The oldest child in a family has a very unique position. They are the first experience their parents have at being parents. That first child is subjected to everything from being overprotected from dirt and germs, to having more expected of them than they are really able to live up to at such a young age. Somehow though, they survive first child syndrome. I think that in my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s case, being the first child gave her the ability to be a leader in so many ways. Of course, at home Cheryl was the leader to her little sisters. She helped us to do the things that kids do at certain ages…probably more so me, than our younger sisters, but I know that I always looked up to Cheryl and wanted to be as sophisticated as she was.
Cheryl was always the brave one too. I can think of a number of times, when we heard a noise, and while I would hide, she would jump up and go to investigate. I suppose that could be an age difference, or first child syndrome, or maybe Cheryl was just truly brave, but I know she always seemed to be someone that would do everything necessary to keep her little sisters safe. That had the tendency to give us a sense of security. And the funny thing was that she is only two years older than I am, so it wasn’t like she was an adult. She was just brave, and that made her a role model to the rest of us. Of course, later on, we all learned leadership skills, and bravery too, and while I can’t say for sure that Cheryl taught all that to us…I mean, after all, our parents had something to do with that too…I think she played a key part in it, for me anyway.
I am so proud of all of Cheryl’s accomplishments. She is a legal secretary in a big law firm, and quite possibly it is that experience that has given her an attention to detail. I know how much they depend on her to make sure that all the legal documents needed for a case, are correct and where they need to be, when needed. She has come a long way from the little girl who was living through first child syndrome. She has turned into a wonderfully capable and beautiful woman. I’m proud to call her my sister. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year…these days anyway, we have to let my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg know when her birthday is. Even then, she won’t remember it. That’s what Alzheimer’s Disease has done to her. I suppose many people would think that is terrible, but really for her, it ok. Yes, there are things that Alzheimer’s has taken from her, but there are things it has given her too. She often tells us that she is 65 years old, when in reality, she is 85 years old today. Just think of how nice it would be to be ageless. She can pick whatever age she chooses, and that’s how old she is that day. Wouldn’t we all love to be able to do that sometimes?
Mom has lived a full life. While she had some health issues that we all expected would take her first, she has nevertheless, outlived my parents and my father-in-law. Many people would think that she has no real quality of life, but if you knew her, you would know that she always was a people watcher. That makes the activity around at the nursing home ideal for her. She doesn’t like to go outside when it’s cold, so now she doesn’t have to. She spends her days watching television, and often with her imaginary crocheting…which isn’t so different than when she was at home, except that she really did crochet then. Still, she thinks she is, and that makes her happy.
Speaking of happiness, there is one other thing that Alzheimer’s stole from her…grief. She has lost her parents, a daughter, and her husband, but to her, they are in the other room, at Walmart, or at the neighbor’s house visiting. She never experiences sorrow. To me, that’s not a bad thing.
I know that none of us want to have Alzheimer’s Disease, or have a loved one who does, but in reality, at least in this case, there could be a good side to it. When you can live a life free of burdens, responsibilities, and sorrow, life could be considered good. As long as her needs are met, I’m ok with it. It is my wish for her to be happy for the rest of her days. And if she’s happy…I’m happy. Today is my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. Happy birthday Mom!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I have always known that my cousin Elmer had a great sense of humor, and like the 2 main cousins he hung out with, Greg and Forrest, he a knack for…well, mischief, and probably getting into a little bit of harmless trouble…mostly with my aunts and grandma. The more I have written about the family, the more I have found out as these boys were three adventurers, who were always out to see what they could get into, come up with, or get away with. It is a typical boy thing to, and these were definitely typical boys.
Still, with time, we all grow out of that mischievous age, and move into the normal responsibilities of life, and it is here that we really find out what makes the man. Most men go out and get a job, pay their bills, and become what everyone deems to be a responsible citizen, but some men take on the cares of others in a way that stands out to those who know them. With Elmar, I have found a man who has had such a profound impact on the lives of his niece and her children, that they would bend over backward to do special things for him, like a very special project she has been working on and that I have had the privilege to help with in a small way. Elmer’s love and caring for his niece, JeanAnn, and her children, Mykenzie, and Ethan, has made him so special to them, that they want to come up with special ways to do nice things for him. Even her children are excited about Elmer’s birthday gift. How many of us can say that about our nieces and nephews…or their children for that matter? The more I know of my cousin, the more I respect him!!
Now, don’t get me wrong, Elmer still has his amazing sense of humor, and I seriously doubt if he would pass up a chance to tease or pick on JeanAnn and the kids, but they will always know that any teasing he does in in good fun, and unless I miss my guess, they would happily tease him right back. And while they are putting together something really special for Elmer for his birthday, I have no doubt that tomorrow will be a new and very different day. Today, after all is his birthday, not tomorrow. Happy birthday Elmer!! Have a wonderful day. We love you!
I never got the chance to get to know my grandmother, my dad’s mom, but I have heard so many great things about her. She was such a strong woman, running a farm, much of the time with just the help of her children, and carrying on the day to day workload that it takes to run a family and get all the kids headed out for school and such. She was not a big woman, as the size of this dress told me, and yet, she has always seemed larger in my mind, because of her capabilities. The dress shows that she was maybe a little taller than I am, and slender. I had noticed that too, in other pictures, but she also had to have been very strong, to carry the load of the work and home responsibilities that she did. I’m sure it was the size of the work that she did, and not the size of the woman, that made me think she had to have been a bigger woman that she really was.
My grandmother’s parents immigrated to the Unite States from Germany in the years before she was born. I’m sure that many of the traditions for Germany came along with them too, and I know that my dad’s grandma spoke much German or a combination of English and German to my dad when he was little, including “So, du bist a ocha man” which would translate to “So, now you are a big man” when he fell after rocking back too far in his chair at the kitchen table. I have to wonder what other traditions were passed from parents to daughter.
One thing that I’m sure was passed along was a good work ethic. My grandmother was a very hard working woman, who was really nothing like the frilly, lacey wedding dress that she wore on her wedding day. The dress, while beautiful, was soon replaced by the everyday work dresses of a woman with a pioneer spirit and the strength to do what needed to be done to make a living on a farm. Of course, I suppose there are very few of us who would wear clothing during our marriage that would be anything similar to the gown we would choose to wear for our wedding day. Still, I think that the gown we choose for our wedding day does depict the type of woman we are…at least at the time. People change as they mature, and life events play a huge part in that change. I’m sure that my grandmother rose to the occasions in her life to become the strong woman I have heard about all my life.