stroke

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was just about 4 months older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, so she was like a sister-in-law and a daughter too. The things she liked were similar to things my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce liked. It makes sense that it would be that way, because my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was just 7 years old when my husband, Bob and I got married. They were in the generation of our kids. I guess that is part of what makes it so hard to believe that Rachel has been living in Heaven for a little over a year now. She was just too young to have a fatal stroke. It just shouldn’t happen that way.

Rachel was good friends with my nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, and it was through them that she was introduced to their Uncle Ron. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married over 11 years when she passed away. They were so happy, and I know their marriage would have continued well into their golden years if she hadn’t left us too soon. Besides Ron, Rachel also left behind daughter, Cassie Franklin and her children Lucas and Zoey; son, Riley Birky his fiancée, Sierah Martin, her son, Jace and their little baby that is coming in this August; and Tucker Schulenberg, her youngest, who was adopted by Ron in 2019, so she knew he would be ok. Rachel was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who loved her children and grandchildren so much, and the perfect wife for Ron…his soulmate.

Rachel was a vibrant person, who loved the Lord. She had worked in the office of her church in Powell, Wyoming before she married my brother-in-law, and moved to Casper. She loved telling people about Jesus and seeing people get saved. She wanted to make sure that everyone she could win for the Lord, she did win for the Lord. Rachel was quick to pray for anyone who needed prayer, even if they didn’t ask her for prayer, she prayer for them. There are many people out there who have received answered prayer because of Rachel…I have no doubt. Rachel was a wonderful person, Christian, and friend to many people, and she has been greatly missed by all of us over the past year. Today would have been Rachel’s 47th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

A year seems like a long time, but in reality, it goes by so fast. One year ago today, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg left us to go to Heaven. She had a stroke, and recovery was not to be. Rachel left behind a husband, Ron Schulenberg; daughter, Cassie Franklin; sons, Riley Birky and Tucker Schulenberg; her dad, Cliff Franklin; and brother, BJ Franklin, grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey; as well as lots of family and friends. Life wasn’t always easy for Rachel, but she was in a great place. She and my brother-in-law were so in love, and they had been happily married almost 11 years. Ron had adopted her son Tucker, and we are all thankful for that, because no one knew the future, but Tucker needed to be with Ron.

Now, a year after Rachel left us, a number of things have changed. Her daughter, Cassie was in a bad situation, and Rachel was worried about it. Cassie was able to walk away from that situation, and I know that Rachel would be so glad. Rachel’s son Riley struggled through the years, but Rachel always stuck by him. Today he is engaged to a great girl, Sierah Martin, and together they are raising her little boy, and expecting a new baby in August 2022. Rachel would have been glad. Tucker is getting ready to go to high school next year. High school…how could that be!! Tucker should still be that 2-year-old boy who firat came into our lives when Rachel and Ron got married. Ron and Tucker are doing ok. They are working hard to take care of each other, and about that, Rachel would be glad. Tucker went to a grief camp that included horses last summer, and not only did he find a love of horses, but he found out that a school friend also lost his mother about two years ago.

Ron probably hides his feelings more than most and tries to use physical labor to help him through it, but we are having monthly family dinners, and trying to pull him into socializing more. It’s hard, and we don’t pressure him, but rather we let him, as well as the kids, know that we are there for them in whatever way they need…and I think Rachel would be glad. Rachel was a loving caring person, and that is impossible to replace. The hole left in our hearts when she left is impossible to fill, at least without God. Rachel knew Jesus as her personal Savior, and so we know that she is living a wonderful life in Heaven. While that doesn’t make us miss her any less, it does remind us that she is happy, and she is looking forward to the day we all join her there. Happy first year in Heaven, Rachel. 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!!

My niece Cassie Iverson is spending her first birthday without her mom. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg went to Heaven on January 19, 2021, after suffering a stroke. It’s been a hard year for Cassie so far, as anyone who has lost a parent can attest. Really that first whole year is the hardest. All the firsts without your parent. Cassie and her mom were just the two of them from the time her mom was 16 years old. They were so close. I could say that they were best friends, but they weren’t Rachel was the mom and Cassie was the daughter. They were closer than just friends could be. A person has enough friends, and can always make more, but a mother is a treasure, and you truly only get one.

Life changed, as life does. Rachel got married and had two sons, Cassie’s half-brothers, Riley and Tucker. Then they divorced and Rachel was a single mom again. Just her and her kids. Cassie was older then, and she and her mom grew closer. Rachel watched as her beautiful daughter grew and found new interests. Sure, there were difficult times…teenaged years, sibling fights, and such, but Rachel loved her kids and they all knew that they were going to be ok.

When Cassie got married and had babies of her own, Rachel was so proud. She loved her grandchildren beyond measure. Rachel was also very proud of her only daughter. Cassie is a very talented photographer, and Rachel would often tell me about her photography trips. She was just so proud of Cassie. She was also so proud of the mother Cassie was. She watched as Cassie raised Lucas, who was born with Down Syndrome. Cassie became the best advocate for her son. Cassie is a real fighter when it comes to her children, Lucas and his little sister, Zoey, and that made Rachel so proud. She knew that Cassie would give her children the best life she possible could. Cassie learned about being a mom from the best…her own mom, Rachel.

