Each year I find myself more and more surprised at just how many years I have been without my moms. My mom, Collene Spencer left us February 22, 2015 and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg left us January 4, 2018. So many Motherless Mother’s Days have come and gone, and there will be so many more to follow, but I know that my mom and my mother-in-law are in my future, not my past. They are waiting in Heaven for the coming arrival of all of their beloved children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many more greats to come.
Of course, it really isn’t a Motherless Mother’s Day because I am a mother, as are my sisters and sisters-in-law, my daughters, nieces, and my soon to be granddaughters-in-law. With all of these wonderful moms in my life, I am never without someone to wish a happy Mother’s Day. And while I don’t have my moms with me this year, I know they are happy and well. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate moms, not to be sad, so I will be happy for all the mothers I know, and happy for my own honor to be a mom. These are among the very best days we will ever know. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers I know!! I love you all very much!!
To my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, you both make me so proud every day. You are both wonderful, caring people who would do anything in your power to help other people, and that is an honorable thing to do. People know that they can count on you, and I do too. Whatever is needed, you are there to lend a helping hand. It is a noble thing to do, and it is to your credit. You have both raised wonderful children, who have grown into wonderful, responsible adults.
Now we have a new generation of moms coming along, with my future granddaughters-in-law, Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez, who have or soon will have the next generation of babies in our family. I am so proud of both of you for the mothers that you are. Your kind and loving ways warms my heart. You are both beautiful moms, and we love you very much.
It is so hard for me to believe that my grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is 8 years old today. It seems like just yesterday that she arrived…such a sweet, pretty little baby girl. She was given the name of her mother, Chelsea Hadlock’s dreams…Aurora. The name Aurora means “Dawn” or “Sunrise,” and either one fits Aurora, because she has a sunshiny personality. She loves hanging out with friends, cousins, and her brother, Ethan. As siblings go, these two are very close. Ethan is protective of his sister, but doesn’t mind teasing her a bit either. Aurora can take it though, because they have grown up in a family of teasers, a long line of them really, dating back at least four generations.
Aurora is a smart little girl, who does well in school. She especially loves to read and make art. She also comes from a long line of musicians, dating back at least four generations, and she really loves to play the guitar with her dad and grandpa. I wish she could have played with her great grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer, because he would have just loved having a little great granddaughter who could play the guitar. His own daughters weren’t really so inclined, with the exception of Aurora’s grandma, Allyn Hadlock, who played the violin, as did our dad.
Very soon, Aurora and her family are going to be moving into a bigger house. My sister and her husband, Chris, Aurora’s grandparents are building a new home in the country, and Aurora’s parents are going to buy their current home. It is bigger, and will provide them with all the home they need for the rest of their lives. Aurora is very excited about the move, as is her brother, and it can’t come soon enough. The kids know that their grandparents house isn’t done yet, and they know that they will have to move when their old house is sold. So they have asked where their grandparents are going to live when they move into the house. Allyn laughed and said, “With you!!” The kids hadn’t thought of that, but they liked the idea. They love to spend the night over there, so now their grandparents can spend the night with them for a change. It’s an exciting time for Aurora. Today is Aurora’s birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
With each passing year, I find myself looking forward more and more to the Byer Family Christmas Party. Sadly, I think that part of the reason is that as time passes, we seem to lose more and more of my aunts and uncles. This year found us with only four aunts and only one uncle at the party. There are other uncles who are still alive, but that aren’t really able to come out for these events any more. It makes each time we get together that much more precious. I always feel sorry for those who didn’t make it to the party, because we always have such a nice time, and we are a family of excellent cooks, so the food is fabulous. And it is a way to keep those who have gone to Heaven just a little closer to the family. Nevertheless, the sadness over missing those who have left us persists, and grows with each new passing.
I think one reason that our grandparents wanted their children to continue the annual Christmas party and annual picnic was so that we would all get to know each other better. As the new generations come along. It would be so easy to lose touch with each other. That would be so sad, because little kids are usually instant friends, and that makes it extra special to watch. The kids had a sparkle in their eyes, and smiles on their faces. They were so excited to have new friends to play with and lots of room to run around, with no one to get upset at them. For kids, Christmas is always a special time of year, and it’s really hard to hold back the excitement. I love watching them bounce around the room. I could say that they ran around the room, but that wouldn’t be right exactly, because they really did bounce with excitement, and after all, it’s all about the kids right.
My grandparents were wise people. They had a vision for their kids and grandkids…for all of the generations that would follow them. They knew how easy it is to get busy in life, and to lose touch with family. It happens in so many families, and they didn’t want that for their family. Very wise people indeed. They wanted their kids not only to know their nieces and nephews, but also their grand nieces and nephews, and great grand nieces and nephews, for as long as they lived. What a precious gift that request turned out to be. It was not a burden to be carried or work to be done…it was a gift, and one I am thankful for every single year. It’s a time for family and reconnecting. While we miss all those who are gone now, I know that they would be proud of us for continuing this tradition. We love you all.
