Posts Tagged ‘life’

What Would I Do Without You Girls

Bertha & Elsa School DaysDuring the twenty six long years when my great grandmother, Henriette Albertine Hensel Schumacher was confined to a wheelchair with debilitating arthritis, her husband, my great grandfather took care of her with the help of his children…especially my great aunts, Bertha and Elsa who gave up the hope of marriage and a family in their young years, for the love of their parents and with and understanding of their need. Because my great grandmother was only fifty years old when she was struck with this disease, her youngest daughters, Bertha and Elsa were only 11 and 8 years old. Those girls would barely remember a time when they were not caregivers for their mother, and later for their father too. The time went by so quickly, and suddenly they looked back and the time for having a family was long past for them.

I don’t think that most people, or at least most of those who have never been a caregiver, have any idea what a monumental job it is to care for someone. It takes a willingness to give up your own desires, hobbies, activities…basically your life, to help someone else who is not in a position to help themselves. And, it isn’t always the person who needs the care that is the most helped, but rather their spouse, who has been trying to handle it themselves, and trying to figure out what has happened to their strength, their ability to handle everything in their Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2life, and how they could have come to a place where their only hope lies in the strength of their children, who still have the advantage of youth’s strength and energy. This was the place my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher found himself in, as the years passed and he came to the understanding that he would have to lean heavily on his two youngest daughters to keep things going.

I have to wonder if great grandpa felt a lot of guilt over what his daughters gave up in life to help him. He was such a loving, caring person, who had always been able to take care of all the needs of his family, and he just could not do this alone. He simply had no choice but to rely on them for help. He was getting older, and he was getting tired. I’m sure Bertha and Elsa would have had it no other way. These were their parents, and they loved them. Still, they never forgot the day that their dad said, “What would I do without you girls?” I know from my own experiences as a caregiver, that while you don’t need to have the patient constantly saying “thank you”, there is something to be said for hearing that your hard work has positively effected their lives. They were both rewarded in later years with wonderful husbands, and even thought it was for a Bertha & Arthur Hallgren and Elsa & Frank Lawrenceshort time they were blessed in that way too in the end.

In my years as a caregiver, I have had the opportunity a number of times to hear or be told that without my help, they couldn’t have stayed in their homes this long, and it does make you feel good about your work. Nevertheless, like my great aunts, I know I would do the work whether the praise came or not, because it truly is about making their lives better, and not about the praise I received. It’s all about the love I have for those I care for. I’m very proud of my great aunts, that they did what they needed to do to help their parents, and someday, I’ll have the chance to tell them that myself.

Her Faith Intact

Little JennyAs our children grow into adulthood, it can be difficult to look at them in this new light. Sometimes, it takes much longer to realize that they are grown adults than perhaps it should take. It isn’t that they are immature, its just that we can’t get past the picture of that child that has lived in our minds all these years. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own children either. Nieces and nephews can seem like they just shouldn’t be grown adults…and yet they are. That’s the way I feel about my niece, Jenny. As a girl, Jenny was a teeny little princess type with a cute little smile. She rarely took anything seriously, but rather just liked to have fun. I know, pretty typical of a little girl. Yes, she was typical of little girls, but Jenny was going to become something  different…a faith filled woman.

Now, Jenny is grown and has a family of her own. Somehow, it has finally hit me I think, what a very special woman she is. She has been through so many things in her lifetime, and yet the woman I see before me is strong and charming at the same time. She doesn’t let the sadness or problems she facesLove that baby, define who she is, but rather turns to God to lead her everywhere she goes. As a teenager, like most teenagers, she just didn’t seem like she would have become this strong faith-filled woman, but now, here she is. It is an amazing transformation.

I think that you can tell what a person is really made of as you watch them walk through the trials in this life. Some people are broken by the trials, and some stand firm in their beliefs, and strong in their faith. Nevertheless, you wish there was a way to keep them from going through any trials at all, because you love them.  You can’t protect them from everything they will face in this world, but you can equip them with the necessary tools to see them through the trials of life…namely God. Now, as I see Jenny posting on Facebook about how happy she is to be going to church to worship the Lord, it makes me feel very proud of how much she has grown in the Lord.

The person Jenny is today is a direct result of the prayers of her mother. My sister, Cheryl, like God Answers Prayersthe rest of my sisters, my parents, and I, have prayed over our children. I can’t imagine trying to walk through this world without prayers being said over the journey, nor can anyone in the rest of my family. Jenny too, has learned that life must be handled with prayer, and that while sorrows may come, God still has a plan for you, and that miracles still happen today.  Those prayers brought Steve into her life, so they could walk the road of faith hand in hand. Jenny knows that God really does still answer prayer today, and when He heals your broken heart, it is in the most wonderful way. And she knows that while sorrows come, God will restore what is missing in their lives, back to them again. Today is Jenny’s birthday. While life has not always been easy for her…Jenny has come through it all, her faith intact and her joy complete, because she has her miracle. I’m very proud of her. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a blessed day!! We love you!!