Life without her mom will never be the same for Cassie…she will always miss her mom. It is impossible not to, but I hope she also knows just how proud her mother was of her. Often when we spoke on the phone, Rachel would tell me, with pride in her voice, about the wonderful accomplishments of her daughter. Photography, kids, camping…another thing they both loved, and so much more. Cassie, your mom is in Heaven, but she is still watching over you, and she is still so proud of everything you have accomplished. I know this year is a tough one, but remember that she lives on in your heart. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! Your mom would want that for you. We love you!!

Over the years of my marriage to my husband, Bob, I have had the great privilege to know his family, both here in Casper, Wyoming, in Forsyth, Montana, and other areas of the United States. I can tell you that they are all wonderful, hard working people, and upstanding citizens. Bob’s uncle, Eddie Hein, like Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg, worked in the mines in the area they lived in. They didn’t work in the same mines, but they were all in mining. For those who don’t know, mining is hard work…no matter what part of mining you are in. From the people who keep the equipment running, to the operators of the equipment, each plays a vital role in the mining process. Eddie worked in the mines for a long time, and was a valued member of the crew.

When Eddie came home from work, the work didn’t just stop. Eddie worked a lot over the years to remodel their home. What started out as a little house, slowly grew into a beautiful home. I was especially impressed with the beautiful fireplace he built. The rock work was stunning, and it added an elegant touch to the house. Eddie worked hard to make his house into a great home for his family. It was a place that we all enjoyed visiting whenever we made the trip to Forsyth.

Eddie was always a symbol of strength and stability to everyone who knew him, and is still a source of inspiration today. Following a stroke,Eddie worked his way back to health, and was able to take the trip to Miramar Beach, Florida to walk his daughter Kim down the isle on her wedding day. It was a happy day for all. Today is Eddie’s 75th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel in June of 2002, but they had known each other since childhood. We all loved Dave from the beginning. He is a big teddy bear, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He fit into the family instantly, and we have all been so pleased to have him in the family. Dave is a man of considerable technical talent, and has been there for those of us who have been in need of repairs on computers, but that is the least of the reasons that we love Dave. When he married my niece, Chantel, Dave became Dad to her kids, Jake Harman and Siara Harman Olsen. He was the only dad they really ever had, even though they had a dad. Dave was there for the long haul. He didn’t leave when the going got rough. He was there when there were tears and broken hearts, and through the difficult teenage years, and it was Dave who was their dad at their weddings, who walked Siara down the isle. Dave is the man they call Dad, because he is the man who has been their dad, and dad to his own two kids, Keifer Balcerzak and Katy Balcerzak Collett. Dave is a dad at heart. He was the dad that he should be for his kids, and the dad he didn’t have to be for Chantel’s kids. And now he is grandpa to the four grandchildren they have given them.

A few months ago, Dave had some health problems that put him in the hospital with heart problems. While there, he had a stroke. That was really the beginning of a miracle for Dave. Miraculously, a CNA quickly caught that something wasn’t right. All Dave said was that his big toe hurt, but she saw so much more. Dave was quickly treated for a stroke, and then for an irregular heartbeat, that was the cause of the stroke. They tried shocking his heart, but the rhythm wouldn’t hold. Finally, they did a Catheter Ablation procedure. Basically it is a procedure that destroys the area of the heart muscle that is causing the arrhythmias. It sounds like a drastic measure to fix arrhythmia in the heart, but it worked. Within a couple of weeks, Dave was back to normal, and able to walk Siara down the isle at her wedding. It was a miraculous moment, and one he wasn’t sure was going to happen. He would not have had the stamina to do that had his heart not been repaired. Once again, Dave was able to be the dad, he didn’t have to be, but chose to be. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! We give thanks to God that you are still here with us. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Eddie & PearlAbout a month ago, my husband Bob and I went to visit family in Forsyth, Montana. We had a wonderful time visiting, reminiscing, and learning new family information. It was a trip we needed to take, because it had been far too long since our last visit. The family there is just so important to us. We knew we couldn’t let any more time pass before we went to visit. Two of the people we wanted to spend time with, were Bob’s aunt and uncle, Eddie and Pearl Hein. Eddie recently had a couple of strokes, and we wanted to show him how important he is to us, and Pearl had been taking care of him, almost on her own, and since I have been a caregiver, I know that she needs support too, even if it is just moral support. Caregiving is exhausting work, and while the patient wishes they didn’t need you to work so hard…the fact remains that they do, and they know that without you, they would be in a nursing home, or worse. Still, caregiving ed-pearl-larry-kimtakes it’s toll on the caregiver, and I was worried about Pearl too. But Pearl loves Eddie, and she did what she had to do, and she has been rewarded with a husband who is healthy again, and getting stronger every day.

When we saw Eddie and Pearl, we were very pleased to see that they were both doing quite well. They looked a little tired, but then right now, everything they do is harder…physically harder. Eddie is in the process of re-learning how to do many things that we all take for granted every day. I didn’t know what to expect when we were getting ready to see Eddie, even though, Bob’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg had told us that Eddie was really improving. We didn’t know if Eddie could talk well, or walk well, or what. We were so relieved when Eddie walked into Butch’s house, smiling and talking clearly. We were so relieved, but we should not have been scan0096-3surprised. No, we should have known that Eddie would be back, because he is a strong man, and he won’t ever give up.

Eddie spent most of his adult life working in the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. He worked hard to support his family, and when he was home, he worked to renovate their home. He and Pearl have always had a garden, and worked together to grow fresh vegetables for their family. In fact, they have both worked hard all their lives. That is what has made them the strong people they are, and that is why I know that Eddie will come back from this stronger than ever. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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