My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg would have turned 87 today. In the three years and almost four months since he went to Heaven, I can say that I have missed him very much, and yet it’s been like he never really left. Alzheimer’s Disease has taken the memory of her husband’s passing away from my mother-in-law, along with the passing of her parents and her daughter. It isn’t a bad thing for her, because she doesn’t have to experience the grief the rest of us have to go through. Nevertheless, because of her condition, I…we, the family have had to keep up the charade that Dad, Marlyce, and the Knox grandparents are still alive.
There is a song that Tim McGraw sings about a girlfriend that broke up with her boyfriend because he wanted to move away and she didn’t. He never quite got over her, and in his imagination, he saw her in all the places he traveled. For the man in the song, I’m sure the visions were somewhat torturous, but for my mother-in-law, they are a blessing. She sees Dad in some of the men at the nursing home, in her sons and even grandsons, and she has it in her mind that he is simply in the garage, at the neighbors, or at Walmart. When she asks about him, I always tell her that he is at Walmart, and he will be back later. That satisfies her, because she knows that he would never leave her. And we know it too.
I have to wonder if Dad ever thought about all the places he would be see after he left for Heaven. We tend to think that when we pass away, we will only live on in the hearts of our loved ones, and that’s true, but the mind is a funny thing. Our imaginations can place our loved ones in places they really aren’t…whether our mind is sharp or not. There are many times I can see my mom and dad, my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and grandparents in many memories that I have filed away in my memory files, but I think that most of the time, my memories aren’t nearly a vivid as my mother-in-law’s, and that’s ok, because it allows my father-in-law to keep his promise, never to leave her, alive in my mother-in-law’s life. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad. We love and miss you very much.
For a child, perception is everything. It isn’t necessarily how things really are, but rather how the child thinks things are. The other day, while Bob and I were out walking, we saw a jet fly over…not an unusual sight, by any means…but, on this occasion, Bob mentioned the contrails, and I was reminded of my perception of jets as a child. I have always loved watching jets or planes of any kind flying overhead, but of the jets, I had a different idea as a child. A different perception about what was happening in the skies above me. I thought the jets were scratching the sky. I suppose it sounds silly, now…as an adult, but then again, it isn’t such an odd idea really, and maybe in a way, they are. Still, it is not a commonly accepted, and certainly not scientific cause of contrails.
The mind of a child works differently than that of an adult. They might hear a song, such as our national anthem, and wonder to themselves, or even ask their parents, what a Dawnserly Light is. That could be because they don’t often hear the word dawn, or because the song tends to run the two words together, making them sound like one, or maybe the child just thinks this is some new word they have not heard before, and they want to know about this obviously special kind of light that everyone sings about all the time. It must be special, if it is in a song. Their minds imagine a light so beautiful that is has been given this special name…Dawnserly!! And when you think about it, the sunrise is really quite spectacular, whether it is Dawnserly or just the early light of dawn, but a child’s perception of it makes it into something so much more beautiful, that you start to think that maybe it does need a special name, and what better name for it than Dawnserly anyway.
One of the funniest childlike perceptions is the one most of us will hear at some point in our lives…you know the one…that 30 is old. Age looks so different to a child. I suppose that it has to do with the fact that they feel like their own lives are moving so slowly that they will never be thirty…therefore, thirty must be an old age…right? They see a thirty year old as if they are the same age as an eighty year old. Many of us have laughed that off, chalking it up to the fact that they are kids, and they soon will learn. Yes, they will learn, but only when they lose that childlike perception of things. It is a time that will come to pass in each person’s life, but sometimes I find that a bit sad, because in reality, what is wrong with seeing things differently from what others see. Maybe those kids will eventually look back and know how silly it was to think that thirty is old, but even adults can see pictures in the clouds, so, I don’t think it’s such a huge stretch to envision a jet scratching the sky.
On Sunday morning, our congregation was treated to my niece, Kellie’s debut on the piano. Kellie is an accomplished singer, and loves music ministry, but this was the first time she had ever played the piano in public. She told us that she loves playing the piano, but until that day, she played in her home…alone. Kellie is a little bit shy, when it comes to performing solos, but she really shouldn’t be, because she has the voice of an angel, and she plays the piano very well too. She told us that God has been leading her to play the piano as part of her music ministry, and I for one hope she will follow that leading and play more often, because it was beautiful. Her God given gifts are many, and her spirit is so beautiful. It is a wonderful mix that makes her the blessing she is.
As I listened to Kellie sing, I once again found myself totally amazed at the woman she has become. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine what a child will become, as you are watching them grow up. Then, when they are grown, and you see what an awesome individual they have become, and you are somehow surprised at what great things they are doing now. I really shouldn’t be, because Kellie has always been this same way, but when I hear her sing solos, and now play the piano too, the beauty of it just brings tears to my eyes. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear Kellie sing, because each time is like listening to an angel in a choir. She puts such feeling into the songs and you know that even though she did not write them, they are just how she feels in her heart. It is God singing through her, and it is beautiful.
