mall

There is a strange phenomenon that occurs sometimes, after someone we love passes away. I’m not talking about seeing their ghost, because I don’t believe in ghosts. Besides, the people I have seen, since the passing of loved ones, are real. I have noticed this after the passing of several people, and in some ways it is odd, but in other ways it is comforting, because it shows me that the person I love is still living in my memory files. In reality, I suppose it’s just me, finding characteristics in people around me that remind me of a lost loved one.

After my great aunt, Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper was killed in a plane crash, I used to see an older woman at the mall, just about every weekend. She reminded me so much of Aunt Gladys that I could almost imagine it was really her. Of course, the woman didn’t look exactly like Aunt Gladys, but she looked enough like her to bring back memories of years gone by, and a little sadness at the way she had passed. It seemed so senseless, so unbelievable that it could have happened in such a manner. One minute Aunt Gladys was fine and taking a trip to a family reunion, and the next, her life was over.

I find it strange that this phenomenon doesn’t seem to happen all the time. It only seems to happen in deaths that don’t make sense to me. I’m not looking for people who remind me of the person who died unexpectedly, they just suddenly appear. As I said, they are real people, please understand that. They just have similar features to my loved one who is gone. It doesn’t scare me, but rather it is just a strange reminder that my loved one existed. That their life was important. That their memory is, and always will be with me.

Since my 2nd cousin once removed, Jackie Morton passed away on March 9, 2018, I have thought about her many times. She was such a sweet, loving girl, and her passing simply makes no sense to me. One day she was fine, and the next day she was gone. Then, a few days later, while walking at the mall, I saw someone who really reminded me of Jackie. Had I not known better, I could have really thought it was her…though I knew it was not, for it could not be her. She has gone to Heaven now. Nevertheless, Jackie’s memory, like the memory of her great grandmother, my Great Aunt Gladys will always be with me.

I thought I saw you at the mall today. Though I knew it could not be you at all, for you are gone. I miss you so, and I wish you could still be here on Earth with us. But sadly, that is not to be, and never could be. You will always be with us in our thoughts, and in our memories…and we will always miss you so.

For as long as I have known my husband, Bob Schulenberg, he has attracted the little girls. It surprises me every time I see it happen, although it probably shouldn’t by now. Bob got used to little girls when he became a daddy, first to our daughter, Corrie Petersen, and then our daughter, Amy Royce. They thought their daddy hung the moon, and I had to agree with them…he has always been a special kind of guy. Still, I can’t quite understand why it is always the little girls who tend to flock to Bob. It’s not little kids in general…it’s little girls. Of course, the little boys like him too…especially his grandsons, but the little boys are usually not the ones who come running up to Bob, or shyly wave at him, even when they don’t know him…that is the little girls. Of course, Bob would never pickup a little girl who was not the child of a friend, but that does not stop them from saying “Hi” and waving at him. Our own girls loved hanging out with their dad, and if he was working on a vehicle, they might be lifted up to stand on the bumper or they might be riding their bicycle nearby. Our grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, also loved to be picked up by their Papa, and to this day, he is their go-to mechanic when something is wrong with their vehicles, or anything else he can help with.

One little girl in particular, Brooke Cardinal, who passed away at seven and who we miss very much, was very taken with Bob. Her grandpa, our friend Edd Cardinal ran the bowling alley in Casper, and both our family and his spent a lot of time down there. Brooke couldn’t wait for Bob to come in on bowling nights. She was waiting at the door for her hug. I even teased her mom, Dani Cardinal that Bob had a girlfriend. She was ready to kill him for cheating on me, until she found out that his “girlfriend” was her own little Brooke, who was about four years old then. Bob was forgiven for having a girlfriend, but the “girlfriends” didn’t stop there. Whenever we go to a restaurant and there is a little girl around, they always notice and wave to Bob. When we are out walking on the trail, at Sunrise Shopping Center, or the mall, little girls wave. And on New Year’s Eve, the next generation of girlfriends obviously arrived, when my grandniece, Aleesia Spethman took a shine to Bob, and hung around him much of the night.

