Loss

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When I think of a hurricane, I think of a tropical storm that escalates, and I suppose most of the time, that would be right, but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes hurricanes can develop in a more northern area, or as in the case of Hurricane Hazel on October 15, 1954 a strong hurricane somehow continues north as a hurricane after it hit first in a more southern area. Hurricane Hazel was a hurricane that struck the Carolina’s, and then and then moved into Ontario as a powerful extratropical storm…still of hurricane intensity, after that initial strike in the Carolinas.

The deadliest hurricane of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Hazel was also the second costliest, and the most intense hurricane of that year. The storm killed at least 469 people in Haiti before striking the United States as a Category 4 hurricane near the border between North and South Carolina. As Hazel ripped through Haiti, it destroyed 40% of the coffee trees and 50% of the cacao crop, which would drastically affected the economy for several years.

After causing 95 fatalities in the US, Hazel struck Canada as an extratropical storm, raising the death toll by 81 people, mostly in Toronto. When Hazel made landfall near Calabash, North Carolina, it destroyed most waterfront homes. Then as it screamed north along the Atlantic coast, Hazel affected Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York; as it lashed the area with gusts near 100 miles per hour and caused $281 million, which today would be $2720 million in damage. When it was over Pennsylvania, Hazel consolidated with a cold front and turned northwest towards Canada.

In addition to the fatalities, Hurricane Hazel brought with it flash flooding in Canada, which destroyed twenty bridges, killed 81 people, and left over 2,000 families homeless in Canada alone. In all, and including the strike in the Carolinas, where Hazel killed 95 people and caused almost $630 million ($6,100 million today) in damages, on top of over 500 other deaths and billions in damage in the US and Caribbean. No other recent natural disaster on Canadian soil has been so deadly. Floods killed 35 people on a single street in Toronto.

When it hit Ontario as an extratropical storm, rivers and streams in and around Toronto overflowed their banks, which caused severe flooding. As a result, many residential areas in the local floodplains, such as the Raymore Drive area, were subsequently converted to parkland. In Canada alone, over C$135 million (C$1.3 billion, 2021) of damage was incurred. The effects of Hazel were particularly unprecedented in Toronto due to a combination of heavy rainfall during the preceding weeks, a lack of experience in dealing with tropical storms, and the storm’s unexpected retention of power despite traveling 680 miles over land. The storm stalled over the Toronto area, and although it was now extratropical, it remained as powerful as a category 1 hurricane. To help with the cleanup, 800 members of the military were called in and a Hurricane Relief Fund was quickly established that distributed $5.1 million ($49.1 million today) in aid. The name Hazel was retired as a named storm, because of the high death toll.

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 uncle, Jim Wolfe was a favorite uncle to my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and me. Uncle Jim had a great sense of humor, and a deep sense of family. He loved kids and he was good to all kids. In fact, Uncle Jim was good to everyone. He was the best kind of person. Uncle Jim has a soft heart. Whatever we wanted when we were around Uncle Jim…if he had any say in it, we could have it, or do it! I’m not sure how my parents, Al and Collene Spencer, felt about all that “spoiling,” but I’m sure they were ok with it, because after all, it was only temporary. He just liked to make us happy.

My uncle Jim was a storyteller among storytellers. The best of the best. When Uncle Jim started telling his stories, we all sat around him wide-eyed with wonder. We never knew if his stories were going to be from real life and which ones were going to be tall tales…at least not until the end, when he would tell us the punch line. Then we would all laugh and say, “Oh! Uncle Jim!” He loved to get a little rise out of us, and it really tickled his funny bone. And speaking of tickling, Uncle Jim was a tickler from way back. He used to chase us around and tickle us, if we started bugging him…so naturally, we always started bugging him. Then we would try to get away. Hahahaha!! Not that that ever happened. Uncle Jim had the kindest heart and he was always a lot of fun!