Kellie has always been such a sweet girl, and as she has grown into womanhood, her faith has grow to amazing levels. I love the faith filled posts she puts on Facebook, because they are from her heart, yet they minister to so many people. It’s amazing that somehow the things she posts are just the things I needed to see. She is a blessing to anyone who knows her, and an asset to our church. As her aunt, I couldn’t be more proud of her if I tried. From her sweet spirit to her angelic voice, she is amazing. I love you Kellie!!
My Grand Nephew, Easton Moore, who is the youngest son of my niece Machelle and her husband, Steve, is having his tenth birthday today. Turning ten, is a big deal to Easton, as it is with most kids. He is leaving the little kid days of a single digit age behind, and moving on into the much more grown up days of double digit ages. Nothing could be more important to a guy than that!! After all, it is the beginning of so many new phases in his life…right??
Well, it is…but those new phases can seem a little bit daunting too. Many kids at this age, think it’s babyish to say things like, “I love you Mom!” For Easton, that could be a problem, because one of his favorite things is to sit on his mom’s lap when she sits down to watch television, and then tell her that he loves her about every 5 minutes. I hope that is something that Easton never allows to bother him. My grandson, Caalab is like that, and even though he is going to be 17 this summer, he still gives me a hug and tells me he loves me…and he is very macho, so don’t worry about that, Easton, ok.
Easton is not sure he likes having his own room either, and he can often be found sleeping on the floor in his brother’s room. Again, that is not too unusual at this age, especially since he and his brother shared a room until recently. That is a problem he shares with his Aunt Susie, and seems to happen when the younger child finally gets their own room. The older one shared until they were old enough not to be bothered by that aloneness. Time will cure that little problem.
One thing Easton definitely doesn’t miss is being in the back seat of the car. He is now big enough to no longer require a booster seat, so he finally gets to ride up front with his mom…and now she is the one who finds that odd. I’m sure that Easton loves being closer to the radio, so he can turn it up when his favorite song, “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx AM comes on. Of course, he is into anything Zombie, like his favorite movie, “I Am Legend” and his favorite game, “Walking Dead”, both of which I will leave to him, since I don’t like zombies or vampires or walking dead people…at all!!
Basically, Easton is a goofy kid, even if he is 10 years old now. He likes to make all the faces that are so in style these days and pick on those around him, like hiding on the floor of the car so he can scare the person getting in. He likes to pick on his cousin, Kaytlyn too…but I’m not sure she finds that very amusing. Today is Easton’s tenth birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! We love you!! Have a great day, but quit growing up so fast, ok!!
As our 38th wedding anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the flurry of activity that was going on about this time in the planning stages of the ceremony. My wedding gown, which was made by my grandmother was finished, and it was beautiful. The rice bags were ready, and the flowers had been ordered. My cake, made by my Aunt Evelyn was ready, except for the final touches as it was placed on the reception table. Everything was coming together perfectly. We had only a few more days to wait until our wedding day arrived. My mind was filled with excitement, and my heart was filled with happiness.
My three younger sisters, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, were going to sing at our wedding, and they had been practicing, and a little praying, that their part would turn out perfectly. The song I had chosen was called, “O Perfect Love” and I couldn’t imagine a better song for the love Bob and I had, and still have. Their voices blending in harmony as they practiced their song, were beautiful. I was amazed at how well, these my little sisters, only 15, 13, and 11 years old, could sing. Sometimes, the age of the voice doesn’t really matter, it is the pure, crystal clear beauty of the voice that matters.
That is what my sisters had…pure, angelic voices. I was so pleased that they were going to be singing at our wedding, and the song they were going to sing was so beautiful. I can still hear every word…every note, as the girls sang that song for me and my husband. It was like they were singing a prayer over our marriage. It was not just a popular song of the times, it was a hymn. It was, and is the most beautiful wedding song I have ever heard, and it was sung for Bob and me by the three angelic voices of my little sisters. Thank you Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, for your beautiful contribution to our wedding day. I love you all.
O Perfect Love
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou forevermore dost join in one.
O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
and to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
that dawns upon eternal love and life.
As we get closer and closer to the Christmas break in school, I am reminded of the many Christmas Programs of the past. So many schools don’t do those any more, and I find that very sad, but as most of you know there might be someone who is offended by such activities. Again, I find that sad. I am reminded of the program where I started out in the choir, and then was elected to be an angel. I didn’t need wings for that one, because I was so excited that I was floating all on my own…well, it felt like it to me anyway. That was the most exciting Christmas program ever for me, and it was probably a good thing I was an angel then, because I don’t think acting for really for me, or at least, I had no interest in it later on.