Bob is a great guy, with a gentle heart, and that is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place, but never in a million years would I have expected that every little girl within a mile radius of him would seek him out for the sole purpose of saying “Hi” and waving at him. It’s almost like he is a little girl magnet. Some day, maybe I’ll figure out just what it is about Bob that catches their eye, but until that day, and even beyond, I’m sure, I will have to share him with every little girl who comes into view, because he sure attracts them.

I Want To Go To School TooThere is nothing worse, for the youngest sibling, than to be left at home while the rest of the kids get to go to school. They just don’t understand why they can’t go along. I’m sure that after a while they forget some and go find something to occupy themselves until the rest of the kids come home, but that just doesn’t really alleviate that lonely feeling. They love their siblings and they miss them, and that is all there is to it. So every morning they hurry to get ready, hoping that maybe today will be the day when they finally get to go along…even putting on their own backpack to show their mom that they are ready…but to no avail.

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve’s kids. She has three older brothers, and she thinks they are the greatest. They feel the same way about her too. When the boys go outside to play, Aleesia thinks she should get to go outside The Big Brothers too. When they go to school, she wants to go too. It doesn’t really matter what the boys are doing, because if they are doing it, Aleesia wants to do it too. Her brothers are the coolest…after all.

Still, like it or not, Fall happens, and the boys have to go back to school, because that is what kids do in the Fall. And that leaves Miss Aleesia standing at the front door, in her Jammys and her boots, with her Little Mermaid backpack, feeling a little bit like she is on the outside looking in. She wants to go where her brothers are, but she is not allowed to do so. It’s simply against the rules. And that leaves a sad look on our smiley girl’s little face.

It’s such a sad little scene…a little girl looking longingly out the door, wishing she could go with her brothers, and do all the cool things they get to do. There she is wondering why she is the baby of the family. It just isn’t fair. Her mommy looks on with her own heart breaking just a little bit for this tiny girl of hers who is already Smiley Girllearning that life isn’t always fair. It is a moment that will stay in her memory files, like it will for anyone who sees this picture. There is no way to explain to Aleesia that it has to be this way…for now. No way to explain that before she knows it, she will be in school too, and then she will wish she could stay home with mommy and have girl time. So, Jenny does the only thing she can do. She goes to her girl, and invites her to play some little game, or asks her if she wants to go to the mall, or maybe watch her favorite movie. Before she can shed too many tears, her mommy has her mind focused on other things, and the sad moment is over. She will miss her brothers several more times before they get home, but then…when school is done for the day…she puts on her smiley face again. Her brothers are home…and all is right in her world.

Mindy GrosvenorA couple of years ago, I friended Mindy and Missy Grosvenor on Facebook. They are my  first cousins once removed, but I didn’t know them very well, because I didn’t see them very often. Over the past couple of years, however, the relationship I have with the twins has completely changed. I have been treated to their special kind of humor and their wonderful personalities. The girls love kids, and they work in their mom’s daycare, babysitting, among others, their nieces and nephew…the children of their sister, Melodie and her husband, Brian. These girls have such a sweetness about them, that I can imagine that they are wonderful with the children. The girls are very kindhearted, and they have a great sense of humor. While they are a little shy, they get over that once they get to know you…and since I’m shy too, I can fully relate to shyness. Nevertheless, I doubt that they are shy around the children.

When they aren’t taking care of children, Mindy and Missy like to spend time at the mall, shopping and people watching, which is a pastime many of us like. You can get great fashion ideas, as well as seeing bad fashion things to laugh about, at the mall, and then find the very store to buy what you saw. Of course, there are very few places where you can go and have your face painted, but Mindy and Missy are young at heart, so they found a place recently, and had beautiful butterflies painted on their cheek. I like butterflies too, so I especially like that. The girls like to go to the movies too, and my mom; sister, Cheryl; niece, Jessi; and I recently ran into them when we were all going to see “The Christmas Candle” at Studio City. We all Missy Grovenorenjoyed the movie very much, and it was very nice to see the girls.

