mom

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Each year I find myself more and more surprised at just how many years I have been without my moms. My mom, Collene Spencer left us February 22, 2015 and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg left us January 4, 2018. So many Motherless Mother’s Days have come and gone, and there will be so many more to follow, but I know that my mom and my mother-in-law are in my future, not my past. They are waiting in Heaven for the coming arrival of all of their beloved children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many more greats to come.

Of course, it really isn’t a Motherless Mother’s Day because I am a mother, as are my sisters and sisters-in-law, my daughters, nieces, and my soon to be granddaughters-in-law. With all of these wonderful moms in my life, I am never without someone to wish a happy Mother’s Day. And while I don’t have my moms with me this year, I know they are happy and well. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate moms, not to be sad, so I will be happy for all the mothers I know, and happy for my own honor to be a mom. These are among the very best days we will ever know. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers I know!! I love you all very much!!

To my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, you both make me so proud every day. You are both wonderful, caring people who would do anything in your power to help other people, and that is an honorable thing to do. People know that they can count on you, and I do too. Whatever is needed, you are there to lend a helping hand. It is a noble thing to do, and it is to your credit. You have both raised wonderful children, who have grown into wonderful, responsible adults.

Now we have a new generation of moms coming along, with my future granddaughters-in-law, Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez, who have or soon will have the next generation of babies in our family. I am so proud of both of you for the mothers that you are. Your kind and loving ways warms my heart. You are both beautiful moms, and we love you very much.

May Day is an almost forgotten day of the “special days” on the calendar. When I was a kid, our mother, Collene Spencer helped us make “May Baskets” and fill them with candy. Then we would take them to the neighbors’ homes and hang them on the doorknobs. We would then knock on the door and go hide. The homeowner then had to try to find us…or they could just shout out their “thank you” and enjoy the candy. No matter what they decided to do, we always had a great time giving May Baskets, and I think it taught us to be givers.

There are a number of traditions that were carried out in the early years of May Day, but have since faded away. Things like the May Pole dance and fire cleansing (I’m not even sure what that is). There might be places where they still celebrate in this way, and some towns actually have a permanent May Pole. Some other traditions like the May Baskets and spring cleaning have stuck it out for the long haul. I’ll bet you didn’t even know that spring cleaning actually started as a May Day tradition, and yet millions of people do some time of spring cleaning, yard preparation, and even redecorating or remodeling beginning on May Day.

For me, these days, May Day doesn’t involve May Baskets. That is a tradition that went by the wayside with my adulthood. I think my mom would have done that for all of her life, if she could find willing co-conspirators, and that makes me a little sad, because Mom never really asked much of anyone. Nevertheless, she did love her traditions, and it must have been a little sad for her to see May Baskets go by the wayside. For me, May Day really doesn’t mean anything much, except that Spring is finally…really here. The days are longer and warmer. I can get outside and walk on my trail, especially in the early mornings, which have been far too cold prior to this, and still might be a bit cold some mornings. It always seems like the year shifts into high gear on May Day, because while I don’t mind Fall, I don’t look forward to the coming Winter. I am more of a three-season girl, who would love to just skip Winter completely, but I live in the wrong state for that so…anyway, happy May Day everyone. May your celebration…whatever that is, be sweet and special.

Some men are Boy Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with girls. Some men are Girl Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with boys. the truth is that any good dad can be a good dad to boys or to girls, but there is one thing that I think my sisters and I would all agree on with our dad, Allen Spencer. While he would have been a great dad to boys, his girls needed him to be our dad. Maybe a girl dad or a boy dad is just blessed with the gift of one or the other, because they have a particular way with one or the other.

Our home was filled with so much love and dad understood the needs of girls…like giving up the bathroom quickly so we could get all dolled up. He understood that when camping, the fire needed to be kept going…”to keep the bears away.” There were so many other things that Dad instinctively knew about girls and our girly ways, and he always made us feel loved, special, and safe. We were his princesses, and Dad loved all his princesses and much as he loved his queen, our mom Collene Spencer. Yes, our dad was definitely a Girl Dad, but it was we, his girls, who were blessed because he was our Girl Dad.

