Seven days might seem like enough time when your kids come home for a visit, but when it comes time for them to leave, you find that it is definitely not enough time. Of course, deep down, you knew it wouldn’t be, you just hoped that you could cram everything you wanted to say and do into the short amount of time you had. Then, almost before the visit started, it’s time to say goodbye again. That’s how my Casper family feels every time our Washington family comes for a visit, and I’m sure that’s how they feel whenever we go to visit there too. Included in the visit is always a certain amount stress and pressure, both for them and for us, because they are trying to make time for their family…and their friends, and we are trying to spend as much time as possible with them. No one wants to share them exactly…selfish, I know, but when they are your babies, you tend to get a little bit selfish.
This trip home for my daughter, Amy Royce and her kids, Shai and Caalab, was to attend the graduation of my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen. The trip was wonderful, as we attended his graduation party, awards ceremony, and of course, the graduation. We went out to eat, and just sat around and talked, and we even had an early birthday party for Amy. We laughed, talked, and when I was given Friday off, we even did pedicures. The kids hooked up with all their friends, and for the most part, decided that sleep was an unnecessary vice best left to old people…and apparently mornings fell into that same category. Still, they all did their best to divide their time with family and friends as fairly as possible. Nevertheless, to my “mother’s heart” it was not enough time. I found myself wishing that I could turn back time to the first day of their arrival…over and over again.
Try as I might, before we knew it, the last day arrived. Amy had planned a friends night to get all her friends together at once, and it went very well. I made the bold move to “horn in” on the action, even though it was supposed to be for her friends, and they graciously accepted my intrusion. My only regret was that I should have “horned in” my other daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin, who I thought were spending the day with their son, Josh, who went back to Bellingham with Amy, Shai, and Caalab this morning to spend his Senior Trip with them. I suppose I should have realized that Josh would be attending the graduation parties of his friends, but I wasn’t thinking very clearly, because the kids were leaving and I was dreading the tearful goodbyes I knew were inevitable. Hindsight is 20/20. As I contemplate the visit that we had, mixed with the sad goodbyes, a thought came to me…”Goodbyes are always hard, but I’m very thankful that we can look forward to the next hello.”
For as long as I have known my husband, Bob Schulenberg, he has had a job. He is a hard working man, who never quits…until now. Today, for the first time since he was sixteen years old, Bob doesn’t have a job to go to anymore. In the years I have known and been married to Bob, he has had only two jobs. The first in a uranium mine where he worked from 1973 to 1989, when he went to work for the City of Casper. He has worked at the City of Casper for a little over 27 years. One of the girls in human resources, Tracy did a little bit of figuring to come up with some interest figures about how much time that 27 years really is. According to her calculations, for Bob’s May 1, 1989 start date through his last working day for the City of Casper, June 30, 2016, figures up to be 9,922 days, or 14,287,680 minutes, or 857,260,800 seconds. Anyway you look at it, 27 years is an incredible accomplishment.
Bob has never been a man who sits around, and his retirement will be no different. He loves working on cars for family and friends, and already has several jobs lined up to keep him busy…after he takes a couple of weeks off that is. After all, he is going to have to get used to this new direction his life is taking, and what better way than to relax for a couple of weeks before diving into the new ventures he is bound to take on.
Of course, being retired will mean that he has more time for our favorite pastime…hiking. We are planning several trips in the near future to go hiking, some just for a weekend, because, after all, I am not retired yet, and others for a week at a time. Of course, no matter how long we are able to go for, we always enjoy our hiking. We love getting out in nature, and especially getting back in the trees.
I don’t know if Bob feels like not having a job is as strange as I feel like it is, but I’m sure he will quickly get used to it. It’s like getting a drivers license. At first it’s strange to be free to go when you want to, but then you get used to it, and it’s just normal. Before very long, retirement will be the same. So without further ado, Bob is calling it a career, and now he is off to new adventures. Congratulations on your retirement Honey!! I know your new adventures are going to be amazing. You’ve earned it.
Because Bob and I took a cruise to Alaska last year, I have found myself interested in all things Alaskan. I don’t really think I would want to move to Alaska, because I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to snow and cold, but I have to say that Alaska is absolutely beautiful…and yes, I would got back for a vacation again…in a heartbeat. While I didn’t like the cool weather, Alaska is a place like no other. The United States took possession of Alaska on this day October 18, 1867, after purchasing it for $7.2 million…less than 2 cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and was championed by William Henry Seward, the enthusiastically expansionist secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson. Many people thought the purchase was frivolous. Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska’s Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources and great beauty.
Since we were there, I found an app for my phone that tells me about earthquakes around the world, and since Alaska gets a lot of them, the names of some of the places we were at have shown up on my app periodically. There haven’t been any huge earthquakes, but there are still earthquakes. The reason earthquakes grabbed my interest was because of a movie we watched in Anchorage, about the about the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake that occurred there. It was the largest earthquake in the history of the United States, registering 9.2 on the Richter Scale. The devastation from that earthquake is something that I will never forget. I wasn’t even there, and I will never forget it. When we walked past the area where so many houses were simply swallowed up…well, it was an eerie feeling. It was hard to shake it. One minute people were living their lives, and the next they are buried alive. Still, life moved on, and people persevered.
It takes a rather tough breed of people to live in Alaska. The weather gets extreme, and much of the state is, and always will be a wilderness area. Half of the year has extra long days, and half of the year has extra long nights. Yet, even with the extreme and sometimes brutal weather, the people of Alaska stay there. They work hard all summer to prepare for the long winter, and in summer’s long days, they are outside enjoying the fresh air well into the nighttime hours, because they know that the winter is coming and with it will be the short, cold, dark days. I don’t think most of us could handle Alaska, and yet those who do feel that it is a gift. And that is something I can understand.