Missy and Mindy are the first of several sets of twins in our family, and so were a novelty for a while. It would be a number of years before another set of twins arrived. I always thought twins was such a cool thing…like twice as nice, I guess. I often thought it would have been cool to have a set of my own, but that was not to be, so I’m glad that I have been able to get to know these girls. That way I can share in the whole twin thing…a little bit anyway. Today is Mindy and Missy’s birthday. Happy birthday girls!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Homemade GiftsChristmas has become so commercialized that we stress for weeks and even months over what gift to buy this one or that one, not to mention all the planning for dinner and places we need to go. Christmas wasn’t always this commercialized, but it still could have been pretty stressful in days gone by. People didn’t necessarily run out and crazily shop all over town, but if money was tight, they tried their best to figure out a way to give a gift of some kind. Even if money was not tight, some people came up with ideas all year long…because some gifts take a little bit of time. Those are the homemade gifts, and usually some of the most awesome gifts a person will ever get. Some people think that a gift that is homemade isn’t as good as a gift that is store bought, but I say they are very wrong.

When my Great Uncle Dennis Dunahee, who always went by Burt, and his son, my cousin Old Fashioned ChristmasRaymon, decided to make Christmas gifts, they did it in grand style. The gifts they made reminded me of the kind of gifts you might see the people on “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” make. Were the Dunahee gifts homemade with love…absolutely!! Were they stunning…absolutely!! It occurs to me that there are a number of carpenters in the Spencer family who are capable of making beautiful furniture. It’s strange the things you never knew about your family. It turns out that one of this family’s best kept secrets is something quite beautiful indeed.

Christmas in times past was not only less focused on time spent in the mall, it was more focused on the true meaning Jesusof Christmas. It’s not that we don’t think about the real meaning of Christmas in today’s world, because we do, but sometimes it is easier to get distracted, by the rush to get our shopping done, gifts wrapped, and dinner planned. By the time the day arrives, we can easily be too exhausted to give thought to what this day is all about…the birth of our Saviour!! The reason we give gifts is to remind us of the greatest gift ever given, but in all our giving, we need to remember that the greatest gift ever given…Jesus, is far more important on this day that the gifts we give and receive. Today, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I pray that you take time to be thankful to God for the gift of His precious Son…Jesus!!

Twins...NotEvery year, in the tradition my grandparents started, the Byer family gathers to celebrate the Christmas season together, and to keep my grandparents’ dream alive. It was their desire that their children wouldn’t drift apart after they were gone. The family has done their very best to honor their wish, and the Byer Family Christmas Party is a big part of honoring that wish. Over the years, we have all worked together or split the hosting into families, but the party has always been held. Santa Clause has shown up to talk to the kids, bags of treats for the little ones were always given out, and the food…the best in the world. But, the most important part of these wonderful gatherings is the family. Re-connecting with all of them and hearing all about what is going on in their lives…that’s what it’s all about…that’s the dream that our grandparents had for us. The connection to family.

This year I had a chance to hear about how well Autumn Beadle is doing in school, and her plans to graduate at semester in her senior year, and then it’s on to Nursing School for her. I got to see how much she cares for her grandma, my Aunt Virginia. I got to touch base with Aunt Dixie, Uncle Jim, and their family. We used to see them at the mall a lot, but in recent years that hasn’t worked out so well. I ran into Michael and Deena McDaniels on Black Friday, and we laughed about our shopping trials tonight. I had seen Missy and Mindy Grosvenor at Partiersthe movies on Thursday, and we had a chance tonight to discuss how much we liked “A Christmas Candle” tonight, as well as how much they like taking care of their niece, Piper and sometimes her brother and sister, Parker and Payton. Cousins, Clyde and Susie Young spend much of their winter months in Arizona these days, but they were able to get home for the holidays and the party.

