into possession of an old bus, and spent some time fixing it up to be used as a camper for his family. And it worked quite well.

They did a lot of traveling in it, coming out many times to visit us here in Casper. We took trips around Wyoming in that bus, and it was also a favorite hang out when they were here. Uncle Bill and I used to go out there and play Cribbage, while some of the other kids played in the bus. My little sisters liked to play house, because it was a separate “house” from my family’s home. And Of course, there was the various kids who wanted to play “driving” in the bus. I remember one time when my cousin Billy was “driving” and he found out that if you take the bus out of gear on a slope, the bus will roll. Thankfully, Uncle Bill and I were playing Cribbage at the time. I never saw my uncle move so fast. He ran to the front of the bus, and put it back in gear. Then, when he stopped shaking, he calmly backed the bus back to it parking place with a boys will be boys attitude. Thankfully there were no other cars in front of us. Looking back now, it’s easy to laugh, but it wasn’t very funny then.

The trips we took in the bus were so much fun. No one had to be tied down, you could sit and the table and talk or play games, and just enjoy the freedom to move around. It was much like traveling in a train…and we all loved it. I remember Uncle Bill teasing us kids about having to lick up our ice cream if we spilled, and then when his son Jimmy did spill, and started to get down to lick it up, Uncle Bill laughed heartily and said, “Don’t lick it up!! I was just kidding!!” The relief on Jimmy’s face was just hilarious!!

The memories I have of that old bus are varied and many, too many to put here. It was a great old bus, and my Uncle Bill did an amazing job on creating a great travel bus, but more importantly he created memories. I know I will never forget them, nor will my sisters. Those were such good times.

As I have looked through some old pictures over the past few months, I came across a picture of my cousin Jimmy as a young boy, with his parents, my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill. I have been thinking about Jimmy quite a bit lately. He was such a funny guy, making all of us laugh at his antics as a child. Sadly, Jimmy’s life was cut short by Mesothelioma on February 1, 2006.

Jimmy was a boy who was full of life, and his life brought laughter to those around him. When my sister’s and I were young, and visiting my Uncle Bills family in Superior, Wisconsin, Jimmy kept things lively with his jokes and his great smile. If there was going to be trouble…and I mean mischief…you can bet Jimmy and his big brother Billy were going to be at the heart of it, with Jimmy usually leading the way.

My Uncle’s family lived just down the street from the funeral home in Superior, and of course, that meant that the Ghost Stories were sure to be a part of our visits. The boys were always trying to scare us girls with their suggestions that the dead might still walk the street, and maybe we should go check it out…right, like I’m going to go down there and have a look at the dead people who might be walking around just looking for some dumb little girl to grab, who was just stupid enough to decide to go into the funeral home…I mean, isn’t that like saying “Hey, ghost…here I am!! Come and get me!!” Yep, that sounds like a great plan to me, right…NOT!!

I remember one other time when my Uncle Bill, Jimmy’s dad had taken us to get ice cream, and apparently there had been spill problems in the past, because Uncle Bill told us kids that if we spilled in his bus/camper, he was going to make us lick it up. It took all of about 2 seconds for Jimmy to manage to spill his ice cream on the floor. He looked up at his dad, very wide eyed, and I’m sure a little queasy in the stomach, probably hoping for mercy or that maybe…just maybe, his dad had bee kidding. Well, no such luck. His dad…towering over little Jimmy, said, “Ok, lick it up.” So, Jimmy got off of his chair and started to get down on his knees, gulping, I’m quite sure, and got ready to lick it up, when my Uncle Bill boomed out, “Don’t lick it up…I was just kidding!!” Well, I don’t have to tell you how relieved Jimmy was, and before you knew it, that winning little smile was back on his face.

While I had not seen Jimmy for a number of years, I will never forget his great smile and funny ways. He was a wonderful person, and I will always remember the great times we all had as kids. When I look back into my memory files, I can still see his face, just as he was the last time he was here, and That is the way I choose to remember my cousin. Love you Jimmy!!

I remember a visit to my birthplace, Superior, Wisconsin, that my family took when I was a little girl. My Uncle Bill and his family lived up there and still do today. Uncle Bill was and is an interesting sort. He has always liked to collect things. I remember that he had a slot machine in his basement, years ago. Of course, no one was allowed to use it that wasn’t family…a guy could get into trouble otherwise. He collected guns and coins, and he is fanatical about the family history, which I suppose is how I got started writing about the good old days. Uncle Bill got me interested in my past, and my daughters, Corrie and Amy got me into blogging. Writing about the past just seemed to be a good fit for me.

As I said, Uncle Bill liked to do things a little differently. I remember going out to pick blueberries and experiencing the difference you can only get when you eat blueberries that have just been picked. It is hard to describe how amazing that taste is.

Uncle Bill was a history buff too. He has always been interested in the shipwrecks in Lake Superior. He could probably tell you about every one. When Bob and I went up to visit the year after our marriage, he told us about many of those wrecks, and how many were visible from the air. That seems odd to me considering the fact that Lake Superior is the deepest of the Great Lakes.

But, one of the most unusual things that Uncle Bill did was a complete surprise and totally delightful to all of us. We had gone for a visit, and he was going to take us out for dinner. When we got to the restraunt, it was not what we expected. It was an ice cream shop. We looked at him in amazement, and he announced that we were having an Ice Cream Supper. So, we went in and Uncle Bill said to order whatever we wanted. We had a wonderful time and supper was delicious. Uncle Bill insisted on everyone eating their fill of ice cream. So, when we were all full, Uncle Bill said, “Now…what do you want for dessert!!”

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