The annual Byer Family Christmas party took place last night, and it was nice to see so many family members, who I normally get to see only on Facebook. The Christmas party is always a joyous time, when we can catch up with other family members to see what they have been up to. The snowbirds like Susie and Clyde Young were back in town for the holidays, and kindly managed to bring the warm Nevada weather with them. Most of our grandparents children were there, like Aunt Virginia Beadle; my mom, Collene Spencer; Aunt Jeanette Byer; Aunt Bonnie McDaniels; Aunt Dixie Richards; and Aunt Sandy Pattan. For their presence, we are always thankful. The younger generations don’t always come to the party. I wish they would, because while this party and the summer picnic are great times to get together with the family, these gatherings are more importantly, the dream of our grandparents. The parties are our grandparents’ way of trying to keep the glue in place, that holds the family together.
The regular groups are there…the ones we can always count on. There were too many to name them all, but there were members of the families of Aunt Evelyn, Aunt Virginia, Aunt Delores, Uncle Larry, my mom, Collene, Aunt Bonnie, Aunt Dixie, and Aunt Sandy represented. It was so good to see everyone. We got to meet Aunt Virginia’s newest little great grandson, Kasen. And we got to see and be shocked at how much all the little kids have grown. The food was delicious, as always, because we are a family of really good cooks. We all ate to our heart’s content, and as usual, it was more than we needed to eat. But in realty, it isn’t the food we come for so much, but rather the company. Since connecting with so many family members on Facebook, I really feel comfortable visiting with them in person, because I truly know them now, where I basically knew they were family before.
Of course, we understand that not everyone can make it to the party each year, but for me, the thing that added a little bit of sadness this year is the ones who truly couldn’t come. These are the ones I really felt were missing. People like Grandma and Grandpa Byer, Aunt Delores and Uncle Elmer Johnson, Uncle Larry Byer, my dad, Allen Spencer, Uncle Jack McDaniels, Forrest Beadle, Alyssa Harman, Jonah Williams, and Laila Spethman…all of whom live in Heaven now. I also really missed Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George, because Uncle George has a really hard time getting out. And the one that hit closest to home for me, my grandson, Chris Petersen, who hasn’t missed one of these in years, but he is away at college and won’t be home until Tuesday. That was a really hard thing for my kids, Corrie and Kevin Petersen…and I know it was hard for Chris too.
Every year, we are grateful for the family members who come to the party, because we love to see everyone. The Byer Family Christmas Party is a day to treasure. As more and more of them pass away, I realize that we may not have the chance to see some of these people again. I am reminded of Grandma and Grandpa’s desire for this yearly celebration, and I’m reminded that they are there in spirit. I’m thankful for the people who come to the party, and look forward to the next time I will see them. The Annual Byer Family Christmas Party was a great success, because so many people came…and yet sad, because some were missing.
What is it about reading a story that intrigues us? It is the content, of course, but there is something more. Sometimes, we just want to take a few minutes outside ourselves…to lose ourselves in another man’s mind. It was a quote by Charles Lamb in 1890, who wrote “I love losing myself in other men’s minds” that came to me in a cover letter for my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal. It was written to some of her grand nieces and grand nephew, her sister, Mina’s grandchildren, when she gave them a copy of her journal…the writings of her thoughts. And when I read the letter, I was intrigued. I was very curious about her mind. I never had the opportunity to know Great Aunt Bertha, who went by Bertie, and I find that very sad. It is my opinion that she was an amazing woman. In her letter, she points out that all too often, historical writings take in simply the events as they occurred, but leave out the human side of things…the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and the impact the events had on the lives of the people who lived them. She also points out that the family stories told by the very of people who lived those stories will impact the lives of their descendants for years to come. She looks ahead to the 23rd century, and wonders what they would think of the events that shaped the lives of their ancient ancestors. After reading her letter, I realized that my stories had barely scratched the surface of the events I was writing about.
I began to think of the day to day moments of our lives, and how much of the future history is being lost, because we have not recorded the thoughts and feelings we experienced at the time that we experienced them. Great Aunt Bertie suggested that if a person was interested in writing about family history, they should question their parents about the lives of their parents and grandparents. I immediately felt a sense of loss, because my dad and my father-in-law are both gone, and the opportunity to talk with them is gone too. I also felt a sense of loss, because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and doesn’t always remember the events from her past anymore. I did feel an urging to sit down with my mom to see what things she could tell me, and also with my aunts, because I still have a chance to get their perspective on things. It occurred to me that while the desire is there, time will be the biggest problem, because of work and other obligations. Still, I want to take the opportunity while I can do so, and I know that I will learn many interesting things about my family.