Dad did all the normal “dad things” that all dads do, like working hard every day to support his family, taking us on more vacations that almost any of our classmates got to go on, and I’m not bragging, just stating a fact. Dad loved to travel, and he loved this country; and he wanted his girls to be able to see as much of it as possible, because there is no greater nation on earth, except God’s chosen nation…Israel, and I think he would have loved to take us there too. For our dad, the greatest gift he could give his girls is the gift of faith in Jesus as our Savior. Faith was something he was given as a child, and I remember reading his letters home from World War II, written to his mom, Anna Spencer, in which he and his mother encouraged each other with God’s promises, given to us all in the Bible. Dad was very protective of his mom too. She was another of the women in his life who were blessed to know the love and protective nature that was always our dad, her son.

Dad went home to Heaven on December 12, 2007, and we miss him every day. There was so much more to Dad than the things he gave us or the special way we were treated, there was the love that dad gave his girls. Dad may have been blessed to be a Girl Dad, but it was really his girls who were blessed, because he was our dad. Today would have been Dad’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Have a great party with Mom and the rest of the family. We can’t wait to see you all again. We love and miss you very much.

When my mom, Collene Spencer got married, she and my dad, Allen Spencer, for their honeymoon, moved to Superior, Wisconsin. While mom grew up in a big family, and knew how to cook, moving to a new area was a way to experience new foods. Mom was a little lonely when she first moved to Wisconsin, but when she arrived, she found her new best friend, her sister-in-law, Doris Spencer. They actually lived across the yard from each other. There wasn’t an alley between them, just a fence. It was a very cozy place for the two families, and as the kids came along, it made it easy to play without worrying about the little ones getting out into the street.

During the frequent luncheons Aunt Doris and my mom had, Mom saw that Aunt Doris was an amazing cook, and she loved many of the recipes Aunt Doris made, and so she asked for these recipes. Our whole family grew to love those dishes too which Aunt Doris continued to make for us whenever we visited in the years after we moved to Wyoming. We usually went out for dinner when we were there, but there were three recipes she made and all of us loved, and still love today. Those recipes were Stuffed Tomatoes (Aunt Doris’ special version, which I still can’t resist) and the Carrot/Chicken Salad on Lettuce with Picnic Sticks (crunchy potato sticks), the third was Chicken Noodle Casserole. It was similar to Tuna Noodle Casserole, and while I love Tuna Noodle Casserole, my sister Cheryl Masterson thinks the Chicken Noodle Casserole was way better!! Those were Aunt Doris’s recipes. She made them up or greatly improved on an old recipe she knew of.

Trips to visit Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill, were always special. They had a big house, and we had a great time. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill always gave our parents their room. My sisters and I were never sure where they slept, but I almost think it might have been cots in the basement. Cheryl and our cousin, Pam were best friends, so Cheryl slept in Pam’s room. The rest of us slept in various places, mostly in the bus our Uncle Bill had converted into a motorhome. They could have had us stay in a motel, but they wanted us close, so we had more time to visit. The upper level of their home had been turned into a rental, and there were various renters in there, but if it was empty, we stayed there.

We often got to Superior, late at night…sometimes waking them up. It didn’t matter, because when we arrived, they would all get up and Aunt Doris would make us all a little snack before everyone settled into bed. Of course, we were probably up for quite a while before we were finally able to settle down. We laughed and talked continuously with Aunt Doris because she made everything fun!! She and Mom together just had so much fun. They were forever best friends. Aunt Doris had a beautiful home, and yet she was very tolerant of our noise and nonsense. We don’t ever remember her ever yelling at us or getting upset with us…Ever!! She loved us and she was always genuinely glad to see us. We all loved Aunt Doris so much that even after she and Uncle Bill divorced, we never felt like she was no longer our aunt. In fact, when our dad became ill in Canada, my sisters Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I went up to be with him, our mom, and sister, Cheryl. Allyn needed a copy of her birth certificate to enter Canada (Pre-passport requirement). We needed to get on the road, so we had it sent to Aunt Doris. We got to her house at around 4:00am, and without even knocking on the door, she knew we were there. She got up and made us breakfast…a big breakfast!! Aunt Doris was and is always the same with us. She is our aunt, and we love each other. For her and for us, that has always remained the same. And it always will!! Today is Aunt Doris’ 98th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

