man

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock is a very tall man, having taken after his dad, Chris Hadlock who is 6’4″ tall. Ryan isn’t quite as tall as his dad, but at 6’3″ tall, he still towers over most people. Nevertheless, while he teases everybody, and tries to act like a tough guy, Ryan is really a big teddy bear. He is a quiet man, until you get to know him, and then he becomes more talkative. Of course, as his aunt, I have never really known a time when Ryan was shy with me or other family members. That can be a good thing, but it can also make me a target for his teasing, Thankfully, I don’t mind teasing, and I would probably wonder if Ryan was mad at me, if he didn’t tease me. That is par for the course in our family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We always know that the teasing is done in good fun, and never mean, so we all welcome it. It just adds to the family fun.

Ryan works hard to take care of his family. He has worked at Fleur de Lis Energy for a number of years, where he is a compression operator. I wasn’t really sure what a compression operator does, so I looked it up. I found out that “often natural gas from the wellhead must be compressed to a higher pressure in order to increase it’s pressure enough in order to get it into pipelines for further transportation to market.” So I assume that Ryan’s job is to be the person who knows when and how much to increase the pressure so the natural gas can successfully move to the pipelines for distribution. That’s a pretty important job, because so many people depend on oil and gas products for everyday life. If thing go wrong, shortages occur. Ryan must be very good at his job, because he’s been there for a good long while.

Still, while his job is important to a lot of people, Ryan’s first priority is his family. I will never forget when Ryan met his wife, Chelsea Carroll Hadlock. Chelsea is a beautiful girl, and it took Ryan about 2 seconds to know that she was the girl for him. He never looked at anyone else from that day forward. Ryan and Chelsea were, and are, perfect for each other. They love doing the same things, and both of them are dedicated parents to their children, Ethan and Aurora. When I think of the man Ryan has become, I am very much aware of the amazing blessing he is to Chelsea and the kids. Life for them is just going to get better and better. Today is Ryan’s birthday. happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12278715_1030129097051866_7408744507240113633_nJake and IzabellaFew things change a man as much as becoming a father. I think most women understand how they feel when they first hold that baby in their arms, but unless the baby was adopted, the mother carried that baby inside her for nine months. After that, you almost know that baby’s personality. Things are quite different for a man. They don’t have the insight that the mother has. For them, that insight comes when they first get to look at their baby. Suddenly, they know that this little tiny person is a part of them too. Mothers have that understanding every time the baby kicks, but fathers get that little revelation when they first see and hold their child. It is a defining moment in their lives…and it shows on their face. Everything is different now This little human being is theirs. They have a responsibility to take care of this little baby and the baby’s mother. They are now a family man. It’s very exciting, and maybe just a little bit intimidating too.

For Jake this past year has been filled with such wonderful blessings. He is engaged to a wonderful girl…Melanie Price, and is step dad to her little girl, Alice. Jake and Alice get along so well, and they have lots of fun, but now there is little Izabella to complete the family…at least for now. One never knows what the future will hold for them. Right now they are just enjoying their little family to the fullest. If Jake had the jitters concerning his little daughter, he really hasn’t shown it much at all. He has stepped into his new role with confidence and a style all his own, and that is awesome.

Jake has grown and changed much over the last few years. He has been with FedEx for a number of years now, and is a supervisor for them. He loves his job, but of course, he loves coming home to his family even more. I Jake's family1936548_1047933205271455_63070413229755643_nalways knew that Jake had potential. I knew that he was going to turn into a good man and a great father. Above all else that Jake is…he is a kind man. He is quick to show his love for others. He is full of energy, and like many men, he is a big kid at heart, but when it comes right down to it, Jake would give the shirt off his back if someone needed it. He comes from a long line of people who are like that. For Jake, and his fiancée, Melanie, the journey to their future is just beginning…and, it’s going to be a great life. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Allen Spencer & Collene SpencerYesterday morning on my way to work, I saw a man driving a white Buick Park Avenue. I know that seems like a completely normal event, but for me, it triggered a memory. The man driving the car wore a baseball cap. I couldn’t see his face, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because the image was already in my head, of my dad, Allen Spencer driving around in my parents Buick Park Avenue. It was their idea of a luxury car. They wanted one they could be comfortable in, when they went on vacations. The Buick Park Avenue fit the bill perfectly. Mom and Dad loved that car. When they pulled the trailer all the time, of course, they used the Suburban, but when it was just the two of them and maybe a few more, they really enjoyed the comfort of the Buick.