I Called Him Jimbo

CCI12272013_0009CCI12272013_0010aLately, my cousin, James Jay Spencer has been on my mind quite a bit. He passed away seven years ago today. Jim was a happy, smiley little boy, whose life ended far too soon, after he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. It had been some time since we had seen Jim, and I really do regret that, because my cousin, Jim was a great guy, and I loved him very much.

During the time of Jim’s illness, Uncle Bill naturally focused on the time he had left with Jim. They spent as much time together as they could. In the last few years of his life, Jim went to see his dad every day, something that pleased Uncle Bill very much. They would do lots of things together…or nothing but sit and talk. It didn’t really matter. They shared a number of interests, making them very good friends. Losing a child, no matter how old, is a devastating event in a parent’s life, and one that they never really get past. It is always there, just under the surface…a bittersweet memory that can be hard to talk about, and easy to cry over.

As a little boy, Jimmy loved to play in the vacant lot across the street from their house. The neighborhood kids played there in the summer, but in the winter, it became an ice skating rink. The kids who had skates skated, and the ones who didn’t like my cousin Jim, just took a running slide on the ice. Jim quickly grew to love the ice. One day when he was about 4 years old, he came running into the house, and when his dad asked if he had been skating, he said “No, I’ve been swiding on my boots!” Soon, his love of the ice turned into a love of hockey. At first, his team couldn’t seem to win a game, but Jim always said the same thing, “We’re gonna win this one, Dad.” As time went on, the team did win and Jim got to be a great hockey player, in spite of the fact that he wasn’t real tall. Then, he passed that love of hockey onto his son, Cody who was a great player too.

Uncle Bill and Jim shared more than a love of sports. They understood each other. Jim’s loss was devastating to Uncle Bill. His mind was already slipping, and the memories of the past were quickly CCI12272013_0009aCCI12272013_0012becoming all he had left…his children and his family history. And now, his youngest child was gone. He wrote the things he remembered of Jim’s life…the precious memories…the thoughts and feelings…all the accomplishments…all the things they had done. He set Jim’s place in the family history, and at the end of it all, he finished with the words that were the sweetest to his tired memory, “I called him Jimbo. He called me Daddio.”

Forgotten Dancer

The Last DanceAs our parents get older, and less able to do the same things they used to when they were younger, and we come to expect less and less of them, and sadly sometimes we include them less in things. It’s not because they don’t want to be included, because they do, but because we don’t think they can do things anymore. As the new year approached, many people were at parties, and many of their parents were at home. Of those that included their parents, and were at a place where they could dance, I have to wonder how many made sure that their parents got to dance. Sometimes, it is harder to pull that off, and all too often the kids just don’t think about it. Still, when that forgotten dancer gets the chance to dance again, it lifts their spirit so much. I got to see that exact thing happen last year at my mom’s New Years Eve party, when her new grandson, by marriage, Jason Sawdon took Mom out on the dance floor and they danced.

Since my Dad’s passing, we had not thought about getting Mom out on the dance floor. Since her knee injury, she has used a walker, and it would have been very difficult for her to dance. Nevertheless, Jason would have none of that. He got Mom, his new grandmother, out on the dance floor and filled in for our dad for that special New Years dance that Mom and Dad always shared. It was such a precious moment, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. It occurred to me that we had inadvertently left Mom out of part of the festivities, leaving her…a forgotten dancer. It wasn’t that we intended to do that, but more that we didn’t think about it. Dad had always had their special dance with her, and he had gone home.

I think that it’s easy to look at that situation and accept that a part of someone’s life might be Jason dancing with Mom 1-1-13over, when you are very close to that situation. We girls, being daughters and therefore not thinking like a man might think that was the case, and even the sons-in-law and grandsons who were there at the time of my Dad’s passing, could not see what Mom might need. We had watched with tears in our eyes, as they danced what turned out to be their last dance, because we were so grateful that they had the opportunity again. When Dad was gone on the next New Year’s Day, we thought her dance days were over. What Jason saw was a different need, and maybe Jessi gave him the idea…I don’t know, and I have not asked, because our forgotten dancer got to dance again, and that was all that mattered.

Getting Reacquainted

PamPam is the oldest of my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill’s three children, and their only girl. Each of their children were special in their own right. I always thought of Pam as an elegant looking girl. She and my sister, Cheryl had a way about them that I had always wished I had. I don’t know if it was about being older and more sophisticated, or what, but I knew that it was what I wanted to be like, but never felt like I was…at least not until I was much older, and it didn’t matter anymore.

