mom

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My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was a sweet, thoughtful girl who loved everyone she met. When Rachel left us to go to heaven on January 19th, 2021, we knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again. Rachel left a huge hole in our lives. Rachel wasn’t perfect…none of us are, but she never quit trying to make the lives of those around her happy. As I thought about her birthday this year, I decided to talk to her classmate, Jennifer Durante, who agreed to tell me about the Rachel she knew in school.

Jennifer first met Rachel in gym class, and they became good friends from that time forward. She was impressed the fact that Rachel was always “put together” at school. While most teenagers are lucky to get out of bed and get to school in sweatpants and a t-shirt, Rachel made sure that her hair and makeup were always perfect. She always dressed in skirts and heels, and always looked like a model. She was a classy lady, and anyone who knew her would agree to that statement. Rachel took pride in who she was, and that always showed. One day in gym class, a classmate made a rude remark about Rachel having stretchmarks on her legs, and Rachel, who didn’t like or allow bullying, immediately put that girl in her place. She told her that her stretchmarks came from her pregnancy, and that she was proud to be a mom. I can hear the silence now. That snotty little girl who thought she knew something, and knew nothing was immediately shot down. Rachel stood up or the little guy, and she was not about to be made a victim herself. That rude classmate knew nothing about Rachel’s life, and she had no right to bully her.

Rachel worked hard and got good grades in school. She was also very proud of being a mom, who wouldn’t let the circumstances of life hold her back from being the best she could be. She was determined to make a good life for her and her daughter, Cassie. In her Junior and Senior years of high school, she went to school during the day and worked at Wendy’s in the evenings and weekends to support herself and Cassie. Like most teenagers, Rachel didn’t always see eye to eye with her father, Cliff Franklin and her step-mom, Jan, but she never doubted their love for her, and she was always thankful for their support of her in being both a teenager and a mom.

Like most teenagers, Rachel liked to live life fast and play her music loud!! She loved to dance and because of her bubbly personality, she brought a ray of sunshine everywhere she went. Rachel was a great comedian and knew how to make people laugh, or even how defuse a bad situation. Those are such great qualities to have. Rachel was a mom first, and she didn’t really get to go out much, but on the rare occasion, when she was able to go out and be a wild teenager, Jennifer tells me that she was the life of any party. It was as if she walked into a room, threw her arms up in the air and proclaimed “I have arrived, let’s get this party started!!” Rachel lives in Heaven now, but I can just hear her as she walked into Heaven saying that very thing. Today would have been Rachel’s 46th birthday. Happy first birthday in Heaven Rachel, we sure love and miss you here.

Every kid, at some time in their childhood has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. For many it has to do with what their mom or dad does for a living…at least at first. Later, it might be their grandparents, a television personality, a favorite teacher, or a hero in town. They may not have any idea of what the job they think they want might entail, but because someone they admire does that job, it must be the best job in the world. As adults, we would probably groan at the idea of the job those little ones look upon as fabulous, but to them it is the greatest thing ever.

I remember my niece, Lindsay Moore, who wanted to be a firefighter, as did my grandson, Josh Petersen (who is still interested in firefighting), The funny thing about Lindsay was that her dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock was a cop at the time. It’s funny, because Lindsay’s niece, Aurora Hadlock wants to be a police officer. It’s still in the family, she just chose the occupations of her grandpa, and uncle Jason Sawdon. Time will tell if Aurora fulfills her dream. After all, she is only 9 years old.

What’s is really interesting is when a child has such high hopes that the idea is way above their heads. Nevertheless, they keep their head up, looking at their goal…keeping it always before their eyes, until one day, they find themselves living that dream. Others never do follow the dream of their childhood, mostly because a new dream comes along that makes the old dream seem dull and boring. Sometimes it is from a life experience, such as my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, who became a Labor and Delivery Nurse, after her first son was born. Or Lindsay, who tried firefighting, and decided that she wanted to go into Kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body movements.

Some kids, like my husband Bob Schulenberg, his brother, Ron Schulenberg, nephews Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, all went on to be mechanics like their dad and grandpa, Walt Schulenberg. Some futures, such as those of these men, seem to be in the blood, and that is ok too.

My grandfather, George Byer was always a rock hunter. In hard times, when trips were not possible, he shared his love of rocks with his family. You didn’t have to go far to look for rocks…you didn’t even have to leave home. Still, when you raise a family of rock lovers, the back yard gets picked over pretty quickly. Nevertheless, there was always someplace that he could take his family for a picnic and rock hunting excursion, and every one of the kids became rock lovers too, as did many of his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the list has continued long after his passing.