Uncle Jim would help anyone who needed help, if it was within his power…neighbors, friends, and even complete strangers. He was generous, and would always lend a helping hand where he could. He loved his family fiercely and loyally. No one better hurt his wife or kids, in any way. He defended them in word and deed. He was faithful to them in every way. When he decided to buy some land out in Washington, where he would build his final home, he bought enough so that each of his kids could have their own place nearby. He never wanted any of them to not have a home, so he made sure of it. The land he purchased was on he top of a mountain with some of the most beautiful views on the way up. He did his very best for all of his family, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t love Uncle Jim. In his later years, when his care for Alzheimer’s Disease required that he be in a nursing home, Uncle Jim still kept his character. He loved putting a smile on the faces of all the nursing staff, and anyone else who might be there visiting. He could often be found getting into “mischief” behind the nurses station desk, not that he ever hurt anything, he was just “visiting,” after all. My sisters and I love him still! Just thinking about him make us smile. Uncle Jim went to Heaven in 2013 to join his wife, my Aunt Ruth, and other family members who have gone before him. I know they are having a great time, and we are so glad to know where he is, and one day we will be together with him, and all our family again. Today would have been Uncle Jim’s 100th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Jim. We love and miss you very much.

When we think about the enemies of war, we usually think of two nations that unequivocally hate each other. It is thought that every member of teach nation totally hates every member of the other, but that is not even logical. It doesn’t matter what nation you are talking about, the people of those nations are thoughts to hate each other, and many of them do, but nt all of them do. Not everyone loved war, and not everyone loves killing.

World War II was the deadliest wars in world history. It seemed that everyone hated everyone else, or at least that those from the one side (the Allied Powers) hated the other (the Axis of Evil). That wasn’t true either. The leaders probably hated each other, but the people of the nations were caught in the middle of the hatred of their leaders. Many of the people, civilians and military alike were family people, they had a love of others. Many of the people who fought in World War II had no idea of the horrors that were taking place. When they finally found out about it, they were absolutely horrified.

Still, those who fought in the war, knew some of the casualties of the war. A fighter pilot can’t fly over an expanse of an ocean battlefield and not see the losses taking place. For a fighter pilot or a bomber crew, it was not only possible to see the devastation, but they could also imagine what was going on below them as ships sink so quickly that the men onboard cannot escape. To add to the horror, the fact that these ships were his by torpedoes, bombs from the planes, bullets from the planes, and the planes themselves brought the added horror of fire and burning bodies. If a pilot let himself think about it, I think it would be possible to become physically ill at the thought of the horrors going on below them.

One fighter pilot felt that very deeply. During a sea battle in the Pacific Ocean in December 1940, two Royal Navy ships, the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese fighters. The scene must have been horrific for the pilots above, whether they were British or Japanese, they knew that men were dying horrific deaths below them. The loss of life so impacted on Japanese fighter pilot that he came back to the spot the next day and dropped two wreaths on the water. His action was to commemorate the dead from both sides during WWII. Japanese Flight Lieutenant Haruki Iki flew to the location of the battle and dropped the two wreaths over the seas. It was a simple act, but it was also a profound act. It showed that while the nations were enemies, the people of the nations were not necessarily enemies too. It also showed that even enemies can have compassion on the other side. War is not all about hate, it is also about being caught in the middle, with no way out but to fight.

Life isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always go the way we thought it would go. Even spending many good years together, doesn’t guaranty that we will have many more. For Pearl Hein, who loved her husband Eddie Hein so much, the end came far too soon, but in a loving marriage, the end always comes too soon. No matter how many years you have been together. Then, it is up to the one left behind, to go forward, because their spouse would want them to continue living. Such was the case with Eddie. He wanted Pearl to live on.

Since Eddie’s passing, Pearl has done a little traveling. With her daughter, Kim Arani and her husband, Michael living in Texas, Pearl has become a bit of a traveler…maybe not a world traveler, but a traveler nevertheless. I have been very happy that Pearl is spending time with Kim and Michael in Texas and their place in Florida. She really needed the time away from the cold weather in Forsyth, Montana where she lives, and after losing her son, Kim’s brother, Larry Hein too…just three months after his dad, things have been very sad for Pearl over the past

I know she had a lovely time visiting Kim and Michael, and I am so happy for them all. They needed The time together so they could begin to heal. One of the best ways to heal after a loss is to take the time to share the memories of the past. I’m sure Kim and Pearl did a lot of reminiscing during Pearl’s visit, and I’m sure it was a great healing process. I know that Eddie and Larry would both be very glad Pearl went to Texas. I know it was hard for her to move on alone, but it is what they would want her to do.

