mom and dad

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.

It was 65 years ago, when my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer said “I do” and began their life journey together. Theirs was a match made in Heaven and one that continued for the rest of their lives. They knew almost from the day they met, that they had found their soulmate. Of course, my mom was too young at that time to get married, so they had to wait, but their love was worth waiting for. Finally, when my mom was almost 18, they ties the knot, and immediately moved to Superior, Wisconsin to start their family. As often happened in those days, they were quickly pregnant, and a week less than 10 months later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born. I arrived a little less than 2 years later; my sister Caryl Reed a little more than 3 years later; my sister Alena Stevens a little more that 2 years after Caryl; and our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock 1 year and 8 months after Alena. By the time my sister Caryl arrived, our family had moved back to Casper, Wyoming.

Our parents gave their daughters a wonderful life. We may not have been rich, but we were rich in love and happiness. We traveled, we were raised to have good Christian values, and we were raised to know the value of money and hard work. It doesn’t get better than that. We grew up to be responsible citizens and my parents were proud of each and every one of their daughters. When my sisters and i grew up, Mom and Dad were blessed with 16 grandchildren, then gained 22 great grandchildren, with one more arriving in late August. They also have 5 great great grandchildren. What a crew they started all those years ago!!

Mom and Dad led a blessed life, through all their years together, and that made my sisters and me very blessed too. Our home was always filled with joy and happiness. When problems arose, Dad and Mom always had a way to fix them. I think a strong bond and two hearts in agreement can go a long way together. Being in agreement is the biggest key to a marriage, even if you don’t agree on every matter, just agreeing to work things out is huge. Mom and Dad had that. They showed us how to live, by the way they lived. And that is the best blessing they could have given us. My only regret now is that they are not here with us anymore. Today would have been their 65th anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both so very much.

Every New Year’s Eve for as long as I can remember, our family threw a party, both for the New Year and for my mom’s birthday, which is January 1. It is our New Year’s Eve Tradition. As I was thinking about our tradition, I wondered about other New Year’s Eve Traditions. So, I decided to research some of them. Wow!! There are some really strange traditions out there. One I found particularly strange was that in Switzerland, they drop a dollop of ice cream on the floor. It is supposed to bring overflowing abundance in the New Year. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that is strange…and messy. In Spain, it is all about good timing. When the clock strikes midnight, Spaniards try to eat a grape in time with each chime. Those who don’t manage to cram the right number of grapes at the right time face the threat of bad luck for the following year. Be warned, it’s not as easy as it sounds, apparently. Many people practice beforehand to increase their chances of beating the clock. This is serious business from what I read. In Czechoslovakia, they like to look to their future around New Year’s, usually with the help of an apple. The fruit is cut in half and the shape of the core determines the person’s fate. If it’s a cross, mischief is on the way, but if it’s a star, you can expect happiness. Apparently, many New Year’s Eve traditions center around food…including our party, but our party doesn’t have any traditions that involve the food.

Several of the traditions sounded very familiar to me, because they are traditions I have grown up with. Many places celebrate with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. In some places, it is believed that the noise and light from fireworks and sparklers would scare away bad spirits, not something I believe in, but some people might. At our house, midnight means that it’s time to “beat the pans.” It’s something we have done since I was a little girl, and a tradition that my sisters and I would not change. It reminds us of our parents, and makes it seem like they are there with us on that special night each year. I do think that my parents might be surprised to find out that their tradition, that they made up, is one that is also tradition in Iran…I was very surprised.

A couple of traditions were, strange to me. People in Buenos Aires, Argentina, have an unusual tradition. On the last day of the year they shred old documents and papers to symbolize leaving the past behind. Around noon, on New Year’s Day, people throw the scraps of paper from their windows all over the city in a shower of confetti. Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. I hope they never need those documents. As strange as that tradition was, the winner of the strangest tradition on Earth…in my mind at least it the one celebrated in Peru. The last day of December…New Year’s Eve, is the day of the Takanakuy Festival. The Takanakuy Festival is the craziest festival I have ever heard of. The Takanakuy Festival, is the fighting festival. Every year people of Peru have a fist fight to settle their differences. Can you imagine a whole town fighting in the street? They then start the year off on a clean slate on New Year’s Day. I guess then that it must be illegal (or at least, in very bad taste) to be mad about anything or at anyone that you had a fist fight with the day before. Now, I think that the tradition of not carrying any arguments into the new year is a really good one, but I know that I would not want to have to go through that whole fist fight part of the festival. Nope…I sure wouldn’t.

