great grandchildren

John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States, was born on March 29, 1790 in Virginia to John Tyler Sr and Mary Marot (Armistead) Tyler. He had two brothers and five sisters, but his mother died of a stroke in 1797 when John was seven years old. I can’t imagine how hard it was on young John to lose his mother. That wasn’t the only hard part of his youth. John was frail and sickly most his young life. Considering the start he had in life, it would not seem likely that John Tyler’s life would have amounted to much…but those who think that would be wrong.

John Tyler came from a political family, and he was destined for the presidency. Tyler was admitted to the Virginia bar at the age of 19. He was actually too young to be eligible, but the admitting judge neglected to ask his age. By this time, his father was Governor of Virginia (1808–1811), and John Tyler Jr started a legal practice in Richmond, the state capital. In 1811, at just 21 years of age, Tyler was elected to represent Charles City County in the Virginia House of Delegates, an office he held for five successive one-year terms. As a state legislator, Tyler sat on the Courts and Justice Committee. Following the War of 1812, Tyler’s father died in 1813, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father’s plantation. In 1816, he resigned his legislative seat to serve on the Governor’s Council of State, a group of eight advisers elected by the General Assembly. He then ran for the US House of Representatives, narrowly winning the election. Later he served in the US Senate, before being elected as Vice-President of the United States under William Henry Harrison. Harrison served from March 4, 1841 to his death on April 4, 1841, after which John Tyler took over serving until March 4, 1845.

You might think that Tyler’s political career was the defining point in his life, but he is actually known for something much more surprising. Tyler fathered more children than any other American president, but it isn’t even that fact that is so surprising. His first wife was Letitia Christian and together they had eight children, Mary (1815–1847), Robert (1816–1877), John (1819–1896), Letitia (1821–1907), Elizabeth (1823–1850), Anne (1825–1825), Alice (1827–1854) and Tazewell (1830–1874).. She died of a stroke while they lived in the White House in September 1842. He married again on June 26, 1844, to Julia Gardiner (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children, David (1846–1927), John Alexander (1848–1883), Julia (1849–1871), Lachlan (1851–1902), Lyon (1853–1935), Robert Fitzwalter (1856–1927) and Pearl (1860–1947). Tyler’s son, Lyon was born when Tyler was 63 years, and while he was not his youngest child, it would be Lyon who would bring about the thing that really makes Tyler something special. Lyon would go on to father two sons of his own…one when he was 71 and one when he was 75. One of those sons, Harrison Ruffin Tyler is still alive, meaning that John Tyler, tenth president of the United States, who was born in 1790, has a grandson who is still alive in 2021. His older brother, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr passed away in September of 2020. The fact that their great grandfather was the tenth president, is unbelievable to the children of Lyon’s sons.

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!!

It was 65 years ago, when my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer said “I do” and began their life journey together. Theirs was a match made in Heaven and one that continued for the rest of their lives. They knew almost from the day they met, that they had found their soulmate. Of course, my mom was too young at that time to get married, so they had to wait, but their love was worth waiting for. Finally, when my mom was almost 18, they ties the knot, and immediately moved to Superior, Wisconsin to start their family. As often happened in those days, they were quickly pregnant, and a week less than 10 months later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born. I arrived a little less than 2 years later; my sister Caryl Reed a little more than 3 years later; my sister Alena Stevens a little more that 2 years after Caryl; and our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock 1 year and 8 months after Alena. By the time my sister Caryl arrived, our family had moved back to Casper, Wyoming.

Our parents gave their daughters a wonderful life. We may not have been rich, but we were rich in love and happiness. We traveled, we were raised to have good Christian values, and we were raised to know the value of money and hard work. It doesn’t get better than that. We grew up to be responsible citizens and my parents were proud of each and every one of their daughters. When my sisters and i grew up, Mom and Dad were blessed with 16 grandchildren, then gained 22 great grandchildren, with one more arriving in late August. They also have 5 great great grandchildren. What a crew they started all those years ago!!

Mom and Dad led a blessed life, through all their years together, and that made my sisters and me very blessed too. Our home was always filled with joy and happiness. When problems arose, Dad and Mom always had a way to fix them. I think a strong bond and two hearts in agreement can go a long way together. Being in agreement is the biggest key to a marriage, even if you don’t agree on every matter, just agreeing to work things out is huge. Mom and Dad had that. They showed us how to live, by the way they lived. And that is the best blessing they could have given us. My only regret now is that they are not here with us anymore. Today would have been their 65th anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both so very much.

Bert & Alice DunaheeFor years, when I would research the Spencer side of our family, I continued to run into a woman named Alice Viola Spencer. I kept wondering how she fit in exactly. Early on in my quest for my ancestry, the relationships were a challenge for me. As I ran into her again and again, I learned that she was my great aunt…my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer’s younger sister. She somehow seemed a bit out of place compared to the rest of his siblings. All the girls were ladylike and feminine, but Alice had a very regal style. I have often wondered what she might have been like, and I find myself wishing I had known her. I think I need to locate some of her grandchildren so that I can ask them about her.