It’s hard to believe that my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg has been in Heaven over four years now. She was such a big influence in my life for over 43 years. She was my second mom, and I loved her very much. I know that not everyone can really say they love their in-laws, but I was blessed in that I could. My mother-in-law was a capable homemaker, and she did all the “homemade” things she could. From her cooking and baking, including “murder” cake (a fudge-lovers dream) and the best caramel pecan cinnamon rolls you have ever tasted, to her clothing and knitted sweaters, she was someone who was impossible to “live up to.” I say that in a loving way, but you couldn’t out “homemake” my mother-in-law. And her work was perfect. Still, she was one that was willing to teach you what she knew, without making you feel inadequate.

For almost all of her married life, my mother-in-law was a homemaker. I believe there was a short time…maybe a year early on, when she worked, but mostly, she had a family to take care of and that was her career. I know that many people think that a woman should have a career, but the truth is that most of them would just love to be able to stay home and raise a family. There are a few out there, who are blessed to be able to do just that, and she was one of them. Now don’t get me wrong, a homemaker works as hard as any other career, and maybe harder. They have to wear many hats…nurse, chef, maid, seamstress, accountant, counselor, chauffer, teacher, and many more. They don’t work an 8-hour day, their day starts early and often goes into the late night. Still, my mother-in-law loved her job, and she loved her family. She also found time to make things like afghans that she could sell at craft fairs in town. She also made dish cloths and hot mits. Her things were beautiful and sold very well. She reminds me of the verse in the Bible, “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants,” Proverbs 31:24. That was what she did.

I think though, for my mother-in-law, that one of the greatest things to have happen was that her first great grandchild was born on her birthday. Her mother, Nettie Knox, had the privilege of having her first great grandchild, Corrie Petersen, being born on her birthday. Then, Corrie managed to give her grandma the very same gift…her first great grandchild born on her birthday. Mom and Chris Petersen loved that as much as Corrie and Grandma Knox did. It was their special thing. And today marks the 26th anniversary of that gift…as Chris turns 26 years old. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom Schulenberg. We love and miss you very much.

On this, my mother, Collene Spencer’s birthday in Heaven, I am reminded of really, how wise she was, even though my sisters and I did not really realize just how wise she was. They say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed, the Bible says, “Laughter doeth good like a medicine.” My mother really tried to live that out. She would always remind us to “Keep of the Sunny side of life,” meaning to laugh at hardship and adversity, because you can get through almost anything if you can laugh at adversity. Sometimes, my sisters and I felt like laughter was far too simplistic for what we needed at any given time, but Mom was always full of laughter and song, and her life was really far smoother than ours ever were. For her life was simple. Follow God’s leading, and you will be just fine…and she always was.

Mom was first and foremost, a woman of God. If you were in her vicinity, you were going to hear about her Savior at some point in the conversation. Sometimes, when she would begin to talk, we…or at least I would begin to cringe, because I thought people would think she was crazy. I was always of the opinion that if God wanted a person saved, He would make it happen somehow, and it was not my job to help. Oh…how wrong that opinion is. The Bible talks about sending the “laborers” out to save the sinners, and I don’t know who I thought that was, but somehow, I didn’t think it was me…or my mom. Still, if not us, then who. A laborer had to be a human, of course, but did it have to be my mom…at a time in my life (the teenaged years), when her speaking out was going to embarrass me. Well, it did, and I had to deal with it, because she had a calling, and she loved her Lord so much that she was going to do what He asked. She saw it as her duty…and of course, it was.

