care

It makes me sad to think that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg has been in Heaven now for over 5 years….not sad for him, but for me. He was such a sweet man, and having him for a father-in-law was always a blessing. When I first met my father-in-law, I liked his sense of humor, his willingness to help others, and his love of family. Early on, I probably would have said that my husband was very different that his dad, but as time went on, I realized that he really wasn’t. I discovered that the traits that I love about my husband came to him from his parents, and especially his dad. I think that is more common than we know, and the older each of us gets, the more we notice the traits of our parents. It is very much their legacy, living in their children.

I began taking care of my in-laws in 2007, and my father-in-law was somewhat surprised that I would devote so much time to them, but in reality, they were like second parents to me, and they had given me so much…not just in things, but in the gift of their wonderful son to be my life partner. They showed him how to be the amazing man I married, so how could I possibly not show them how great I knew they were. Life is a cycle. We raise our children with the hope that they will find someone to share their life with, and who will share their family too. My father-in-law was a great dad to his kids, in-laws, and grandkids. I feel very blessed to have known him.

Dad was a great teacher. He taught both of his boys to work on cars, build things, and to be responsible hard working men. His boys, and his girls too, have all become responsible, successful people, who all helped to take care of their parents as the end approached. It was their way of giving back to the wonderful people who raised them. It is sad to know that they have passed on now, and we do miss them very much, but we also know that they are not hurting or suffering in any way now, and that makes the pain of loss easier to bear. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Thank you for the gift of your son, Bob, who is the love of my life. You raised him well. We love and miss you very much, and look forward to seeing you again in Heaven.

Uncle George 1My Uncle George Hushman, who is a very dear part of this family, had one of the more difficult beginnings of any of us. Uncle George was raised in the orphanage in Casper, Wyoming. His mother died when he was just eleven, and his dad, who wasn’t in his life earlier on, died in World War II in 1943, when he was seventeen years old. The children’s home was where his first ties to my family would begin. He befriended one of the sons of my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s great grandmother, Hettie Middleton St John, and she took him into her family, in a way. She didn’t adopt him or take him in as a foster child, but because of that friendship, he was a regular fixture at their home, and they always felt like he was an unofficially adopted son. Uncle George’s family also felt that way about Hettie over the years. I remember my cousin, Shannon Limmer going over to her Grandma St John’s house to help her get ready for bed, many times. Little did I know then how this unofficial family relationship would tie into my own family years later, but that is what it did, when my daughter, Corrie married Kevin Petersen. It was quite surprising to find out that my Uncle George had such close ties to Kevin’s mom, Becky Skelton and her family….but it was pretty cool too. The kindness of Kevin’s great grandmother had lived on over the years, never to be forgotten.

Of course, the main way that Uncle George became a part of my family was when he married my Aunt Evelyn Hettie Middleton St JohnByer Hushman on September 1, 1947. I wonder if he knew that his wedding day was also Hettie’s birthday. Maybe that occurred to him, and maybe not, but World War II was over, and like most men who fought in that war, it was a time to pursue their own happiness. They had lived through the war, and for that they were grateful. Now they could live their lives. It was just a few years after the Uncle George returned from the war, where he served in the United States Navy, and was wounded in action. His injuries could have ended his life, but God had other plans for him….and for that we will always be grateful. Uncle George sustained a head injury, and to this day, has a plate in his head. Thankfully that has been the only long term change in his life. His mind remained intact.

