graduation

My niece, Gaby Beach has had a very busy year. Following her graduation from nursing school, Gaby took a job at Wyoming Medical Center, where both she and her husband, Allen Beach now work. Gaby now works in the PCU, which is an area of the hospital for patients who don’t need to be in the ICU, but aren’t quite ready for the care they would get on a regular floor. Gaby really likes her job, and she has been assigned as the charge nurse periodically.

Because they both work at the hospital now, Gaby and Allen decided to buy a house near their work. They had been renting an apartment for Allen’s parents, Caryl and Mike Reed, but the place was far out in the country, and now that they were both working, they felt it was time for a home of their own. They found a great house that wasn’t too far from the hospital, and now they are working on making it their own, and enjoying the time with their dogs, Oly and Jasper. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Having school out of the way for now has been really nice for Gaby and Allen, who has a degree in Hospital administration. Gaby’s degree is in nursing, of course, and at some point, down the road, she plans to work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), but for now she wants to just relax and enjoy her job and life for a while.

They have plans to go to Disney World in April. They have worked very hard, and a fun break will be awesome for them. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Gaby and Allen really love to travel, but with Covid, they haven’t been able to do much of that, making this trip to Florida a big deal. Covid has kept everyone closer to home these days, but now it’s time to live a little. I know they will have a great time.

Gaby and Allen first met when they were in the Navy, stationed at the same place. That is also where Gaby became interested in becoming a nurse. Being a Corpsman taught her so much about medicine, and so when she was done with her term of service, she went back to school to become a nurse, and she has become an asset to the hospital. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Jadyn Mortensen is a complex girl. She has many sides, and many talents. I think that first and foremost, Jadyn is her parents’ daughter. She loves her mom, Amanda Reed and her dad, Sean Mortensen very much, and she is very loyal to them. Jadyn is their only child, and they love her very much too. She also makes them very proud. There seems to be nothing Jadyn can’t do when she puts her mind to it, and she wants to experience life to the fullest.

Jadyn loves horses, and she has a way with them. She is a very talented barrel racer. I have watched her career from vantage point of the pictures her family takes. Jadyn is very photogenic, and Jadyn on a horse is just amazing. She loves her houses and they love her. The two together are a perfect team, acting in unison.

While Jadyn is an excellent equestrian, she is also great at just about every other sport there is, or at least the ones she is interested in. She loves the snow, and snow sports, she loves the water and being at the lake with her parents and their friends’ families. The summer weekends are always full of activity, most often at Seminoe Reservoir. Jadyn fits in with children and adults alike. She always has.

The Covid School Year stole so much for our students, but it was more for the high school students, because they missed out on prom, graduations, sporting events that might have meant scholarships, and so much more. Nevertheless, for the ones, like Jadyn, this year was a second chance at the things they missed before. Jadyn got to got to prom this year, and she looked stunning in her gorgeous red dress. She is a beautiful girl, inside and out, and really looks stunning in a prom dress or a pair of jeans, shirt, and cowboy boots. I’m sure rodeo was different too. Many events, if they were held, were without spectators, and that is sad. Parents should be able to watch their child perform. For our kids, we can never go back to such a thing again. Nevertheless, Jadyn has continued to excel, and she has a bright future ahead of her. Today is Jadyn’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Jadyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Raelynn Masterson, is growing up…right before our very eyes. Suddenly, Raelynn is 18 years old…an adult. Covid had an effect on Raelynn, like it did every student, except those who were exclusively online. Many students have chosen to do things differently now, and Raelynn is one of those. So, this past year, she switched from Natrona County High School (NCHS), to our third high school, Roosevelt High School, and not only does she love it, but it has been the best for her learning style. NCHS is a large school, and so there are larger classes, meaning that each student has less individual time with the teachers. The online classes showed Raelynn that the one-on-one time was important to her. NCHS also has longer class times, and alternating daily schedules, where Roosevelt uses the old method of the same daily schedule and shorter class times. Either schedule works, but Raelynn’s personal preference is the old style.

