Imagine being a mail carrier between 1863 and 1922. I’m sure that you are wondering why those dates would be so important. Well, they really are. In 1863, the United States Postal Service began what they called Free City Delivery. This service brought about the beginning of home delivery of the mail, at least in the cities. I suppose it also brought on the need for the mail carrier. What it didn’t bring with it was a large degree of efficiency. The mail carrier was required to go to the door of the patron receiving mail, and knock. Then they waited patiently for someone to answer the door to take the mail. That is about the strangest idea to me. The person would either need to be home every day at the time the mail carrier was supposed to be there, or somehow know the date something was coming…an impossible task in those days, or have someone else there to watch for the carrier. It was estimated that the carriers lost over 1.5 hours a day, waiting on the patrons to come to the door.
As early as 1880, the post office began to suggest that people put a letter box on their door, so that the mail could be left at the house, even if no one was home. The Post Office wanted wall-mounted mailboxes to the outside of the houses instead of mail slots. They wanted them to be mounted at the height of a standing man. The plan was that the carrier would not have to bend over to deposit mail, and the outgoing mail would stay dry. People are notoriously slow to accept change, and I’m sure this situation was no different.
By 1916, with little change in the situation, the post office began working on a plan to achieve the compliance they needed. The deadline was set. The homes were to have a letter box by March 20, 1922. After that date, the mail would be held at the post office, if no letter box was in place. As we look back now, it seems strange to think that anyone would fight the letter box plan. It’s such a simple way to get your mail, and it does not involve a daily trip to the post office. I can’t imagine why anyone would want the hassle that not having a mail box at your home would bring. I think they probably felt same way after they had one for a while.
When we think of standing guard over someone or something, we think of a security guard, police officer, or even a guard dog, but seldom do we think about a family pet, such as a dog or even a cat, but that doesn’t mean that pets can’t stand guard, because many do, and in ways beyond being a watch dog at the house. When I was little, and truly, all my life, I loved cats. Now I know that a cat would have a hard time doing anything to protect or help it’s owner, or as I have always thought…it’s pet, it still stands guard. It’s not about it’s ability to do anything, but rather, it’s loyalty. That’s how it was with my cats. And how it was with my mom’s cats too. I suppose mostly it was because they liked being near us, but when my mom fell at home, her cat Quincy was right there standing guard over her. He refused to leave her side until someone got there to get her up and safely in her chair. I don’t know what my cats did to protect me exactly, but they liked to sleep in my crib, and watch over me while I slept too. They liked being with me, and I loved being with them too. I guess we were like best friends, and while they couldn’t do anything to protect me, maybe they kept me out of mischief, because as every cat lover knows, they demand lots of attention.
I know that lots of dogs are trained to be guard dogs, drug sniffing dogs, and police dogs, and I know that they are very loyal to their owners, even to the point of killing for their owner. It could be their training, but I think it’s also their love for their master. Pets are that way. They get very attached to their owners, and they will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Their training helps them protect their master, of course, and they are very good at what they do. When they are on duty, they are working…no messing around, but when they are home with their master, they are as loving as they can be, because that person is family to them. That is when the love of their master kicks in…that and anytime that their master is in trouble on the job. In reality, they are always standing guard.
Sometimes the guard dog is on duty for a different reason. Such was the case with my in-laws dog, Brownie. My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was developmentally disabled, and sometimes it was hard for my mother-in-law to watch her all the time. In the house, she was relatively safe, but outside there were more perils to consider. Still, they never worried really, because when Marlyce went outside, Brownie went with her. Brownie made it his job to stand guard over Marlyce to keep her safe. No one had to tell him, he just understood that Marlyce needed special care. When Brownie was on duty…standing guard…the family knew she was safe. Aren’t pets amazing?
The more I write, the more connected I feel to my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren. I have a feeling that we both used writing for much the same reason…a release of the creative side of ourselves when much of our lives were spent taking care of others. Caregiving is something that is very much an exact science. You have to give the right medicines at the right times, and caring for sick and wounded bodies takes precision and proper methods. There is no room for creativity…other than in the use of items at your disposal to make your job easier, whether it be physical items or the use of your mental abilities to work around a difficult moment in the care of a patient who isn’t ready to give over their independence to someone else, after so many years of being their own person. A caregiver has to follow the instructions of the doctors to the letter in order to insure the improvement and continued health of the patient. And Bertha was a caregiver for many more years than I have been. She knew what it took, and what must be sacrificed.
Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, who in 1890 wrote “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” It might seem a strange thought, to want to get lost in the thoughts of another person, but sometimes their thoughts are so interesting that it is a desirable place to be. Must of us lose ourselves in another man’s mind periodically. Every time you read a good book, your mind pictures the thoughts and images created by the writer. You can’t help yourself really. It’s just how our minds are wired to work.
I have read Aunt Bertha’s journal several times, but it just never gets old. It seems like every time I read it, I discover some new story, whether it is written in the words or simply exists between the lines. Much of what a writer is like can be found living between the lines of the words they write. That is where their feelings live in their writing. Although I don’t recall ever having the opportunity to meet Aunt Bertha, I feel like I know her well. She has poured her heart and soul into her writing. She has been brutally honest about herself. She doesn’t leave out her shortcomings, but puts them into the stories, regardless of how they might make the reader feel about the kind of person she was. Her objective is not to paint herself as a perfect person, but rather to reveal to the reader the true person she was.
I think many writers would not have the courage to put on paper exactly how they were as a child, worker, caregiver, or person, because they don’t want to show the reader the negative thoughts, or mistakes they have made in their lives. The reality, nevertheless, is that none of us are perfect, but rather human. While Aunt Bertha was not perfect, I truly like the person she was. She reminds me a little bit of myself, and yet inspires me to try to be better than I once was. In her mind, she knows the kind of person she wants to be, and while she failed sometimes, she never quit trying. I find that her mind is truly a good one to lose myself in sometimes.
To every little girl who has a big sister, she is most likely the first person she looked up to. Big sisters are wise, because they have done so much in this world. They can show you all the cool things that they have had the opportunity to see in their lives. They show you the ropes, and they are there for you through thick and thin…even if you fight occasionally in those early years. When it comes down to it they would fight any foe, bully, or even and friend…if they came between them and their little sister. That was and is the kind of friend I have in my big sister, Cheryl. She always seemed so much more sophisticated than I was. And still does to this day. I don’t know how she does it, but she just has that something about her. With all she has done with her life, I find myself feeling very proud that she is my sister.
I suppose there are many younger sisters who feel the same way about their big sisters. I mean, big sisters always seem to have the answers, all the cool friends…not that you get to hang out with them, all of the cool clothes…while you wear hand me downs, and they get to do so much more than you get to do. Still, sometimes, they give you a little bit of their time, and you get to bask in the warmth of being with that person who is so much cooler than you are. You get to go do things together…like exploring in the back yard, or playing with the cool toys they have. Your life is perfect, simply because that cool big sister gave you a few minutes of their time.
It is at this point in time that you really get a full understanding of how much your big sister loves you. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they really want you to just stay out of the way. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they want you to leave their toys alone. Those thoughts fade into a distant memory. You get to hang out with the wisest, coolest person you know. They get to teach you from all the wisdom of their years…even if there are only 2 years between you, and you are only 6 months old at the time. I guess that wisdom isn’t nearly as important as the love your big sister has for little old you.
When I first became acquainted with my cousin, Betsy’s daughter, Autumn, I immediately liked her. It’s odd I suppose, not to know your cousin’s daughter, or at least not very well, but in big families, that is how it goes sometimes. The family just gets so big that you can really lose touch, even when you all live in the same town. I was trying to connect with all the family members to get information for a book with family information in it so that we could all at least know addresses, phone numbers, family members, and birthdays. It was a monumental effort, and I needed the help of as many family members as I could find.
That was the main reason I connected with everyone on Facebook, but then, something amazing happened. I started getting to know the people in my family…people I had never known before. That was when I met Autumn. A sweet spirit, I could see that she had a heart of gold, and that she was very loyal to those she cared about. Autumn was the type of person who extends the hand of friendship easily…much more easily than I do, because I am a little shy. She has no such problem though, and every time I see her, she is quick to say hello and visit with me, and other family members. What a blessing that is to me.
As one of the older cousins, I suppose I am viewed as being in the same group as the aunts and uncles, and to many of the kids, that could mean that I am viewed as boring and outdated, but that is not the way Autumn treats me. She makes a point of saying hello to me and making me feel special. How sweet is that? I think that is just the way she is with everyone, because she just seems to come by it so naturally. When you have made up your mind to treat people great, no matter who they are…young or old…you have created, in yourself, a great person. And, that is the person Autumn is. If you don’t know her…you are missing out!! Today, Autumn is sweet 16!! Autumn, I hope you have the most amazing sweet 16th birthday ever!! Happy birthday Autumn!! We love you!!
