It was 47 years ago that my husband, Bob and I said, “I do.” It’s hard to believe that so many years have come and gone. We were just kids back then. I was only 10 months out of high school. Time goes by so fast, and I don’t know how they could have gone by so fast. Every year, I tend to wonder the same thing, and every year I come to the same conclusion…the grace of God. I believe that God sent Bob to me to be my soulmate. He was Heaven sent to me, as a gift of God. We always feel “right” together. We don’t have to “work” at getting along. We just…get along. It is easy for us. I don’t mean to say that marriage isn’t work, because it really is, but for us a loving marriage is so much easier than we would have ever thought.
Bob and I have so much in common. We love doing the same kinds of things…some of which we have developed over the years, because they were not things that we had ever thought we would enjoy years ago. Still, today they are things we have found that we enjoy very much. It’s not just hiking, but it’s where we like to go to hike. We enjoy going to Thermopolis, the Black Hills, Washington state, the Grand Canyon, areas around our city of Casper. These places give us happiness and joy. We like the same television shows. We tend to be very comfortable at home together…granted, we might be taking a nap in our chairs, but that’s ok too. The point is that we are comfortable and happy together…and we are very blessed.
Eash year I find myself feeling more and more blessed with this man God has given to me. God knew exactly the kind of man I would need to make my life happy, and He couldn’t have picked a better man for me. God knew that we would be compatible and comfortable together. We could not have known that for the long run. We were just kids of 18 and 20 years when we got married. What did we know? He knew that we were both stubborn enough to stick it out together and follow His plan for us and our lives. He blessed us with two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; two sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; four grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen; as well as fiancées Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez; and great grandchildren Cambree and Caysen Petersen and baby Petersen coming in October. Blessings don’t get any better than those. They have all made us so very happy. Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. I love you Bob…and yes, “I still do.”
As my mom, Collene Spencer enters her seventh year in Heaven, even though there is no time in Heaven, it is the seventh year in Earth years. My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I all feel like we have grown so much over the years our parents have lived in Heaven. I think every child wants to make their parents proud of them, and even more so when their parents live in Heaven. We all feel like our parents are looking down at us from Heaven and that they truly love the people we have become. No, we are not perfect, but we do our very best, and we always try to act in a manner that we know they would be proud of. I believe that we have succeeded, and that our mom and dad are very proud of their girls.
Mom was always the sunny person in our family, and she taught her girls to “keep on the sunny side” and to make laughter a staple in our lives. Some of my sweetest memories are those when Mom was being silly. She loved having a house full of laughter, and while five daughters meant five times the drama, it also meant five times the laughter, giggles, and silliness too. Mom would do everything in her power to bring that to pass in her home. Mom grew up in a large family during the Great Depression years, and while money was scarce, love and laughter were not. Mom’s family, her parents and eight siblings laughed together, worked together, and sang together. Her mom brought sunshine and happiness into their home, and in our family, my mom was the bringer of sunshine and happiness. They say you learn what you live, and in my mom’s case, that meant that because she watched her mom be the bringer of sunshine and happiness in her childhood…she made it her goal in her own family…and Mom did it quite well.
I miss those days of Mom singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she woke us up in the morning. I miss her silliness and her laughter. Mom delighted in life. Many things brought her joy and laughter. She was, I suppose, a kid at heart, and the funny stuff really tickled her funny bone. Mom made our home and our lives…fun!! She just did, and I will always see her in that light. It has been seven years today since my mom went home to Heaven. Mom, we love and miss you very much, and we will see you in the future.
December 12, 2007…a day that rocked my world. It was a day I never expected to see…the day my dad, Allen Spencer went home to be with the Lord. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that someday my parents would be in Heaven, but it didn’t. Nevertheless, these days, all we have are the memories, as we wait for the day when we will all be together again in Heaven.
My dad was a great guy. He was a girl dad, and he wore it well. I don’t know how he managed to survive having five daughters and a wife, all vying for one bathroom, but he did. Ours was probably what the song writer meant, when he wrote “Love Grows Best In Little Houses.” It never felt crowded. It always felt just right. I wonder if my parents knew, when I was just 3 years old that the house they bought then, would be their forever home. At that time my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I believe my younger sister, Caryl Reed were there, as well as I was. Two more daughters would join the family in that little house, now forever home. There were a few changes, like converting the garage to a bedroom and a utility room, that gave a little more space. Then, in my parents’ later years, an enclosed porch was added. The house just always felt like home…to all of us. Of course, it was our parents that really made the house a home. Their love filled the house, and we were always blessed by them and their love. Any house can hold a family, but love is what makes a house a home.
