Thinking about my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s life as a single mom of five kids, I decided to ask the kids to give me one unique memory of their life with their mom. Her oldest, Chantel Balcerzak told me that finding one memory was not easy, because her mind keeps jumping to everything else, because her mom is really just, well her mom. Nevertheless, one thing that keeps coming to her mind, is chatting in her mom’s car. It may seem a strange place for a mother-daughter talk, but Chantel usually walks her mom to her car after church, then, while they talk, her mom drives Chantel around to her car. Of course, that isn’t the end of it. They always end up talking for a bit…or sometimes hours in front of the church. They chant mostly just about their week, life, faith, and family, but as Chantel says, what else is there, right? They usually lose track of the time and sometimes don’t realize it until Chantel’s husband, Dave calls to see, as Chantel says, “where the heck I am!!” Chantel says that her mom is one of my best friends!!
Cheryl’s second child, Toni says “It would be pretty hard to offer one unique memory exclusive to just my mom and me. Especially since it was never just her and me.” That makes sense in large families. There are always siblings, and Cheryl usually spent time with all of her children together. Toni is amazed that her mom ever pulled off raising five kids on her own, much less doing it so well! Toni comments that “She was practically a pro at it by the time Jenny came along and she wasn’t even out of her 20’s yet!! WOW!! She sacrificed most of her young life to raise us right. And stayed the course; standing on Gods promise (Proverbs 22:6) that if she raised us up in the way we should go, we would not depart from it when we were grown. She never wavered when it came to our spiritual growth. She never allowed us to miss church. She never missed a chance to give us the scripture we needed to hear when problems arose. She made sure we all knew the Lord and she made sure we knew that he was the ONLY way!!” Toni says, “She wasn’t always able to give us the things we wanted, but she was able to give us three of the greatest gifts she could…Love, Hope, and above all, Faith in God. Those three gifts have delivered me through every good, bad, happy, sad, glad, and mad time in my life and are still the foundation that I securely stand on continually delivering me through each and every second of my life now and in the future. I am so grateful to have her as a mother!! I praise God for the miracle of her being!!”
Cheryl’s son, Rob told me that being the only boy in the house with five women in it was probably more unique for me, than for my mom. To make matters even more complicated, Cheryl came from a family of our parents and four sisters. Boys were all but unheard of in our family, when Rob came along. That being said, Cheryl always found a way, as Rob says, “to make things seem as if I wasn’t missing much by not having a dad around. She always managed to sense when I needed a man’s advice. Now, most of the time she would have grandpa (Al Spencer) take me somewhere to talk or just to hang out with him, but I think mostly she just knew something was up. She would ask me to watch a movie with her or take me to get a couple of Jalapeno and cheese hot dogs. We would sit and talk about something or sometimes nothing in particular at all. She still does this kind of stuff to this day. She was and still is both mom and dad and doing great at it.”
Her daughter, Liz told me that one of the things she loves most about her mom is that she knows how to comfort her kids. It’s not that her kids have sad lives, but we all know that into each life, a little rain must fall. Liz says, “She happily cooks for all of us whenever we ask, and she knows all of our favorite things to eat. She is always there to pray with us or for us about anything, and she always makes time to talk with us. She also lets us know when we need to be spending more time with her!! It is not hard for anyone who knows my mom to see that her children are everything to her. And hopefully she knows she is everything to us.” I believe she knows just how much her children love her. They are very loyal, quick to help her out, and always show her their love for her. They are a great blessing to her.
Cheryl probably sees her youngest daughter, Jenny the most, but that is only because they work together. All of her children try their best to make time for her and see her often. Jenny tells me that, “My favorite thing about my mom is her loving, touch, her caring eyes, and her welcoming smile. My favorite memory of her was one year when we were in South Dakota. It rained the whole week and me, my mom, and Liz sat up in a ceramic shop, that was at our campground and painted ceramics. We also read books and just enjoyed the rain and deep conversation. Lots of life lessons were learned that week. She’s a great mom and a great friend!!” Jenny also reminded me that Cheryl as been at her job now for 20 years this year. That is a milestone for sure, and I’m not sure that their company could get along without Cheryl. I guess that whenever she retires, they will have to find out how to get along without her but for now, she is a fixture there. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter, Shai was asked to bowl on our Monday night league. She decided to, even though she had only bowled two other times in her life, and really didn’t know how. Like most of us, she thought there was nothing to it. Last week on her first week as a regular bowler, she began to have second thoughts and a bad case of nerves. She didn’t know how to do the approach, and nothing felt right. To top it off, she was faced with all the other bowlers, who have bowled for years. The night couldn’t have been much worse for her, and I couldn’t help her, even though I am a trained coach, because we were both bowling, and there simply wasn’t enough time. Shai set an average of 58, and by the end of the evening, she was convinced that this was a mistake, and she could never be a good bowler.