I look forward to reading more of Great Aunt Bertie’s journal. She was an amazing individual, and she had the presence of mind to think in the future. She knew that the past has a very important place in the future, and that the future generations will never know the great things their ancestors accomplished, unless someone tells them about it. They will never know how their ancestors felt when they made the decision to immigrate to a new country, with their future very uncertain, but knowing that they had no future where they were then. And yet, she saw the importance of the here and now too…the everyday changes in the lives of family members around us…the accomplishments, hopes, and dreams for their future. She knew the importance of documenting the everyday moments of a life. Thank you for your wisdom, Great Aunt Bertie, and thank you Julie Holmberg Carlberg for blessing me and the rest of the family with this wonderful journal and the pictures you sent too. Great Aunt Bertie’s legacy will always be our priceless treasure.
After looking at this picture of my Great Uncle Albert Schumacher, and learning of his love for machinery from my cousin Shawn Frederick, I have decided that while my Uncle Bill Spencer does not look like his Uncle Albert, he is indeed very much like him in many ways, as is my cousins Tim and Shawn Fredrick’s dad, Gene, and Tim’s son, Daniel. These are men who like the inner workings of machinery, as well as their design. “Great Uncle Albert’s claim to fame”, according to what Shawn told us, “was that he studied machinery constantly and could fix ANY kind of machinery. He was also the only one in the territory to own a Ford car and always dreamed of owning a Rolls Royce. He also taught all of his boys to repair cars.” I have to think that maybe he handed down his talents by way of the genes to a number of other men in the family too.
Uncle Bill, who is Albert’s sister, Anna’s oldest son, and the one who got many of the Spencer side of my family interested in the family history, put together a tractor made from a pickup. According to Uncle Bill, “It had 1927 Dodge 4 cylinder engine with a 6 volt electrical system. The front axle was turned upside down for clearance. The rear axle was a worm gear drive gear system that was 18 inches top to bottom. It had 10 x 20 truck tires from a 1915 5 ton Wilcox Truck. In low gear the engine turned 18 times to turn the wheels once. It could do twice what a team of horses could do, and it didn’t have to stop to rest.” Uncle Bill was pretty proud of that tractor. He also bought an old school bus, back when his kids and my sisters and I were little kids. He spent quite a bit of time converting that old bus into a camper/motorhome for his family to travel in. I can vividly remember the fun times we spent in that old bus. We used to take trips in it with them, and we would hang out in it when they visited us or we visited them…especially us kids. It was almost like a club house.
Daniel, being a young man of just 12 years, does most of his design and building work at home, and much of it is done with Legos and such, but his dad tells me that Daniel is constantly building and inventing things…sounds a lot like his Great Grand Uncle Albert, doesn’t it? I think Daniel’s future possibilities are endless. He is a smart young man, and very motivated, so he will go far. It’s amazing to me that these men, while generations apart, are so much alike. I have often thought that when there are generations and generations of people in the same line of work, that it was just following in their parent’s footsteps, and maybe to a degree it was, but maybe it was just in the genes.
A while back, my daughter, Amy saw a picture of four hands forming a square. They were four generations of a family and that struck her as very special. So the next time we were all together, we took the pictures that were like those she had seen. We were very pleased with how the pictures looked. It was a very different way to do generational pictures.
I started thinking about what those hands represent. They represent the past, present, and future of our family. Yes, you could say that my mother’s hand is the past, but then so is mine, Amy’s and even Shai’s. Parts of our lives are in the past and part of our lives are in the present, and yes, parts of our lives are in the future. Within those hands is the hope of the future and the wisdom of the past. Our mistakes are now living in the past, and the future is what we will make of it. The choice is really ours.
Those hand have done so many different things. They have cuddled new life and changed diapers, shaping the future with their loving touch. They have been the disciplinarian of young lives, teaching responsibility and respect for others. They have played and worked…held books and babies. Everything we do, in some way includes our hands. They have shaped what we are. Some hands are calloused…the hands of a manual laborer. Some are soft, possibly the hands of an office worker. Some are dry from too much soap and water, possibly the hands of a nurse or caregiver. Some hands are permanently stained with oil or paint, while some are soft and manicured. It all depends on what things are going on in their lives.
So much can be seen in our hands, whether it is physically seen, or simply seen because you know the person. Our hands are so expressive of who we are, and when you look at four generations of hands, you can see all the differences that you know exist between the hand’s owners. It was such a good idea to take the picture, because it will always be a reminder of the past, present and future of who we were, are and will be.
My Aunt Deloris was always a sweet and gentle spirit. She was one of the few people out there who, to me, seemed truly humble. She never tried to promote herself, and in that act, she stood out as someone very special to me. She didn’t have to show you how amazing she was, because you could see for yourself who she was. Sadly, Aunt Deloris passed away in 1996 of Brain Cancer. It was a sad time for our family. She was such a wonderful person with such a kind heart, and we wanted her to be with us for a much longer time.