The first time the house ever felt empty, and maybe a little wrong, was after my dad went home to Heaven. Mom’s lifelong companion was gone now, as was our dad, who had always made us feel like princesses. We could see him in every room, but these were just memory visions. His love still lingered in each and every room. We knew that he still loves us, of course, but everything suddenly felt wrong…like the world kept going, but he had stopped. That is what happened, of course, but it felt to us like life had stepped out or its proper order. We would notice the same thing a few years later, when our mom, Collene Spencer went home to join Dad in Heaven. The house was still filled with the memory visions of them and their love, but it was kind of empty and lonely somehow.
Each year as we remember their homegoings, we are reminded of just how precious they were to us, and how we want to make them proud of how we have lived our lives. They raised us well, and taught us to love God and country, and to always try to do the right things. Now, we look forward to the day we will join them in Heaven, because that is where they are waiting in our future in Heaven, and what a joyous day it will be when we join them there. We love and miss you both on this, the 14th anniversary of your homegoing, Dad, and we can’t wait to see you again.
As another of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s anniversaries comes around again, I find myself wondering how it could be that they have been in Heaven for so long now. Dad left us in 2007 and Mom left in 2015. They were so in love, for so many years, and now they are back together again, and I know they are so happy. Mom and Dad got married when she was just 17, and they were parents just 10 months later. That was common in that era. Most couple got married, and the babies started coming in rapid succession. For Mom and Dad, that meant a new daughter every two years, with the exception of my sister, Caryl Reed, who followed my breech birth at three years later. I suppose Mom should have had a C-section with me, but it seems the doctors thought it wouldn’t be a problem, if they just dislocated my hips for the birth. A strange thought these days, but I did survive, so I won’t complain.
Mom and Dad, were not to have a son, and I think that as the years went by, they considered their daughters to be a blessing…or at least we hope they did. When it came time to take care of them in their later years, they were very glad they had daughters, because we became caregivers without even questioning the idea. We all agreed that our parents were worth every sacrifice that might need to be made. They were such good parents to us, and we all feel honored to have be given such wonderful, loving parents to raise us and show us the right way to go in life. We never had to try to find God in our life, because we were raised in church, by our responsible parents, and I think each of us can honestly say that there is no time in our life when we didn’t know God. We didn’t have a day when we found Jesus. He lived in our house from the day they married, and we always knew him.
Mom and Dad had a wonderful, loving relationship, and they were demonstrative about their love. They kissed in front of us…daily. Dad gave Mom a love pat on the derrière when he got home from work, and we all knew it was in love. Dad always called her “Doll” and for years, I thought that was her name. He always sent flowers on their anniversary and her birthday, and chocolates on Christmas, and of course, with her January 1st birthday, there was always a big party for New Years Eve. Mom always treated Christmas and his birthday with the same special kinds of things, although, not the same ones as he gave her…of course. They loved spending time together, and eventually worked together. They relished their time together in retirement too…wanting nothing more than time together. Sometimes people fight when they are together too much, but not my parents. They just enjoyed their life together.
They loved going camping and made sure that my sisters and I always got a summer vacation trip. Dad loved to travel all his life, and so teaching his girls (Mom too) a love of travel was a big thing for Dad. He may have been outnumbered by girls, but I think Dad considered it a blessing, except when he needed in the bathroom, and it was occupied. How he survived that little house with just one bathroom and 6 women trying to get ready, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, with the many trials of having girls, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a wonderful life. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both very much.
No two people have the same personalities, not even when they are siblings. Having the same parents often gives siblings some of the same characteristics, but not all of them, and even growing up together does not give siblings the same personalities. I’ve seen that in my own daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. While they always were, and still are, very good friends, they had different tastes in most things, from boyfriends to musical instruments.
A few days ago, I was thinking about the girls’ color choices for their weddings, and it hit me that those color choices were, in many way, depictive of the differences in their personalities. Both of the girls chose colors from the red palate, but Corrie chose pink (her favorite color to this day), and Amy chose red (not her favorite these days, but it was then). Still, at that time in their lives, those color choices…looking back now, were very much like my girls.
