A year seems like a long time, but in reality, it goes by so fast. One year ago today, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg left us to go to Heaven. She had a stroke, and recovery was not to be. Rachel left behind a husband, Ron Schulenberg; daughter, Cassie Franklin; sons, Riley Birky and Tucker Schulenberg; her dad, Cliff Franklin; and brother, BJ Franklin, grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey; as well as lots of family and friends. Life wasn’t always easy for Rachel, but she was in a great place. She and my brother-in-law were so in love, and they had been happily married almost 11 years. Ron had adopted her son Tucker, and we are all thankful for that, because no one knew the future, but Tucker needed to be with Ron.
Now, a year after Rachel left us, a number of things have changed. Her daughter, Cassie was in a bad situation, and Rachel was worried about it. Cassie was able to walk away from that situation, and I know that Rachel would be so glad. Rachel’s son Riley struggled through the years, but Rachel always stuck by him. Today he is engaged to a great girl, Sierah Martin, and together they are raising her little boy, and expecting a new baby in August 2022. Rachel would have been glad. Tucker is getting ready to go to high school next year. High school…how could that be!! Tucker should still be that 2-year-old boy who firat came into our lives when Rachel and Ron got married. Ron and Tucker are doing ok. They are working hard to take care of each other, and about that, Rachel would be glad. Tucker went to a grief camp that included horses last summer, and not only did he find a love of horses, but he found out that a school friend also lost his mother about two years ago.
Ron probably hides his feelings more than most and tries to use physical labor to help him through it, but we are having monthly family dinners, and trying to pull him into socializing more. It’s hard, and we don’t pressure him, but rather we let him, as well as the kids, know that we are there for them in whatever way they need…and I think Rachel would be glad. Rachel was a loving caring person, and that is impossible to replace. The hole left in our hearts when she left is impossible to fill, at least without God. Rachel knew Jesus as her personal Savior, and so we know that she is living a wonderful life in Heaven. While that doesn’t make us miss her any less, it does remind us that she is happy, and she is looking forward to the day we all join her there. Happy first year in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.
My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen is a car fanatic. He loves classic cars, and knows just how to make them shine. From the engine to the paint job, Kevin has the skills. His dad, Dean Petersen gave Kevin his 1966 Mercury Cyclone, and Kevin is slowly restoring it. Unfortunately with his rheumatoid arthritis, he can only work about an hour a day a few days a week. Still, he is getting there. Kevin rents a shop where he stores his car and his son, my grandson, Chris’ Camaro. When Kevin gets his car done, it will be stunning. Kevin has always had nice cars, usually classics. This was something Kevin shared with his boys, Chris and Josh. Its a guy thing. I don’t know many guys who don’t love cars.
As his boys have grown up…Chris is 24 and Josh will be 22 on the 9th of this month…they don’t have as much time to spend with their parents. They still try to help and visit their dad and mom whenever they can, but they work a lot of hours, and Chris has a family too. Of course, that is a blessing in itself. Being a grandpa has been the most wonderful thing too. Kevin has always been all about his family. His granddaughter and soon, new grandson, have him literally bursting with joy. Babies have a way of doing that. Now, as in many families, the grandparents go to visit the grandkids, at least more than the kids get to their house. The work around Chris’ schedule, but they don’t mind. They also like to FaceTime with their granddaughter, who immediately commandeers her parents’ phones to take her grandparents to her room to watch her play. Mostly she’s pretty good about keeping the conversation going, and not just getting absorbed in her play, but even if she does that, they don’t really mind. They love watching her play. She has become a great big part of their world.
Kevin has always had a soft heart, but he is fiercely loyal to his family and will defend them to the end. He is always there to help whenever he can, and he is a great husband and dad. Kevin is an artist. His work is beautiful, and I love that I have been the recipient of some of his work. He has done beautiful stained glass work, paintings, and drawings. Not everyone has that ability, and so it’s awesome that my son-in-law is one that did. His disability has limited the amount of art he can do, but what he does is wonderful. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel, he brought to the marriage two children, Keifer and Katy. Chantel also brought to the marriage two children, Jake and Siara. When they got married in 2002, the children were between the ages of 14 and 7 years. They instantly became a blended family, and they all got along very well. Dave really loves kids, and he was an excellent dad to Chantel’s kids, as well as to his own. It isn’t easy to raise kids, especially during the teenaged years, and it’s even harder to raise someone else’s kids, but Dave took it all in stride, and Chantel’s kids love him very much. They consider him really more their dad, than their own dad is.