I remember so many times when Aunt Dee, as we all called her, would come over to the house for visits. We all loved sitting around talking with her. She was always the kind of person who would help you with anything you ever needed help with. She especially loved buying things for the family, like the piano she bought for the family, that was a blessing to the family for generations, unless you happened to be Greg, who got his fingers slammed in it more than once. She also liked to dance, and taught her sisters and brothers how to do the Mexican Hat Dance when she was in 5th grade. She had an amazing imagination, and created many fun adventures for her sisters and brothers as well.
I will always remember Aunt Dee’s sense of humor, and her wonderful laugh. She had a way of changing a quiet moment into a laughing moment…especially when there was an argument going on. Like the time her sisters and brothers were fighting and Grandma got tired of it and said she didn’t want to hear another peep out of anyone. Of course, Aunt Dee couldn’t resist. She waited a moment or two and said quietly, “Peep!” After a moment of shock, in which her siblings wondered if she was going to live through such a bold move, everyone started laughing, and the fight was over. I’m sure Grandma didn’t really mind that one little case of disobedience.
Bob’s great grandmother was a truly amazing woman. She lived to be 97 years young…and she lived at home. She just never seemed to age. She loved them, and she was patient with them. She didn’t mind their play, and in fact, she loved it, noise, mess, and all. She loved their laughter, and she laughed with them. Many older people get grouchy and don’t like noise, but she loved it when kids were involved.
I first met Great Grandma Knox when she traveled from her home in Yakima, Washington to Casper, Wyoming with he husband Edgar, her son Frank and his wife Helen. She was such a sweet woman. I enjoyed talking with her immensely, so I can totally understand why the kids all loved being with her. She was blessed enough to spend time with 4 generations of her offspring, from her children to her great great grandchildren…or was it her offspring that was blessed. I tend to think the latter, because Grandma Knox just simply had a way with kids.
When Bob and I went up to visit her in September of 1976, just a month after Grandpa passed away, she still had a gentleness of spirit, and the ability to enjoy her great great grandchildren, my daughters, Corrie and Amy. A number of years later, she would again travel to Casper to see the remainder of the grandchildren born during her lifetime. The kids had such a great time. Again, I marveled at how she took such great pleasure in the laughter and play of her great great grandchildren, just as she had her children and grandchildren. The kids giggled and played, running around the house, like they always did when they were together, and instead of seeming annoyed, Grandma Knox seemed delighted. I suppose that is the reason the kids were still smiling in the pictures we took. It was because she had a way with kids and they truly loved her.
It is somewhat rare to be able to take pictures of five generations of a family. Many people are able to take four generation pictures, but five is not always possible. When my two oldest grandchildren were just babies, we were able to get that picture that so many people would love to have. The pictures we took were and are pictures we will always treasure.
Many people think that five generation pictures represent the ability to live long lives, and that is true, but so much more is represented in those treasured pictures. Five generations represents the wisdom of age being passed down from generation to generation, and that is exactly what we did have in our family. Things like the ability to grow your own food in a garden or raise cattle, chickens, and horses. The ability to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet things like clothing, blankets, table cloths, pillow cases, and so much more. It was these abilities being taught by the older generation to the next, and the next, and the next generation. What a blessing to have these things taught to a great grandchild, who can then teach it to their child, grand child, and great grandchild. A child learning from its parent, who learned from their parents, and grandparents.
So much wisdom and knowledge has been passed down this way. In fact, we would not know how to do many things that we know, were it not for the generations the came before us. When I look at these pictures, I remember the things we learned for Bob’s grandparents. From card games played out between ruthless partners, to recipes like Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam…which was the best jam I have ever tasted. It’s almost as if the wisdom and knowledge of the prior generation has been entrusted to the next generation to pass on to the future generations. Our grandparents and great grandparents have given us the best that was in them, in the hope that through us, they might live on. It is almost a sacred trust.
Since the time of these pictures, the babies have reached the age of 16, and Grandma has since passed away. Her words, stories, wisdom, knowledge, and especially her love continue to live on in my memory. She was a very special lady, and I only wish my grandchildren could have known her…not just have been in a picture with her. She lived so much of the history they only know from books, and she could have taught them so much. Unfortunately, the miles that separated us from her, made any real relationship with her impossible during their early years, and before they were old enough to remember her much, she was gone. She passed away on March 28, 1998, just 2 years and one month after the birth of those babies. I just hope that the things she taught her son, my father-in-law, who taught his son, my husband, can be remembered by his children, my daughters, to pass on to their children, my grandchildren, and to their children, and their children, and on into the generations beyond.