img_6049Last night my sisters and I, along with our families, got together for our 2nd annual Spencer Family Christmas Party. Our family made a commitment long ago, to stay close as a family. Family is so important, and all too often, people lose touch, because they don’t realize the importance of family, or they think there will always be time later. It is never a good idea to put off family until later. I’m thankful that my mom’s parents, George and Hattie Byer asked their kids to stay close, inspiring the annual picnic and Christmas parties to keep us all close, because it was those events, that gave us the inspiration to do the same. Then, our sister, Allyn Hadlock, and her husband Chris decided to host the annual party at their house. What a wonderful blessing that has been for all of us. This year was a smaller crowd, as there were several family members who will be spending Christmas in various locations across the United States, but I know they were there in img_6043spirit. Of course we missed each one of them, but we understand. I hope that maybe one day, we will be able to have a party with all of us together again.

The one thing that I have noticed about each of the two parties we have had since our parents left us, is that when we are having the party, it’s like Mom and Dad are there with us. Part of the reason is because of the fact that the conversation always turns to them, and to Christmastimes of the past. The memories of special gifts given and received, moments of surprise, and comical moments too, flood the room…along with the laughter as we reminisce about the Christmases of our lifetimes. Still, it always leaves us with an almost bittersweet feeling. Sweetness, because we have been blessed with such great parents, and that we are making the proud, but bitter, because they aren’t here with us. Nevertheless, we know that we will all be together again.img_6026

We really have been blessed with wonderful sisters, and all of the other family members. The family has grown exponentially. Like my mom’s family, we are related to about half of the town. That part in itself is an amazing and wonderful thing. We all feel very blessed by all of the nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the wonderful additions that have joined us by marriage. This time of year, we start to think more and more about family, and while I miss my parents more that I could ever say, I am thankful for my sisters, everyday, because sisters really are forever friends.

2 Decorating the treeEvery year, after Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to put up the Christmas decorations. And every year, I find myself with fewer and fewer of my little helpers to deck the halls of my home. I suppose that as time goes by, there will be a new group of little helpers to spend that special time with me, but for now, I’m hoping to have at least a couple to help on Saturday with my Christmas decorations. Either way, I will get my decorations up this weekend, because there are only so many days to get it done, and I must make hay while the sun shines…as the old saying goes.

Thinking of the decorating ahead, takes my thoughts back to the times that my family decorated our house when I was a kid. Things were very different then. I don’t recall putting up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving, but it might have been about that time. What I do remember is my four sisters and me and our parents decorating the tree, while we sang Christmas carols and 3 Decorating the treeate popcorn and other snacks. It was a big deal, and none of us would have missed it.

I remember the fanfare that led up to the decorating. We went to the lots to purchase our tree…because there weren’t any artificial trees then. We brought it home and Dad cut the excess length off so the tree would fit in the house. The fragrance of the pine filled the house, and made everything so festive. Mom and Dad would string the lights and garland. Then it was time for my sisters and me to start putting up the ornaments. Mom and Dad taught us to carefully place the ornaments to create the most beautiful effect on the tree. I’m sure that our training took time. Nevertheless, with patience and practice, we got pretty good at it. One thing that eventually went by the wayside…in most families I think is tinsel. As you can see, we all had a handful and were carefully placing it on the tree, but no matter how careful you were, that stuff always ended up on the floor or tangled in the tree branches, which wasn’t a problem with a real tree, but definitely a problem in an artificial tree.
4 Decorating the tree
It didn’t matter how old we were. From the oldest to the youngest, even if the youngest was only 2 years old, we decorated the tree. It was so much fun. In fact I think we looked forward to it all year. Traditions are that way. Once you start them and find them to be a lot of fun, you wish you could do them every day, but I suppose that would get boring after a while, so it’s a good thing they only come once a year. As I think back of those traditions from my youth, I feel a bit sad, because all too soon, those days are gone, and we can never get them back. We must move forward, start our own traditions, and accept the changes that have come, because that is what life is all about…whether we like it or not.