While I didn’t get to see the Aurora Borealis, I know that I would go back to Alaska for an Aurora Tour in a heartbeat. The mountains there are beautiful, and everything has a feeling of vastness. Alaska is a beautiful state, and one I would really recommend that people visit. While I wouldn’t live there, I would definitely go back there. You simply can’t see Alaska in a one week trip. All that does is whet your appetite. I’m really glad that we purchased Alaska, even if the people weren’t sure it was a great idea at first.
While we were visiting many of our family members in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, our cousin, Bill Spencer surprised us with a copy of a slide show that he had put together for his family. We were so busy while we were there, that there was no time to take a look at the slide show. When I got home, I looked at it briefly, but nothing really in depth. Yesterday, I took another look…a longer look. I had no idea what a gold mine that slide show would turn out to be. As I watched it, I felt like I had been instantly transported back in time. It was so fun to look at those old shots of all of us as kids. It also felt just a little bit lonely when I looked at holiday pictures from the time right after we left Superior. Prior to that, we would have most likely been in some of those pictures, and I’m sure that my cousins would agree with me when I say that feels a little bit sad too.
Cheryl and Pam had always been good friends, and the younger kids naturally partnered with Bill and Jim. That could have left me feeling like a third wheel, but I got along just as well with the younger kids, so it worked out very well. The reality was that I thought the stuff the younger kids were doing was more fun most of the time anyway. Not to say that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with Cheryl and Pam, but I was a pretty active kid. and the rough housing that the younger kids and I did was quite appealing to me. In fact, I probably instigated much of it…if not all of it.
I was really into gymnastics, with tumbling being my favorite part of it. My sisters and I used to practice our tumbling on the front lawn, so it stood to reason that we would do that when our cousins were there too. We practiced things like cartwheels, hand springs, and touching our toes to our head…which turned out to be a little difficult for my cousin, Jimmy, try as he might. And believe me, his trying was pretty funny. I don’t know if he really thought that he could pull his legs up to his head with his hands, but believe me, you can’t do it. Either you are limber enough, or you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.
The younger kids would do their best to gang up on me, to prove their superiority…or maybe it was just the mere number of them against me, or maybe they had a little help from Aunt Doris. Whatever the case may be, sometimes I found myself out numbered. Of course, it was all in fun, and we had such a good time when they were here or we were there. Just looking at the picture of the dog pile makes me smile. All I can say, is that I’m glad I didn’t have all those kids on top of me. I would have been squished for sure!! What crazy, fun times those were.
Seeing my cousins this summer, took me back to those carefree days. Sometimes, you get used to being away from those you love, and you somehow don’t realize how much we miss those times, until we go back for a short time. Then, the memories flood back in. You talk for hours about all the old times, and you suddenly realize just how much you have missed those times. Nevertheless, time has marched on, and you can’t go back to when you were young. All you can do is try to keep the memories alive in your memory files, and pull them out once in a while so you can relive those moments. Those days are gone, but the memory lives on to remind you that those were the days, and they were great. Childhood is but a fleeting moment, but those days will always be a part of who we are.
For most children, their first friends are their siblings or cousins. Their families get together, so the kids get to see each other often. The days flow from one to another, and for a time, everyone expects that nothing will change. I suppose that is why change always hits us so hard. We have convinced ourselves that it will never happen. Then comes the day when one of those first friends moves away. For some people it doesn’t happen until a sibling moves out of the house for the first time, but for others, as was the case for my sister, Cheryl Spencer Masterson and our cousin, Pam Spencer Wendling, it can come at a very young age, and it can feel quite devastating, for everyone involved.
So often, the two friends only hear one side of how the two of them are feeling. I know that my sister missed Pam a lot. I don’t recall my own feelings concerning the matter, but then I was only two and a half, so that isn’t surprising. In reality, it was Cheryl and Pam who played together every day, and who were so close. They did everything together. It didn’t matter if the day was warm or cold. They were outside playing in the snow or taking care of their baby dolls in the warm sun. It was so cute.
Recently, on our visit to Wisconsin, Pam was telling us about a baby album she had with lots of those early childhood pictures in it. They included Pam and Cheryl, and me too, but there were several of the two little friends going about their daily play. It was so obvious that these two cousins loved each other very much. Our two families lived just across the yard from each other, and since the alley ran along the side of the house, the two yards shared a common fence. In those days, you could let your kids go outside to play with a lot less supervision and worry, so Cheryl and Pam were outside playing together all the time. It was the perfect setup…until all that changed.
In November of 1958, our family moved from Superior, Wisconsin back to my mom’s hometown of Casper, Wyoming. As I said, I was really too little to understand how much Cheryl missed Pam, and until this trip, we hadn’t heard just how much Pam missed Cheryl. Apparently, Pam must have asked her mom why she couldn’t go play with Cheryl, and was told that the family had moved to Wyoming. I’m not really sure where the discussion about trees came into the whole thing, but somehow Pam associated the move with trees. That is odd, because I would have to say that there are a lot more trees in Wisconsin than in Wyoming, but Pam didn’t understand that. She just knew that the move made her sad, and there had to be a reason…in her mind anyway. When that subject came up, Pam cried and said, “Cheryl’s Wyoming has trees!!” Maybe she thought that was why we moved, or maybe she just thought that everything must be better in Wyoming, but whatever the reason, she knew in her heart that Cheryl’s Wyoming had trees.