Recently, Raelynn started a new job, her second, at Walgreens, which is where her mom, Dustie Masterson works, but not they are at opposite stores. Raelynn is at the westside and Dustie at the eastside store. Raelynn got tp work once at her mom’s store, and mid-August, Dustie is going to help out at Raelynn’s store. They get along great, so working together, even if only occasionally is a lot of fun. They both have the same sense of humor, and they don’t get embarrassed about some of the goofy things I (and Dustie) have posted online about them. They both love to be silly, and it’s rather a no-holds-barred situation when it comes to teasing. Being a “good sport” is a must when they are teasing each other.

Raelynn has not been in a hurry to learn to drive, in fact she didn’t even start to learn until this past year. She is taking it slow to make sure her really has a good handle on it. There is no sense in rushing and then immediately having your first accident. There are a few kids out there who start out driving like “an old lady,” and never really change that. I think I would rather see a prudent new driver, than one who scares everyone who is in the car with them.

Turning eighteen and graduating from high school next year, Raelynn is looking to the future. She knows that she wants to get her own apartment after high school. She already has a friend in mind to be her roommate, so that’s good. She also plans to go to college. She is a good student, and she wants it all. She has a couple of ideas on what she wants to study, but nothing that has been nailed down enough to say for sure. Nevertheless, she is planning ahead, and that makes Dustie and Rob (Raelynn’s dad and Dustie’s husband) very proud.

Planning ahead is one thing. Having the cool things you want in life is another, and while Raelynn is saving and planning, she did spend that whole first check on…well, her mom doesn’t really know, but stuff she needed, apparently!! Nevertheless, once Raelynn sets a goal, nothing is going to stop her. Dustie says, “She reminds me a lot of me, but much sweeter. She must get that from her dad! This year marks her as an adult but when I look at her I still see my first little miracle (quite literally) from God. He must have known better than me what I needed in my life.” I just couldn’t have said that any better. Today Is Raelynn’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

With school ending for her and high school graduation arriving, my grand-niece, Jala Satterwhite is looking to the future, and making plans for what she wants to do with her life. Jala is ready for a break from school, and has no plans at this time to go to college. Many students are ready for a break from school after so many years in it, and the past two school years have been especially hard with Covid lockdowns, online classes, and now the in school mask mandate. It has been very frustrating. Really, at this point, she wants to work on a ranch. Jala loves horses and riding, and really other animals too, but not like her beloved horses.

Like most kids, Jala is ready to spread her wings, try new things, and get a place to call her own. It’s all about independence, even if their parents weren’t super strict or confining, there comes a time when every kid wants to make their own decisions. That time often arrives right after graduation, be it high school or college. So, once she starts working full time, Jala is going to find a place to rent with one of her friends.

With all the Covid restrictions, Jala hasn’t done any sports for the last couple years. That is a sad turn of events, because Jala was very good in sports, but with the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year completely online, there were no sports, no conditioning for sports, and a general change of interests in many students. With school back in session now, students are often not ready for the work it takes to get back into competition readiness. It’s almost like it was stolen from them. The same applies to in-school classes…especially at the college level. They found out that it can be done online, so why go in person. Jala has lots of time to go back to college, if she so desires. It’s never too late to learn and to get a degree. I’m sure Jala will make good choices for her future, she is a smart girl, and she will do whats best for her.

I can’t believe Jala’s graduation is here already. I remember when she was born!! Where has the time gone. She should still be a little girl, but time waits for no man, and Jala has grown up, whether we like it or not. The day has arrived. Happy high school graduation Jala!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, James Renville has been working hard, going to college, and living at home with his mom, Toni Chase and step-dad, Dave Chase. It has been a good way to go for James, because he attended Casper College, and his parents live in Casper, so why pay for a dorm or apartment. James and his parents get along very well, so it has worked out nicely. In addition, living at home gives James’ the ability to enjoy the family dog, which he could not have in a dorm or in most apartments. James has always had a dogs, and right now they Biscuit and Cricket, and they would be lonely without James.