Now, I am very proud of my mom’s accomplishments, in her Labors for the Lord, because when she went home to Heaven on February 22, 2015, I saw, at her funeral, a large crowd of people who knew and loved her, and many who felt like they owed their salvation to her work for the Lord. How could that be? She wasn’t a preacher, evangelist, missionary, or teacher. She was a laborer…just a laborer!! And yet, I know that when it came time to give her the crowns for leading others to the Lord…they were many. She would talk to anyone, anywhere, because she was a laborer for the Lord. Looking back, I am quite proud of my mom, her legacy, and her “almost embarrassing way” of laboring for the Lord, because now I can see that she was far wiser than I ever was. Today would have been my mom’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you and Dad very much.

December 12, 2007…a day that rocked my world. It was a day I never expected to see…the day my dad, Allen Spencer went home to be with the Lord. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that someday my parents would be in Heaven, but it didn’t. Nevertheless, these days, all we have are the memories, as we wait for the day when we will all be together again in Heaven.

My dad was a great guy. He was a girl dad, and he wore it well. I don’t know how he managed to survive having five daughters and a wife, all vying for one bathroom, but he did. Ours was probably what the song writer meant, when he wrote “Love Grows Best In Little Houses.” It never felt crowded. It always felt just right. I wonder if my parents knew, when I was just 3 years old that the house they bought then, would be their forever home. At that time my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I believe my younger sister, Caryl Reed were there, as well as I was. Two more daughters would join the family in that little house, now forever home. There were a few changes, like converting the garage to a bedroom and a utility room, that gave a little more space. Then, in my parents’ later years, an enclosed porch was added. The house just always felt like home…to all of us. Of course, it was our parents that really made the house a home. Their love filled the house, and we were always blessed by them and their love. Any house can hold a family, but love is what makes a house a home.

The first time the house ever felt empty, and maybe a little wrong, was after my dad went home to Heaven. Mom’s lifelong companion was gone now, as was our dad, who had always made us feel like princesses. We could see him in every room, but these were just memory visions. His love still lingered in each and every room. We knew that he still loves us, of course, but everything suddenly felt wrong…like the world kept going, but he had stopped. That is what happened, of course, but it felt to us like life had stepped out or its proper order. We would notice the same thing a few years later, when our mom, Collene Spencer went home to join Dad in Heaven. The house was still filled with the memory visions of them and their love, but it was kind of empty and lonely somehow.

Each year as we remember their homegoings, we are reminded of just how precious they were to us, and how we want to make them proud of how we have lived our lives. They raised us well, and taught us to love God and country, and to always try to do the right things. Now, we look forward to the day we will join them in Heaven, because that is where they are waiting in our future in Heaven, and what a joyous day it will be when we join them there. We love and miss you both on this, the 14th anniversary of your homegoing, Dad, and we can’t wait to see you again.

So much has changed for my niece, Jessi Sawdon, this year. When her husband, Jason received a promotion, it also took their family from Casper, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The move has been a new adventure for the whole family. They have spent their time getting to know their new city and all the great things it has to offer. Jessi’s parents are thankful that the move wasn’t further. The move also put them a little closer to Jessi’s sister, Lindsay Moore and her family in Laramie, Wyoming. They have been able to get together more, so their daughters, cousins, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore, get to spend a little more time on play dates. In that way, the move has been a gift for their family, and that has been good for their daughters.

Jessi was also able to continue working for the same company she was before…L?M Studio, since she has the option to work from home, both before and after the move. Being able to work from home has been such a blessing, because family is very important to Jessi and Jason, and as we all know, kids grow up so fast. Being able to be a stay-at-home, and yet working mom has given Jessi the ability to spend quality time with her daughter. Jessi is a great mom, and she has a wonderful relationship with Adelaide. They are both bubbly and rally funny people, and they, along with Jason, keep the family home filled with laughter.