Of course, Pam was much more than that to her little brothers. As the big sister, she knew all the fun stuff to do when they were little boys. I’m sure CCI10072013_0060 (2)that as they grew, she wished they would leave her alone…as all big sisters do, but when they were little, she was the one they loved to hang around. She has always had a great smile, and she could always make them laugh when she played with them. They were very blessed to have her.

When Pam and her husband, Mike came out for a visit last summer, we all had a chance to get reacquainted. It was such a lovely visit. We had not seen Pam for a long time, because we all let life get in the way. How sad is that? But with Facebook, hopefully we can stay better in touch with each other now.

Pam is an elementary school teacher, teaching 3rd grade right Mike & Pamnow, but plans to retire soon. We hope that might mean that she and Mike can come back out and visit for a little longer this time. The little visit we had really just brought with it an appetite for more time with this wonderful cousin. We talked and laughted about the old days, and caught up with the things going on in our lives these days. I could have talked with them for hours, and really hated to see them leave. And, I look forward to the next time we can get together. Today is Pam’s birthday. Happy birthday Pam!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

 

Wisdom From My Big Sister

Cheryl and CarynTo every little girl who has a big sister, she is most likely the first person she looked up to. Big sisters are wise, because they have done so much in this world. They can show you all the cool things that they have had the opportunity to see in their lives. They show you the ropes, and they are there for you through thick and thin…even if you fight occasionally in those early years. When it comes down to it they would fight any foe, bully, or even and friend…if they came between them and their little sister. That was and is the kind of friend I have in my big sister, Cheryl. She always seemed so much more sophisticated than I was. And still does to this day. I don’t know how she does it, but she just has that something about her. With all she has done with her life, I find myself feeling very proud that she is my sister.

I suppose there are many younger sisters who feel the same way about their big sisters. I mean, big sisters always seem to have the answers, all the cool friends…not that you get to hang out with them, all of the cool clothes…while you wear hand me downs, and they get to do so much more than you get to do. Still, sometimes, they give you a little bit of their time, and you get to bask in the warmth of being with that person who is so much cooler than you are. You get to go do things together…like exploring in the back yard, or playing with the cool toys they have. Your life is perfect, simply because that cool big sister gave you a few minutes of their time.

It is at this point in time that you really get a full understanding of how much your big sister loves you. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they really want you to just stay Love my sisterSistersout of the way. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they want you to leave their toys alone. Those thoughts fade into a distant memory. You get to hang out with the wisest, coolest person you know. They get to teach you from all the wisdom of their years…even if there are only 2 years between you, and you are only 6 months old at the time. I guess that wisdom isn’t nearly as important as the love your big sister has for little old you.

Young Workers

Young WorkersIn years gone by, most farmer’s children worked on the farms of their parents. Many still do, but the way they worked has change quite a bit. Back in the old west and beyond, the fields were plowed on foot using team of horses or oxen to assist in pulling the plow through the hard ground. It has hard work, and usually resulted in the blistering of hands that were not used to it. In those days, the women didn’t usually work the farms, unless there simply was no other choice, and women with calloused hands were looked down upon and thought to be…well, not really a true lady…at least, not by Eastern standards. They just didn’t understand what it took to build the West. Many times, people moved out West with the promise of a homestead, and 5 years to prove the land. Money was scarce, and you did what you had to do…including setting your children to the task of helping out on the farm.

It is my opinion that the way things were done in the old West better trained the children for adulthood. I have watched so many kids go through life without having to shoulder any responsibility, and then continue on in life in the same way. Some becoming “professional students” so that they won’t have to get a job, while their parents pay their way. It’s a sad, sad situation, and one the parents find themselves having trouble getting out of.
Break Time
The kids in the old West understood that their help was needed or the family was not going to make it. School became a luxury and one that often ended after the eighth grade, if not before. Their time was needed elsewhere. Things have changed dramatically since then. Farm equipment has made the work on the farm much easier, and the children aren’t needed to the degree that they used to be. That is a good thing in that more kids finish school.They also have time to just be kids these days. I’m still not sure which is better…or maybe there is no better…just different.

Deputy Prankster

Lynn CookOur brother-in-law, Lynn is an all around funny guy. He loves to play practical jokes on people, and always has. Add to that his sheer size…he’s 6’6″…and you have little chance of escaping his teasing if he wants to make sure you stay put for it. It could be pure torture, but since it was all meant in fun, we forgave him. Lynn was always a bit of a show off, and liked it when he could beat other people at things. I can’t say that I blame him, really, since it is fun to get attention.