Alice Viola Spencer was born in Mondovi, Wisconsin on May 5, 1884, and was married to Dennis Alburtice Dunahee in Ladysmith, Wisconsin on May 14, 1902. Their son, Bertie Raymon was born on Feb 19, 1903 in Ladysmith Wisconsin. At some point after Bertie’s birth, they moved to Dewey, Oklahoma, and in 1920 they would move to Twin Falls, Idaho, where Alice lost her husband on March 22, 1938. He was only 59 years old at the time of his death. By the time of his father’s passing, Bertie…who now went by Raymon, had moved to Los Angeles, California. I’m sure that having Raymon in California, and her husband Bert’s passing were the main reasons that Alice would leave her home in Twin Falls and move to West Covina, California, which is where she was at the time of her death, on December 11, 1944, at the young age of only 60 years.

It appears to me that Bert and Alice would only have one child, and that their son, would follow in their footsteps and have only one child as well…LuAlice Irene, who was born on December 5, 1930 in Twin Falls, Idaho. LuAlice would marry, Walter C Ball, and Alice would finally receive four great grandchildren. I’m sure that after two generations of only children, LuAlice and Walter’s children would be a bit of a culture shock…and not a bad one either. I can’t think of anything more fun than listening to a house full of giggling children. I wonder what Alice thought of all those little great grandchildren. I’ll bet it was the thrill of her life.

Bob's momMy mother-in-law has had Alzheimer’s for ten years now. As most of you know, Alzheimer’s Disease steals the memories of it’s victim…especially the most recent ones. I have not always been one to feel like every part of recent memory loss is the most horrible thing that could happen. The main reason I feel this way, is that people who don’t remember that a loved one has died, never have to mourn their loss…unless people remind them. My mother-in-law talks about her husband, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg, now in Heaven for almost a year, in the same way as she does her daughter, my sister-in-law, Marlyce, and her parents, Robert and Nettie Knox, who have all been gone now since the 1980’s. To her, they are all still here, and she will see them later in the day. I can’t think of a better way to feel.

For her, it isn’t the middle of life memories that are missing, but rather, the recent memories, and the very distant past that elude her to a degree. For me, those are the ones that make me a bit sad. She doesn’t remember new family members, from marriages, or births of new great grandchildren. You can tell her who they are, and within five minutes, you have to tell her again. It isn’t an annoying thing, but rather a bit sad. As to her distant memories, she never really was one to relive her past a lot, so it is not unthinkable that she might not really remember those, but as a writer of moments past, that feels like a real loss to me.

Recently, while watching a television show, I got an idea. One of the characters had Alzheimer’s Disease, and couldn’t remember all the people he had helped in his career, until the other characters put together a DVD of all the people that the Alzheimer’s victim couldn’t remember. I started thinking about what a great idea that was. Maybe there was a way to give some of the forgotten memories back to my mother-in-law. The only problem I could see was that she would never be able to run a DVD player, and the staff was too busy to plug a DVD in for her all the time. It’s just too easy to forget, and then she never gets to see it.

Then it hit me. There is a way to get a great collection of pictures together, that she will be able to see every day, and no one will have to plug it in or turn it on for her. I started looking online for what I needed, and I found the perfect item. It was a 19 inch digital picture frame that has a built in timer to turn it on and off. I was so excited. We, the family bought the frame, and I have been loading pictures onto it. It now has about 2,000 pictures from different parts of her life, for her to look at when she is in her room at the nursing home. And there is still room for more. And no one has to run it. It has a timer, so it will run from 7:00 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening. Whenever she is in her room, it will be running, until bedtime.
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Bob and I took the frame out to her on Saturday, and set it up. She really liked it. I was so excited about that. As I told her about some of the pictures, she looked on with great interest. Then came the moment when she knew the person in the picture, and finally the moment when she told me the name of one of her childhood horses…Star!! I was soooo excited!! I know that as she watches the frame, she will remember things about her past, at least for a little while. The digital picture frame has become the talk of the nursing home. All the nurses and aids rave about what a good idea it was. I’m just so happy that we are giving her memories back to her.

My Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were married 65 years ago today. These days that is an amazing accomplishment. My Uncle George has been a part of our family longer than anyone except the original siblings. My Aunt Sandy, the youngest of Aunt Evelyn’s sisters and brothers was only 2 years old when they got married. As Aunt Sandy has told me before, her brothers-in-law and sister-in-law are more like her own brothers and sister. She can’t remember a time in her life without them.

When my mom and dad were dating, they often went out with Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George. One night after going to a movie, my dad was driving Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George home before taking my mom home, and as they were crossing the railroad tracks in Mills, a track with no lighting and no signal or gate, on a moonless night, a train without his headlight on approached. They would have all been killed if it were not for Uncle George yelling, “Train!!” and my dad quickly turning the car in the direction the train was heading. When I think of what could have been if my uncle hadn’t seen what he saw and reacted, and my dad hadn’t listened and reacted…well, I wouldn’t even be here today. What an amazing man my uncle is.

My Aunt Evelyn is the oldest of my grandparents 9 children. She used to decorate cakes in her younger years. She made my mother’s wedding cake, as well as mine and many more. She did beautiful work, and would inspire her sister, my Aunt Bonnie to follow in her footsteps. Aunt Evelyn also bowled for a number of years, and I had the great pleasure of bowling with her for a good number of those years. But, most importantly, she was Mom to her kids. She was a stay at home mom, as many moms were back then. Together, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George raised 5 children, and now have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Their lives have been a great blessing to their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all who know them. Happy 65th Anniversary Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George!! We all love you very much!!

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