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My parents on their wedding dayDad and MomSixty two years ago today two very special people said “I do.” Those people were my parents, and this year will be the first anniversary that we will spend without either of them, and the first that they will spend together since 2007. That is such a strange thing for me…to think that the two people who brought me and my sisters into this world, are no longer in it with us. It is a change that I never wanted to have happen, and yet I am happy for them, because they are back together again. You see, my parents were more than husband and wife, they were friends…from the first time they met. It was a match made in Heaven, and while I know that life in Heaven doesn’t involve husbands and wives, it does involve friends. That is what we will all be, so they are very much enjoying their time together. While this feels sad to me, it is for them…joyous.

My mother was taken by my dad the first time she laid eyes on him. She thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. And Dad was pretty taken with Mom too. I never heard him call her by her name, but rather always by the name Doll. He always wanted her to know that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen too. They never wanted anything more than just to be together. They did as much together as they could, and I think that the years they each worked were for them the hardest, because they had to be apart for hours on end. Not many people can work with their spouse, but my parents could, and did for a number of years. They enjoyed every moment together.

For them, life took on its own pace, and it was often slower than many people today live their lives…including me. They lived on Byer Time, mostly because the song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” hadn’t been written yet. Nevertheless, my dad was used to waitin’ on a woman, and he never got upset about it. He loved her and he was always patient with her slower pace. I, on the other hand, was seldom as patient…unless Dad told me to be quiet. Mom was the Queen of the Castle, and Dad her Prince Charming. She was always so loved by him. He was always so caring. He was really one of the last of the true gentlemen. There seems to be very little protecting of women from things like foul language, splatter from passing cars…you know, all the things men did in the olden days…before women’s lib came upon us. No, I’m not a fan.

When my parents married, it was for life, and to spend as much time with each other as possible. And theirs was a beautiful marriage, filled with so many blessings. They traveled, worked and played together, and they Mom & Dad Alaskan Cruise (formal)Dad and Momtaught their girls about the kind of marriages we would want to have. While our husbands were different that our dad in some ways, they were like him in many others, because we knew the kind of man we would want our husband to be like…a Prince Charming, like our dad. And we wanted to be the Queen of the Castle…just like our mom. Today marks the day that would have been the 62nd Anniversary for these two wonderful people. Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! Hope your day is beyond amazing!! We love and miss you both so very much, but we will see you again very soon.

Sweet MarlyceMy sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was developmentally disabled. In many ways that made her always seem younger than her years. In reality, she probably never aged past her teen years, mentally. Still, Marlyce could do some things that adults do, such as cooking and working. In those ways she was much like any grown up person her age.

Marlyce lived with her parents, my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, all her life, but she was a part of a school in Casper at that time, that trained developmentally disabled people to be productive members of society, and then worked to place them in jobs. Marlyce loved her job, and enjoyed going to work every day. It made her feel good about herself, and it made her feel like she was a grownup, like everyone else around her. Marlyce just wanted to belong in the adult world. Something most of us can understand.Beautiful Marlyce

Before Marlyce was forty, she contracted Cancer, and at the young age of just thirty nine years, she lost her life in that battle. It was a devastating loss to all of us, her family, and to all who knew her. Nevertheless, time marches on, and while we will always miss her sweet smiling face, the hats she knitted, and the wonderful chocolate chip cookies she made, we will miss her more than any of those things. Marlyce was the sweetest sister-in-law in the world. She was kind and caring. She loved being an aunt when all the nieces and nephews started coming along.

Her life was sadly, very short in the grand scheme of time, but in that timeframe, Marlyce lived a full life. She was not held back by the limitations that most of us do not consider limitations, like husband and children, but in reality, they are things that must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to read a book, take a trip with parents, or even take a nap. She could, for the most part anyway Amy with Marlycemake her own choices. And that was what allowed her to live a full life in just a few short years. Nevertheless, we all wish she was still here.

