love

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My nephew, Matt Miller actually joined our family…officially, on August 14, 2021, when he married my niece, Michelle Stevens. While that was the official date, Matt has really been part of our family much longer. Matt and Michelle actually met in middle school. At that point, they became friends, but neither of them knew the future God had planned for this friendship. God planned for their friendship to grow into something so much deeper. As time went on, they knew that theirs was to be love and friendship, not just friendship. Their wedding this summer was the culmination of their years of loveship.

These days, Matt and Michelle are working hard and saving their money, because it is their dream to buy a house on a piece of land. Matt wants a large shop where he can work on things and just tinker around. He loves working on things like vehicles, and if they have land, I’m sure a riding lawnmower will follow. Michelle is so proud of her husband, because he visualizes a plan, and works hard to bring it to pass. The long shifts at the coal mines are not easy, and have sometimes meant that he and Michelle don’t see each other for two or three days, because of their shift differences. I get that too, because my own husband worked in the uranium mines. It tough of them and it makes it kind of lonely for them too. Nevertheless, Matt wants the very best for his wife and future kids, and their dream is land, so that is what he is going to do. Matt has recently really gotten into snowmobiling this year too, so I’m sure his shop will include tinkering on the snowmobiles that they will most likely own soon.

Of course, no man can work all the time, and hunting allows Matt to have fun and provide meat for the family table. Matt and his dad, love to go hunting, fishing, and they share a love of guns. Matt and his dad went bow hunting for elk this year, and both got their elk. That is so uncommon. Usually one or both will have to go hunt with a rifle in order to get their elk too. Game animals are elusive, you know. It was really fun for them to succeed in getting their elk with a bow. I have no idea how to shoot an arrow with a bow…much less have enough skill to actually bag an elk with a bow. That is really something to be super proud of. It’s really been a great year for Matt. Now, he and Michelle are really looking forward to all the good things God has in store for them in the future. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The last two weeks of August were spend visiting our daughter, Amy Royce and her family. In my thoughts throughout the visit was the fact that their 26th wedding anniversary was just around the corner. I found myself thinking that it was amazing that they could have been married 26 years already. I also found myself thinking about just how happy and connected they are with each other. They are loving their life and their home, and it was a pleasure to watch them together. Their marriage has been blessed with two beautiful children and now the family is growing to include Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster…a beautiful girl and a great blessing to us. I love how their family gets together every week to spend quality time together. It makes their marriage and their family more and more rich in love and happiness.

When your kids get married, you hope the marriage will last, and you know that there are never any guarantees, but you want the very best for them, and that means a happy marriage. I am so thankful that these two “kids,” while young at marriage (18 and 19 years) were able to beat the odds and stay married. Not only that, but they were able to build a beautiful life together and raise two beautiful children, Shai and Caalab, together. They are so blessed and they are a blessing to us. We can’t imagine life without the two of them as a couple. Every year, their love grows more and more rich and beautiful.

Whenever we go to visit them, or they come to visit here, we have a wonderful time. They are fun-loving people, and yet they love being at their house, enjoying their beautiful back yard too. They have worked hard on their back yard, and every time I get new pictures, I love it even more. Amy never could get flowers to do much in Wyoming, but in Washington, her garden and flowers are stunning. Travis has always loved yard work, but like most men, prefers mowing the grass to planting flowers. Nevertheless, they have a wonderful vision for their yard, and it is so restful and peaceful. I just love sitting back there, enjoying the day. Travis loves to barbecue and their guests are, of course, the beneficiaries of his grilling abilities. They also love playing games like pool and corn hole, as well as getting the family bank together for a jam session in their recreation room. It is a wonderfully fun time listening to Travis and Caalab play, while Shai and sometimes Amy sing for us. They really make a beautiful band.

Amy and Travis love going to Ilwaco, Washington for little getaways. It is a quaint little town located across the bay from Astoria, Oregon. They go there a lot, much like Bob and I go to Thermopolis, here in Wyoming a lot. It is a place that is close enough for an anniversary getaway, and yet special enough for them always have a great time, and never get tired of it. Ilwaco is a little town, kind of like Thermopolis, but sometimes that is just what you need. A place with the much needed peace and quiet, far away from the stresses of daily life and the busy lifestyle you have at home. A cute little place where you can have romantic dinners and quiet walks along the shore (a river for us and the ocean for them). It’s just perfect for this happily married couple. Today is Amy and Travis’ 26th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to you both!! We love you very much!!