My parents on their wedding dayDad and MomSixty two years ago today two very special people said “I do.” Those people were my parents, and this year will be the first anniversary that we will spend without either of them, and the first that they will spend together since 2007. That is such a strange thing for me…to think that the two people who brought me and my sisters into this world, are no longer in it with us. It is a change that I never wanted to have happen, and yet I am happy for them, because they are back together again. You see, my parents were more than husband and wife, they were friends…from the first time they met. It was a match made in Heaven, and while I know that life in Heaven doesn’t involve husbands and wives, it does involve friends. That is what we will all be, so they are very much enjoying their time together. While this feels sad to me, it is for them…joyous.

My mother was taken by my dad the first time she laid eyes on him. She thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. And Dad was pretty taken with Mom too. I never heard him call her by her name, but rather always by the name Doll. He always wanted her to know that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen too. They never wanted anything more than just to be together. They did as much together as they could, and I think that the years they each worked were for them the hardest, because they had to be apart for hours on end. Not many people can work with their spouse, but my parents could, and did for a number of years. They enjoyed every moment together.

For them, life took on its own pace, and it was often slower than many people today live their lives…including me. They lived on Byer Time, mostly because the song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” hadn’t been written yet. Nevertheless, my dad was used to waitin’ on a woman, and he never got upset about it. He loved her and he was always patient with her slower pace. I, on the other hand, was seldom as patient…unless Dad told me to be quiet. Mom was the Queen of the Castle, and Dad her Prince Charming. She was always so loved by him. He was always so caring. He was really one of the last of the true gentlemen. There seems to be very little protecting of women from things like foul language, splatter from passing cars…you know, all the things men did in the olden days…before women’s lib came upon us. No, I’m not a fan.

When my parents married, it was for life, and to spend as much time with each other as possible. And theirs was a beautiful marriage, filled with so many blessings. They traveled, worked and played together, and they Mom & Dad Alaskan Cruise (formal)Dad and Momtaught their girls about the kind of marriages we would want to have. While our husbands were different that our dad in some ways, they were like him in many others, because we knew the kind of man we would want our husband to be like…a Prince Charming, like our dad. And we wanted to be the Queen of the Castle…just like our mom. Today marks the day that would have been the 62nd Anniversary for these two wonderful people. Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! Hope your day is beyond amazing!! We love and miss you both so very much, but we will see you again very soon.

imageimageThree years ago today, our family was blessed, with a little miracle. For some time during my niece, Cassie Iverson’s pregnancy, they weren’t sure that little Lucas was going to make it. Nevertheless, he arrived on July 3, 2011, a healthy baby boy, who’s only health problem was Down’s Syndrome. I suppose that many people would consider that to be a significant issue, but Lucas’ parents, Chris and Cassie find their son to be a great source of joy and laughter. His smile lights up their world every minute that he is awake.

Now that Lucas is more mobile, his antics have changed in scope, but not in how much joy he brings to his family. He loves to play in a pile of pillows, crawling all over them and diving into them. Then he laughs and laughs. The videos are so much fun to watch, because you can’t help but laugh too. This happy little boy is so delightful, that he is irresistible. There is no regret in his family’s hearts, because he makes their life so rich with the joy of watching his uninhibited, happy moments. I suppose that most 3 year olds would be doing things differently than Lucas by now, but that doesn’t matter, because each child is unique and goes at their own pace.

Even though Lucas is a happy, smiley boy, he still has the ability to let his parents know when he is not happy about something…but then what child doesn’t. The main thing is that those imageIverson familytimes are not the main part of their child’s life, because that would be tough. You can handle those crabby moments, when they don’t turn into hours. As for Lucas, the majority of his time is spent happily entertaining his mom and dad with all of his silly little antics. That is probably one of the biggest blessings of Lucas. Today is Lucas’ 3rd birthday. We are so happy to have him in our family. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Walt & Joann - the dating yearsToday would have been my mother-in-law’s 65th anniversary, and in her mind it would still be so. She has no idea she is a widow. She has no idea that the love of her life…the man she has known since she was just a little baby, and with whom she shared a crib sometimes…has been gone for over a year now. That is the side of Alzheimer’s Disease that I think is merciful. While she doesn’t remember the things that happened a few minutes ago, or even a few years ago, and she doesn’t always remember our names, she also doesn’t remember that my father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013. To her, he is visiting the neighbors, working, or out in the garage. I’m glad that is the case. She feels no grief and she doesn’t miss him…because to her, he is still here. She sees him everywhere. When she sees a man in a plaid shirt, she thinks it’s Dad, because he loved those plaid flannel shirts. I wouldn’t wish for her to remember Dad’s passing…it’s just too hard. We can play along. When she asks where Dad is, I tell her that he is in the garage, at Walmart, or at the neighbors. It satisfies her. She also sees Dad in her sons, Bob and Ron, her grandsons, and even in some of the men in the nursing home. We play along. At first it was hard, but the guys are used to it now.