I remember the one where the choir was performing, and one of the boys got too hot, or nervous, or had locked his legs, and suddenly he passed out right in front of the whole crowd. The music teacher was horrified, and really didn’t know what to do. She was leading the choir, and the show must go on, you know, so she tried in vain to get him to just get up, but to no avail. He couldn’t after all, because he was out cold. Finally a couple of teachers came up and carried him out of the gym. He was fine, but very embarrassed. I don’t recall if he came back in for the rest of the program, but I don’t think I would have wanted to.
The programs my girls and my grandchildren were in have special meaning to me. Though they varied in theme and some were after you couldn’t make a Christmas program be about the true meaning of Christmas, they were all precious in my heart. Little tiny voices singing loudly, and often off key. Forgotten words, and the teacher reminding the child of their lines. Those dreaded costume failures, that thankfully weren’t as bad as some of the celebrities failures. The jitters and tears over parts forgotten, or even that the child worried would be forgotten. It all added up to the Christmas program, and it didn’t matter if it was a total flop or done to perfection, when it was your kid out there, it was the best program you had ever seen…and you truly meant that.
When my grandparents were young, it was not unusual for there to be bigger age differences between a man and his wife. There was a 16 year age difference in my grandparents ages. Grandma was a mere 18 years of age when she became a bride. I am reminded of a country song called “Love Like Crazy” sung by Lee Brice, in which a couple is told that they are crazy to marry so young. I don’t know if my grandmother’s parents felt that way or not, but that rarely makes a difference to the couple in love anyway. The funny thing about the song is that it ends up pointing out that if a couple “loves like crazy” they can beat the odds and stay together. That song always reminded me of my grandparents, and I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe because Grandma was so young. I’m sure you will agree that she looked like a little kid. And while my grandfather was 16 years older, he looked very young too.
For my grandparents, age made no difference. They would have been in love if they were the same age or 16 years apart. You could always hear it in their voices, and see it in their eyes. There is another song that also reminds me of my grandparents. It is “I Only Have Eyes For You” by Frank Sinatra. That is how my grandparents were. From the moment they met, they only had eyes for each other. And even after 50 years together, they still have that look in their eyes. They always would. They just looked so in love.
Their marriage would last for 53 years, until Grandpa went home to be with the Lord in 1980, but the love remained for all time. They were blessed with 9 children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren…too many to easily count. Most of their family and extended family has stayed close to home, making ours one of the largest in Casper, numbering close to or over 300. And of course, some of my grandparents’ brothers and sisters are here too, making for an even larger family.
The love that began when my grandparents first laid eyes on each other, has grown into a love so big and so beautiful, that it could not be contained in just two people, and so it has blossomed in their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. It is a love for all time, that reminds me of yet another song called, “Little Houses” by Doug Stone. My grandparents may not have been rich in worldly things, but their lives were so rich in love, that no one would have ever been able to tell if they lacked money. They were so blessed, and they loved like crazy! Does it get any better than that?
When I think of my grandparents now, I always think of their latter years. They seemed more serious during that time, and now that I have experienced aging parents and in-laws, I can understand how that can be. People get more tired as they age, and the aches ad pains that can come with it often makes them forget the days of youth and the stamina that went with it. I’m not saying that they never had any fun, it’s just that life was harder and since it was a lot more work, they just didn’t have the same stamina that I remembered from before. The nice thing about pictures is that they are a reminder of days from the past, and sometimes, they can take you by surprise, because they portray events or personalities from the past.
My grandfather was smitten by my grandmother from the day he first met her. He simply delighted in everything she did. And my grandmother was a bit of a teaser, so when she would get that urge to be a little goofy, he was always thrilled with the whole thing. They were both always happy people. They always reminded me of that old song, “Side By Side”. They were just traveling along singing a son, side by side. Circumstances didn’t really matter so much, because they always knew that tomorrow was another day and nothing was all that bad anyway. They had their family, their health, and the smiles on their faces, and everything was going to be just fine.
My grandparents survived the Great Depression years, and like many other people, money was scarce and families were big, but somehow they always found a way to have enough food on the table, a smile on their lips, and a song in their hearts. They helped their neighbors and even the strangers that always seemed to find their way to their table, hungry and in need of warmth. They never turned anyone away. I suppose that is why their always had enough. Somehow, God always finds a way for those who will give to those in need. He makes a way for them to always have enough, and that is what was always the case for them.
My grandparents were married on Christmas Eve, so Christmas always a special time of year for them, filled with lots of celebration, and much gladness. As I said, my grandfather was smitten with my grandmother from day one, in fact you could say that he thought she hung the moon. He always got such a kick out of her antics, and when she decided to dance a little jig, he would look on with delight…unless he just decided to join right in. My grandparents have been living in Heaven for a long time, now, and I miss them very much, but when I see pictures like these, I find myself smiling at the memory of those happy days.