James graduated from college in May, with a degree in Communications and Media. I wasn’t sure just exactly what you can do with that degree, so I did a bit of research. Jobs directly related to your degree include: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Program researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, broadcasting/film/video, Social media manager, Television/film/video producer, and Web content manager…just to name a few. I’m not sure just exactly what James has in mind for his career, but he has time to explore the great possibilities for career ideas.

James may continue his education, but for right now, he’s taking a break from school. He is working at Home Depot right now, and saving his money, because he wants to travel overseas again. James visited the Netherlands a couple of times, where he has a close friend, and that really gave him the travel bug. His job and living at home allows him to put his money into his travel plans. James has big plans for his life, possibly including moving out of Wyoming, but nothing is set in stone right now, so I guess time will tell. Of course, we hope he doesn’t go too far. Still, the future is wide open, and I’m excited to see where it will take him. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Weston Moore is graduating from high school today and I find it hard to believe that it has already been that many years since he was born. Weston is the oldest son of my niece Machelle Moore and her husband, Steve. He has a younger brother named Easton. Weston was destined to be tall from the moment he was born. He comes from tall stock…with his grandfather, Lynn Cook, who is 6 foot 6 inches, his dad who is well over six feet and his mom who is close to six feet, he is destined to be tall. Last night when we were visiting, he said that someone had measured him and he was 6 feet 5 inches.

Weston recently got a job at Verizon in Powell, and he plans to work for a year before pursuing his higher education. Sometimes, that is a nice thing for a student. Thirteen years of public school is s long time, and sometimes a break is needed before moving on in life. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to brag to younger siblings and cousins when they head back to school and you don’t have to. Nevertheless, pretty soon you begin to think that maybe it is time to get on with it and go back to school. I’m sure that time will come for Weston before the year is over.

Weston’s is considering his options for college, and is looking at Sheridan College, because they have one of the best culinary arts programs. Being a chef is something he has wanted for some time now. Since my grandson, Chris Petersen went through the program, I can say that it is an excellent program, and Chris learned so much in his time there.

Wherever life takes Weston next and in the future, I know that he will do well. He knows how to work hard and doesn’t mind the hard work. When he puts his mind to it, I know he will excel in any endeavor. Today begins the journey into the rest of your life, Weston. Today you cross the threshold between being a kid and being a man. You are a kind and loving man who will go far in this world. I am so excited to see what the next chapter of your life will bring for you. Congratulations on your graduation from high school!! We are all so proud of you!!

Time goes by so quickly, especially concerning the passing of a loved one. My mind just doesn’t want to wrap itself around the fact that it has been four years since my mom went to Heaven. I know that there are many people who have been without their parents much longer than I have, and they know exactly how I feel on this 4th anniversary of my mother’s graduation to Heaven.

As I write this, I can think of so many things I would have loved to tell my mom, who was one of my biggest fans when it came to my writing. She loved the history stories, especially when it pertained to the family history. This year has been such a wonderful year for new and interesting finds, and it seems like I want to call her almost every day to tell her something new. And there are so many days I want to ask her about something I’ve discovered. Sadly, when we are young, we don’t realize just how important those family stories will become when we are older.

Mom, was always the bringer of the sunshine to our house, singing to us when we woke up, when we were sad, or when we were happy. They were usually little one or two line songs, but they said it all. She told us little bits and pieces of life with her siblings, and all the singing they did, giving us a glimpse of all the laughter and fun that was our grandparents house when all the kids were there. Mom was the middle child in a family of nine children, and that probably gave her a unique view of things. She got to participate in the fun things the older siblings are doing, and she was still young enough to enjoy the things the younger siblings were doing. Being the middle child, born between the only two boys, put her in a unique position too. She got in on some of the antics the boys got into…much like the three musketeers. Mom always had a fun-loving attitude, and that made life with Mom lots of fun. Today marks my mom’s 4th anniversary in Heaven. While we know that she is having the time of her life, we miss her very much. We love you Mom.

