Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.
After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.
I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.
Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.
Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.
That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.
Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Michelle Stevens sees things that most of us would miss. Of course, when I say that, I am talking about seeing art in things most of us couldn’t even imagine. Not all of these things were her ideas, but she could make them work, because she is very talented. Her artwork is truly prize winning. Michelle has studied every form of art in her pursuit of her art education degree, and I think she could do any of them and will no doubt create some in the future.
Michelle has taken up crocheting. I did that once, but I don’t think I was nearly as talented as Michelle. She made a beautiful blanket for her little niece, Elliott Michelle Stevens. It is beautiful in gray, pink, and white. Little did Michelle know at the time she was making the blanket, but her sister-in-law, Kayla was decorating Elliott’s room in pink and gray. The blanket fit in perfectly. Of course, becoming an aunt to Elliott has been the biggest change in Michelle’s life for this year. She doesn’t get to see as much of little Elliott as she would like, because she and her parents live in Sheridan, and Michelle lives in Casper, but she is still Aunty Michelle, and that is very cool. Michelle has also taken up sewing with a sewing machine her mom, Alena Stevens gave her. She wants to make quilts and things. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few little baby outfits make their way to Elliott for her Aunty Michelle either. Michelle sees many different things as art, and she is very good at all of them. She makes wreaths, pottery, and is planning to take up mosaic glass art. Even Michelle’s fur babies, dogs Obie and Leia got gifts. She made them stockings, because she loves those puppies like babies and I hear they are spoiled rotten. Michelle is an artist in every sense of the word. Oh…to have such talent!! Unfortunately it is not in my sphere.
On top of all her artwork, Michelle is a great cook. When we had our family Christmas party last weekend, Michelle made crab stuffed mushrooms. They were amazing. Michelle loves to cook, and like everything else in her world, she considers it a form of art too. The more creative she can get with it the more she likes it. Oh…to have such talent!! Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When the pioneers headed west, they were leaving the comforts of home behind. They would be traveling in covered wagons, with bushes for restrooms and rivers for bathtubs. Water was often scarce, so daily bathing was out of the question. You bathed when you came upon a creek or river, and drinking water was far too valuable to waste on such frivolous things as bathing. That said, anyone who has ever camped out where there was not a readily available water source, can tell you that people can get pretty stinky before they finally get to a place where they can bathe. I suppose that is why many of the women…if they were financially able, had things like lemon verbena to cover the inevitable odors. While things like toileting and bathing were inconveniences, they were things people learned to live with as they traveled west in search of a homestead, and they weren’t usually life threatening, other than transferring of germs from less than clean hands to food that was to be eaten.
One of the most important things to know, of course, was what to do in the event of an emergency. An injury that is not take care of can quickly turn septic. And an illness that is treated in the wrong way, can bring death. That was one of the more difficult problems the pioneers faced. There were no doctors in nearby towns, and often there were no nearby rows either. They had to fend for themselves. And if they didn’t know what to do, people died. These days many people rely on a doctor or nurse for most illnesses, but the did not have that luxury. They had to be their own doctors and nurses.
The pioneers also had to know how to build their own homes, even if they had never really built a house before. Just because someone has lived in, or seen a house built, dies not mean that you automatically know how to build one. They had to know how to fix a broken wagon or wagon wheel, and how to shoe a horse. These were not normally skills that just everyone knew. And they certainly aren’t the life skills that any of the students of today would be taught in a life skills class, but I suppose that life skills is a class that has to be suited to the times. These days, life skills classes might include cooking and sewing, budgeting, and child care. I suppose it was taken for granted that people knew those things before they headed west in the days of the pioneers. These days it seems that fewer and fewer have those skills. I used to think life skills was rather a wasted class, but I suppose that depending on what is taught, maybe it isn’t.
As children, the played together and even napped together, but in high school, my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg wasn’t so sure that she liked her childhood friend very much. I don’t know if it was his teasing, or what, but I do know that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a pretty good teaser. Of course, it was always in good clean fun, and before long, she rediscovered the reasons she liked him when they were young. Before long, they knew that their love was the forever kind of love, and so they married and began their life together. Their life would take them away from their hometown of Forsyth, Montana, and eventually land them and their young family in Casper, Wyoming, which would be their home for the remainder of their lives, with the exception of the snowbird years, when they wintered in Yuma, Arizona.
Over the years their family would grow as six children joined, one at a time. Four daughters and two sons blessed their lives. The girls learned all the homemaking skills that their mother had to offer, from sewing to crocheting, to cooking and canning, ad of course, cleaning and doing laundry. Their mother poured all of her housekeeping knowledge into her daughters, so they would have the necessary skills to make homes of their own. For his part, their dad took his sons under his wing and taught them mechanics, so that they could keep their vehicles in good running condition. He taught them how to build things…everything from a simple shelf to an entire home. He gave them the skills they would need to make a living and take care of the needs of their families. As the years went by, their six children blessed them with ten grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and since their passing a new great great granddaughter. The family has spent many years enjoying many wonderful family moments and many holidays. Some of their greatest joys were bring grandparents and great grandparents.