If you aren’t a rock lover, you could so easily miss the beauty that is found in many of the stones around us. On the outside, they may look like they are just a plain black, brown, or white stone, but when it is cut or broken open, you find a stunningly colorful stone inside, even a gem in some cases. Of course, these days, we have to be careful where we do our rock hunting, because there are rock hunters who have staked and registered their claim on certain areas. But as long as you steer clear of those areas, rock hunting is a free way to get out and find nature’s best treasures.

Grandpa Byer loved his rocks so much that he later bought a rock polisher, and made beautiful jewelry and key chains from the rocks he found. I think many of his grandchildren have been blessed to receive such a gift as a memento of the treasure that was our grandpa. These pieces are precious to us. Somehow, they are filled with all the stories our parents have told us about the joys of rock hunting with their family. I think most of them loved rock hunting all their lives. I’ll never forget my mom telling me about their rock hunting trips, sometimes to Independence Rock, sometimes by the river, and sometimes the kids went by themselves. Wherever they went, they always came back with the treasured rocks.

The rock stories remained even after my grandparents were in Heaven. Of course they did. My aunts and uncles were so blessed to carry those memories in their hearts for their entire lives, and we were blessed that they could pass them along to their own children and grandchildren. I don’t think I ever grew tired of hearing about their trips to find rocks. My mom used to tell me all about how much fun the had. These are the kind of memories that stay with you long after the people in them are gone.

For many people, starting the new year off right means making New Year’s resolutions, and planning to make big changes in whatever areas they don’t like about themselves and their lives. That is a noble idea, even though most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February, but that is not how my family started the new year…nor did we finish the last one like most families either. That was because of my mom, Collene Spencer. It wasn’t that Mom did anything to make the new year extra special…she was a typical mom who loved her family, and worked hard to give us a happy life, but then so did most parents. It was the fact that Mom’s birthday was January 1st, that started the year off special…and ended the prior year in a special way too.

My dad, Al Spencer loved our mom so much. She was his princess, his “Doll,” and he was always happiest when they were together. Dad worked hard to make our lives, and especially the life of his “Doll,” the best life anyone could ever have. And he succeeded very well. We were a very happy family, and New Year’s, both eve and day, were very special. Our year ended with a New Year’s Eve party…one that we kids got to attend too. It was a gathering of friends and family at our house, when we were little. Many parents go out and get a sitter for their kids on New Year’s Eve, but we lived where the party was, and we were welcome, as were our cousins, and later our friends. Dad never wanted his kids to be out in the world on New Year’s Eve, because of the obvious dangers of drinking and driving. We always got to party, and we were always safe at home. The party was about the end of the year and the beginning of the new year, but mostly it was about our mom. This was her celebration, and our dad always made it an awesome one for his “Doll.”

New Year’s Day always included a big birthday dinner for Mom, and of course, birthday cake and her presents. Our year always started of with a big celebration. While many people used the day as a way to get over their hangover, and mostly sleep the day away, our day was filled with joy, laughter, and fun. That was because of the great love our dad had for Mom, for us, and for making our lives fun. The memories my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I, as well as our families, have from all those New Year’s celebrations over the years will always warm our hearts. Mom and Dad are in Heaven now, but we do our best to continue the tradition in their honor. Today would have been Mom’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much. We will see you and Dad again soon.

My niece, Ashley Parmely married my nephew, Eric Parmely on July 23, 2011. Since then, their happy family has grown to include four children, daughters, Reagan and Hattie were followed by son, Bowen, and most recently, daughter Maeve. These days, having four children is considered a large family, and many people would consider Ashley to be a supermom based solely of the number of children she has. I agree that with larger families, mom’s are supermoms, but coming from a family of five children, I don’t necessarily consider Eric and Ashley’s family to be overly large, and it is not the size of the family that makes me think of Ashley as a supermom.

There are, however, several other things that I think do qualify for supermom status. In years gone by, when people lived on homesteads, mothers juggled things that most of us don’t these days. These days, many mothers work outside the home, and their children spend their days in a daycare facility. Ashley, on the other hand, is stay at home mom, and while that isn’t unheard of either, it is a bit more unusual these days.

That still isn’t what makes me consider Ashley to be a modern day supermom, however. Eric and Ashley have lived in the country almost since they got married. Recently they bought a bigger place, because they wanted to be able to rise more animals. Eric works in the oilfield, and that leaves Ashley and the children they work of taking care of the animals. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t do it alone, because when Eric is home, he works very hard too, but Ashley loves her animals and love spending time with them. And this is where her supermom status comes in. It doesn’t matter if her youngest is too little to leave in the house, or to walk alongside “mommy” either, because Ashley has a backpack. The work must go on, and Ashley loves to do it anyway.

