My uncle, Jim Richards has always been there when people need help. I’m sure it started when he was just a boy. When his dad passed away, Uncle Jim stepped up and helped out around the house and with the family finances and anything else his mom needed. He was a good son, and a great blessing to his mom, who needed that support after losing her husband. People don’t really expect a boy to fill the shoes of his dad, but they couldn’t have stopped Uncle Jim if they had tried. He was one determined little boy.
As Uncle Jim grew up, the same determination followed him. He and his brothers were excellent athletes, and and they were respected at school. Like any other high school group, there were parties to got to, but one friend of Uncle Jim’s later told him that when he was a little drunk after a party, he would follow Uncle Jim home, because he knew he would get there safely. I don’t think Uncle Jim had any idea just how many people he had influenced as a kid.
When Uncle Jim fell in love with my Aunt Dixie Byer, it was a forever kind of love. He wanted nothing more than to go wherever she was going. If she had a project to work on, she could count on him to lend a hand if needed. When it was their family’s turn to host the annual Byer Family Christmas party, he was there to help, even if all the creativity came from the girls. Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie had three children, Jeannie, Jim, and Raelynn, and all were talented, but Aunt Dixie and the girls were very crafty. Aunt Dixie says the craft ideas were all Jeannie’s, and maybe they were, but they all did the work. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, so when I see it, I am just a little bit in awe. As for Uncle Jim and Jimmy Ray’s part…well, they were the heavy lifters, even if the stuff they were lifting wasn’t all that heavy. Like every family in the Byer clan, when it was their turn the Richards family planned the Christmas party. The party under the Richard’s crew was filled with crafts. I think their family makes a good team.
Over the years, through think and thin, for better or worse, the Richards family has stood by each other, and helped their parents with anything they needed. It is a blessing to many of us to see the kids and grandkids helping Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie with anything they needed. While there have been losses, they have all stuck together, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Today is Uncle Jim’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It’s always strange to look back and realize that a loved one has been in Heaven for a year. The subsequent years aren’t as shocking, at least until your reach the milestones like 5, 10, or more. That strange realization is where I find myself today, the one year anniversary on my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s passing.
Over the years, much changed with my mother-in-law. She was, from the time I first met her, a stubborn woman, and I suppose that many people might take that to mean annoying, but she wasn’t. People might disagree with me, but in my opinion, the type of stubbornness that she had is a good form, because it is more of an “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” type of stubbornness. In fact, she and I are probably very much alike in our stubbornness, and quite possibly, that is part of the reason we always got along so well. She was a wonderful mother-in-law. My mother-in-law taught herself to master many types of crafts, including quilting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, and canning. These things served her family well over the years. Her crafts proving them with things they needed, and she made money on them too.
As Alzheimer’s began to rob her of much of her recent memory, she became more confused, but I believe that she and we handled it well. She became quite funny. Never one to joke much, she suddenly had a kind of dry humor that I can really relate to. She would surprise me with her quick comebacks, at a time that I thought she didn’t know what was going on, or who I was. Fooled me every time!! Whether she knew she had fooled me, somehow did it on purpose, or simply stated a fact as she saw it at that moment, it was always funny.
In all of the 11 years that I took care of her, my mother-in-law was really a joy to be around, even when she fought with me periodically. The time I spent taking care of her was as rewarding as the time I spent taking care of the rest of the parents. End of life care is really what you make of it. The person is always so grateful to you for your help, and there is a bond with them that will forever change them both. You can’t spent that many hours with your mother-in-law, and not feel a closeness to her. She told me about things in the past, and really enriched my understanding of my husband’s genealogy. She may not have even realized the impact that our conversations had on me, but they were like pure gold. Priceless, and a gift that I will cherish forever. Joann Knox Schulenberg lived a very interesting life, and one that was very different from my own. She was the mother of my husband, Bob, and the way she raised her children, enriched my life too. She taught them to be loyal, hard working people, who had self esteem and were respectful to others. She taught them to be kind and helpful to those in need. She raised her family to be close friends, and to share their talents for the good of all. They have always worked together on things. What more could a daughter-in-law ask of her mother-in-law? Mom, most of all, you were a true friend to me, and I miss you very much. I can’t believe that it has already been a year since you left us.
My sister-in-law, Debbie Cook leads a pretty busy life. During the school year, she is the “bus driver” for her two youngest grandchildren, Easton Moore and Kaytlyn Griffith after school. The older kids, Weston Moore and Jala Satterwhite have activities that go on after school, so Debbie has just the little ones. Debbie likes to do special things for the grandkids, such as the brownies she made as a treat for Valentine’s Day. Of course, when its nice outside, there is a lot more that can be done, like going to the park, where they can run and play, which is probably to their parents liking too, because then they are more settled at night…or is does that only work on the little ones?