I remember watching the newer version of “Titanic” and when Rose survives the sinking, she goes on to live a full life, because Jack told her to live on. Life after loss is never easy, but it can be rewarding. People are meant to survive and to thrive. We are wired to grieve and to move forward with our lives. That doesn’t mean that it is an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary thing to do. I’m glad to see that Pearl is making that transition. Today is Aunt Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Hurricanes were not always given names, but rather years ago, they were given a number. In 1935, on September 2nd, then Hurricane Three became the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The hurricane was the most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall on record in terms of pressure. It tied with Hurricane Dorian in 2019 as the strongest landfalling Atlantic hurricane for maximum sustained winds. The hurricane had winds of 185 miles per hour. When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on the 29th of August, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I was thinking about how bad it was, but Ida was only a Cat 4, with 150 mile an hour winds. That is really nothing compared to 185 mile per hour winds.

Hurricane Gilbert finally passed the Great Labor Day Hurricane as the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in 1988. The fourth tropical cyclone, third tropical storm, second hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 1935 Atlantic hurricane season, the Labor Day hurricane was one of four Category 5 hurricanes on record to strike the contiguous United States, along with Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Michael in 2018. In addition, it was the third most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of barometric pressure, behind Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

The Labor Day Hurricane intensified rapidly as it was passing near Long Key on the evening of Monday, September 2nd. Southern Florida was swept by a massive storm surge as the eye passed over the area. After carving new channels connecting the bay with the ocean the waters quickly receded. Gale-force winds and high seas prevented rescue efforts into Tuesday. The storm continued northwestward along the Florida west coast, finally weakening before its second landfall near Cedar Key, Florida, on September 4th.

The Labor Day Hurricane was quite compact and intense. It caused catastrophic damage in the upper Florida Keys. The storm surge of approximately 18 to 20 feet swept over the islands. Nearly all the structures between Tavernier and Marathon were destroyed by the hurricane’s strong winds and the surge. The town of Islamorada was wiped off the map. Portions of the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway were severely damaged or destroyed. Sadly, many veterans died in work camps created for the construction of the Overseas Highway, in part due to poor working conditions. The hurricane also caused additional damage in northwest Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In all, the hurricane took 23 lives before it dissipated on September 10, 1935.

Whenever I have to say goodbye to someone…no matter what the reason, I find myself thinking about how hard it is to say goodbye. It doesn’t matter if it is because of a death or because of a long parting. It’s just hard. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I spent the last two weeks visiting with our daughter, Amy Royce and her family, and the goodbyes, which started Sunday night and continued to Monday morning, when we actually left to head home we’re tear-filled and full of heartache. You would think that I would be used to these goodbyes, but the fact is that you never get used to the goodbyes. Every goodbye includes a little bit of mourning.

Every time I think of Amy’s family, if feel a little sadness, because there is so much I miss and so much I miss out on. I’m happy that they are happy where they are, but sad for us. I have known that Amy wanted to live near the ocean, from the time she graduated from high school. That was hard, and I’m thankful that they waited until their kids were grown, so that I could be close to Shai and Caalab. Now they all have careers they love, and the girls are even insurance agents, just like I was. My grandson, Caalab has found the love of his life there. We all love Chloe Foster so much. And we couldn’t be happier about their relationship. The whole family is all happy there, and that is what matters. Amy hated the winters here, and sometimes, I can fully understand that. They can be brutal. The climate in western Washington is much milder.