This anniversary, that would have been a landmark anniversary for them, had Dad still been with us, is a bit sad for us…the children, in-laws, and grandchildren left behind, after Dad’s passing. It is always such a cool thing, especially these days, when someone makes one of these landmark anniversaries, because so many marriages don’t last. But theirs beat the odds. They had the real thing…love, and that made all the difference. It’s what keeps a marriage Joann and Walttogether through good times and bad.

Dad was always the bread winner, and Mom was always the homemaker. Together, they raised six children. She cooked, baked, canned, and kept the home and kids in order. He took care of the outdoor things like shoveling the walk, mowing the lawn, working on the cars, and any building that needed to be done. They were a team…and then half of the team was suddenly gone after a little under 64 years of marriage. To us, their family, it seemed too impossible to be true, but to Mom, it simply wasn’t true. To her…he is still here, and will be for as long as she is. It’s the merciful part of Alzheimer’s Disease.

58 years ago today, my parents were married in a simple ceremony at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Casper, Wyoming. It was the start of a beautiful and long life together. My dad was a friend of my mom’s family, and that is how she met him. She told me she saw my dad and thought, “Wow!!” I guess says it all. My mom had found her man. And my dad felt the same way. Dad never called my mom by her name, but always called her “Doll” instead.

My dad was her knight in shining armor, and my mom loved his southern gentleman ways. He always made her feel like a princess. In fact, that is how he was with all his girls. He was understanding and patient, even when we were screaming over a moth across the room, or the imaginary bear that might be just outside the dark camp spot, creating the serious need for another log on the fire in the middle of the night.

Mom and Dad were a team. They did pretty much everything together, especially after his retirement. The was simply no place they would rather be than with their spouse. It was a love that would last forever, and still very much continues today. My mom has never considered loving any other man. Dad had shown her the world and all the beauty it can hold, and walked the path holding her hand on this journey we call life, her companion and best friend, her confidant and cheerleader. He was her biggest fan and she was his. The love they shared radiated from their eyes, and never dimmed, in all the years they spent together.

Yes, the last 3 anniversaries have been spent apart, but only physically, because they will be together forever again very soon. My mom looks forward to the time when she will see my dad again, but knows that it will be yet a little while, because she is still needed here. There is more for her to do before they are again, together forever. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!! I love you both very much!!

Most people like either dogs or cats, and my parents were always dog lovers. We had cats one time when I was little, but after that, we had dogs during my entire childhood. Dad always thought cats were pretty worthless.

A short time after my dad passed away, an orange cat started hanging around my mom’s porch, literally howling. She figured that if she left him alone, he would go home, but after several days, she couldn’t stand it any longer. She and my sister Cheryl, let him in and fed him. He was obviously starving and abandoned. Once he had eaten, he decided that he had found a home, and he would not leave. He has made himself quite at comfortable, sleeping anywhere he wants, but his particular favorites are the laundry basket and the bathroom sink, which I find quite funny.

So, it would appear that Mom had a new pet…but, Quincy, as he has been dubbed, is not her pet…she is his!! At least that is what he seems to think. He is very protective of her. When she has fallen a couple of times, and is waiting for Bob and me to get there to help her, Quincy never leaves her side. He knows she doesn’t belong on the floor, so he doesn’t feel comfortable until we get her back in her chair. He has to check on her periodically just to make sure everything is as it should be. He also likes to be near her when she is walking around, and since she has a walker with a seat on it…logically, his spot is that seat…of course, getting a ride is certainly a plus.

As I said before, my parents were really dog lovers, and Dad never thought cats were worth a lead nickel, but with this particular cat, I think my dad would feel differently, because Dad always made sure Mom was taken care of, and since Quincy feels the same way, I can’t help but think Dad would approve.

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