My aunt, Doris Spencer is an amazing woman. She is 95 years young today, and still going strong. Oh, she’s had her ups and downs, but her memory is still pretty strong. When we visited her last, she knew who we were, and we had a very nice visit about the past, when everyone was still here on Earth. The visit was a bittersweet, because on our prior visit, out mom, Collene Spencer was with us. She and Aunt Doris were best friends, as well as sisters-in-law, and they hadn’t seen each other in many years. Their reunion was wonderful, and we were all sorry to have it end. The next visit was after our mom had gone to Heaven, and while Aunt Doris was glad to see us, we all missed mom a lot.

Still, we talked about the old days, and all the fun we had, as well as how much the family had grown, and the visit went very well. Our family always loved going to visit. Aunt Doris had a lovely home, and we all had a great time. We also loved having them come to our house for visits. Those years went by so fast, and the years after we all grew up went by even quicker. I wish that we hadn’t let the time go by without visiting. Sometimes, you allow yourself to think that there will be time next year, or maybe the next, and when you finally get around to it, you find yourself with much less time than you thought. Still, I was very thankful that we got my aunt and my mom back together again…especially since it was the last time for them.

Aunt Doris is 95 years old today, and it is my hope that we will be able to get up to Wisconsin to see her again in the very near future. She is very special to us and we love her very much. It is my hope that she continues to live a long life in good health. Today is Aunt Doris’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Larry and Aunt JeanetteMy Aunt Jeanette Byer was friends with my mom and her sisters and brothers for a long time before she and my Uncle Larry Byer fell in love. In those days, I think is was much more common for spouses to know each other for much of their lives. In many ways, I think that is very cool. Growing up friends first can make for a long lasting marriage. I think that is exactly what my aunt and uncle were…friends. They liked being together, sharing the hopes and dreams they had for their lives, and going places together. For many years they lived on a piece of land east of Casper, and Uncle Larry worked at the Texaco Refinery. They raised their two children there…my cousins, Larry and Tina. Then, everything changed.

CCI06282012_00027_editedbTheir kids were grown and married, of course, but when it came down to a transfer to Louisiana, or being laid off, Uncle Larry had to take the transfer. He was too close to retirement age to lose it all. So for the next few years, they lived in Louisiana. It was quite a change of climate for them. Having lived in Wyoming for all of their lives, the high humidity of Louisiana was a shock to their systems. In fact, Aunt Jeanette once told my mom that while it seemed hard to breathe, it was something you got used to after a time. I suppose that is true, but getting used to it didn’t stop them from wanting to come back to Wyoming as soon as Uncle Larry retired.

Of course, their family was here, so it makes perfect sense to me. Wanting to be around family is one of the Grandma Byer and Aunt Jeanettemost important things there is. It can’t always be that families stay together, but when it isn’t possible, I think that most parents would do the best they can to get that family back together, and when they can’t, then the visits are the most important thing they can do instead. There were a number of visits both ways, with their kids, and with other family members. My mom, dad, and sisters went down for a visit, and had a great time. I also know that Grandma Byer, went down for a visit, and had a great time too. Still, it wasn’t the same, and as soon as they could, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry headed home to their family, and we are all glad they did Today in Aunt Jeanette’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Grandma ByerWhen I think of my grandmother, Harriet “Hattie” Byer, the person that comes to mind is Grandma as she was in my adult years. f course, by that time, she was a great grandmother many times over, and so had aged into the kind of grandma you always see on television…gray hair and somewhat wrinkled. In reality, it is television’s view of what a grandmother should look like that is warped in many cases…odd since they try very hard to make everyone else forever ageless. It’s not that I don’t remember the Grandma of my youth, it’s just that I really don’t think of her that way. That wasn’t what she was like as she aged, and I was at an age to place a specific memory of her in my memory files. Nevertheless, when it came to being the boss, the kidder, or the disciplinarian, all I can say is, don’t let her looks or her small stature fool you, because Grandma was in charge, and that’s all there is to it. Just ask anyone of her kids, grandkids, or Grandpa, Grandma, Caryn, Allen, and Cheryl_editedgreat grandkids, who might have had the misfortune of cross her. Most of us were done crossing Grandma, but there were some who were brave enough to try again…if you call that bravery. There might be a different word for it, in reality.

When I was little, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. That made it hard for her to see my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me when we were little. Grandma and Grandpa did make trips up to see us, and really loved it. Mom and Dad showed them around the area, and they spent time with us too. I don’t remember those visits, but my guess is that my sister, Cheryl does, because she was a couple of years older than I was. I love looking at the pictures of those visits with my grandparents. They are precious to me now, because of course, my parents, Grandpa, and Grandma are in Heaven now. Looking back at those moments by the lake, at the house, and on trips we took, are such wonderful memories.
Grandma, Grandpa, & Mom by a plane
We moved back to Casper before I turned three, and then we had chances to see them more often. I remember those many visits to their house so well. I can’t say I was one of those kids who learned from her mistakes, but I don’t remember very many times that I was on the wrong side of Grandma. You might call me chicken…and you would be right…either that, or smart. When Grandma spanked, it hurt. Thankfully I outgrew those days, and in the end, I remember my sweet grandma as a little old lady with gray hair. Nevertheless, she was mine, and my sisters and cousins…and we loved her. Today would have been Grandma Byer’s 107th birthday, if she were still with us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

My cousin sent me some pictures a couple of days ago and boy, did they bring back some memories. One in particular struck me, mostly because of the difference in the times…and the things you can and can’t do today. My dad’s brother, Bill and his family used to come for visits, and we would go there for visits when we were little kids. One of our favorite things to do was to picnic on Casper Mountain. It is a beautiful place and it’s nearby. We have always loved going on the mountain. The summer air is cooler there, and fresh with the smells of pine. The birds are singing and the breeze whispers through the tree tops. I could stay up there for a long time.

Back then, Dad had an old green pickup truck, and whenever we all went somewhere in the truck, all of us kids got to ride in the back of the truck. Now, I know that people don’t usually ride in the back of a truck any more, and maybe it isn’t the safest idea, but back then it was the normal way to go. On any given day, you might see a dozen or more people driving around with the kids in the back of the truck, and I don’t remember ever hearing about anyone getting hurt or killed, although I’m sure it happened. Nevertheless, when we were going to go up on the mountain, they loaded all of us kids up in the back of the truck and the adults in front. And away we went.

We had a great time riding back there, with the wind in our hair…and none of us cared if our hair was a wreck after that ride either. Dad would drive up the mountain, and then stop at Lookout Point so we could see how beautiful the city was from up there. The night views were the best of course, because the city lights always looked like a jewelry box. The picnic and the city views were great, but I will always remember the wonderful rides in the back of Dad’s truck, probably because we got to do more of those. Of course, looking back, and knowing the safety risks today, I wouldn’t let my kids or grandkids ride there, but we didn’t know that then, and I guess God just watched out for us, because we obviously lived through it. Kind of like not having seat belts in the car, and rolling onto the floor at a sudden stop. We didn’t think of it being unsafe…just funny. I guess it was just the times we lived in.

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