When I saw that Buick yesterday, I felt a twinge of sadness, but still I had to smile, because in my mind, I saw my dad…healthy, happy, and just enjoying the drive. You see, my parents loved to just go for a drive. It didn’t have to be going to anywhere, because it wasn’t always about the destination. It was about the journey. 1997 Buick Park AvenueSometimes in the evenings, when we were kids, we would all load up into the car and Dad would take us for a ride. We always ended up someplace where we could see the whole city. We had dubbed it the jewelry box, and as little girls, we could imagine that all the lights were diamond necklaces, and other jewels glistening in the sunlight…even if it did have to be dark to see it. It was never about where we went though, because it was just the whole family together going for that drive. Driving was a pleasure my parents never got tired of. Even when they no longer drove, they wanted to take a drive. My sister, Cheryl Masterson often took them on those drives…a memory she will always cherish.

As I drove on to work, I felt a mix of happiness and sadness, because of the man in the white Buick Park Avenue. Happy, because it was such a sweet memory of my dad, and sad, because I miss him and my mom so Allen Spencer, Chantel Masterson, Collene Spencer, Alena Spencer, Caryl Spencermuch. I feel so blessed to have such sweet memories of them. They did so many things in their lives, and they were so truly happy together. That is a greater blessing than many others, in a time when so many marriages don’t last. A family that has two parents, who love each other, and who manage to create such sweet memories out of something so simple as going for an evening drive, is a blessed family indeed, because later on, you will find that it isn’t the big moments like a trip to the Grand Canyon or New York City that will really stand out in your memory. It is the little moments…the everyday moments, that seem so insignificant, but have such a sweetness to them, that you will always remember. And you just never know when something will trigger a reminder of those sweet little everyday moments.

Young Dave ChaseIt isn’t very often that we have the chance to get just a little glimpse of what a man was really like, as a child. Oh, we might think we know what the child was like, mostly because all kids are the same…or pretty close to it, right. In reality, I think we would be very wrong. Every child is unique, and unless someone wrote things down, no one will ever really know the truth. That said, I have to say that, while I have never met my nephew, Dave Chase’s mother, Nancy, I find myself quite impressed with her anyway. I hope she doesn’t mind that I read her incredible account of her precious children. That she took the time to write about her children starting when the boys, Dave and Danny were just three and two, and later added little sister, Janie was amazing in it’s own right, but the insight she gave into the real person each of them was is even more amazing. I wish I could tell you about all three of the children, but I will focus on my niece Toni Masterson Chase’s husband, Dave.

I have always known that Dave was a smart man, but in his mother’s writings, there are so many little insights into the kind of man Dave would become. He was much that way from the time he was a child. Oh, there were the typical little three year old boy things in her writings, such as calling a helicopter, a “Heepercopter!” in a voice filled with the excitement that only a child can display. There were the typical fights with his brother Danny, just a year younger than Dave was. Yes, Dave fought with his brother, true enough, but often, he would fix the fight without letting his little brother know the truth…that Dave was kind of a softie where his brother was concerned. Still, there was something else that Dave’s mother saw in her oldest son. There was the little boy who piled all his favorite songs, poems, and sayings into his prayers to God, because it was the very best things he had to give to God.

Nancy commented on her son’s memory, which she called elephantine, when he mentioned a bee in the car the prior summer on a trip to Wyoming. Dave was just two at the time. Dave was also quite logical. When told that a girl had butterflies in her tummy, he quickly remarked that, “No girl eats BUTTERFLIES!” His remark almost Toni and Daveimplied that no girl would have the guts to eat butterflies…and almost that maybe a boy would. Being the big brother was a big responsibility. When Dave’s baby sister, Janie arrived, he wanted to make sure she knew who he was, so he would introduce himself, saying “oo know me, baby, David Chase” repeatedly. I think Janie knew his name pretty early on. After all, he was her big brother, and he made her feel important. When given an explanation of how the sun “burned off” the fog over the base, Dave commented, “the sun is smart.” I think that this little boy was smart…and quite possibly the apple of his mother’s eye…along with his siblings of course. Today is Dave’s birthday. Nancy, thank you for this little bit of insight into your boy, who is now a special part of our family. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bob in shockDebbie keeping Bob in lineFrom the first time I saw my husband, Bob Schulenberg, I liked him. There were many things I liked about him, but one of them was his great smile. Bob was always a happy guy. He laughs a lot, especially at comedy shows. It’s not that comedy is the only thing he likes to watch, but when he seems a good comedy, he laughs through the whole show…even if he is the only person in the room. His laugh is great, but it isn’t just about his laugh. Bob has a great smile…and it’s been with him all his life.

