Since graduating from high school last year, my nephew, Riley Birky, who has always loved the feel of the small towns over the bigger towns and cities, moved to Lovell, Wyoming, where he is currently working double shifts at the Brandin’ Iron Restaurant there. He has his own place, and has a roommate to share expenses with. These days, that’s about the only way the young adults can make it, so I’m glad they are working together on this. It makes it easier for both of them.

This is a whole new adventure for Riley. Being on his own, and in a town that is away from his parents. His mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg calls him a free bird, and says he is doing his thing. She misses him, of course, because he is too far away to visit often. Rachel hasn’t seen Riley since May, but they stay in touch, and these days, with texting, phone calls, and Facetime or Skype, that is much easier to do. Riley has always loved his family very much. His little brother, Tucker will always be his best friend, and of course, loves his mama to the moon and back…which always warms her heart.

Riley is a natural born leader, and it has carried him well in the past. He is hard-working, and is a very trustworthy young man, who always has your back when it is needed. I know that his friends and his employer have seen this before, and continue to see it in him today. Working double shifts is tough, but Riley just takes it all in stride and gets the job done. Riley is a good young man and he makes those who depend on him very proud on his faithfulness. Riley loves Jesus, and knows Him as his Lord and Saviour. He knows that God will guide him in every step he takes.

Riley has a passion for music, and particularly likes to find the meaning in the lyrics. He is a deep thinker, and discovering the meaning of lyrics takes deep thought. I know that Riley loves to lose himself in his music. He also loves to get away to the mountains, because that is his peaceful place. He goes there whenever he can, just to relax, and that makes perfect sense to me. Today is Riley’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

BoardersThrough the years, people have taken in boarders to help make ends meet. These days, people might have a roommate to share the financial load when buying a house or renting an apartment, but that didn’t happen often in years gone by. When it became necessary to find a way to make ends meet, people took in boarders…usually people they didn’t know. They might be people who were working in the area, or in college towns, maybe students. For my grandmother, I think it must have been men working in the area. I’m sure she didn’t know the men prior to renting them a room, but they quickly became like family. She wanted to get a picture that included the boarders, and one of the men even held my Uncle Bill on his shoulder. Times were just different then, and most people were decent and trustworthy. There was, for the most part, a moral code that was followed.

I’m sure the men helped out with things around the place while they lived at my grandmother’s home, and I’m also sure they ate some of their meals with the family. I also seriously doubt that the rent charged was very much, because in the 1930’s, times were hard and people couldn’t afford to pay very much. These men were grateful, I’m sure, for the opportunity to have a place to live, and a nice family to live with. Many of those men were far from home, trying to make a living for their families who were waiting for their return. It was quite a lonely way to support your family, but you did what you had to do.
Family with just 3 kids
I’m not sure how long or how many times my grandmother had boarders living in her home, but I know she was a kindhearted woman who would have had a hard time thinking about some man sleeping in the freezing cold winter weather when her home had a spare room that he could have. And having a little help around the place wasn’t a bad thing either, because my grandfather worked on the railroad, and my dad and Uncle Bill were just little boys, so they couldn’t help much. The reasons that people take in boarders or roommates vary, but it usually boils down to need, either the need of the family to have an extra income, or the need of the boarder to have a place to live. It’s as simple as that.

Marie BurgessWhen you have a family member in a nursing home, and you visit them often, the other residents of the nursing home soon become…almost like your family members too. You get to a place where you know their names, their personalities, and their funny little quirks. Of course, I’m not going to tell their names, even though I know them, but there are the two old ladies that didn’t know each other until they went to the nursing home and became roommates. Now everyone calls them the twins, because they are inseparable. They may not know where they are going, but they will be going there together…and together, they wander the hallways, always smiling and totally happy.

There is the little old lady who is often the first one to tell you hello when you walk in the door, and she doesn’t mind giving medical advice if you have a cough or some other simple ailment, because “she raised 7 children, so she knows what to do for a cough” and for just about any other ailment. She isn’t pushy though, she just wants to be helpful. There is the little old lady that walks down the halls and out of the blue, she just starts dancing a jig, and can even click her heals. While her mind doesn’t work as good as her body, she is perfectly happy and content in her surroundings. Of course, every nursing home has the sad ones and the grouchy ones, but many of them are happy and cheerful, and they always put a smile on my face.

The one that really surprised me the most though, was my mother-in-law’s roommate. She is a happy little lady and quite talkative when you get to know her. She will tell you that she was “born in Oklahoma 94 years ago, and that is the place where the tornadoes are…you know”. It wasn’t the things she said or the way she acted that surprised me, but rather…the way she looked. I mean, who would have guessed in a million years that my Grandma Hein as we knew hermother-in-law would end up sharing a room in a nursing home with a woman who looks so much like her mother-in-law. Yes, grandma was 10 years older than mom’s roommate, and Grandma never made it to 94, but I can easily imagine that she might have look just like her if Grandma had made it to 94. It makes me feel kind of good about mom’s roommate, because when she talks to her, it seems like she knows her, and maybe she thinks she is her mother-in-law. The other day she told her, “I was wondering if you were coming in.” It was just like something she might have said to her mother-in-law…like she thought her roommate was her mother-in-law, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did.

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