Joann and Walt were married on June 6, 1949 in Forsyth, Montana, and had been married almost 64 years when Walt went home to Heaven n May 5, 2013. Joann followed him this year on January 4, 2018, and so this is their first anniversary in Heaven. While we miss them very much, we are happy that they are together again. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad. It would have been 69 years today, since you said, “I do.” We love and miss you very much.
Some talents can be learned, but some tend to be things that you are just born with. I was watching a program the other day, and this couple was looking at a place to buy, and the husband mentioned that they could have a garden, and his wife said…”You can have a garden!!” He said, “Oh, because of your brown thumb.” I immediately thought of myself. A gardener I am not…and that is a fact. My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein, however, really likes to plant flowers and nurture them along. It is something that she has a talent for. I wish I did, but I was not born with that talent.
Aunt Esther also is a gifted artist and quilter. I have one of her paintings, and I really love it. Her quilting is well known, as is some of her sewing. She has made curtains and other such things for my father-in-law’s house, and I always liked knowing that those things came from Esther, with love. She made on particularly beautiful quilt for my father-in-law, that he loved so very much. It was always on their bed, and he was always extra careful to make sure that it was never harmed. Quilting is a beautiful art form, for those who are skilled enough to master it. Esther is, and again, I am not.
She also makes out a family calendar every year, with birthdays, death dates, and anniversary dates on it. It is an act of love that she has done for many years for her family members. I remember looking at the calendar she sent to my father-in-law every year. The calendar had birthday and death date of people long passed, and was a great ancestry tool, as well as a way to keep up with important dates, and remember those long passed. Esther is active in her church, and loves the Lord, and she loves to play with her dogs, go camping, and snow shoeing, as well as traveling. We don’t get to see Esther as much as we would like, and we hope that maybe one of these days, her travels with bring her to Wyoming again. Of course, I suppose we should make our travels include Oregon too. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Alzheimer’s Disease is a thief…I’ll give you that, but as I’ve tried to convey to several people, it is not, in my opinion, the worst thing that could happen to a person. I know that sounds so odd, especially to those who feel that Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that steals the mind/memory of their loved ones. It does do that, eventually, but if you take a moment to view it differently, you might be surprised, as I was, to learn that it is not as bad as you thought it was. Most people are stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease later in life…at a time when many of them feel that their life is over. They aren’t as active as they were. They have more aches and pains. They begin to lose loved ones, and eventually that brings grief to most of us. They might even feel depressed. I don’t say that Alzheimer’s Disease alleviates these things in all people, but it did for my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg. I know that in her later stages, much of her memory will be gone, but maybe it won’t either, because she has had Alzheimer’s Disease since 2004 that we are sure of. That’s twelve years, and those old memories are still there. It’s just the new memories that she doesn’t keep, and still, I don’t think that is a bad thing.
With all the negative aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease, there are a few aspects that stand out to me, as very good things. My mother-in-law was always busy doing things. She had a routine. She wasn’t super active, but she knitted, sewed, crocheted, canned, cooked, and baked. These were the things that gave her a feeling of self worth, and oddly they aren’t gone now. If you ask the nurses and aides at the nursing home where she lives, you will find that when it is time for dinner, she tells them that she will be cooking it. She will pick up the blanket on her lap and begin “working” on her crocheting…often using her oxygen tubing as her crochet hook. She tells me about her grocery shopping trips to town, and the things she buys there. She feels no grief for loved ones now in Heaven, because to her they are still right here. She informs me that she will wait to eat dinner until Walt (my father-in-law, who passed away May 5, 2013) gets home. Dinner can’t wait that long obviously, so I just tell her he is at Walmart, in the garage, or at the neighbors, and said for her to eat without him. He might even be at work, although he retired many, many years ago. She talks of her parents, her daughter, Marlyce, and family members who live too far away for visits, as if they are still here, and yet when her daughter, Brenda visits in the morning, she doesn’t remember it later that day. Still, Brenda knows she was there, and that is what is important. She made her mom happy.
I know too, that when Bob and I, or my daughter, Corrie Petersen and I leave her side, she doesn’t remember that we were there either, but we know that we were there, and while we are there, she knows that we are there. And that is really what matters anyway. I guess it’s all in how you look at Alzheimer’s Disease. You can grieve the changes, or be thankful for her, that she is missing nothing. All the memories she needs are still in there, and they peek out once in a while…and it’s good enough. Is it really necessary for her to remember all the sad things? I just don’t think so, and I will keep them from her for the rest of her life, by telling her what she really needs to hear that day. It makes her happy, and happiness is all that matters.
My sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook, is a woman of many talents. Over the years she has made clothing for her girls, Machelle Cook Moore and Susan Cook Griffith, including Machelle’s wedding dress. She made lots of other clothes for them through the years too. One thing that I never really had the patience for, was sewing, but Debbie was quite good at it. She sewed most of her own clothes too. I always thought it would be nice to be able to do that, but it just wasn’t going to be something I would master, and my shoulders just couldn’t stand the aching I got when I sewed, so it was what it was.