Corrie has “pink tendencies” and Amy has “red tendencies.” Pink seems more reserved, shy even, and more frilly…for lack of a better choice of words. Red seems more flamboyant, more bold. Neither of these tendencies are better or worse than the other, they are just different. A pink personality is more likely to play a romantic instrument, like Corrie’s choice…the violin. Red is more likely to play a more flamboyant instrument, like Amy’s choice…the clarinet. It’s not that either instrument was better or worse than the other, and I loved hearing my girls play both of these instruments, and their choices fit their personalities…and somehow, their color choices fit their personalities too.
I think that both girls choosing colors from the red palate, shows that they had some similarities too. They don’t particularly like controversy, although they can hold their own in any situation. They are both determined, responsible people who don’t give up on things. It’s not that I think that a person’s color choices determine their personalities, but rather that their personalities, to some degree determine their color choices. I think that makes perfect sense.
Corrie still loves all things pink to this day, and I feel like pink describes her personality. Pink is rosy, romantic, and happy, and that is my daughter. Amy now likes blue as her favorite color, and I think that has very much followed along with her life changes. Moving from Wyoming to Washington, because she loves the sea, makes blue a perfect choice. I think maybe Amy was a blue all along. I think of blue as being peaceful, relaxed, and filled with wanderlust. Amy is a lot like my dad’s side of the family, in that she loves to travel to new places. While Amy has always been a blue, she has always had some red tendencies too, and that suits her well.
The ends of the earth…basically the poles…not exactly the most inviting places to visit…much less to cross alone. Still, there are always people who set lofty goals for themselves, despite grave personal risk and hardship. One such man, Børge Ousland, who was born on May 31, 1962, is such a man. Ousland is a Norwegian polar explorer, photographer, and writer, who became the first person in the world to do a solo crossing of the Antarctic. And, that wasn’t his only great accomplishment. On May 4, 1990, Ousland and Erling Kagge became the first explorers ever to reach the North Pole unsupported That trip took them on a 58-day ski trek from Ellesmere Island in Canada, a distance of just over 497 miles.
No stranger to hard work, Ousland started his career as a Norwegian Navy Special Forces Officer with Marinejegerkommandoen. Then, he spent several years working as a deep sea diver for the oil industry in the North Sea. I guess that time would have prepared him for the conditions the men would face in a trek to the North Pole. They trip must have sparked something in Ousland, because in 1994, he made the first solo and unsupported journey to the North Pole from Cape Arktichevsky in Russia. Most of us wouldn’t even go once, much less multiple times.
For Ousland, even that wasn’t enough. Between November 15, 1996 and January 17, 1997, Ousland became the first in the world to do an unsupported solo crossing of the Antarctic. In that trip, Ousland traveled 1,864 miles from the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf…completely alone. Ousland skied the long journey, with kite assistance. He holds the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole…taking just 34 days.
On January 22, 2006, together with Mike Horn he began a journey to the North Pole in full Arctic night. The trip was successfully concluded on March 23, 2006. Then, in September 2010, Ousland’s team aboard “The Northern Passage” completed the circumnavigation of the North Pole. A Russian team aboard the “Peter I” achieved the same feat in that season. These were the first recorded instances of the circumnavigation of the North Pole without an icebreaker. In December 2011, Ousland traversed Antarctica to the South Pole for the centennial celebration of the first expedition to reach the Pole.
Ousland loved the “ends of the earth” so much that the next logical step was to be married at the North Pole, which he did in 2012. He and Hege Rogeberg tied the knot at the Geographic North Pole, having been flown in by helicopter with “20 or 30 people” to celebrate with them. The wedding was held according to Lutheran wedding custom, with a pastor, candles, and a cross made of skies. Børge was dressed in national Norwegian dress. The bride, Hege was dressed in a warm, long, white dress. The couple flew in from Longyearbyen, Svalbard to Barneo Ice Station where they boarded the Russian MI-8 helicopter to the North Pole. The proceedings lasted 30 minutes. After the ceremony champagne was served together with a colorful fireworks display. The adventurer and his wife now have three daughters…Max, Eva-Liv, and Ingebjorg.
In 1995, during the Christmas season, Lena Paahlsson was baking Christmas cookies with her daughters at their farm in northern Sweden. As was her habit while baking, Lena took off her wedding ring, and placed it on the counter. While they were cleaning up after baking, Lena could not find her ring. It was a devastating end to the year. Lena and her family hunted for the ring everywhere, even pulling up floorboards…hoping against hope, but to no avail. The ring had vanished…lost forever, or so they thought.