I love watching babies who have reached the age of playing all the cute little baby games. It is the beginning of their journey to becoming the person they will eventually be. Of course, these baby games are not the one thing in life that determines the kind of person they will be, but rather, just the child moving in the direction of knowing what they like and dislike. And after all, isn’t that a big part of the person we become.
Everyone likes different things, and the same goes for babies. Some babies really have a great time playing patty-cake, while others love to play peek-a-boo. It’s just a matter of the things they find funny or interesting. I think it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things, and I think that goes for babies too. Some babies like to be startled, and will laugh uncontrollably, while others would immediately start crying in that scenario. Some like listening to people make funny noises at them, and others would prefer to be tickled or something to make them laugh. It is simply personal preference, and it starts at a very young age.
Bob, like to play patty-cake…or maybe it was just about clapping his hands when he thought people liked the things he was doing. No, he doesn’t have to have people clap their hands today, but he does appreciate it when people react to the funny things he does. Bob has a great sense of humor, and he can be quite funny, so I guess he has never lost that, from the time he was a baby.
I can’t say that Christopher still plays peek-a-boo, but he does enjoy a practical joke…like sneaking up on people…and he’s not alone in that either, all my grandsons like that one. What is it about guys, that makes them all like the practical joke thing? And of course, you know that girls and in this case, especially their grandma, are prime targets to startle. Of course, girls apparently make a great target for most types of teasing…again, a guy thing.
Shai liked the girly things more, and was a great thrower of kisses. Not that she didn’t have a sense of humor too, because he does. She laughs with total delight if she can pull one over on someone. I always like the times when kids learned to throw kisses or to wave bye bye. Often their hand was turned the wrong way, and they were waving at themselves. Of course, that was the only way to make sure you were doing it right…right?
Yes, I love all those baby games, and those changes in the personalities of the babies as they take that journey from babyhood to childhood, and beyond. It is one of the greatest times in the life of a parent or grandparent.
They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. That is a true statement in many ways, but none is more evident than when your family member wants to debate you on everything…or at least everything political. When I began trying to hook up with as many of my family members and extended family members as I could, I thought maybe I had stumbled into just such a situation. We had a rocky start, because we do have differing opinions on some things, but after I figured out that Matt does like to debate, but isn’t afraid to learn something new. I decided that maybe I was going to be glad that he was my cousin…or cousin once removed, since he is my cousin, Tina and her husband Glen’s son.
Matt isn’t one of those people who picks a political party, but rather looks at each situation, and decides how he feels about it. That makes for a well informed person, and someone who might tend to disagree on many points with his friends and family who are more set on a specific party line. Matt and I have…crossed paths, and split hairs on several occasions, but in the end, it occurred to me that while he didn’t change my opinion on my beliefs, he made me think about the other side of some of the issues. Some things just aren’t cut and dried, and even when you just can’t change your view because of a debate, I don’t feel like the debate was a wasted effort on the part of either debater.
One of the things I have learned from Matt…yes, I have learned from him, even though he is years younger than I am…is that if you are going to talk about an issue, you had better have your facts straight. Don’t just form your opinion on the things people tell you about something…but, rather read, study, and ask questions about it before you decide how you feel about it…and consequently, to discuss it. I don’t think Matt set out to teach me or anyone else anything, he just wasn’t a person who could accept someone’s view on face value. He had to know more about it before he could accept it.
The thing I discovered about Matt is that he isn’t afraid to say that he really doesn’t know enough about a situation to effectively discuss it. I like that. So many people just spout off about issues they know nothing about, and really, all they want to do is irritate and try to pick a fight. Other people get mad if you don’t agree with their views. We are never all going to agree on every issue.
Today is Matt’s birthday. Matt and I are definitely in two different places politically, and I’m sure there will be quite a few debates in the future, but Matt…I have finally found something you cannot debate…today is your birthday…no doubt about it. Hahahaha!! So, happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! Debater or not, we love you.
Big sisters are a very unique type of person, especially when they are the oldest child. They have gone from being the only child to being a little mommy’s helper in the care of their new little sibling. They are usually young enough to have it in their head that this is their baby, so don’t even tell them that they can’t be the mommy! They don’t like it when you don’t let them be the caregiver of this new baby. Of course, as with any job, they know that there are some things that should be handled by the nanny (ie, Mommy)…like stinky diapers!! Mom is totally welcome to step in at that moment. And if this kid decides to scream, and a bottle won’t fix it, well, call in the nanny. Nanny/Mommy is good for some things, but not when the big sister is in charge. They are for when big sister needs a babysitter for the baby, and nothing more. It is almost as if Mommy is really a surrogate mommy.