Today, Marlyce would have turned sixty five. I wonder what she would have been like now. Things would have been a bit more difficult in that her dad is in Heaven, and her mom in a nursing home. I’m not sure where she would have been living. Perhaps with one of her siblings or maybe in a group home. She would be ready to retire, but I’m not sure she would have wanted to do so. It’s all speculation, of course, because we will never know. Today Marlyce would have been sixty five, but in reality, she is forever thirty nine. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

Virginia Muriel ByerMy Aunt Virginia Beadle is a soft spoken, teeny little woman, who is beautiful, inside and out. Beauty is a trait the Byer family kids all had in common, although I’m sure the two boys preferred handsome. Nevertheless, my grandparents did give birth to nine very beautiful people. Aunt Virginia was the second of my grandparents’ children, following my Aunt Evelyn, who was about two years older than Aunt Virginia. Like her older sister, Aunt Virginia was a friendly person who was liked by everyone she met. Since the Byer family has lived in this area for many, many years, that could be a very long list of people too. In fact, I am often amazed at the people I run into who know or knew my Aunt Virginia and her siblings.

Being the second oldest brought with it a certain degree of responsibility as the younger siblings came along. While grandma didn’t work outside the home, big families require the cooperation of all its members, and the older ones are first in line to help out. I suppose it was with the older children that the singing while you work tradition came about in my grandparents’ family. They would sing while they did the dishes or cleaned the house. It made for a happy home, and it was with the help of the older siblings, like Aunt Virginia that the younger siblings learned the Aunt Virginiasongs and tradition. It was a tradition that was a tribute to my grandmother, Hattie Byer. She instilled in her children a love of song, happiness, and hard work.

As a child, I remember Aunt Virginia’s soft laugh and her sweet smile. She was always so much fun to be around. Her gentle spirit always made me feel loved. What more could a little kid ask from their aunt. I have always felt very blessed to know my Aunt Virginia. With Aunt Evelyn’s passing in May, Aunt Virginia became the oldest sibling left in the family. In many ways, that is kind of a wake up call for all of us…take the time to touch base with her whenever you can. Today is Aunt Virginia’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

IMG_0020aOne of the hardest things a parent has to face, is having their child move away. Whether it is to college or a permanent move, it is a tearing time for the parents, who had hoped this day would never come. Parents don’t have children so they can move away, but nevertheless, that is what happens sometimes. Whether it is a job transfer, college, or a move of choice, it is really hard on both parents and children. Since I have never moved away as a child, I can’t speak to the feelings of homesickness that come from living so far from the only home I have ever known. I suppose it could be much the same as the parents are feeling about their child leaving. You want them to be happy, and yet you had always hoped that their happiness would be found in the same city that you live in, and not in a city that is 1200 miles away from you. That is just so far away, that it seems unbearable.

As the parent, in this situation, I think it might be just a bit unique. For the last six and a half years, I have had the great pleasure of working side by side with my daughter, Amy Royce. Friday was her last day, since she is moving to Washington state today. I think the hardest part of her leaving work for good, is seeing her empty chair. Her office is out front, and will continue to be used to do things like make payments and such, until we hire someone to take her place, but it’s really hard for me to go in there, because when I do, I am once again faced with that empty chair…not to mention the task of telling every client that Amy no longer works there. It almost feels like rubbing it in.

It has also been our tradition to go to breakfast with Amy every other week on Saturday, trading off with going to breakfast with our older daughter, Corrie Petersen. As we were having a special breakfast Sunday morning, which included both of them, so that we could all enjoy one more time together, it occurred to me that in the future, we would again be looking at an empty chair…the one Amy used to occupy every other week at breakfast. It is just another reminder of the drastic change that has taken place in our family.