Jessi is a community minded person, often helped with projects like David Street Station and Natrona County Public Library, both in Casper. I don’t think she was paid for her help, even though her job is in advertisement and communication, but Jessi probably would have helped promote the projects anyway, because she is so community minded. I will be interested to see what her presence in Cheyenne will bring for the community. It is in her nature to make the community around her better, and to bring people together. She is very good at her job, both professionally and in her personal volunteer work. Her energy and love of people makes Jessi a perfect person to do the work she does, and she make all of us in her family very proud of her.

Jessi and Jason are so perfect together, and their great sense of humor tends to play off of each other, almost like it was planned, or that they are so in tune with each other that they think alike on just about everything. In fact, they are so perfect for each other, that I can’t imagine them any other way. It really seems like they have been together far longer that the 12 years they have been together. Today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Being the oldest child isn’t always the easiest job. My Aunt Evelyn Hushman, my mom’s sister, was born on November 9, 1928…shortly before Black Monday and the beginning of the Great Depression. These were not easy times, and everyone had to pitch in. That isn’t always easy for anyone, but for the oldest child, it means helping to raise all the children born after you are, and when the family has 9 children, that’s eight children that you get to help raise. Granted, Aunt Evelyn was a little young to help much with her sisters, Virginia and Deloris, but she helped a lot more when it came to Larry, Collene (my mom), Wayne, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy…who was just three years older than her first niece, Sheila “Susie” Young. At that point, the cycle came back around, and some of the younger children got to help raise their nieces and nephews.

Aunt Evelyn loved getting together with friends, and even her siblings. She and Uncle George often double dated with my parents, and they later bowled together for years. Aunt Evelyn was a very social person, and loved gatherings. I remember the whole Hushman family coming to celebrate my mom’s birthday, which was on New Year’s Day, hence the New Year’s Eve party. We always had such a great time when the Hushman family joined in the parties, and I really miss those days very much. Because it was Mom’s birthday party, all the kids were welcome, and sometimes I wonder if our parents were half crazy having at least ten kids in the house at one time, and mind you, it was too cold to play outside, because it was after all, the middle of winter. Still, a great time was had by all.

My parents, Aunt Evelyn, and Uncle George also bowled together every Thursday night. They had a great time. I don’t remember what kind of averages they all had but I think they were pretty good bowlers. They loved spending time together, and bowling was a great way to do that. They were good friends all of their lives, and I know my mom couldn’t stand the idea of living without her big sister. Mom loved her so very much. I’m thankful they are together again in Heaven. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

My nephew, Riley Birky has had a rough year, as has his whole family. The 2020 year began with the loss of his mom, Rachel Schulenberg, to a stroke. Rachel’s loss has changed Riley in many ways. Like most teenagers, Riley has gone through his share of wild times, but now he wants to make his mom proud of him. Now, he is on the other side of that old life, and moving forward into a better life. That said, Riley has been spending the last year really getting his life together, and really making a fresh start. Every day finds Riley trying to become a better person. He wants to be a and upstanding citizen, who is working for society. Every kid makes mistakes, and Riley is trying to make up for his.

Riley is really moving into adulthood in a big way. He has been with his girlfriend, Sierah Martin for over a year now, and he is working hard to make a good home for her and her son, Jace. Riley is working hard to being a good father figure for Jace. Riley working full-time to help support them, and often takes on odd jobs to give them a better life. He has also been being a good uncle to his nephew, Lucas and niece, Zoey, babysitting all the kids at his sister, Cassie Franklin’s house. Riley really enjoys time with his family. They play video games like Spyro the dragon. And, they share precious family times together. He has also been enjoying his dog, Nala, who came from his sister, Cassie’s dogs, Buddy and Maya. As we all know, a dog is man’s best friend.

Riley is pretty handy, so in his spare time he’s been helping his friend renovate their camper. Most renovation jobs take more than one person, and a camper is no different. I’m sure his friend really appreciates the help Riley has been giving. A great friend aids a friend in need, and that is what Riley is…a great friend.

Riley definitely misses his mom, but I know without a doubt that she would be so very proud of him. I can’t take away the pain of missing her, Riley, but I promise you…she is very proud of the man you have become. Today is Riley’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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