Anthony McDaniels showed up in a suit, adding a special touch of class to our party, while Shai Royce and Christina Masterson dressed up as twins, even though they are not. Aunt Bonnie’s little grandson, Noah spent the latter part of the evening trying to give her a bunny tail. Aunt Sandy has been a mainstay for information for some of the great stories I have been able to relay about the Byer Family, and has also spent several afternoons with my mom this year at the Senior Center, which my mom has cherished and fully enjoyed. The party has brought Elmer Johnson back into our lives after a time of not being able to be there, and since he and I have connected on Facebook too, we have grown to be even better friends than we were as kids. Aunt Jeanette is doing well, and always brings a smile to my face with her awesome laugh. Corrie and Kevin Petersen and their boys Christopher and Josh have been busily planning for Chris to start college in Sheridan next year and Josh to get his driver’s license. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Cottonball FightGeorge were not able to join us this year, but their granddaughter, Rachelle French took lots of pictures for them so they would not feel left out.

This year’s highlight, however, had to be the idea someone had to open up bags of cotton balls for the little kids to play with. It turned into a cotton ball/snow ball fight, and everyone had a wonderful time. Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia Spethman; Kya and Noah Hamilton; Logan and Lea Orr; Mateo Steiner and Dera Elvidge; Noah Williams; Parker, Payton, and Piper Dobson; Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson all had a wonderful time picking up, loading up on, and throwing those cotton balls. I don’t know who thought of it, but it was a great idea.

At the mall BestiesMy grand niece, Christina has to spend this, her 17th birthday, staying off of her feet after having surgery on her knee a few days ago. While I’m sure that the pain of her injured knee was far worse than the knee that is healing nicely, my guess is that fact does little to make her feel better about having to spend her birthday sitting in a chair waiting for this whole ordeal to be over.

The good news for Christina, is that her good friend and cousin, my granddaughter, Shai is spending part of the day with her. We have had several cousins in our family who were such good friends that they didn’t even seem like cousins, just friends. Christina and Shai were born 5 days apart, with another cousin Chris in there to, at 4 days after Christina. We were a busy bunch at that time. With Chris being a boy, he didn’t get into the girl thing with Christina and Shai.

Christina and Shai have many of the same interests. They love shopping, and used to hang out at the mall as much a possible. They both like all the girlie things, from make up, to hair dye, to jewelry, to clothes. But probably the thing that stands out the most about these girls is that they are just plain goofy when they get together. They are always posting the funniest pictures together, just to see if they can get a laugh out of their Goofy Shai and ChristinaPretty girlsfriends. The goofier the face they make, the more they like the picture.

Today is Christina’s 17th birthday, and it has been a difficult one with the knee surgery. Christina, I hope you have a good day in spite of the pain you are in. We love you very much. Happy birthday Christina. If you can’t have a great day, at least have a goofy one between the pain med doses.

Recently, our office won a trip to Denver to attend a Rockies Game. The trip was mostly paid for by Safeco Insurance. It was a contest, and our office won be selling almost double what second place sold. The trip was much needed by all of us, as our office and our lives have been very busy lately. Amy’s husband Travis was not able to join us, so my grandson, Caalab came along. Amy and Caalab had never been to a professional baseball game, so for them this would be a special treat. Bob and I go to a Rockies game every year, and it never gets old.

Bob and I came down a day early, and Amy and Caalab came down with Jim and Julie, my boss and his wife. When they arrived, we wanted to take them to do some fun things. Our first stop was the Cherry Creek Mall, where both Amy and Caalab got their very first Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Amy doesn’t like sweets most of the time, but this…well, this was different. She and Caalab both loved them, but then I knew they would. Our next stop was to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is another place Caalab had not been before. Caalab loves the guitar, so this was a place that would hold a special interest for Caalab. We walked around and looked at all the memorabilia and of course, Caalab bought some guitar picks. Then we headed for the room to get ready for the main event…the Rockies game.