Nevertheless, it is just so hard to say goodbye and leave them there…so far away. We love to go for visits, and we always have such a great time. In Washington, we can do so many things that we can’t do in Wyoming. They have taken us on whale watching tours, and harbor cruises. We like to go to the beaches, and sometimes the cities too, but the congestion in the roads is not so fun. In Wyoming, we have wide open spaces and a beauty of a different kind. We have the ease of life that comes from living in a less populated state. I could go on and on about the differences, pluses, and minuses of each state, but the reality is that half my family is in Washington and half is in Wyoming, and every time the two halves meet, there is a goodbye that follows. It is never easy to say goodbye. In fact it is just so hard to say goodbye, and I really hate goodbyes. I always will, but I love my family, and I will always accept the goodbyes, if it means getting to see them. That’s all that matters. Seeing my kids.

I am so proud of my niece, Lindsay Moore. She has grown so much in the Lord, really all her life, but even more so in recent months. Lindsay and her husband, Shannon have been through so much over the past few months. They were expecting their second daughter, when they found out that she would have some health issues to face. They prayed and began to trust God for the solution. Then their daughter Hallie Joy came early, and soon after her birth, Hallie went home to be with the Lord. It was a devastating loss to the family, but Lindsay and Shannon stood firm in their faith, and continue to serve the Lord.

Recently, her pastor’s wife asked Lindsay to speak at a women’s event at their church, Harvest Church in Laramie, Wyoming. The women’s event was about being a champion. I was so glad they decided to record the entire event, because while I could not be there, I was able to watch the event and Lindsay’s presentation. Prior to the presentations, they held a praise and worship service and then the men in the church, Shannon served the women dinner and dessert. It was a lovely gesture for the men to show such care for the women. Then, Josie Calderon, the pastors wife gave a presentation on being a champion and then, Lindsay gave her presentation which was called “Being A Champion In Every Circumstance.”

Lindsay had been preparing for her presentation for about a month, and I know that parts of her presentation were very hard for her to share. She spoke of her daughter and her homegoing, and I know that was one of the hardest part of her presentation. Nevertheless, My sister, Allyn Hadlock, Lindsay’s mom said, “Lindsay was so peaceful and relaxed throughout her presentation, and she really connected with her audience. Lindsay’s message just ministered to me and I’m sure to everyone there! Lindsay had this peace that passes understanding! I was just so pleased and proud of her. It reminded me of the verse in 3 John 1:4 that says, ‘I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth.’ The Lord has helped her and brought her forward into a whole new place of peace and joy and He is showing her how to be a champion!” I would have to agree, and you didn’t have to be right there to be ministered to, because the Lord brought Lindsay’s peace and the spirit of her message out even when you were listening on YouTube.

Lindsay has spoken some other conferences for work and she used to teach at South Dakota State University, so she has some public speaking experience, but this was something different. This was Spirit Filled, this was the Lord speaking through Lindsay to get His message out to the people. The women’s event had a presentation from a boxing school in Laramie and they showed how to train and prepare so you can knock the enemy out before he can get to you. They had boxing gloves they gave away for a couple of prizes to remind us of our status as champions every day and also small boxing gloves that would be like on a key chain, but the real message was that we all need to stay in the word and in prayer, because God is the true answer to all our needs. The conference was amazing for all of the women who attended, and Lindsay has shown such amazing strength. She really is a champion, and God will see her through the tough times in her life. God has great things in mind for Lindsay, and for Shannon too, and they will see little Hallie again in Heaven. We are all so proud of them both. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a blessed day!! We love you!!

My grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, was a man who lived a hard life. Early in his first marriage, he and his wife, Edna Stanton Spencer, lost their daughter, Dorothy Spencer, who was my half-great aunt. She was just over 5 months old. It was a devastating loss for them, and the beginning of the end of their marriage. They were either pregnant then or got pregnant shortly after Dorothy’s passing, because my half-uncle, Norman Spencer was born just 9 months after Dorothy’s passing. Unfortunately, that was not enough to hold the marriage together, and the couple divorced a short time later. My grandfather married my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, and they had four wonderful children together, which is, of course, why I exist. My dad was Allen Lewis Spencer, one of those four children. I have always felt sad at what my grandfather went through in his life.

Grandpa struggled with some things in his life, but his children loved him. He was a stern parent, but that was truly a part of the times. Many stern parents came out of that era, and while some of the children didn’t like it, they turned out to be great adults, and I suppose that they would have to say that in part their dad had something to do with that. Their mom, my grandma, was a much more gentle person, but make no mistake, she could be stern too if the situation warranted it. Grandma was a gentle person, but she was also a very strong person…physically and emotionally. She ran the family farm while grandpa was away working on the Great Northern Railway as a carpenter, and she did an excellent job.