Then, came church. I am used to having Amy sitting on my right and Corrie on my left, but Sunday morning brought yet another empty chair, as Amy and her family spent the morning packing the moving truck they have rented. Amy also sang with me as part of the backup singers for the music ministry, and that felt a little bit lonely too…even though I didn’t stand right next to her. I still knew that she was there, and now I know that she isn’t there anymore.That Empty Chair

I know that I will get used to having my daughter and her family living so far away. It will just take time. I know it will be hard for them too, but I think they will have a bit of an advantage over me, and those of us left behind, including their daughter, Shai, who decided to stay in Casper, because they will not be picturing us in places around their world. It will not be normal to have us there at their work, at the restaurants they go too, or the church they attend. They will have a normal that doesn’t include us. We will have to create a new normal that does not include them. Yes, I will get used to having them gone too. I just think it would be easier for me, were it not for that empty chair.

Shai and Me 1996It seems like just yesterday that our little Leap Day girl, Shai Royce was born, but it was really nineteen years and two months ago. Of course, you expect your kids and grandkids to grow up, but when they do, it still seems like the whole thing sneaked up on you…like you somehow didn’t really think it was going to happen. Then comes the time when they move out for the first time, and into an apartment of their own. Somehow it feels like Shai is about four years old, and living on her own…oh, wait, she sort of is. Being a Leap Day Baby is a unique situation, in that she only really gets a birthday every four years…making her oficially 4¾ years old. No wonder it seems like she is too young to be living on her own. Not only should she be a little girl, but officially she is a little girl. I’m not crazy., even though it might sound crazy. And to top it off, you know that no matter how grown up she, and my other grandchildren get, they will always be grandbabies to me, and I will always picture them in part, just like when they were little babies.
Shai's Kitchen
I think Shai’s apartment is going to be beautiful. She is a girl with very good taste, and a wonderful sense of style. She has some very nice things, and a good head on her shoulders, so, she will start to get things set up as time goes on. I don’t think a first timer to apartment living has everything they need to get started, but she seems to be doing better that most of them. She is organized and I know she will have everything in ship shape in no time.

I think the thing that I find the most interesting about Shai’s new apartment, is that in all reality it is the second time her first apartment is been in this particular apartment complex. I know that sounds odd, but when Shai was born, her parents lived in the same apartment complex, and so when she came home, it was to almost the same place. Of course, technically that apartment belonged to her parents, and this one belongs to Shai, but it is in a way, kind of like coming 993369_10201198433396466_1310255224_nahome for her. I don’t know how often something like that happens, but for her, that is exactly what happened.

I know that Shai has mixed feelings about making such a big move, especially since the rest of her family is moving to the Seattle, Washington area, but she will have her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, and other extended family members living here too, so she will get used to it. And of course, she has lots of friends as well, and I’m sure that she will be entertaining people before very long, so before she knows it this will feel like home to her. Congratulations Shai, on your first home. I know that you will be very happy there. Just don’t forget to visit your grandma and grandpa.

059aShai visiting Grandma at workMost people have heard of or have been involved in the practice of taking their child to work with them for a day. It shows the children what their parents do everyday, and gives them a chance to learn about responsibility, work ethic, and career choices. This day was originally started in the summer of 1992 in New York by the Ms Foundation for Women and its president, Marie C Wilson, with the support of foundation founder, Gloria Steinem. The first celebration took place on April 22, 1993 and has since been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April every year for 37 million children, parents, and schools in over 3.5 million workplaces across the country. The annual event now also includes participants in over 200 countries.

In years gone by, life was different, in that children often worked along side their parents on the farm, or as was the case with my Aunt Laura when she was little, children were with their parents until they went to school, and even after school had ended for the day. There weren’t a lot of day care options, and so it was Shai at worknormal have your little ones around. Even in this day and age, there are places of business who have embraced the combination of work and child care in the same space. The accountant who handles the bookkeeping for our office, had a playpen in the office when her secretary had a child, so that she could do her work and not feel like she was sacrificing her baby bonding time. My own office has had children in it periodically. From my boss, Jim Stengel’s kids when they were little, to my grandchildren when they weren’t feeling well, so their mom’s could go to work, and later my grandchildren and our CSR, Carrie Beauchamp’s daughter after school. And since my daughter, Amy Royce and her daughter Shai Royce have worked here at times, we have had not only Amy’s kids here after school, but on the job too.