I promised her it would get better, and later in the week, I made plans to take her bowling so I would have time to coach her. Shai’s friend, Sterling was going to be a substitute on the league, so she came along. The first thing I told the girls was that they would be doing an approach, because it is the correct way to bowl, and the best way to improve quickly. There were some very funny moments, such as sliding on the wrong foot, and gutter balls that barely got past the foul line first, but they stuck with it, and in the very short hour that we had to get this lined out, the girls made great strides. Of course, the real test of our success would be the following week…this week.
The girls were nervous, but I assured them that they would do great. I reminded them that I didn’t want to see any bowling with no approach. They assured me that they would bowl correctly. It was time for the real test. I was glad that the girls were bowling next to each other. There is still comfort in having a friend nearby. They both did great. No, they didn’t break 100, but they had decent games. Shai went from having a 176 series the first week to having a 244 series this week, and while Sterling didn’t bowl last week, she had a 233 series this week. Last week, Shai was convinced that she didn’t like bowling. When I asked her how she felt this week, she said it was fun. All the seasoned bowlers made the girls feel welcome, both last week and this week, but the difference is that this week, Shai felt more like a real bowler. Here comes the next bowling generation.
As we travel this road called life, we all have moments when we need a hug. Sometimes it is because we are hurt, whether physically or emotionally, and we are looking for someone to comfort us in that bad time. Those are the hugs that none of us will get through life without needing at some point, unfortunately, but they are not really the kind of hugs that we can honestly say we enjoy. They are simply necessary.
The kind of hugs that we all enjoy, are the ones that say, “I love you so much!!” Those hugs are so special, and we need them more than any other kind. We all need to know that we have family and friends who love us…no matter what. The first time we feel that love is often from parents or grandparents, and it is the kind of love that shapes our lives forever. Those hugs are so important, and children who do not receive them can be irreversibly warped by that omission. I am so thankful that my family has never been one to withhold hugs. It has shaped the kind of person I am, and my ability to give and receive love from those around me.
Of course, the greatest kind of hug is the kind that comes from the joy of celebration or reunion. The hug you get when you see someone that you haven’t seen in a while. Visiting your grandmother who lives miles away. Love knows no distance barrier. When we would go to Montana to visit Bob’s grandmother every year, the reunions were so sweet. Grandma was such a loving person, and Bob loved her dearly. He wanted his kids to know her, as well as they knew their other grandmothers who lived closer. And they did. Grandma loved her kids and grandkids so much that the miles made no difference…love traveled across the miles to light upon those who were far away from her.
Love can also grow between two people who share a special event, as was the case between my daughter, Corrie and her great grandmother, who she shared a birthday with. They had a closeness that lasted a lifetime and beyond. They shared birthday parties, and reveled in the fact that they shared that special day. Every time they saw each other, it was clear that their bond was forever. Even after grandma passed away in July of 1990, Corrie still feels her memory deeply…especially on her birthday. Sometimes that can be painful, yet bittersweet, because the memories of her love for her grandma, are still so strong.
Every grandma has a love for her grandchildren that goes so deep that it can’t be explained. I have been so blessed by my grandchildren, and I love getting hugs from each and every one. Grandchildren are the continuing blessing that starts with parenthood. The love you give to your own children sets the stage for the love that will come through your grandchildren. What a wonderful continuing saga.
Hugs have been more the commonplace event in our family. What a blessing that has always been. To know that no matter what mistakes you make, in the end, after whatever punishment, there will follow a hug, because love doesn’t depend on whether or not you were perfect. What an awesome way to grow up!! And oh, it was an awesome way. Unconditional love. That’s what I hope I have passed on to my children and grandchildren, and what I hope they too, will pass on to their children and grandchildren…because everybody needs a hug.