I never really knew either of these grandparents, because my grandfather passed away October 19, 1951, about a year and a half before my parents were married, and 4½ years before I was born. My grandmother passed away 6 months after I was born. I will have to get to know them when I go to Heaven, but when I look at their pictures, I see people who lived during hard years in our nation’s history, and came through it successfully to raise the wonderful children I now call my dad, aunts and uncles. Sadly, they too have all gone to Heaven now. I can imagine the happy times they are all having up there…no more sadness, loss, or tears. They can spend time together, getting to know their half-sister too, and there is no distance to cross. Today is the 142nd anniversary of my grandfather’s birth. How could it possibly be that many. Nevertheless, it is, and I know the party is on up there. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Spencer. We all love you very much, and can’t wait to meet you in Heaven one day.

Whether you prefer tall people or short people, you can’t help but be interested in the very tall or the very short. When I think of tall, I think of over 6’5”, but some people think of someone over 7’ tall. I suppose many people think that’s not so tall, but when you’re 5’2” tall, 6’5” seems very tall, and 7’ is a giant. The tallest person in recorded history was Robert Pershing Wadlow, also known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois. He was an American man who was irrefutably the tallest person in recorded history, and of that there is irrefutable evidence. He was born and raised in Alton, Illinois, a small city near Saint Louis, Missouri. Nevertheless, he did not marry the tallest woman. The tallest married couple ever recorded was Anna Haining Swan, who was 7’11” tall and Martin Van Buren Bates, who was 7’9” tall. The pictures of their wedding show people attending the wedding, who were probably quite tall, but they looked very short next to the Bates couple.

It is believed that Anna Swan was born at Mill Brook, New Annan, Nova Scotia. At birth she weighed 16 pounds, which is a large baby. She was the third of 13 children, but all of the others were average height. Anna grew quite quickly, reaching 4’6″ by her fourth birthday. On her 6th birthday Anna was measured again. She stood 5′ 2″ tall, just an inch or two shorter than her mother. She stood 6′ 2″ tall and weighed 203 pounds on her 11th birthday. By her 15th birthday Bates was 7′ tall. She reached her full height of 7’11” three years later. Her feet measured 14.2 inches long.

Martin Van Buren Bates was born on November 9, 1837, and was known as the “Kentucky Giant.” By the time he as full grown, he was 7’9″ and weighing 380 pounds. Bates’ growth rate didn’t jump until the age of six or seven, but he was over 6′ tall and weighed over 200 pounds by the time he was twelve years old. He served in the Civil War, and returned to Kentucky after the war. Before the war, his first occupation was as a schoolteacher, but upon his return, he began travelling with a circus. When the circus was in Halifax Martin Van Buren Bates met another enormously tall person…Anna Swan. She was attending the circus, and was spotted by the management and hired on the spot. The giant couple became a touring sensation and eventually fell in love. They married on June 17, 1871, in Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in London, in a highly publicized wedding. The ceremony drew thousands of people, due to both the uncommonness of the spectacle and the good nature of the pair. Queen Victoria gave them two extra-large diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents.

Martin and Anna moved to Ohio in 1872, settling in Seville. On May 19, 1872, Anna gave birth to a daughter, who weighed 18 pounds. She died at birth. The couple built a large house to accommodate themselves comfortably. Martin wanted to be a farmer. The family did well, but not in the area of children. A baby boy was born on January 15, 1879. He weighed 23 pounds 9 ounces, and was 28′ long. He was posthumously awarded the world record according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Their son only lived 11 hours. Anna Bates died on August 5, 1888. Martin ordered a statue of her from Europe for her grave, sold the oversized house, and moved into the town. In 1889 he remarried, this time to a woman of normal stature, Annette LaVonne Weatherby and lived a mostly peaceful life until his death in 1919 of nephritis. He was buried beside his first wife and their son in Seville.

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