There have been much speculation over the years as to why we marry the person we do. Does our taste in a mate come from…say our parents, friends, or some random part of our own brain. Or, is their simply no rhyme or reason as to how we choose that person we will spend the rest of our life with. When I look at couples, there are some who seem perfectly suited to each other, and then there are those who seem to be total misfits, and yet they are totally happy with each other. Of course, one never knows how long they have been married, whether they will stay married, or if they are on their second or third marriage (indicating a poor choice in the first or second marriage). Oddly, when they do divorce in the first marriage, it amazes me sometimes, just how similar their second choice in mate is to their first…sometimes anyway.

It has been said that a girl chooses a man who is similar to her dad, and I can see that in my own choice. Bob reminds me a lot of my dad, but while they all look different, my brothers-in-law also remind me a lot of my dad. I think that a girl might choose a man who is a lot like her dad, if her dad is a wonderful dad, like my dad was. My sisters would agree. It is further thought that a man chooses a woman who is much like his mom. That makes sense, because he would want someone who can take care of him, his home, and his kids the way his mom took care of the home and family when he was a kid. Of course, there are those who don’t know their parents for one reason or another. They might base their choice on a step-parent or other mentor, I suppose.

Of course, no one really makes that choice consciously. It it always a choice of the heart, but oten the heart knows what it knows from the parental upbringing. I don’t believe that our life partner choice is a random thing, because while I dated a number of nice men, they were all quite different from my dad, and from my husband…and the fact is that I could not imagine myself marrying any of them. They were never going to be the type of man I could spend the rest of my life with. Nice as they were, they would never have been the one for me. I tend to think that somehow God leads the one, the real one into your life, and if you have your eyes open, you will find that perfect one for you.

As another of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s anniversaries comes around again, I find myself wondering how it could be that they have been in Heaven for so long now. Dad left us in 2007 and Mom left in 2015. They were so in love, for so many years, and now they are back together again, and I know they are so happy. Mom and Dad got married when she was just 17, and they were parents just 10 months later. That was common in that era. Most couple got married, and the babies started coming in rapid succession. For Mom and Dad, that meant a new daughter every two years, with the exception of my sister, Caryl Reed, who followed my breech birth at three years later. I suppose Mom should have had a C-section with me, but it seems the doctors thought it wouldn’t be a problem, if they just dislocated my hips for the birth. A strange thought these days, but I did survive, so I won’t complain.

Mom and Dad, were not to have a son, and I think that as the years went by, they considered their daughters to be a blessing…or at least we hope they did. When it came time to take care of them in their later years, they were very glad they had daughters, because we became caregivers without even questioning the idea. We all agreed that our parents were worth every sacrifice that might need to be made. They were such good parents to us, and we all feel honored to have be given such wonderful, loving parents to raise us and show us the right way to go in life. We never had to try to find God in our life, because we were raised in church, by our responsible parents, and I think each of us can honestly say that there is no time in our life when we didn’t know God. We didn’t have a day when we found Jesus. He lived in our house from the day they married, and we always knew him.

Mom and Dad had a wonderful, loving relationship, and they were demonstrative about their love. They kissed in front of us…daily. Dad gave Mom a love pat on the derrière when he got home from work, and we all knew it was in love. Dad always called her “Doll” and for years, I thought that was her name. He always sent flowers on their anniversary and her birthday, and chocolates on Christmas, and of course, with her January 1st birthday, there was always a big party for New Years Eve. Mom always treated Christmas and his birthday with the same special kinds of things, although, not the same ones as he gave her…of course. They loved spending time together, and eventually worked together. They relished their time together in retirement too…wanting nothing more than time together. Sometimes people fight when they are together too much, but not my parents. They just enjoyed their life together.

They loved going camping and made sure that my sisters and I always got a summer vacation trip. Dad loved to travel all his life, and so teaching his girls (Mom too) a love of travel was a big thing for Dad. He may have been outnumbered by girls, but I think Dad considered it a blessing, except when he needed in the bathroom, and it was occupied. How he survived that little house with just one bathroom and 6 women trying to get ready, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, with the many trials of having girls, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a wonderful life. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both very much.