While big sisters can be in the way for moms sometimes, it is also very sweet to watch there first attempts at mothering. Girls have a built in mother’s instinct, in most cases, and it comes out in them very early on. From the moment they hold their first doll, they are a mommy in their own mind. Of course, maybe that doll is the reason that they don’t care much for stinky diapers or screaming babies. I mean, that doll was just so much better behaved than that, right? Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that this new baby is a bit different than that baby doll they had, but as they get used to the new baby, they instinctively understand that crying and the smell is just a part of the deal with a younger sibling, so as long as Mommy or somebody else shows up for the tough times, the responsibilities of a big sister are not so bad.
Unfortunately, as the baby gets older, the newness also wears off some, and before the baby is old enpugh to play or walk, the older sister might get tired of helping out. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. If it happens, it is usually a short period of time, because before too long, the baby is old enough to play with its older sister, and then the fun really begins. With an older sister teaching the younger sibling the ropes, there is no telling what kind of trouble they can manage to get into. In fact, if you think about it, you can probably come up with a whole list of ways you got into trouble with your big sister’s help, or maybe for you it was a big brother, but that is another story.
My sister-in-law, Brenda has been a part of my life since she was 10 years old, and my sister-in-law since she was 11 years old. She has always been a sweet girl, who was kind and loving. Her loyalty to those she loves is unsurpassed. During the time that her parents have been ill, she has been someone we can count on to be there to help in any way she can. She is one of our village, and she is invaluable. She has dealt with some pretty tough things, and she knows how hard it is on a person.
Brenda is more than just a sister-in-law to me…she is a friend. She cares about me. Recently, when we had a birthday party for me, my daughter Corrie said that part of my gift was to go to lunch at Mongolian Grill. With the events lately concerning my in-laws, I was not really sure when we might be able to go to lunch. A little more than a week had passed, and I was too busy to think about the planned lunch date with my daughter. Brenda, however, didn’t forget. She was going to take a couple of days vacation, and she planned the daily lunchtime duties into her vacation days, in order to allow me time to go with Corrie. It was such an incredible thing to do…and one I will not forget!! Sometimes my days are very full with caregiver duties, and it makes me feel very loved when someone steps up and does something so nice for me. Brenda is the kind of person who looks for ways to help out and make life easier.
In some families, the longer you are part of the family, the more distant people become. They move away, and come home once every 5 years, or they live in the same town and you hardly see them, but not so with Brenda. She has stuck with the village during some of the toughest times we have gone through. She can always be counted on to do whatever she is able to make our journey a success. We are up against health issues and of course, time. We know that at some point the journey will end. All we can do is try our very hardest to hold that day at bay for as long as possible. Team members like Brenda are extremely important to that goal.
Today is Brenda’s birthday. I want to wish her the very best birthday she has ever had. She has been so good to me, and I can’t tell her how much that means. Happy birthday Brenda!! We love you very much!! Have a wonderful day!!
Kids are always curious about the world around them. It is great watching them explore and dream about what things will be like when they get older. My granddaughter, Shai always loved the beautiful, girlie things. She always wanted to wear dresses and have her nails polished. All this was a bit of a surprise to my daughter, who at that time didn’t like dresses so much. She had figured that her daughter would be more of a tomboy. Well, reality couldn’t have been further from her expectations.
We have all done it…thought we knew what our children would be like, and what their preferences would be, and then found out that they are totally different than we ever thought. I think a lot of people think that you can shape your child into the type of person you want them to be, but after many unsuccessful attempts, you give up and realize that they are their own person, even from infancy, and you just have to try to help them to be what they want to be.
In the case of my granddaughter, we have found that she is very much like her grandmother. I am often amazed at our common tastes. We both like dressing up some, and although Shai now wears more jeans than dresses, her tops are quite girlie. We do many other things that are similar too. We think a lot alike, and enjoy many of the same things. We even like the same car. We both drive a red 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. The only difference is that mine is a two door and hers is a four door. How funny is that? She is the perfect granddaughter for me…and since she is the only one I will ever have, that’s a good thing.
Amy has recovered from the shock of having a daughter who is so different than what she expected, and I think she is rather happy that Shai is more of a girlie girl now. And she has learned not to expect a child to be a certain way, which is a good thing, considering that her son, Caalab was not what she expected either…but that is another story.