I like the idea of children learning about what goes on in a business, and learning that while in their parents place of business, there are times they will have access to their parents, and times when they need to entertain themselves quietly, because their parent is busy. I think that with the right people…innovative people, open to new ideas, children can be brought into the workplace to make the transition from new parent to employee a softer, more comfortable one. And as to having mothers who cannot take time off for sick little My grandkids when they were littleAmanda Ingram ones or days off from school, it’s nice to be a grandparent who can step in and help out, and who has a boss who understands.

There are many reasons to celebrate Take Your Child To Work Day, and in my opinion, many more reasons to have a flexible work place in which having a child in the mix sometimes, is not a bad thing, but rather embraced as a special perk offered to good employees who sometimes need a little bit of consideration, so they can be free to do a good job as an employee, as well as a parent.

Bertha Schumacher HallgrenBertha & Arthur Hallgren and Elsa & Frank LawrenceWhen you read through the personal journal of another person’s life, you must be prepared for the many emotions that life can produce in people. My great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren was an amazing woman, as was her younger sister, Elsa Schumacher Lawrence. They spent years working in a man’s world, and being successful at it…in fact out working them and being capable of using machinery the men couldn’t. They were considered so invaluable that the companies they worked for tried really hard not to give them any time off, as the place didn’t do so well when they were gone. The work was so emotionally draining, that the only release for them sometimes came in the form of bitter tears. Nevertheless, times were tough during the depression years, and you didn’t just walk away from a job, because the going got tough.

It wasn’t the years of hard work that seemed to be the most severe blow to Bertha, but rather the life changing moment when her sister, Elsa decided after all the years of caregiving for their parents, now both gone home to Heaven, to marry a man who was a widower ready to retire. Bertha and Elsa had made the decision, probably subconsciously, to set aside their hopes for a family and a home of their own at a very young age. They were the youngest of their parents seven children, and while the other children had married and left home, comfortable in the knowledge that the two youngest sisters were still there taking care of their aging parents, the girls knew that no one would be left if they married too. After their parents passing, the girls lived together for a number of years, before Elsa met Frank Lawrence and became engaged.

Bertha likens the situation to divorce. She had lived with her sister for 40 years, and the separation was torturous. To make matters worse, their older sister, Mina, who had always lived close, made the decision to move to Colorado to be near her daughter, Paula, while her husband, John Spare went into the CBees during World War II. Bertha talked about dividing the things she and Elsa had in the home, and looking for a smaller apartment that she could afford on her own…and she talked about the tears. For the first time in her life, Bertha was going to be alone, and she didn’t like or want this, at all.

I know how she feels to a degree. I am not alone, because I have much family, and of course, my husband, Bob Schulenberg in my life. Nevertheless, after a parent, or other patient you have cared for goes to Heaven, or even gets better, and goes about their own lives, the caregiver can find themselves at loose ends. They wonder who they are if they are not a caregiver. Then, as in Bertha’s case, the only companionship she had every really known is gone too. She felt like she had just been placed on top of a cliff, and the only way out was to fall, and the consequences of that were just as bad as staying put.

Great Aunt Elsa by her flower gardenBertha & Elsa School DaysIn the end, Bertha would move to Colorado with Mina and Paula, and she would meet the man she would marry. The marriages of Bertha and Elsa would not last long, because their husbands both died after a short marriage and much happiness. The girls regrouped, and once again became companions for each other. It was as if it was meant to be…as if they had never been apart. Their lives had always been intertwined, and their golden years would be spent together in their new home in Boulder, Colorado…until Bertha passed away in 1984, leaving Elsa alone until her passing in 1992.

Walt & Joann weddingWhen Bob’s aunt, Margee Kountz was born, her oldest sister, my mother-in-law, Joann was dating and planning her wedding to my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg. He was working in another town, and so they wrote letters back and forth, because they didn’t get to see each other as often as they would like. Of course, they talked about the normal things, like missing each other, and such, but they also talked about the future, and what they wanted it to be.