My dad, Allen Spencer, always had a moustache, but never really cared for a beard. I suppose that in his like of work, as a welder, he might have considered the beard a fire hazard. I know that he always had a few burn marks from the sparks that fly during welding. I know a lot of welders, including my nephew, Garrett Stevens, who have a beard and don’t seem to have any problems, so maybe that isn’t it. I suppose it was just personal preference. Dad did look nice in a beard the two times he had one. It was a contest of sorts, so many men grew out their beard. Dad’s beard looked very nice, and well trimmed…not straggly at all. I think that goes back to Dad’s nature. It is funny that during one of those times Dad had a beard, my Uncle Bill Spencer, Dad’s brother happened to have a booth at a gun show in Rapid City, SD. He decided to take the family to Rapid City to see if we could fool Uncle Bill, who was not expecting us to be there. Dad pulled it off. Uncle Bill was totally fooled, and it was a great joke. It was also a great trip.

My dad was a very disciplined person. He had a specific idea about proper behavior, and he lived up to that expectation. He always dressed up for church, even if he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie, he would wear a nice Western shirt with one of his bolo ties. He always felt like church was a place where respect should be shown to God, and I must agree, although I don’t dress up in the same way my dad did. Nevertheless, respect must be shown in church. I think that is a common belief in church. No matter how people dress, church is a special place, where we can draw closer to God, and honor Him. I will always feel that way about church.

Dad lived in a house full of girls, and because of that, or maybe because it was just his way, my dad was always a man of good manners. I always thought of my dad as a man who could easily have come from an different era…maybe the Victorian era, or other era where the men were very gentlemanly. I suppose that meant that my sisters and I were rather sheltered from the rougher side of society. There was no cussing in our home, no crass behavior…and yet, there was always love. Mom (Collene Spencer) and Dad kissed in front of us, and Dad might lovingly swat Mom on the backside in what was probably the most risqué thing we saw. These were things we never saw as dirty, but rather we saw love. We even joked about them kissing…singing, “Mommy and Daddy are kissing!!” It was our own made-up song, and we loved it. Dad was always the leader of our house. The spiritual head of the house that love built. He showed us the way, and we have all benefitted from the love of our parents. Today would have been my dad’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. I know you and mom are celebrating with many other family members. We love and miss you very much.

Let’s face it. This past year has been…the worst. The closures, job losses, and personal losses; many of which are still going on a year later, have made us all edgy, irritable, and even depressed. Many people are still in a place where social distancing is the norm. For my family, Thanksgiving was cancelled, because my husband, Bob and I had Covid-19. Then Christmas was delayed 24 days, because my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin had Covid-19. Kevin got it the worst, as his system is compromised, but after a week in the hospital, he is home and doing very well. We lost out on so much in 2020, and now we are back to almost normal.

Valentine’s Day is a little bit different holiday, since it is mostly about couples, but since Bob and I prefer not to go to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, because of the crowds, we are going to be staying home, but its not going to be just us. This year, our family is a little bit battered, because we have lost one of the members of the couples…my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg. That leaves her husband, my brother-in-law, Ron and their son, Tucker in a very different place than they expected. We decided to ease them into the coming year, that will be inevitably hard, by having a small group Valentine’s Day gathering. There will be five of us, Bob, Ron, Tucker, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, and me. Unfortunately, it will be a sad time, because Rachel won’t be with us, but the reality is that it’s about love, and we love Ron and Tucker. We want to help them move forward, and I know that Rachel would be pleased that her guys aren’t alone on this difficult day. We aren’t the only family that is living with battle scars. There are so many families that have lost someone or have someone in the hospital. There are many people who cannot be with their loved ones today. Some have to work, and some live far away too. There are some in my family in that place, and while that feels sad for some of us, they are in the place they need to be.

Today is not supposed to be a sad day, but sometimes that is just the way it is. Nevertheless, we also have reasons to be happy. Family, friends, hope, and love, are all a part of our futures now too. Rachel is in Heaven, but she, along with all of our other loved ones are happy, and they are in our future now. This is a day to rejoice too. There are blessings that come with this day. Wedding anniversaries, like that of my niece Lindsay Moore and her husband Shannon, who’s daughter Hallie was born and went to Heaven on December 19, 2020 can be sad, but they are still celebrating, because they have been together for 7 years now and they will see Hallie Joy again soon. She lives in their future now, not their past. It’s about love, and Hallie would want them to go forward. For me, the main this is that we never forget those we love.

