chocolate chip cookies
I only knew my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg, for 15 years before she passed away from cancer in 1989, and yet, I felt like I knew her a lifetime. Some people just have the ability to have that kind of an impact on others. Marlyce just radiated love for her family. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but higher functioning. She could do many of the things the rest of us could do, but her mind was on the younger side. That made her eager to please people, and interested in fun projects. She loved to be creative and especially loved it when things she made pleased those around her. She loved baking, and chocolate chip cookies were her favorites, and mine too.
I can’t believe that Marlyce has been gone for 31 years now, more that double the amount of time that I knew her. With some people, the length of time you know them, doesn’t matter, because the impact that short time had on your life far outweighed the length of time you spent with them. That really is the way it was with Marlyce. Her sweet nature endeared her to the people who knew her, and still does to this day. Some people are never forgotten, and I think Marlyce was one of those people. Her influence reached far beyond her years of life, and for those who knew her, continues to this day.
Marlyce wasn’t perfect, of course, and she could get angry when things didn’t go her way. Like any child, she had a temper, when she was crossed, and her siblings sometimes enjoyed seeing that temper present itself, so teasing was not unheard of in the Schulenberg household. That was on thing I didn’t participate in, however. Maybe that’s why she always tried to please me, by making the signature chocolate chip cookies. I can’t say for sure. What I do know, is that Marlyce was always very sweet to me, and I can’t recall a singly time we had a fight, or even a simple disagreement. I’m glad, because I would never want to be the source of any pain or discomfort in her…not that her siblings were mean to her, but we all know that siblings are used to each other, and fights are par for the course. Today would have been Marlyce’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven sweet Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.
There have been many inventions that were discovered by accident, but none was sweeter than the Chocolate Chip Cookie. My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg loved to make cookies, and she knew that I was partial to her chocolate chip cookies, but she didn’t invent them. We have to thank Ruth Graves Wakefield for that. It was one of apparently several “mistakes” Ruth made in the kitchen. We’ve all been there, but this mistake was not disastrous.
Ruth and her husband, Kenneth owned Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Ruth prepared the recipes and cooked for the inn’s guests. One day in 1930, she had a problem. She was out of baker’s chocolate for her scrumptious Butter Drop Do cookies. She knew that her guests always looked forward to those cookies and would be upset if she didn’t have any. She gave the matter some thought, and decided that she could just break up a bar of Nestle’s semisweet chocolate into tiny chunks and mixed them into the batter. She assumed that the chocolate would melt, spread into the dough as it baked, and create a chocolate-flavored cookie. Unfortunately, chocolate is a little be more resilient than that. The chunks melted…to a degree, but pretty much held their position in the cookie dough. When she took the cookies out of the oven, she noticed that the chocolate chunks only melted slightly, holding their shape and forming a creamy texture. It was too late to do anything else, so she served the cookies to her guests, who absolutely loved them.
Ruth’s chocolate chip cookies began attracting people from all over New England. After her recipe appeared in a Boston newspaper, Nestle gained a huge spike in sales. Everyone wanted Nestle’s semisweet chocolate bars to make Ruth Wakefield’s cookies. Andrew Nestle came up with a great marketing idea that would be beneficial for both of them. Nestle agreed to give Wakefield a lifetime supply of the chocolate in return for her recipe printed on every Nestle semisweet chocolate bar. Later, of course, they printed it on the bags of chocolate chips, because who wants to break up all that chocolate, when it could be done for you and placed in a bag. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had chocolate chip cookies in their lifetime, and we can all thank Ruth Wakefield and her cookie mistake for that scrumptious treat.
My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was a blessing that came as a free gift with my marriage to her brother, Bob. Of course, I consider all of my in-laws to be a blessing, but I think that they will all agree that Marlyce was a special kind of blessing. I don’t mean to say that Marlyce was perfect, or that the whole family always got along with her, although I don’t recall a fight I personally had with Marlyce. Even though the siblings fought with their sister periodically, I can tell you, without doubt that they considered her a sweet blessing too.
Marlyce had a kind heart. In fact,there wasn’t an unkind bone in hr body. She loved doing things for people, in fact, she would do just about anything that was in her power to do. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but she was an expert at a number of things. She could cook and bake, and was famous for her chocolate chip cookies. She also loved to knit and made great stocking caps for people. She even sold them at craft fairs. Marlyce loved making things and she loved giving things to people.
The one thing Marlyce really loved though…babies. She was the oldest of her siblings, and so, she got to help out with all her siblings, even if she couldn’t do many things well, her parents didn’t refuse to let her help. She liked being the big helper, and when she became an aunt, she was just wonderful with the kids. All of the kids loved Aunt Marlyce. She was very special to them. She didn’t have a chance to become a great aunt, because she passed away far too young…at just 39 years. When I think about that, it makes me sad, because not only did Marlyce miss out on being a great aunt, but her grand nieces and grand nephews missed out on the special aunt she was. And now that she is a great grand aunt to my little great granddaughter. It makes me sad to know that another generation is going to miss out on sweet Aunt Marlyce. Today would have been Marlyce’s 68th birthday, but instead, she is 39 years old again. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.