One thing that has stuck in my mind about those letters, is how my father-in-law felt about his soon to be sister-in-law, Margee. She would only be 4½ months old when they married, and he just thought she was the cutest little baby he had ever seen. He mentioned several times in the letters they wrote back and forth, that when they had a little girl, he wanted his Margeedaughter to be just like Margee. He simply loved his little future sister-in-law so much, that he would have loved to have a dozen or so of them. In the end, he didn’t have a dozen daughters, but he did get four of them, as well as two sons, so I guess his dream of lots of kids, and especially daughters, came true.

Through the years, Margee remained a big part of their lives. She has pretty much always lived near them, and has shared a good portion of their lives. Holidays, birthdays, and barbeques were among the things the families shared, and of course, these always included Grandma and Grandpa Knox, the sister’s parents too. It was the way they kept the families close, and it was a good thing for all of us.

As the years flew by and everyone got busy with their own lives, it might have seemed that we didn’t spend as much time with Margee as we used to, but when we needed her, she was there. She worked for most of her Mom and Margeeadult life, but when her sister, Joann, my mother-in-law, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, began to need someone to stay with her when my father-in-law had appointments, we might have had a big problem, but Margee, by that time retired, agreed to come and sit with her sister. I truly don’t know what we would have done had she not been able to do that. There were times when my father-in-law was in the hospital, and we all worked. There was no way to just find someone to take a week off to go and stay with her, but once again, Margee stepped in and bailed us out. She spent the days, and we took care of the nights. I hope she knows just what a relief that was to us. It was a debt we can never repay. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Br on Christmas2014 family pictureAs another year comes to a close, my mind drifts back to the events that have taken place over the last twelve months. it seems like every year I’m alive goes by faster than the one before it. Christmas last year was just here, and before my very eyes, it was Christmas again. As a kid, it seemed like each year took ten years to pass, and now it seems like mere days.

Last year ended with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg beginning a journey toward health, and this year, she has shown us just what determination and consistency can accomplish, by losing over 275 pounds. She looks amazing, and her new active lifestyle is giving her a new found happiness and a definite glow. Her success has motivated several others in the family to get back on the bandwagon toward health, myself included.

The grandkids have grown up before your very eyes, and we now have two high school graduates. Our grandson Christopher Petersen, left us this year to venture off to Sheridan to begin the journey to build his dream of becoming a great chef, and or restaurant or hotel owner. It’s been hard having him be away from home and yet we are thankful that he isn’t so far away as to make trips home impossible. Our granddaughter, 10428069_10204235756953007_5941351706439712699_n - Copy1426540_10204235756432994_5781173328603841326_n - CopyShai Royce has entered the workforce full time, at the Hilton Inn. She is unsure of her future goals, so working is a good option. Our grandson, Caalab Royce is a senior in high school and will graduate in May. He is exploring the options for college to learn to make guitars…a longtime dream of his. And our grandson, Joshua Petersen is a sophomore in high school this year. Josh loves track, but with a knee injury, the season, or at least the indoor season, is up in the air until the doctor gives him the go ahead.

The past year has proven to be a pretty good one for The Moms. My mom, Collene Spencer took a couple of falls, but other than a couple of staples in her head, she is fine, and we are planning on physical therapy to strengthen her legs in the new year. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg continues to thrive at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center, where she has lived for almost two years now. Both moms are happy where they are, and their living situations are a perfect fit for them. My mom’s mind is clear, so being at home is a workable situation, and since my sister, Cheryl Masterson lives with Mom, there is someone with her in the evenings anyway. Alzheimer’s Disease has made it impossible for my mother-in-law to live on her own, but since she doesn’t realize that Dad is gone, and that she is in a nursing home, she experiences no sorrow over her situation.