This is a day that I have been particularly dreading since my dad, Allen Spencer passed away on December 12, 2007. The ten year anniversary of his graduation to Heaven. For him, of course, it was a day of great celebration, but for my mom, Collene Spencer…now in Heaven herself, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and me the day was anything but a celebration. And, their were so many others who felt his passing deeply too…grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings, siblings-in-law, and friends. It was a day that we somehow thought would never come, and when it did, we were really not at all ready for it, but then are you ever ready for a loved one’s passing? Of course not…we can’t possibly prepare.

With each year thereafter, the sting of his passing remained, although we got used to feeling it, but the ten year mark has been one that seemed so incredibly impossible, that I continued to push it to the back of my mind. It ranked right up there with the thought of living even one day on this earth without my parents. It lived in the realm of the impossible, and now it is simply reality. We go through our days in a state of acceptance, because there is nothing else we can do…we have no other choice.

Our dad was a wonderful, sweet, kind, and loving man, who treated our mom like a queen and his daughters like princesses. We never doubted his love for any of us. We may not have had riches or a castle, but there are better ways to be treated like royalty. We just always knew that we were loved. We didn’t need riches or castles, because we had quality time with our parents. We got to travel the United States, and took trips every summer. We learned to read maps, build campfires, see so many wonderful places, and enjoy each others company. It made us a very close family, and that closeness continues to this day. My family was so blessed to have such a man as our dad, and so when he left us…the void was huge!! And now to think that he has been in Heaven for ten long years…well, it makes me feel very sad and lonely. My only consolation is that I know that now my dad…and my mom too…is in my future, not in my past. For me, it just feels like the future is so very far away. I would love to have a hug from my dad right now, not years down the road, and I would love to hear his voice again, and not only in my memory. I just can’t believe that he could have been gone that long. I love and miss you Dad…so very much.

Sixteen years…that is the amount of time that has passed since the horrific 9-11 attacks on America. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed. When I think about the victims of those attacks, I am saddened to think that the beautiful potential their lives had was stripped away from them in an instant. I think about the families they left behind to mourn their loss. And I think about the babies that arrived after the attacks, who would never know their dads. This year marks another milestone those babies will have without their dads…getting their driver’s license….as well as possibly dating. Their dads have missed so many milestones already, and it was just so unfair. Those men went to work that day, fully expecting to come home, but evil doesn’t care.

I think about the children who were lost in the attacks. Their lives were cut short before they even had a chance to grow up, and fulfill their life’s full potential. Some of them hadn’t even started school yet. They didn’t get the chance to graduate from high school, which many of them would now have done by now. Their potential to be a productive member of society was squashed in a matter of a few hours on that September day, sixteen years ago, because evil doesn’t care.

I am sad for the men and women, who worked in the offices of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, who simply went about their day, doing the things they had planned, only to have everything ripped out from under them in a moment. Their futures were so bright. They were going places. They had studied and learned their trade, and now they were the people who were ready to go out and change the world. Their dreams were so quickly over. They would do no more. Their chance was gone. And the people on the planes, innocently traveling to their destination…forced to become a bomb in the plot to kill so many. Life for all of them ended that awful day, because evil doesn’t care.

I think of the emergency workers who ran into the buildings…the same way they always do in an emergency, fully expecting to bring the people out and save their lives. They ran in, but most of those who went in, did not come back out that day. So many of the higher ranked firefighters had to be quickly replaced with firefighters who were less experienced in leadership, because the leaders were gone. So many people in so many areas of the United States and the world had to try to go on with the emptiness that was left by the loss of so many, in all walks of life. The nation had to rebuild…move forward…and deal with the feelings of grief, anger, and loss that the attacks left behind…that hate left behind, because evil doesn’t care about the life it destroyed. Evil just doesn’t care.

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.”

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