One of the blessings of having children, is the entrance of the next generation…grandchildren. In a blended family, the grandchildren are also blended. The first grandchild to come along, was a bonus baby names Alice Green. She joined Chantel’s son Jake Harman’s family when he married Alice’s mom, Melanie. Alice took to Dave almost instantly. She adored him. Alice was soon joined by sister, Izabella Harman and brother, Jaxx Harman. Dave was relishing in grandfatherhood. Then, Dave’s son, Keifer and his wife, Katie welcomed their daughter, Reece Balcerzak. Reece gave the family a bit of a scare, by arriving quite early, but she was a fighter, and all went well. Chantel’s daughter, Siara and her husband, Nick Olsen gave birth to Alec Olsen, who after 3 months, went to live in Heaven, breaking the hearts of all of his family, who miss him very much. Finally, Dave’s daughter, Katy Balcerzak and her fiancé, Dylan Herr, gave birth to their son, Max. Dave and Chantel’s blended family is going through more blending, as the new grandchildren have arrived. Life is so sweet, when grandchildren are involved. I know that the future will bring more grandchildren, and great happiness to this wonderful blended family that Dave and Chantel have so lovingly created.
Dave has been a wonderful addition to our family. He has a heart of gold, and the capacity to love everyone, a trait that has endeared him to all of us. It’s not every parent who has the ability to love their step-children as much as their own children, but for Dave they are all his children, and he will give the best of himself for all of them, and the blessing he has been to them, is now being returned to him, many times over. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Just under seven months ago, my Aunt Virginia Beadle left us to go to Heaven. Whenever I think of her, I picture her sweet face, always smiling gently at me. She never said a harsh word to me or anyone else I know of either. Oh I suppose she did get angry or speak harshly at some point in her life, but not in her latter years…not that I know of. Aunt Virginia just always had a sweet disposition.
Aunt Virginia’s heart was with her family. She loved each of them dearly. Aunt Virginia had 5 children, one of whom, Christy passed away shortly after her birth in 1967; and one, Forrest, born in 1956, whom she adopted as a baby. Forrest passed away in 2005. Her other children were Stephen, born in 1962; Betsy, born in 1965; and Billy, born in 1969. She was very proud of all of her children, and loved them very much. Of course, with children, come the blessings of grandchildren and later, great grandchildren, and Aunt Virginia was very blessed in both of those areas too. She was also very blessed with some wonderful children-in-law, who took great care of her in her latter years. I am very proud of all of her family for the care they gave her. As a caregiver in the past, I know that while they never feel like a burden, taking care of a parent can be a very taxing task. You would never change a thing, but you find yourself very tired while you are working to care for a parent. Aunt Virginia was able to live mostly at the homes of her children in her latter years, and with the exception of a few short nursing home stays after an illness, she did not have to move into a nursing home permanently. As most of us know, that is something many people worry might happen to them when they get older.
Aunt Virginia was always a tiny little woman, very petite, and at least in her latter years, rather short. I don’t know what her height was when she was younger, but the last times I saw her, I remember thinking that she was the size of a 10 or 12 year old child. Nevertheless, don’t let her size fool you. She could handle her own, at least before time took away her strength. Still, she was able to walk and take care of her own needs for the most part right up until her passing. I know that I will always have great love and respect for my dear Aunt Virginia. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 90th birthday and her first one in Heaven. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Virginia. We love and miss you very much.
My sister, Cheryl Masterson has always been a part of my life, because she is two years older than I am. She was there when I came home from the hospital, eager to have a little sister, and ready to teach me the things she had learned in her, then short life. I don’t know what I would have done if she had not always been there, and I am forever grateful that I didn’t have to find out. Cheryl and I have always had the bond that can only the two oldest siblings can have, the elder because she was no longer the only child, all alone, and the younger because she never had to be alone. Of course, we both love our younger sisters the same as we do each other, but we have also known each other longer than we have known the younger ones. I think that we have almost felt like a slightly different generation than our younger sisters, probably from the fact than there were just two of us until I was three and Cheryl was five, instead of the two years between Cheryl and me.