For a number of years Lynn was a deputy sheriff in Natrona county, which included Midwest and Casper, and was a perfect occupation for Lynn, since he was an MP in the service. I guess locking up the bad guys was right up his alley. During the time he was a deputy, his favorite thing was to pull his friends over…just to talk. Of course, he turned on the lights on his patrol car so that everyone thought they had been pulled over for a ticket. What a way to get embarrassed…makes me thankful that I didn’t know him during those years.

These days, Lynn is retired and spends his time camping with his wife, my sister-in-law, Debbie, and being grandpa to his two grandsons and two granddaughters. I’m quite sure he still picks on them as much as he can, and of course, they love it. But, he also spends time showing them the ropes in lawn care, camping, and life, because that is what Goofy Lynn Cookretirement is all about…isn’t it? Lynn pretty much likes to camp near their home, because during his years of being an over the road truck driver, he got his fill of long distance travel. I’m sure that isn’t a bad thing, since that keeps him close to his girls, Machelle and Susan, and, of course, the grandkids…which every grandparent knows is really important.

Today is Lynn’s birthday, so if you know him and have a chance, you really should play a practical joke on him, along with that happy birthday wish. I mean, seriously…it’s is about time someone pulled one over on him. Happy birthday Lynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Lessons From My Grandmother

img426I never really had the chance to know my dad’s mom, because she died when I was just a little over 2 months old, but looking through an old autograph book that belonged to her, I found…between the lines written there…a few lessons passed down to me from her. They were lessons taught by the girl she was, to the granddaughter she only briefly knew. It’s funny the things you can learn from words that the teacher didn’t even write. I think that might be because the things that people say or write to you show to a degree the type of person you are. People naturally don’t want to hurt the feelings of their friends, so they try to agree with their friend’s beliefs, or they are careful around them. That was the kind of person my grandmother was. People respected her and wanted to live up to her standards. I like that. Oh, I know that those people might have just said that because it was her, and not meant a word, and I know that many of the autographs were the poetry of that day, and this, in some cases, but it seemed important that she like them and respect them.

One of the things I know about my grandmother from hearing about her all my life is that she was a hard working woman. My grandfather worked for the railroad, and he was away much of the time. That left the running of the farm and the everyday life of the kids to her. She never even flinched. She saw what needed to be done, and she did it. She showed her children the way they should do things, and they all turned into respectable and responsible people. Of course, I realize that the way kids turn out is not totally up to their Anna Louise Spencerparents, because the influences of the world are there too, but much of what they learn and live, at least when they are young, is from their parents.

As her birthday approaches on August 3rd, it occurs to me that she would have been 126 years old…impossible I know, but it tells me that the lessons of my grandmother really never become out dated. If we stand by our values, and let others know that we stand by our values, they will respect us and our values. If we compromise our values, others will know that we are fake. My grandmother was not fake. She was the kind of person that people wanted to be like. That is a great honor. And her friends felt honored to know her.

Life With My Best Friend

Caryn and Bob share a laughFor as long as I have known my husband, Bob, he has been a person who loves to laugh, and so loves a good joke and loves to tease. Of course, I have been the recipent of much of his teasing, and so can attest to his teasing personally, and that was ok, since I was raised in a teasing household too. I’m not talking about mean teasing that leaves lasting scars, but rather, practical jokes and other funny stuff. People who have never been around playful teasing are really missing out if you ask me.

In our more that 38 years together, Bob and I have shared many a laugh. It has made our life rich in so many ways. I believe that a house filled with laughter is the best kind home to live in, and teasing is a big part of that. Life can get so serious at times, and if there is laughter in the home, it lightens the mood and makes the tough times so much easier to bare.
Bridge on the Trail
Bob can be so funny sometimes, and yet, it hasn’t just been the laughter that has made our lives rich. We have so many things in common, and we love being in each other’s company. There is nothing quite as amazing as spending the rest of your life with your best friend, sharing all the great times that life has to offer. Hiking is our main activity of choice. It is our way of getting away from it all and spending quality time together. Our hikes always include laughter and joking, along with sharing our hope, dreams, and plans for the future. They also include, picture taking, because many of the beautiful places we hike are begging to have their picture taken.

Pictures are a big part of the memories we have from our times together. They I love looking back on all the great shots I’ve taken of the many special places our hikes have At Harney Peaktaken us. From places right around home to hikes in the Black Hills, and along the Grand Canyon, we have seen so many wonderful sites on foot. I have been amazed at how far our feet have taken us.

This life with my friend has turned out to be the most wonderful journey that we could ever have taken. Our dreams of seeing wonderful places…places most people never see. Places that don’t cost thousands of dollars, and yet they are worth billions of dollars to me…because they are ours. Our footsteps on the many trails we have hiked have made this life with my best friend the best it could have been.