My aunt, Sandy Pattan is the youngest of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s nine children. Because she is the youngest, she was at home while her older siblings were married. She got to witness the changes that occurred as each of her siblings married and moved into their own homes. Of course, she was very young when some of these changes occurred, and even found herself playing with her nieces and nephews, because they were close to her age. Because of that and the fact that she grew up having brothers and sisters-in-law, so also got to hear all the stories of their lives and their family’s lives.
That has largely made Aunt Sandy my go-to person or the family history stories. When Aunt Sandy was a little girl, Grandma and Grandpa Byer would tell her all the stories about the old days.Most of us don’t really take much of an interest in those stories as young people,mostly because we think there will always be time to hear all about it later. All too often, by the time we are finally interested, the people who now the stories are gone, and we find ourselves filled with regret, and there is nothing we can do about it. For that reason, I feel very blessed to have both opportunity and interest at the same time in my conversations with Aunt Sandy.
Aunt Sandy has such a caring heart. As I have spent time talking to Aunt Sandy we have really become quite close. We don’t have to be talking about anything specifically, we just enjoy talking. I love hearing about her sons, John and Jim; granddaughters, Ashley and Alicia; and her great grandson, Brian. And she loves to hear about my family too. She has been working on some remodeling on her house, and things are going well. She has also been going through boxes of old treasures. I love that. You never know what you will find. Aunt Sandy has come across old family pictures, and other treasures too. It is exciting, and I love hearing all about it. That is one of the many things we have in common. Of course, if you ask me, she is the real treasure. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz is his mother Joann Schulenberg’s youngest sister. When Joann developed Alzheimer’s disease, Margee was a vital part of our team of caregivers for her. Whenever I had to take my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg to the doctor, Margee happily gave of her time to come and sit with her sister. People may not realize just how vital their visits can be. When a family of caregivers are working hard to keep their loved one in good health, the caregivers can find themselves feeling exhausted. That visit, while it make seem such a little thing, allows the caregiver time to get necessary things done, and a little bit of time to take a break from the work, and at least a little bit of the stress of caring for their patient. Caregiving is about love. You do it because to love your patient, but it is not without it’s stresses, worry, and exhaustion. The nice thing about the Respite Care worker is that they are a huge part of the team of people who perform two services…companionship for the patient and time off for the caregiver. They are priceless, and Margee always stepped up to help.
My mother-in-law, Joann passed away on January 4, 2018. We are no longer caregivers or respite care workers. She is at peace, but we are left behind to mourn her loss. For Margee, it means that she is the oldest member of the family…something she did not want to be. Not because of the age, but because it has been so hard for her to say goodbye to her older sisters. I think that in many ways she feels like “the last of one standing,” and that’s not what she ever wanted. I know the feeling. It is not so very much different from being orphaned, which happens to all of us when our parents pass away. Still, we hope our siblings will live, at least, close to as long as we do, because when your parents and your siblings are gone, you feel truly alone. Of course, Margee isn’t really alone. She has her children grand children, and a great grandson too, but there is just a strange feeling that goes along with being the last of the original family.
While Margee was a big part of taking care of her sister, and the caregivers who worked during those years, I’m not entirely sure she ever knew just how important she really was. She was, sort of, an unsung hero. I’m sure I could have taken my mother-in-law to my father-in-law’s doctor’s appointments, but it would have been a huge undertaking for one person. Margee took half of that load off of me, and gave my mother-in-law a much needed social session too. She can to visit, and it gave my mother-in-law a new perspective on life. Their conversation stimulated her mind some. They talked about the old days, their kids, all the fun they had. They didn’t share their growing up years, because just six months after Margee was born, my in-laws were married. Nevertheless, there was much to talk about. Each could compare their childhood to the others, maybe. It wouldn’t really matter what they talked about, because after all, the visits were Margee’s gift of love for her sister. And that is what makes respite care priceless. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Being the youngest of my grandparents’ nine children, my Aunt Sandy Byer Pattan, has become my go to person for family history information. She probably got to hear all the stories more than the other kids, because when parents are busy raising a large family, there are always other priorities. Of course, story time was a big priority in their family too, because it was something they could all do together. I’m sure the other kids heard all the stories about their family too, but Aunt Sandy seems to be the one who was especially interested in the family history. There always seems to be one or two who can easily be named the family historian. For the Byer family, the family historian would most definitely be Aunt Sandy.
In some ways, Aunt Sandy almost got to be that “mouse in the corner” listening to what went on in history. She may not have been there experiencing it, but the family she knew and loved, were there, so it felt real. Some of the family history stories were in Aunt Sandy’s time…not that she lived in ancient times, but that she lived during times in our history that were economically tough. She witnessed times when people often showed up at their doorstep…hungry, and they had heard through the grapevine that generous people lived in that house. Aunt Sandy recalls that no one was turned away, because her mother always made a way to feed more hungry mouths. I can’t imagine living through some of those times, and not have it affect my interest in family history.