Through the years, Cheryl and I remained close even through the tougher teen years, probably more my “bad” than hers. Of the two of us, I have no choice but to admit that I am a “stubborn mule” sometimes…something I believe as both served me well, and made things difficult too. Cheryl, on the other hand is a person who is of a pure heart, who actively strives to do what is good and right in the sight of God. I don’t say she isn’t somewhat stubborn too, but maybe not quite as stubborn as a mule. What I find most endearing though is her heart. She is able to look past the current situation, to the solution. I think she got that from our dad. He was always the kind of person who knew how to take charge of a situation and be the guide to take the rest of us forward. Many is the time that I just wanted to scream at someone, and Cheryl told me that screaming would not produce the best outcome. She was right, of course. Losing our temper is the fastest way to turn people against you. A soft word, and forgiveness reaches many more hearts. Don’t get me wrong, Cheryl is not a pushover, just wiser than many other people in certain matters.
During the years when we were taking of our parents, Cheryl carried such a heavy portion of the load. Being divorced with grown children, Cheryl lived with Mom and Dad, and the rest of us, sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Cheryl, cooked and cleaned the house, helped them get to bed, gave them their meds, and kept them company…and so much more. She was an integral part of the team of people we had helping with their care. I was a show of the deep family love we had, taught to us by our parents, and carried out through our parents’ care and beyond. We are all very close and always will be. The bonds that are built during such a venture are strong and really unbreakable.
Cheryl loves her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren so much. They are her heart and soul. She is very devoted to them. She prays over them, helps them, babysits for them, hangs out with them. They are her best friends. Her youngest granddaughter, Aleesia especially likes to hang out with her grandma, and in fact, would love it if Cheryl lived with them, so she could see her all the time. Of course that’s not possible, so Aleesia often spends weekends and part of the evenings with Cheryl. They have a very special bond that not many grandchildren are blessed with. Many live too far away, or are not as close as Cheryl’s family, so they don’t have such a tight connection. Not that they are not loved, but just that they aren’t together as often. Cheryl’s connection is a beautiful thing to see, and I’m so happy that she has that connection. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For the over 45 years that I have known my husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz, I have understood that she is the rock of her family. I say that I understood it, because over the years I have watched as different events have unfolded within her family, and it is Margee who always steps in to hold the family together. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. Her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have always been the joy of her life. Margee’s life has not been without loss…a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus her parents, and both of her sisters. Margee is the last one of her generation in her family who is still living.
Margee stepped in to help raise her son’s two children, and to give them a stable life. She also helped to raise her daughter’s three children. I learned when I had my own grandchildren that with working parents, it takes a village to raise a child. Our kids need “involved” grandparents, and I can’t think of a greater blessing for a grandparent than spending time with their amazing grandkids. Margee has been a great help to her kids and grandkids, and they are very close to Margee, even as adults.
These days, the grandkids are the ones to help Margee. As her health isn’t as good as it was, she sometimes needs help with things. Because of the close relationship the grandkids have had with Margee, they are happy to help her. They love her after all, and anyone who knows Margee, and what a loving and caring person she is, can see exactly why they love her. Margee is the person who would give you her last nickel, if you needed it.
For as long as I have known her, I have felt very blessed by her. From her cake decorating years, during which we could count on the best looking cakes for parties, to her willingness to help with any event that was being held, made her a valued member of our family…and one we never want to be without. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak is a gifted computer programmer, and has helped many people with their computer issues, including me. I think the most awesome thing he has done is to rebuild old computers so that he can give them people who have a need for a computer, but cannot afford one. It is a noble thing to do, and very typical of Dave. He is a kind-hearted man, who wants to be able to help people in anyway that he can, and thankfully he has talents that allow him to be able to help a lot of people.
