As my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s birthday approached this year, I have found myself thinking a lot about the man who was like a second dad to me for 38 years. As with my parents, I still find it hard to believe that he is gone, and yet it has been more than four years already. There are many things I really miss about my father-in-law. One of the main ones would be his smile. Whenever we were at his house, he was always so genuinely happy to see us, and his smile made that so clear. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. He was an experienced teaser, and since I come from a family of teasers, we always got along well. In his last years, I had the privilege of taking care of him, and I can honestly say that it was a privilege, and a blessing to be able to spend that time with him. We talked about family history a lot, and he helped me to fill in a lot of the holes in that side of the family. And we just talked about life and the past. Those were sweet times.
My father-in-law was always there to pitch in and lend a helping hand. He worked hard until the job was done. I always called him a workaholic, and I wasn’t kidding, nor was I wrong. He instilled that same work ethic in his children, all of whom are hard workers too. His philosophy was that you should work hard until the job was done, and done right. He believed that if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing right. He took that work ethic with him to the various job he did over the years, and each one was very sorry to see him move on.
He worked hard, but the really important thing in his life was his family. They were his top priority. He loved every baby, grandbaby, and great grandbaby with all his heart. He made toys for them, played games with them, and let them “help” with the jobs he was working on at home, teaching them the ropes as they went along. Every one of the kids and grandkids had a chance to help Grandpa with his work, and they all loved to be able to do so. He never made them feel like they were in the way. Of course, they most enjoyed playing with him, but what child wouldn’t? He was a dear dad and grandfather to every one of the children and grandchildren, a well as to his sons and daughters-in-law. I feel very privileged to have known him. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 88th birthday. I wish he were here so we could all celebrate it with him. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad. We love and miss you very much.
Kevin, my son-in-law has always loved working on cars. Shortly after their marriage…in fact, on their honeymoon a kid ran into Corrie and Kevin in a parking lot. They were devastated. They had a very nice car and Kevin really loved that car. The kid’s insurance paid to fix it, of course, but Kevin just couldn’t let someone else work on his car. That car was his baby…or at least his second baby. Corrie would tell you that she was his first baby, and that is just the way it is.
When my oldest grandson hit driving age, he wanted a great car…of course, what 16 year old boy doesn’t. Still, most kids don’t really have the money for a new car. So they started looking and found several…and in fact, Chris owned several before he was 16, but when he turned 16, he had his Camaro. It started out white…and pretty rough, but true to form, Kevin set himself to the task of helping his son have the great car he wanted.
Last year on Labor Day weekend, which just happened to include Kevin’s birthday, he was busy painting his son’s Camaro orange…even though he told Chris that the orange he wanted was too expensive and it would have to be yellow. I’m quite sure Chris dreaded that thought. Kevin is such a teaser. Nevertheless, Chris got his orange Camaro, and his dad did the work. It is beautiful.
Then, Chris wanted a bigger engine, and once again, Kevin took on the task of helping his son achieve his dreams. They have spent countless hours in the garage working on that car. It isn’t done yet and I have no doubt that they will be working on it today, once again on Kevin’s birthday, unless Chris is working that is.
My grandson, Josh will be 15 in a few days, so I know Kevin will finish up with one son, and start working on cars with his other son. It is a never ending story, and Kevin wouldn’t want it any other way…except maybe to add a little fishing with his boys to it. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a wonderful day…and try not to work too hard!! We love you!!
When you have known someone all their life, it is easy to think of them always as a kid. Then one day you find yourself startled to find that they are all grown up, and while you were around them all their lives, you feel a bit like you don’t them at all. That is how I feel about my nephew, Eric sometimes. When Eric was a baby, my daughter, Amy babysat him and his brother, JD, so I saw a lot of them. Eric was a cuddler, and when we were in church, he would just snuggle up and go to sleep. He was such a good baby. I loved holding him when he was sleeping. Sleeping babies are always so sweet to watch…like little angels.
I don’t suppose most people would use the term angel for Eric any more, as I think he can be quite a teaser these days. During his years of growing up, Eric’s interests turned to things like BMX bikes, motorcycles, cars, and of course, girls. Eventually there would be just two girls in his life, and that’s just perfect if you ask me. He found and married his sweet wife, Ashley and they have a beautiful daughter, Reagan, who looks a whole lot like her daddy.
I guess you could say that Eric’s life has made a few twists and turns. He went from being a little snuggler to tearing up the track to a different kind of snuggling, and finally to a different kind of tearing up and a different kind of building. Eric and his wife, Ashley are in the midst of remodeling the house they bought next door to her parents place, so Ashley can be near her beloved horses, among other things. Ashley calls the remodeling job “building the dream” and I think she is right. Eric and Ashley have a dream life, living out in the country, near her horses, with plenty of places for Eric to ride his motorcycle, and plenty of room for their daughter Reagan to run and play, and sometime in the future, to get Reagan a little brother or sister to play with.
Today is Eric’s birthday. I hope you’ll take a little time off from the building to play today Eric, but if not, I guess you’ll be doing what you love anyway…building the dream. Happy birthday Eric!! We love you!! Have a wonderful day!!