Of course, many of us celebrate this day because we love our own sweethearts. We are all blessed with loved ones, partners, spouses, or other family members. There is really no greater emotion than love. I don’t know how any of us would survive without it. This world can be cruel, and it is love that balances it out for us. So today, we celebrate, even if life has left us a little sad. Because, it is really all about love.

My uncle, George Hushman was “gone” on my aunt, Evelyn Byer from the moment he met her. You can’t blame him, because she was a beautiful woman. Once they were together, not much else mattered. They would have been as happy living in a shack in the slums, as they would have living in a palace. In reality, they lived in a beautiful, modest home, that they built themselves…or at least helped build. I’m sure that a contractor was involved too. I remember that house well. Uncle George would have given Aunt Evelyn the moon if he could have. Like many young couples, there were love notes. I happen to see on as I was helping to scan the family pictures. It was not long, but it was very sweet. Uncle George wrote, “Dear Evelyn, I love you very much. Be home suddenly. Love, Your Hubby.” It was a simple gesture, but the “suddenly” part is what caught my attention. It implied that he would really hurry home, and he couldn’t wait to see her. That was the kind of love they had.

My sisters and I spent many fun filled days there hanging out with the Hushman kids, Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg. Aunt Evelyn and our mom, Collene (Byer) Spencer, were very close, so naturally, the two families spent lots of time together. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were fun-loving people. They had so much in common with my parents, and they were as much friends as relatives. For many years they were on a bowling league together, went on date nights together, and spent lots of time at each others house. There is a lot to be said for good friends, and when that good friend is also family, there is a surety that the friendship will last a lifetime…and so it did.

As the years went by, the foursome grew older, and even though they still loved each other very much, they couldn’t get together as much as they used to. It was a disappointment for all of them. Before long they were going home to Heaven…one by one. That is what made all of us the most sad. Uncle George was the last one to go home, and we were very sorry to see him go, because it was truly the end of an era. The foursome was gone now, and there would be no more of their dates, bowling, or their antics…which we all saw from time to time. It was really a sad time. Today would have been Uncle George’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

I have never traveled to what is supposed to be one of the most romantic cities in the world…Venice, in Italy, but like most people, I find the city, and especially the buildings to be very beautiful. The bridges in the city are especially beautiful, but some may be very misunderstood…as it turns out. One such “misunderstood” bridge is the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge cannot easily be visited on foot because it is a part of a government prison facility built on the waves near the harbor of the city, but is easily accessible via boats that are constantly flowing under it.

The Bridge of Sighs was built in the 17th century. It is a fully enclosed bridge made of white limestone, and its beauty has caught the attention of many, including the famous English nobleman and poet Lord Byron who told in one of his poems in the 19th century, about the bridge being the last point where condemned prisoners could see the beautiful city of Venice before they were brought to their executioner. That description is very different from the one that is more accepted by tourists, and possibly the tourism industry, who have portrayed it as the sighs of lovers, rather than the sighs of the condemned.

What many tourists, and possible some of the citizens don’t realize is that even centuries after it was built, Bridge of Sighs is still the part of the same prison complex that connects the main building of New Prison (Prigioni Nuove), to the nearby interrogation rooms located in the Doge’s Palace. Of course, the bridge is no longer used in the capacity of transport of maximum security prisoners, but is instead used by small-time offenders who are residing in this low-security prison. The fame of the bridge as the final point of the freedom of the prisoners may have come from the early history of Venice, when its prison was the place of summary executions and where inquisitions were indeed practiced…well before the bridge was ever built.

The Bridge of Sighs was built over the Rio di Palazzo between 1600 and 1603 by the instructions of the architect Antonio Contin, nephew of famous Antonio da Ponte who also designed one of the most popular bridges in all of Venice…the Rialto Bridge. Antonio Contin designed this 11 meters long bridge to have a single arch, detailed and stylish outdoor decorations made from Istrian stone, and two windows barred with white stone bars on both sides of the walking chamber. These days, the only way to personally visit the Bridge of Sighs is to take part of “Secret Itinerary” (Itinerari Segreti) tour that is organized by the Doge Palace. The tour is only held between June and September and lasts around 90 minutes, it is done only in Italian and includes visiting of the several famous parts of the prison, such as its antique cells, torture chambers, other rooms, and of course, the Bridge of Sighs, as well. It is much easier to see the famous bridge from the water below, but you would not get to see the inside, of course.