I first met my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg when I was 18 years old, and she was 23 years old. She passed away when she was 39 years old. It has been 28 years since Marlyce passed away in 1989, so she has been gone 13 years longer than she was in my life. While that fact feels like a fact in some ways, it doesn’t in others. Marlyce had such a huge impact on my life. It wasn’t anything specific that she did, but rather it was everything about my sweet sister-in-law. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, and in some ways she remained a child all her life, but in other ways, she was an adult. She had a job, and she loved to bake and knit, and really she didn’t play. She understood that kids games were for kids, and she was an adult. She would play games intended for grownups though. One of her favorites was solitaire. She always had a deck of cards handy.
Still, it was not those things that made Marlyce so special to me. It was her personality. She was such a loving person. I suppose that I had an advantage over her siblings in that I was not her sibling. Coming into the family as an outsider, gave me the ability to be a friend to Marlyce before I became her sister-in-law. There never were the sibling rivalries or the sibling fights, because while Marlyce knew I was her sister-in-law, I don’t think she ever really thought of me that way, exactly. I was maybe more her permanent friend. Permanent in that I was a fixture within the family unit, and friend, in that I was not her blood sister. Of course, all of her siblings loved Marlyce too, but having grown up with her, they did all fight…like all siblings do.
One thing I recall about Marlyce that was kind of funny, is how protective she could be over her siblings. If she was mad at them…well, you knew it. She had no problem telling any one of them just what she thought, but if one of her siblings was getting into trouble…well, that was a different thing. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Marlyce telling her parents that they should be nice to her brother or sister. She was quite vocal about it. And even after the disciplinary action was over, she was still pretty mad at the offending parent. It was pretty comical, but I didn’t dare laugh about it, because Marlyce didn’t like being laughed at…and I would never hurt her feelings that way. Marlyce was so sweet. I couldn’t pick on her. When I think of all the years that Marlyce has been gone, I am saddened, because we are missing out on all the sweetness that was Marlyce. Everything about Marlyce was sweet, and I miss her very much. Today would have been Marlyce’s 67th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love you very much.
After 27 years, one might think that I would be used to the fact that my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg is no longer with us, but somehow, I’m not. Oh, I suppose that most of the time my mind has accepted that fact, but…well, Marlyce was such a unique person. She was special in every way. She had a heart of gold, and she loved everyone. That didn’t mean that she didn’t have a temper at all, but then, I think that when she got mad…at least at her siblings, it was because they teased her…or picked a fight with her. I suppose it was a kid thing or a sibling thing, but whatever it was, it drove Marlyce crazy sometimes. And every time Marlyce got mad at her siblings, they were moved to try it again. I suppose that’s just how kids are.
Marlyce’s life was cut short at the tender age of just 39 years, when cancer took her life away from her. Gone were that precious moments we all had with my sweet sister-in-law. It was so hard to believe. She was only 39 years old, younger than my own children are now, and yet she was gone. No more of her smiling face telling me that she had made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, or showing me the latest things she had knitted. Her giggle was now silent. That was 27 years ago, and yet, I can still hear her voice…filled with excitement about those cookies, and I can still hear her annoyed voice telling her littlest brother, Ron to stop picking on her.
It’s strange that the voices of the past still exist in our minds to the degree that it almost seems like we are still hearing them out loud. Harder for me to believe than the fact that Marlyce has been gone for 27 years, is the fact that she would have been 66 years old today. She was the oldest child, and with her passing there was a hole left in our lives. Because Marlyce was a special needs child, my in-laws were always concerned about what would happen to her if they passed away. Of course, we would have take care of her, but they needn’t have worried, because she preceded both of them. Today would have been Marlyce’s 66th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.
My 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.
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 make 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.
The bronzed baby shoes had been on the shelf in my in-laws’ home for many years. They had grown dusty sitting there for so long on the back of the shelf…neglected, as most such trinkets become over the years. Now as we cleared out the contents of the home in preparation for sale after the passing of my father-in-law and my mother-in-law’s move to a nursing home, the shoes came to my attention again. I had always loved the idea of bronzing baby shoes, but never managed to get it done for my own babies…just too busy living life, I guess. Baby shoe bronzing had been a fad at the time when my sisters and I were little, but not much is said about it these days, although you can still get it done.
To my surprise, the shoes had not been chosen as a treasure by anyone else in the family, so they found their way into my home for safe keeping. I’m a bit of a nostalgic, you see…or maybe, more than just a little bit. The things I find to be of value in an estate, are the momentos and photographs…the reminders of the past, and therefore, our connection to it. The bronzed shoes belonged to my late sister-in-law, Marlyce, who passed away in 1989 at the far to young age of 39 years, 1 month, and 5 days.
Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but that was something those of us who knew her seldom noticed. She was a sweet, loving person, who smiled her way into my heart the first time I met her, and never has left in all the 39 years that I have known this family. Her passing was a sad time in all our lives. Gone, were her delicious chocolate chip cookies, which no one could really match. Gone, were the stocking caps she used to knit. Gone, was her smiling face, her love of babies, and her pride at being an aunt.
All that was left of those 39 years was a little pair of bronzed baby shoes. They seemed such a little thing, and yet the steps they represented far overflowed their tiny size. I could see her first little baby steps…her school days…her work…her hobbies…her love of family, especially babies. So many accomplishments. The accomplishments of a lifetime…short as it may have been.