As a little boy, Bob had many facial expressions…little most kids do, but there were some that I especially like. His “shocked baby” looks is hilarious. His “my big sister is bossy” look is pretty good too, but his “bashful smile” is among my favorites. That little smile tells me what a sweet boy he was. It is a part of him that has never left him. Bob is sweet almost to a fault. Sometimes I see that little boy in him…that sweet little boy who goes out of his way to do sweet things for me. I don’t think that a lot of people get to see that side of him, but I get to see it, because sometimes the little boy in Bob comes out in the things he does.

Bob, the man, is so similar to Bob, the little boy. He is sweet and eager to make people smile. He really spoils me rotten…but don’t tell him I said that. I do have to consider what I tell him I want or want to do, because he will go out of his way to make it happen if there is a way. It makes me feel like a princess. I Caryn and Bob share a laughBob in Forsyth - November 1956think Bob, the little boy had a favorite person in his life too, and I think that person was his Grandma Hein. He loved going up to see her, and to help out around her place. To him it was one of the highlights of his summer. And his grandma remained one of his favorite people throughout his whole life. I could go on and on about all the things that makes Bob such a great guy, but I’m sure you already think I’m biased. This isn’t Bob’s birthday or anything, I just like to write about what a great guy I have sometimes. I love you honey.

Dad and MomI think most people have heard the Bible verse, John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” People may not realize that this is a Bible verse, but they know what they thought was an old saying. Either way, the verse was talking about Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from it’s sin, but I don’t think that was all it was about. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but when my pastor was preaching a couple of weeks ago, this verse was part of his sermon. Of course, he talked about Jesus sacrifice, but suddenly something jumped out in my mind. This verse was about far more than Jesus sacrifice, or it wouldn’t have talked about the greater love a person can have if they choose to lay down their life for their friend. It was about how we are all supposed to be.

It was at that moment that a thought came to me. There is more than one way to “lay down your life.” Of Joann and Waltcourse, the verse meant to die for your friend, and many is the hero who has done that, but it occurred to me that dying is not the only way to lay down your life for someone. In fact, caregivers lay down their life all the time. They set aside their normal life activities, and take the time to take care of another person. I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but rather I want to talk about all of the many caregivers I know of and those I don’t, because their sacrifice is amazing. The patient they care for, would be in a nursing home, were it not for the loving kindness shown to them by a friend or family member who laid down their own life to give that time to another. It is one of the greatest showings of love there is, and it is also very rewarding for the caregiver, although sometimes it is sad too. For just a little bit of time, almost always a relatively short lived little bit of time, at least in the grand scheme of time, you have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings…the one who holds them up and cares for their needs…the one who had the privilege to lay down their own life to care for a loved one.
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Yes, greater love hath no man, than that a man lay down his life for his friend…to actually die for his friend, but there is another way that is just as wonderful, and just as loving…to lay down your own needs, desires, activities, time…to care for another human being who desperately needs your help. So here’s to all the Caregivers I know, and to all those that I don’t know. You truly are among the greatest of people on Earth, because you have make a sacrifice that shows the ultimate amount of love you had for your loved one. It makes me proud to be a part of such an elite, amazing group of people. Today is National Family Caregiver Day, and I hope it is an amazing day for all of you.

American FlagsWith our nation’s Independence Day upon us, I find myself, like many other Americans, in a rather weary and confused state. So much about our country has changed, that it has almost become unrecognizable to me. The United States of America has always been known as the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now it seems that we are becoming the land of the free, only if we agree with what a select few want, and as for the brave, well it’s becoming very much out of style to stand up for our beliefs, values, or even for our country. I’m not picking on any one group here, but rather I find myself feeling quite sad that the sense of pride we have always felt for our nation is suddenly gone…at least in the minds of some people. I know that everyone really has a right to live their life in the way that they want to, but the problem is that lately everyone wants to tell everyone else how to believe. With that in mind, I thought it fitting to remind people about why our ancestors came here in the first place.