After his marriage to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle George would go on to have five children, and their lives would forever be intertwined with the lives of my sisters and me. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George often double dated with my parents, and we spent many awesome times at each others’ houses. Uncle George’s soft spoken humor has always endeared him to me. He was always such a gentle man. So often, and maybe it is more these days than his childhood days, children who were raised in an orphanage or in foster care, ended up being somewhat mean…Uncle George and Aunt Evelynas a self defense mechanism. When there are many kids and little supervision, you have to learn take care of yourself, because no one else will. I suppose that he may have had the advantage of a good friend’s mother to keep him from becoming jaded, or it could have been just something within himself that would not allow him to be poorly affected by the circumstances around him. In many ways I think it was probably a lot him and a little bit of help for those around him, like Kevin’s great grandmother, Hettie St John. Nevertheless, it is the person themselves who ultimately determines the kind of person they will become, and Uncle George became a wonderful man. Today is Uncle George’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

JoshSometimes, in the life of a child, a situation arises that brings out the extraordinary in that child. And even if what the child is doing, isn’t something so unusual, the actions of the child are still extraordinary. I have seen the extraordinary in all 4 of my grandchildren over the past 7 years of caring for 2 sets of their great grandparents, but this current situation is about my grandson, Josh. Josh is my youngest grandson, and he has been the one who has been able to help in the current care of his grandparents, because at 14, he is too young to have a traditional job. Tradition has certainly not played a part in the work that Josh does every week. Most 14 year old kids think only of playing video games or hanging out with their friends, but not Josh. He wants to go to his grandparents’ house every time he gets the chance. And he doesn’t just sit and visit, he wants in on the work…although it isn’t work to him…it is Mom Schulenberglove for his grandparents.

Because, Josh has been more available to help in the care of his grandparents, he has had the chance to bond with them in a way few of the grandchildren have been able to do. His care and concern over their well being is so touching. Recently we had to put my mother-in-law, his great grandma in a nursing home, after she took a bad fall. It was the second of two falls in less than a week. Falls, are probably the worst thing that can happen to the elderly, but we were blessed in that she did not break a single bone. She did, however, tear the skin on her left arm badly. We took her to the hospital by ambulance, and from there she went to the nursing home. Josh wanted to know all about the nursing home. especially where it is. When his mom, my daughter, Corrie told him that it was in Paradise Valley, he said, “No, Mom!! No!! That won’t work!! That is too far from the hospital!! What if she falls?” Of course, once Corrie told him that there were nurses and Walt SchulenbergCNAs on staff at the nursing home, he felt much better. He knew she was safe. He loves her dearly, and Josh has made her safety a top priority for some time now.

Josh comes with us to see his great grandma as much as he is able to, but now he has shifted his caregiving skills to his great grandpa. He is such a loving, caring boy, and his dedication to his great grandparents has endeared him to them all. He helps, my mom, his great grandma at church, to get up and get to her car, and anything else she needs, and he helps with the care of his great grandpa, my father-in-law, every chance he gets to get over there. I am very proud of Josh, and his caregiver’s heart.

My two oldest grandchildren have always made me very proud…as have my two younger ones. They were cute and funny, and…well just precious…and yes I am biased, but I don’t care, because that is my right as a grandma. Through the years they have all made me laugh, and given me hugs, that always seemed to bless me at the perfect moment of need. They probably didn’t even know I had a need, but they were just very loving children, and the hugs were bountiful What more could a grandmother ask for?

Now they are grown into wonderful 16 year old adults…well almost adults, and if you look at them from the perspective of their jobs, you would think they were adults for sure. Neither one of these kids is a stranger to hard work. When they were just 10 years old, and their grandpa, my dad, was very ill, they pitched in with his care. It didn’t matter what we asked them to do, they were happy to do it. Their wanted their grandpa to get better, and so they very unselfishly gave of themselves to help him live another 2 years. It was a gift of themselves to him, that brought about a bond with him that he never forgot.

Both of the older grandchildren have jobs now, and their supervisors count on them heavily. For that reason, they often work lots of hours each week. It is nice in that the money is good, but they get very tired, and often sleep much of their time off. Even though I don’t get to see as much of them as I would like to now, I am very proud of them. It is not often that you see such great work ethic in young people. They didn’t take a job just to quit it when the work began, and they have not been fired either. They are workers and they will always do their very best. What a wonderful plus for anyone who hires them.

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