The day might find Ashley, baby on her back, moving hay, feeding animals, or mucking stalls. She has done this with all four babies, so she is a expert at working with the extra weight attached. She gives “baby weight” a whole new meaning. One might think that Ashley would be worn out and tired, and I suppose that at the end of the day, she is, but it never causes her to look tired or grouchy. Instead, all these babies…human and animal…put a smile on the supermom’s face, everyday. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Larry Byer was my mom, Collene Spencer’s older brother, and along with their younger brother, Wayne Byer, her best friends from her early childhood. They were the closest in age to her, and quickly became her usual playmates. Sometimes they got in trouble with their mom together, and other times her brothers were just sweet brothers who wanted to put a smile on their sister’s face. Mom always felt very blessed to be the sister in the middle of the brothers.

Uncle Larry was also a great blessing to his mom, Hattie Byer. When he had to move to Louisiana for work, he and Aunt Jeanette brought his mom down for a visit, and showed her a wonderful time. It’s unlikely that Grandma would have traveled to Louisiana if he had not lived there, so the trip was a bit of a bonus for her. Uncle Larry was not born on Mother’s Day, but his birthday has fallen on Mother’s Day many times since then, and I’m sure that it always felt like a bit of an extra blessing for Grandma on the years that it did.

Uncle Larry always had a great sense of humor, and a sweet nature. I always loved his laugh and he could sure tell a good joke. For as long as I can remember, Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanette had a place out in the country. They built houses for their kids out there too, and when they moved to Louisiana, the kids stayed on the land. I always expected that they would move back on the land when he retired, but they didn’t do that. They bought a little house in Glenrock, and it was there they he lived out his days, and there that Aunt Jeanette is still living now. Uncle Larry has been in Heaven now for about seven and a half years now, and we all miss him very much. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. We love you.

Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.

After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.

I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.

My aunt, Doris Spencer is an amazing woman. She is 95 years young today, and still going strong. Oh, she’s had her ups and downs, but her memory is still pretty strong. When we visited her last, she knew who we were, and we had a very nice visit about the past, when everyone was still here on Earth. The visit was a bittersweet, because on our prior visit, out mom, Collene Spencer was with us. She and Aunt Doris were best friends, as well as sisters-in-law, and they hadn’t seen each other in many years. Their reunion was wonderful, and we were all sorry to have it end. The next visit was after our mom had gone to Heaven, and while Aunt Doris was glad to see us, we all missed mom a lot.

Still, we talked about the old days, and all the fun we had, as well as how much the family had grown, and the visit went very well. Our family always loved going to visit. Aunt Doris had a lovely home, and we all had a great time. We also loved having them come to our house for visits. Those years went by so fast, and the years after we all grew up went by even quicker. I wish that we hadn’t let the time go by without visiting. Sometimes, you allow yourself to think that there will be time next year, or maybe the next, and when you finally get around to it, you find yourself with much less time than you thought. Still, I was very thankful that we got my aunt and my mom back together again…especially since it was the last time for them.

Aunt Doris is 95 years old today, and it is my hope that we will be able to get up to Wisconsin to see her again in the very near future. She is very special to us and we love her very much. It is my hope that she continues to live a long life in good health. Today is Aunt Doris’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Time goes by so quickly, especially concerning the passing of a loved one. My mind just doesn’t want to wrap itself around the fact that it has been four years since my mom went to Heaven. I know that there are many people who have been without their parents much longer than I have, and they know exactly how I feel on this 4th anniversary of my mother’s graduation to Heaven.

As I write this, I can think of so many things I would have loved to tell my mom, who was one of my biggest fans when it came to my writing. She loved the history stories, especially when it pertained to the family history. This year has been such a wonderful year for new and interesting finds, and it seems like I want to call her almost every day to tell her something new. And there are so many days I want to ask her about something I’ve discovered. Sadly, when we are young, we don’t realize just how important those family stories will become when we are older.

Mom, was always the bringer of the sunshine to our house, singing to us when we woke up, when we were sad, or when we were happy. They were usually little one or two line songs, but they said it all. She told us little bits and pieces of life with her siblings, and all the singing they did, giving us a glimpse of all the laughter and fun that was our grandparents house when all the kids were there. Mom was the middle child in a family of nine children, and that probably gave her a unique view of things. She got to participate in the fun things the older siblings are doing, and she was still young enough to enjoy the things the younger siblings were doing. Being the middle child, born between the only two boys, put her in a unique position too. She got in on some of the antics the boys got into…much like the three musketeers. Mom always had a fun-loving attitude, and that made life with Mom lots of fun. Today marks my mom’s 4th anniversary in Heaven. While we know that she is having the time of her life, we miss her very much. We love you Mom.

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