Aunt Sandy always has a bit of a unique take on the family and it’s members. She often sees a side of them, good or bad, that I would have never known about. Every family has its rebels, and every family has its conformists. That is just a part of life, and for me, each is interesting. The runaway husband story she told me about my second great grandfather, David Pattan left me wondering if he was a cheating husband or just a little bit insane. Unfortunately, those are questions without answers. She has told me about grouchier family members, Some of these, I suppose, were just naturally grouchy, but others, I think might have been overwhelmed. Each will be remembered for the choices they made, I guess.
As to my Aunt Sandy, I will always remember her for the insight she has given me into the great big family that I am honored to be a part of. I think that every family really needs someone like Aunt Sandy in it. She spent many years listening to, and remembering the details of the stories of the family. Her amazing mind allowed her to remember the stories without writing much of it down. If someone is interested, she is willing to share. That, in and of itself, is a big part of the blessing she is. I think everyone of the family members should take a few minutes to sit down with her and find out about all the amazing information she has. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
There is nothing worse, for the youngest sibling, than to be left at home while the rest of the kids get to go to school. They just don’t understand why they can’t go along. I’m sure that after a while they forget some and go find something to occupy themselves until the rest of the kids come home, but that just doesn’t really alleviate that lonely feeling. They love their siblings and they miss them, and that is all there is to it. So every morning they hurry to get ready, hoping that maybe today will be the day when they finally get to go along…even putting on their own backpack to show their mom that they are ready…but to no avail.
My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve’s kids. She has three older brothers, and she thinks they are the greatest. They feel the same way about her too. When the boys go outside to play, Aleesia thinks she should get to go outside too. When they go to school, she wants to go too. It doesn’t really matter what the boys are doing, because if they are doing it, Aleesia wants to do it too. Her brothers are the coolest…after all.
Still, like it or not, Fall happens, and the boys have to go back to school, because that is what kids do in the Fall. And that leaves Miss Aleesia standing at the front door, in her Jammys and her boots, with her Little Mermaid backpack, feeling a little bit like she is on the outside looking in. She wants to go where her brothers are, but she is not allowed to do so. It’s simply against the rules. And that leaves a sad look on our smiley girl’s little face.
It’s such a sad little scene…a little girl looking longingly out the door, wishing she could go with her brothers, and do all the cool things they get to do. There she is wondering why she is the baby of the family. It just isn’t fair. Her mommy looks on with her own heart breaking just a little bit for this tiny girl of hers who is already learning that life isn’t always fair. It is a moment that will stay in her memory files, like it will for anyone who sees this picture. There is no way to explain to Aleesia that it has to be this way…for now. No way to explain that before she knows it, she will be in school too, and then she will wish she could stay home with mommy and have girl time. So, Jenny does the only thing she can do. She goes to her girl, and invites her to play some little game, or asks her if she wants to go to the mall, or maybe watch her favorite movie. Before she can shed too many tears, her mommy has her mind focused on other things, and the sad moment is over. She will miss her brothers several more times before they get home, but then…when school is done for the day…she puts on her smiley face again. Her brothers are home…and all is right in her world.
For all of their childhood years, my daughter Amy just wanted to be different than her big sister, Corrie. Corrie played the violin, so Amy wanted to play the clarinet. If Corrie wanted to watch Bugs Bunny, Amy wanted to watch Mickey Mouse. It wasn’t like they fought about things, because mostly they didn’t. The girls got along very well, and were always good friends. Amy just didn’t want to be mini-me to her big sister. I suppose that because they were born so close together…just eleven months apart…they seemed to be the same age by the time they could both walk. Corrie had the distinction of being the big sister, and everyone knew it, because Amy forgot to grow. At just 4’10 (which is hard for me to say, because we always thought it was 4’11, until her husband, Travis proved us wrong), there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that she was the youngest. Of course, they would have thought that if she had been the oldest too, so I guess, for Corrie’s sake it was a good thing that the shorter child was also the younger child.
For Amy, who never really felt like she was the younger child…but rather felt like they should be equal, there always seemed to be something to prove. It wasn’t exactly like a competition, but rather an opposition. She didn’t want to compete to be the best at the same things Corrie was doing, she just wanted to be her own person. That is why, no matter what the situation was, Amy wanted to do the opposite of Corrie. If Amy couldn’t be the oldest, she would have to be the opposite. There were the natural things that worked out in Amy’s favor too…being shorter, being blond while her sister was brunette, even needing glasses for distance vision, while Corrie needed them for near vision. Yes, these two daughters of mine were as opposite and opposite could possibly be.
You would naturally think that there would be nothing but fighting in our household, with all this I want to be different than her opposition going on, and sometimes you would be right. The argument was mostly with their mother though. I saw nothing wrong with both girls playing the violin, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and Amy quickly informed me of the error of my ways. I would have even dressed them alike, but that was also a no no! So, I learned to see these two little people, as two very different individuals…not a bad thing I suppose. And, while Amy did everything in her power to show her individuality, she loved her big sister. And, every so often, I would catch a little look…usually so subtle that it went unnoticed until years later in a picture, that told me that while Amy didn’t want to be mini-me to Corrie, she thought her big sister was pretty great, nevertheless.