When our forefathers left England, it was to get away from a government that made it a treasonous act to separate from the Church of England. The people who did not agree with the teachings of the Church of England had to leave or they would be killed. That was the reason that the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” These were very important parts of our Declaration of IndependenceConstitution. The problem is that many people have forgotten those rights, or they have mixed up the meaning, thinking that we are not to have anything to do with religion in our government. That isn’t it at all. It says that the government is to stay out of our religious beliefs. That is not what is happening. Our current government is far too invasive in our religions.

As time went on, England tried to usurp more and more authority over the young colonies. They tried to interfere with religion, economics, and politics. Even though we were a nation basically under them, we knew it could not continue much longer. It was decided that we needed to be independent from England. That was when we knew that we could not continue to be under this type of rule. So, why do we celebrate the 4th of July…Independence Day. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. But it wasn’t on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. That was on July 2, 1776. It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either. That had happened back in April 1775. And it wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He did that in June 1776. It wasn’t even the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain. That didn’t happen until November 1776. It wasn’t even the date it was signed. That was August 2, 1776.

No, we celebrate the 4th of July, because that was the day that the Continental Congress approved the final Red Fireworks over Mt Rushmorewording of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. That was the day that truly represents our Independence. Not the day it was accepted by Britain, but the day we decided to make it our own. That was the day we made freedom and independence our own. It was the day that we decided to live in peace together, with each man, woman, and child having certain rights that should never be denied them. I think some people in our country, and especially our leadership have forgotten that fact in their race to political correctness, anti-racism, and a thinly disguised attempt to control our religious rights.

DadIn the United States, you don’t often expect to become friends with a Russian man, but that is exactly what happened with my dad, Allen Spencer. Dad was working at WOTCO in Casper at the time, and his friend, Vladimir worked there as well. For Vladimir, the United States was the epitome of the word freedom. He loved the United States, and as an immigrant, who loved the United States, he wanted to learn the language. He was working very hard on it when he and my dad met. Dad was excited about Vladimir too. He had never known anyone from Russia, and really, never expected to. He told Mom and my younger sister, Allyn Hadlock that there was a Russian man working with him and he wanted to learn Russian so he could talk to him.

Dad bought a Russian/English dictionary, and began to study it. He had some specific phrases he wanted to learn, such as, Hello, How are you, Do you like America, and Do you have a family. Every night they sat down at the table to work through the dictionary, figuring out what he would say next. They also learned that certain symbols, Russian Dictionary some that we use today, could mean something very different in Russian. The American symbol for “ok” is a good example. In Russian that symbol, with the circle of the thumb and forefinger, is a cuss word. It is very similar to flipping someone the bird. They laughed about that one. Then, when Dad wanted to say Dirty Rat, Allyn told him to use that American symbol for ok, because that should do it. That really got them laughing, and it still makes Allyn laugh to this day when she thinks about it.

I think the thing that Vladimir liked so much about my dad was the fact that he tried to learn Russian, and that he reached out to a foreigner too. Vladimir and his wife didn’t have very many people that he could visit with…at least not in Russian. He was just so pleased that Dad was actually learning Russian. I’m not saying that Dad was fluent at Russian. In fact, his Russian could be considered comical at times, but the main thing was that he tried. Dad and Vladimir became the best of friends, and mom and Vladimir’s wife were friends too. They were invited to dinner at Vladimir’s house, and his wife made Borscht. Borscht is a beet soup. Now, I have to tell you that Dad must have really felt a friendship with Vladimir, because Dad hated beets, but he ate that soup. They told Mom and Dad that in Russia the people didn’t have very much meat, so their meals consisted of potatoes and vegetables. They were able to buy more meat now Russian wordsthough, since coming to America, so when they had their American friends over for dinner, they bought meat for the Borscht…mostly because Americans are used to eating meat.