The past year brought our family a new addition, when Hattie Joy Parmely arrived, right on schedule. She joined her parents, Eric and Ashley Parmely, and big sister, Reagan Kaylynn Parmely, to give them a blessed Aunt Doris & MomCheryl, Tracey, Caryn, and Collenehome indeed. There were new additions in our family in other ways too, as I was able to connect us to many previously unknown cousins all over the country. I would love to tell you just how many new cousins there are, but there are too many to count, and more that will continue to join us through the ones we have already found. We said good bye for now to my grandniece, Christina Masterson, who moved to Germany to live with her mom. And we acquired a new driver, when my grandson Josh got his license.

Bob and I took a lovely cruise to Alaska this past summer, and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. My dad had always wanted to go, and take his family with them, but while we sent our parents on a cruise for their 50th anniversary in 2003, we couldn’t join them. Well Dad…I’ve been there now, and you’re right…it was amazing. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken, and I would love to go back someday. Mom, Cheryl, and I also went on a trip this year. It was a trek to meet all the new Schumacher cousins that we had met online, and to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, and our precious Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill. The trip was far too short, but it has left us with precious memories, and new relationships that we will always have. We thank God for giving us back such wonderful family members, and adding so many new IMG_205883rd birthday 1ones to our lives.

This is a time when so many people are making new years resolutions, but that is something I just don’t do. I prefer to reflect back on the passing year, and rejoice in all the blessings I have been given over the year. This year, has brought blessings in many different forms, from Facebook and Ancestry, to face-to-face blessings. I could not ask for more. Happy New Year to all of you from all of us, and may God’s blessings overflow in your lives. I love you all very much!

Break TimeOpinions vary on the matter of child labor, and who can legally have their child work and at what kind of job. Some people take it to the point of saying that children shouldn’t even do chores around the home, which is, in my opinion, silly. It is my thought that children need to be helping out around the house, but beyond that I suppose the water gets a little bit murky. In the distant past, children were farmed out to spend their days working at a job that should have been done by an adult, and the kids really had no childhood to speak of. That is cruel treatment, and the current child labor laws prevent that from happening…unless people are so illegal that they do it without the knowledge of the government.

That said, there is a group of kids…even today that do work every day, and it is not illegal at all. These are the children of farmers and ranchers. I don’t know of any of those kids who don’t help out around the farm or ranch. There are stables to be cleaned, and cows to be milked, and animals to feed. There are also crops to be cared for and planted. These kids work and there is nothing illegal about it. Of course, their parents do have to Young Workersbe careful on a few matters. The children must get their schooling, and they have to be working on the parents farm or ranch.

Such was the case for my husband’s great uncles and his grandfather. Many people owned farms when those boys were young, and the kids helped out with just about everything. Most families back then really couldn’t afford to hire the amount of workers that it would take to run the place, so they hired what they had to, and the kids learned to work. I really can’t say that I think this is a bad thing. The kids often like the work…especially taking care of horses…since they often get to ride them too.

If you look back on the lives of our parents and grandparents, you will find that many of them grew up on a farm or ranch, and most of them were working to help out on the place at a very young age. Really, what a wonderful way to bond with the parents. Running a ranch or farm is a big job, and most kids like to do the things their parents are doing, because they want to be just like their parents. If a child is interested in doing the same kind of work their parents do, or take over the family farm, they need to know how to do this from the bottom up. What better way could there be, than to help out as a child.
A True Helper
Of course, not every family owns a farm or ranch, and while they may live in the country, they don’t have that kind of work to do. Still, the kids can and should help out with things. My nephew, Barry Schulenberg, loved helping his grandpa split firewood. He ran the splitter while his grandpa loaded the wood into it. Barry was about 4 years old, but you couldn’t have pulled him away from that job for anything. He was the one who did that, and that was all there was to it. Maybe some people would think he was a bit young, but there was never a single accident when he worked the splitter. I think sometimes we don’t give these kids enough credt. They can often do more than we think they can. They just need to be given a chance.

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