Then, one day in October 2011, while she was pulling the last of the carrots from her garden, Lena was stunned to see her wedding ring wrapped neatly around the top of the carrot. Lena had given up hope of ever finding the ring she cherished. The family speculates that the ring must have fallen into the sink, and been mixed with the potato peels that were later composted or fed to the sheep, because the soil in the garden is made from composted vegetables and sheep dung. They have no idea why it took 16 years for the ring to work its way to the surface again, but they are sure that if the ring had not had a tiny carrot seed land in its middle, it would have still be hiding there in the rich dirt of the garden. In the end, it was a Carat Carrot that returned her ring to her.
Unfortunately, after all these years, the ring no longer fits Lena. It will need to be sized before she can wear it again. They fact certainly didn’t dim the joy and happiness the family felt at the return of the precious ring. Lena says, “I had given up hope. Now that I have found the ring again I want to be able to use it.” I’m sure that the Carat Carrot made the meal it was used in just that much better. Imagine…the carrot had a very special job to do, before it went on to do what it was destined to do in the first place.
Few days make me dread writing my daily story, but then few days in my life have marked the beginning of such drastic change in my life either. It was December 12, 2007, twelve years ago, and my dad, Allen Spencer had been sick, or recovering for a little over two years, after being hit by Pancreatitis on October 1, 2005. My sisters and I had been caring for Dad, and our mom, Collene Spencer, who was diagnosed with Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma in her brain in July of 2006. Mom’s tumor was gone quickly, and there were no other serious concerns with her, but Dad’s care required much more. Everything seemed to be going well, but Dad’s liver was giving out due to the intravenous feeding, something we couldn’t really see…or at least something we didn’t know to expect as a possibility.
My dad had always been the “rock” of our family. None of us ever considered that he was not as strong as he once had been. We knew that no matter what was going on around us, Dad always knew what to do about any problem. It was a very comforting feeling in a family where he was the only original male. Of course, his daughters were married now, and a few grandsons had also been added to the mix, but for our childhood years, my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I were the kids they had, and so Dad was the only male. He was used to being the man with the answers, and we always looked to him when we needed those answers. It was difficult to see him in a state of weakness, but we would fight for his survival with all we had…never expecting to lose the fight.
With Dad’s passing on that awful December day, our world was forever changed. We were now going to need to take care of our mom, who needed us more than ever. While her health was ok, she didn’t drive anymore, and wasn’t as mobile as she had been before. We had promised Dad, we would take care of her, and as with Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way for Mom. It wasn’t just the change is our care structure that changed either. Everything changed with Dad’s passing.
We had seriously never expected to live on this earth without our parents, and now that entire perspective had changed. We knew that very likely the day would come when both parents and our parents-in-law would be gone. We knew that we were going to be the leaders of our families. It was up to us to keep our families close, as Mom and Dad would have wanted us to do. There would now be great grandchildren who have never met their Great Grandpa Spencer, and later Great Grandma Spencer. It was up to us to tell the kids about their great grandparents, so they wouldn’t be forgotten. t was up to us to tell them that their Great Grandpa Spencer was a World War II Veteran, who fought bravely for his country…to make sure that his legacy lived on. It is a big responsibility, and sometimes seems impossible, but we must, because our Dad showed us the way we should live, and we must now live it. There is no other choice. Twelve years ago today, my dad began his life in Heaven, and we miss him every day. We can’t wait until we will be reunited again. We love you Dad.
Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.
After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.
I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.
by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg
Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 44 years ago, when she married my brother Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.
In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s Grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a Mother and Grandma…and on May 30, 2018, Caryn became a Great Grandma to Chris’s daughter who is a sweetie and is very special to all of us, but especially to her Great Grandma Caryn!
On October 14, 2018 Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.
Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.
Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also travel for bowling tournaments too.
Caryn has spent the last year focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area!
On May 1, 2019 Caryn is going to start a new journey…it is called semi-retirement! She is still going to help out at The Stengel Agency some from home and when they need her (oh no she may be working more than she did before)!!!! Bob and Caryn have an adventure coming up towards the end of June. They will be flying to Everett, Washington, then driving to Bellingham, where they will visit Amy, Travis, Shai and Caalab. Following that visit, they will board the Amtrak Train in Seattle for a trip to Chicago, and then flying back to Denver before driving home. Caryn and Bob are very excited for this trip and many more to come. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired will find herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grand-daughter and of course blogging!!!! Watch for information on her upcoming Retirement Party which will be held at a later date when the weather is good enough for a fun outdoor party.
Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my Sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!