Vladimir and his wife wanted to be like the American people, because they loved this country. The did their very best to Americanize everything they did, because they wanted to be true Americans. This was the true melting pot…every foreigners dream, and they wanted to be a part of it. Dad and his Russian co-worker became good friends, and Vladimir always appreciated Dad’s efforts to make him feel at home in a new land.

scan0264When my nephew, Eric Parmely was born, my daughter, Amy Royce was babysitting for his mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely. It was not uncommon for Eric to go to church with us on Sunday mornings. Once there, in true baby fashion, he would snuggle up in my arms and go right to sleep. It was such a sweet time. It had been a while since I had a baby, and the hour or so that I held Eric while Amy took care of his older brother, JD was very special to me, as I know it was to Amy. There is nothing quite like holding a sleeping baby.

Babies grow up so fast, and before you know it these babies have babies of their own. Eric is no different. Over the past few years, he has married his beautiful wife, Ashley, and the have welcomed two little daughters…Reagan Kaylynn in 2012 and Hattie Joy in 2014. Eric’s family is truly his life. He is a very dedicated husband and father, who works hard and then comes home to spend time with his girls. Eric always wanted daughters, so he is really on cloud nine.
Eric Parmely
When he isn’t spending time with them, he is spending it working on remodeling their home. Anyone who has ever done that before, knows he has a big job to finish. The home was purchased as a fixer-upper, and since the purchase, they have been working with her dad to make some major changes in the house. It is growing more and more beautiful every day. I had never been in it until this past summer when they held a baby shower in anticipation of Hattie Joy’s arrival, but I had seen pictures before the changes, and I was impressed. They also showed pictures during the renovations, and the transformation was stunning. This will truly be a home they can live in for the rest of their lives, and it’s next door to her parents and their horses, which they love.

When you think of your kids, grandkids, and even nieces and nephews, growing up and becoming responsible 2014 family pictureadults, it is really hard to picture. So often, it seems impossible to think that they would be capable of doing all the normal adult responsible things that they are suddenly doing, like raising a family, and remodeling a house. They will always seem like little kids in your mind, which usually refuses to allow the thought of moving from that little baby that you remember to the man you see before now. Nevertheless, my nephew, Eric Parmely is no longer a baby or even a little boy, but rather a man with two babies of his own. Time waits for no man, and if you blink, much will change…as if you have suddenly gone through a time portal. I guess that is just how it goes when you are looking at the changes from a boy to a man. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Esther Hein - 1946My husband, Bob’s Aunt Esther is the half sister of his dad, Walt Schulenberg. Times were different when Esther was a little girl, and children who lived in the country in northern states often stayed with families that lived in town during the winter because getting to school from the farm wasn’t always easy. Such was the case with Esther, and the family she stayed with was her older brother’s family, my future in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg. Walt and Joann hadn’t been married very long, but they took on the challenge of a school aged child to help out the family.

I’m sure that as with any child, my mother-in-law found the challenge of a school aged sister-in-law a little problematic at times. She once said to me, “Don’t Esther!!”, when she was frustrated that I was making her go to bed, after Alzheimer’s Disease had made it necessary to help her with these daily tasks. She doesn’t very often mistake me for someone else, but I must say that on that occasion, it was pretty funny to be mistaken for Esther, and from way back when she was getting in trouble for horsing around or some other such mischief. I told Esther, that it was nice to have someone else get the blame for once.

Esther told me once that she had always considered my father-in-law, Walt to be a second dad to her. I suppose that would be true considering that she lived with them. Esther looked up to both her brother and her sister-in-law, and often called them to visit or ask for advise. It was quite hard on her when my father-in-law was very ill, and my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m sure it felt like she was losing her parents all over again. I can relate to that, since they have been my second parents for the past 39 years. You grow close, and you don’t think that you will ever lose them…until you do. With her older brother gone now, Esther has felt a loneliness that probably will never go away…and I hate that, because she always had such a sweet smile and delightful laugh, and it hurts to know that she is sad.
Esther Hein - 1955
My first encounter with Esther was shortly after Bob and I were married. Bob had asked me to cut his hair, and I had never cut a man’s hair before. Needless to say, it was horrible, and our wedding was just a couple of days away. When I met Esther, the haircut was still fresh on our minds, and after telling the story, she laughed about the whole thing and offered to teach me how to cut it correctly. What a lifesaver that was. I have been cutting Bob’s hair ever since, and every time I do, I think of Esther, and how she taught me to cut it. I think I do a pretty good job these days, and Bob must too, because he continues to let me get near him with the hair trimming scissors. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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