Winter is a dreaded time for lots of people, an most especially for anyone who like to got camping. Debbie and her husband, Lynn love to go camping, and I think that they would move to the mountains if it weren’t for the fact that the kids and grandkids live in town. So the next best thing is family camping trip to the Big Horn Mountains. Their daughter Machelle, told me that going camping with the family every weekend is so peaceful and quiet and that they al really enjoy it. Machelle says it is like having a sleepover every weekend. Now when you think about it, which of us wouldn’t love to go home sometimes to relive the days of our youth…especially the ones when you and your siblings had a sleepover on the living room floor. That’s kind of how it feels to the family when they are all camping together in the beauty of the mountains.
Her family is the most important thing to Debbie. She loves being around the grandchildren, and especially having them all want to go camping together. It’s like taking weekly vacations together all your life. Most people quit taking together vacations when they get married, so it’s something special. I suppose that with the next generation coming of age, things are likely to change. When the grandkids are driving and working, they can’t always go along on the fun stuff, and they are old enough to stay alone, so things slowly change. Hopefully it doesn’t change too fast. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Michelle Stevens is an artist in every respect…including being an art teacher. I have watched her progression from the time she was a little girl, and have always found myself amazed at her abilities. Being an art teacher is not just taking a few art classes and getting an education degree. There are so many forms of art that her schooling took several years longer than most degrees, but I think it was well worth it. This has been a big year for Michelle. She graduated from Black Hills State University with an Art Education degree in May of 2017. After graduation, she and her boyfriend, Matt Miller moved back to Casper, Wyoming from Spearfish, South Dakota. The economy isn’t great for teachers right now, so she took a job at Casper Rental Agency as an assistant to her former boss at Lai Thai Restaurant.
While saving money and job hunting, she and Matt lived at his parents house in their camper for four months. When winter arrived, the camper was no longer an option, so they decided it was time to find a place of their own. Since Michelle works for a rental business now, she was able to get a nice big town home on the east side of Casper, and they are happily settled in and comfortable. She will continue to work at Casper Rental Agency until something opens up in the school district for Art teachers. That is her dream, and she is not willing to give up on it. Her parents, Alena and Mike Stevens are glad to have her and Matt back in Casper, because they missed them terribly, and the rest of the family agrees with that too.
These days, Michelle has branched her creative endeavors out a little bit, to the area of crafts. I was never really a crafty person, but I have always envied those who were. She has started making wreaths for her friends and family, and would like to see her wreaths turn into a side business. She makes wreaths for every season, so people are not just limited to Christmas. I really think her wreaths could sell easily, and I think that she needs to set up a website to promote them, because upon seeing them, people will buy for sure. Her Mom, my sister, Alena Stevens has been one of the special loved ones who has had the privilege to receive several of the beautiful wreaths. It is my hope that her wreath business really takes off. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My husband, Bob’s aunt, Esther Hein has always lived far away from the rest of the family, and I find that a little bit sad, because it means that we don’t get to see her very often. Being far away makes it hard on Esther too, because if anything is going on, she feels like she is completely disconnected. We try to keep her informed, but there is nothing quite like distance to make a person feel disconnected from a situation. I suppose that the phone calls, help…especially when she can talk to the person she was so worried about, but I know from experience, it is easier on the family to be in the waiting room of the hospital than a thousand miles away. Whenever Esther would came to Casper for a visit, it was always a big deal. It may not have been an official family reunion, but those mini family reunions are really nice too. It has been a number of years since Esther has been able to come for a visit, because of health concerns she has had, but I hope that someday soon she will be able to come for a visit again, because it really has been far too long since we saw her last.
Years ago, when she was a child, Esther’s family lived in the country, and during the hard winter months, when the weather in Montana was as harsh and unpredictable as Wyoming’s weather seems to be this year, Esther was sent to stay with her big brother, Walt Schulenberg’s family during the school year, to ensure that she was able to make it to school each day. As a little girl, I suppose living in town with her brother’s family seemed as far away from her parents, as the distance she is away from family now seems…especially for a little girl. Nevertheless, I’m sure it also seemed a little bit like a great adventure to her.
Esther has always been a crafty person. She makes quilts, curtains, and other sewing crafts. She is also an artist, and has painted everything from canvas to saw blades. Her favorite things to paint are landscapes, and that is cool, because that is my favorite paintings too. And were it not for Esther, my husband’s hair would look awful most of the time, because it was Esther who showed me how to cut it right…thankfully!! Today is Esther’s 76th birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!