My niece, Chantel Balcerzak first met her now husband, Dave when they were kids in elementary school. She liked him immediately, and really never forgot him completely. Nevertheless, they both went their separate ways, and each married other people. After a number of years, families for both, and failed marriages, they met again, and it was like they were never apart. They were both free to marry now, so they did, and they created a blended family. Dave brought his two children, Keifer and Katy to the marriage, and Chantel brought her two living children, Jake and Siara to the marriage. Chantel also brought the memory of her angel baby, Alyssa, who Dave had never met, but because she belonged to Chantel, he loved her as much as any of the children…because that is the kind of man Dave is. Dave and Chantel have been blessed with three grandchildren, Izabella and Jaxx Harman, and Reece Balcerzak. They also have a bonus granddaughter, Alice Green, with whom Dave shares a birthday. And they have a grandson on the way. When I say that Dave has been blessed, I say that because I believe that Dave’s kindness and loving ways, have given him the reward of so many blessings.
Dave has been given one more blessing, and it is one that is of the type that is near to my heart…his heart. Dave developed so heart issues, that at one point caused him to have a stroke, which was caught by a CNA, while he was in the hospital. Her quick action left Dave with no lasting damage from the stroke. His heart, however, still needed some work. As the wedding of their daughter, Siara was coming and Dave was to walk her down the aisle, he worried that he would not be able to do so, but God had another plan. An interesting procedure fixed his heart, and the man who had been only able to take a few steps without being out of breath, was able to walk Siara down the aisle. He is still healthy and very blessed indeed. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
After spending most of his life driving trucks of some kind, and being out of town a lot, my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, who goes by LJ, got a job in on of the mines in the Powell area. He didn’t want to be so far away from his family anymore. I think a lot of people realize that as our kids grow up, we start to realize just how quickly time passes. Before we know it our kids are adults and they are married with kids of their own. I think it is often at this point that we wish we could go back in time. It’s not that we would trade the grandchildren, for anything, but it seems to be at that point that it occurs you that you really feel the loss of the childhood years of your babies.
LJ has taken a hands on approach with his kids and grandchildren now, more than he could in the past. We all do it. Then we realize that if our kids hadn’t grown up, we wouldn’t have these precious grandchildren either…or our children’s spouses either. So, we accept that the kids are grown, and rejoice in the gift of grandchildren. That time happened for LJ a number of years ago, and now, the oldest of his four grandchildren has graduated for high school, with more to follow very soon.
Suddenly, just like it was with his kids, LJ realizes that soon the grandkids will be married and having children…his great grandchildren. Suddenly it seems, time is slipping away again. There will be times when the grandkids are away at college, and then you never really know if they will move back to your town, or relocate somewhere else, making it harder to see them as often, and suddenly you realize that you may never get to be as close to your great grandkids as you were with your kids. Still, you will always love those precious little ones, because they are a part of you…and they always will be. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
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!!!!
My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg, was all about family. She spent her married life as a stay-at-home mom, but that did not mean that she didn’t work. Taking care of six children is simply no picnic. Between cooking meals for everyone, cleaning, canning food, sewing clothes, and knitting things for them, she was a pretty busy lady. My mother-in-law was always the most comfortable raising her children in the country. She felt like it was too much out of her control in town. She worried about the traffic, and the people around, and about the kids running off while playing. She just needed the control of the country to give her peace of mind.
So the family lived in the country for most of the years that the kids were growing up. It wasn’t until 1989 that the family, now of just three at home, moved into Casper to stay. It’s funny that Joann, who had always hated the traffic, the noise, and the activity of city life, suddenly loved to watch the cars go by on the busy street on which they lived. She liked not having to go so far into town for groceries and such. She liked having visitors come by, because suddenly it wasn’t too far for them to go. Like me, she discovered the convenience of city life. Those long drives into town were the first thing I found my self happy to do without. I’m sure my mother-in-law did too…especially on the icy winter roads around here.
By 1996, my mother-in-law became a great grandmother for the first two times. She got a great birthday present in her first great grandchild, Christopher Petersen, who made his grand entrance on her 65th birthday. It was a treat that she had wanted since her mother was also privileged to receive, and never thought she would get. Then the very next day, she god something else she never thought she would get…a Leap Day Great Grandbaby…Shai Royce. Needless to say we were quite busy those two days. She has gone on to have 11 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and 1 great great granddaughter. Her family has sure grown, and while she has never met her great great granddaughter, I know she would love her as much as we all do. She found out about her just days before her passing, and she was very excited about it. I was glad she got to know, because family was always very important to her. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.