Time flies by so fast. It seems completely impossible that 25 years could have passed since the day my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis said “I do” and began their life together. So much has changed since those days. Their children, Shai and Caalab are all grown up, and they have added Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster, to the family. The raised their children here is Casper, Wyoming, and then after Caalab’s high school graduation, the family moved to Bellingham, Washington. The area where they live is beautiful, and the weather is mild, which suits their family, especially Amy, who never liked our cold winters.

I am always amazed when a couple reaches a big milestone anniversary, even though my own marriage has endured, as have those of both my girls, and many other people I know. Still, I am amazed, because as we all know, marriage is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, endurance, stubbornness, and is best handled with prayer. It also takes a knowledge of the kind of person you are, and the kind of person you want to spend your life with. At such a young age, I wonder how it is that anyone can have any idea of who they are or who they want to be with, but it seems to me that more people are staying together these days than they were when I was a kid. Amy and Travis are two of the kind of people who knew that their spouse would be someone they could love forever, and they knew it at a very young age. They are so compatible, and they work together as a team. The ups and downs of life did not deter them from reaching the goal of “together forever!” Their home is filled with love, laughter, and harmony. They have chosen their spouse well, and I couldn’t be happier for them as they reach this milestone day…their Silver Anniversary.

I know that the next 25 years will be for them, as sweet as the first 25 years have been. Their love is real and lasting. They surround themselves with beauty and love, and that makes their life peaceful and sweet. God has richly blessed their union, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Yes, time flies by so fast, and before we know it, 25 years have flown by…as if we weren’t looking, somehow. Our children are grown and have children of their own. They are off living their own lives and all I can think is how proud I am of them. They are successful, and in a lasting marriage. The make a great living, and have a beautiful home, where Travis loves to mow and care for the yard, and Amy loves to grow beautiful flowers to brighten their days. It is a home filled with their own special love. Today is Amy and Travis’ 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

As kids, my sisters and I probably took our parents for granted, but when we look at how hard they worked to make life great for us, it almost brings tears to my eyes. My parents, Al and Collene Spencer worked very hard to give us a good life. They made sure that we got to take vacations…always wanting to make sure we saw this great nation we live in. And it wasn’t just the vacations. It was the kind of home they made for us. No matter what, we always knew that we were all equally loved. We knew that love had nothing to do with whether or not we made mistakes, or even if we got into trouble. In those days, children were spanked to teach proper manners. I know that many people these days disagree with that type discipline, but it was the era we lived in. In those days, children knew that if the neighbor told you to quit tearing something up, you had better quit. There was a measure of respect for our elders and those in authority. I miss that in our world today. Although, I live in a neighborhood, where most of the kids are respectful. We are blessed to live where we do.

Mom and Dad met through her sister, Virginia Beadle, and my mom told me that it was love at first sight. She said that she tole herself that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Mom was still a school girl, but as soon as she could, she and Dad were married. Dad was older than mom by twelve years, a common thing in those days. He had fought in World War II, and was ready to settle down and have a family. They married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin as part of their honeymoon. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson arrived ten months after their marriage, and their family was started. I followed almost two years later, and we moved to Casper, Wyoming a couple of years later. Caryl Reed followed three years after me, Alena Stevens two years after Caryl, and Allyn Hadlock two years after Alena. Our family was complete. Dad was always outnumbered, but his girls were his little princesses. He was always patient, understanding of the needs of girls…understanding girls was a necessity for Dad.

Mom and Dad were together for 54 years of marriage before Dad’s passing on December 12, 2007. Mom followed Dad on February 22, 2015, and now they are together again in Heaven. I’m sure they are enjoying Heaven and being together again. We miss them, but I can’t wish them back here. They would be horrified at what our world has become. Instead, we will go to join them someday, because Heaven is wonderful and we will all be happy together again, when we join them there. Today would have been Mom and Dad’s 67th Wedding Anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.

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