We has a great time at the game, with seats near the dugout. Several foul balls headed our way, but unfortunately…or maybe fortunately…none of them came to our seats, because, while Caalab, or even Bob or Jim, might have tried to get it, I’m quite sure the rest of us would have ducked, screaming, because as far as we were concerned, that is a missile coming at us, and I, for one don’t want to break a nail. Not that I’m a wimp or anything, but I’m not crazy either. Unfortunately, the Rockies lost, but they played a great game, and we had a wonderful time. Thanks to Safeco, and Jim and Julie.

My younger sisters, Caryl and  Alena  were in high school, when our church decided to have a church camp. All the cool stuff happened after I went through, of course. I had always thought church camp…or camp in general would be great fun, but there just wasn’t one when I was the right age. Anyway, the girls went to church camp for a week, and everyone had a great time. That was a week that the girls would remember for many years, filled with friendships, both new and continuing, and new boyfriends, but then what was camp for anyway, if not for finding a new boyfriend.

It’s funny how camp always seems to end up with those boyfriend/girlfriend situations. Most of them don’t last very long, because other than camp, what did you really have in common anyway. But sometimes, there were a few that lasted as long as any other boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. The friendships the girls made at camp, whether with boys or girls, did last for years to come, however.

You never know how far reaching those friendships can be until years later. And you also don’t know how strong family resemblances can be either. About 5 or 10 years ago, I was approached by a man at the mall, when Bob and I were in the food court having a lemonade, and he said, did your last name used to be Spencer. Amazed, I said “Yes, how did you know that?” He told me that he had gone to church camp with my sisters when they were all in high school, back in the late 70’s, and he knew that I had to be their sister, because we looked so much alike. Now, I have always known that we looked a lot alike, but seriously, the last time he had seen my sisters was about 25 years earlier. I marveled at how he had picked me out of all the people at the mall, and without my sisters there, and he just knew I was their sister.

We talked for a couple of minutes, with him reminiscing about the fun times they had a church camp, all those years ago. Then he asked me to tell my sisters hello for him and he went his way. I don’t remember his name anymore, but the girls were sure surprised that I had run into him and he knew I was their sister. They were even more surprised that he still thought about church camp after all those years. But then, some experiences just stay with you. Maybe it’s about wishing we could have our youth back, maybe about lost loves, and maybe it’s just about the fact that some experiences are just so much fun that we want to reminisce about them once in a while, just for the fun of it.

We knew almost from the very start that our little Shai was a Fashionista. She wanted her nails painted almost from the moment she was born…ok, ok her grandma helped that part out a little, much to her daddy’s chagrin. I don’t think it was really going to matter if her grandma painted her nails or not…this little girl was all girl, and very much a Fashionista. And that is a fact that has not changed to this day.

The other thing that fully describes Shai is born to shop. She likes nothing better than to check out the latest styles, the coolest frills, and of course, the most stylish shoes. Jewelry is a must too, of course, because a girl can never have enough bling. She also likes the hustle and bustle of the mall. It’s not just about shopping, but socializing.

Still, as a little girl…it was a different scenario. Shai had a one track mind. It didn’t matter so much what she was shopping for. The reality was that she was doing what she was born to do. Shop first, fashion second, and third and maybe the most important of all…never use your own money. Probably Shai’s favorite place to shop when she was a little girl was J C Penney’s. One day she was trying to get her mom to take her shopping at J C Penney’s, and Amy said, “No, we don’t have enough money right now.” Well Shai saw that as a non-problem. She wanted to go shopping and she was willing to find a way to make that happen. And, she was sure she had found the answer when she said, “Well…just charge it!!”

Shai has grown up some since those days of simplicity, but she still loves to shop. And she is still very much a Fashionista. In fact, I often find myself looking to her for confirmation on my own outfits. She has a great eye for fashion. If she says I look good, then I know that I do. She would never steer me in the wrong direction. She can always see a fashion mistake. It’s nice to have such a stylish granddaughter. Much has changed with Shai through the years, but she will probably always be a Fashionista who was born to shop.

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