Debbie took up cross stitch, and made many pretty things to give away and sell at the craft fairs that she, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my parents-in-law used to participate in. Now cross stitch was something I could sink my teeth into, but I didn’t ever get involved in the craft fairs, because by then, Bob and I were bowling seven days a week…fanatical, absolutely. Nevertheless, they all did pretty well with the craft fairs, and very much anticipated each one with joy. I know that the people who bought the items they sold were very pleased with them, but I think the gifts she made especially for one family member or another were the very best, because of all the love that went into them. Something that is made with love is always a keepsake.
After her dad’s passing, almost three years ago, and after we had to place her mother in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s Disease, we decided to take the clothes that didn’t go to the nursing home, and any material he mom had left, and make quilts for everyone. Debbie single handedly took on the task of making quilts for the grandchildren. It was a huge undertaking, because there are eight grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Debbie did a wonderful job on those quilts, and they are something the grandchildren and great grandchildren will treasure forever, because the are from their grandparents clothing, and made with love for them by Debbie. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Over the years, my sister-in-law, Debbie Cook has tried her hand at a variety of different crafts. Debbie had always done a lot of sewing, and had made her daughters clothing. Sewing was never really my thing, although I could sew if I wanted to. I just never really wanted to. Debbie enjoyed it though, and the clothes she made were very nice. It was something she shared with her mother…that ability to sew and to enjoy doing it.
Debbie also took up cross stitch and for years made pictures that she sold at the many craft fairs that she and several other family members had booths at over the years. For the most part, the cross stitch projects were done by Debbie and Brenda, but there were a few others in the family, myself included. Nevertheless, Debbie made a number of sweet pictures to give as gifts to many people in the family, and we who have received them, have cherished them ever since we got them.
More recently, Debbie got into quilting, and like most people who find that they like quilting, she found that it was maybe her calling. I’m not sure when she got started exactly, but I remember that while her dad, Walter Schulenberg was alive, she made a quilt for him. I don’t recall exactly if she made the original one for him, but I think she did, and then, because of how cold he always got, she actually took it apart and turned it into two lap quilts. Now that ability really impressed me. It is one thing to make a quilt, but then to alter the quilt in such a way…well, that takes a degree of talent, especially when the quilt had the frayed edges that are so popular these days.
After Dad’s passing, we, the kids and children-in-law, decided that since Mom was in a nursing home now, we wanted to turn their old clothes into quilts to be cherished memories for all of us. We weren’t sure how big they would be able to be, and we had asked a family friend, Linda Hall to make the ones for the five living children. Then Debbie approached me and said that she had really wanted to help with those, so it was decided that she would use part of the material to make memory quilts for the grandchildren. Those were exciting days of anticipation for the children and the grandchildren. It was such a great idea that my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg had come up with.
All of the quilts were finished between Thanksgiving and mid-January. They were such a blessing to receive. Both of the girls did a wonderful job on them. Debbie has now decided that she wants to make a set for the great grandchildren, and we are all looking forward to seeing those too. What a blessing that will be for the great grandchildren, some of whom have never even met their great grandfather, or their great great grandparents, whose clothes will also be used in these, but will now have a memory of them anyway. We can’t wait. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Many little girls want nothing more than to be just like their mommy, and my cousin Shirley was no different. In her eyes, her mom was the most beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, and yet strong woman in the world. Her mom, my Aunt Ruth Wolfe was her hero. She was everything Shirley ever wanted to be. Aunt Ruth was so good at so many things. It’s strange to me, that while we saw Aunt Ruth a lot when I was a kid, somehow I didn’t know about all the things she was capable of doing. I knew about some things of course, like her gardening and cooking, but that is something lots of people are good at, so it didn’t seem unusual. While those things didn’t seem unusual to me, finding out years after her passing, that she was an artist and a musician as well, was surprising to me. Aunt Ruth was one of those people who could pick any instrument and play it like she had been taking lessons for years, and yet she hadn’t. Hers was just a natural talent. Shirley remembers the old horn she found. She took it to her mom, and within two days, Aunt Ruth could play it. Shirley is pretty sure it was a Trumpet.
Shirley tells me that Aunt Ruth had the voice of an angel, but because of her shyness, very few people ever got to hear her sing. Sadly, I don’t recall ever being privileged enough to hear her sing. She could yodel too, but only her husband, my Uncle Jim got to hear her do that. I just never realized that she was so shy. How could I have not known that? I guess she just wasn’t shy around me and the rest of our family. Shy was something Aunt Ruth never was with us. Our families loved to get together, and when they lived here in Casper, we saw a lot of them. There were picnics and camping trips to the Big Horns and Casper Mountain. Another thing I never knew about Aunt Ruth is that she was claustrophobic. When camping, she had to sleep with her head outside the tent. Where Aunt Ruth went, of course, Uncle Jim went too, so when she slept with her head outside the tent, so did he. That gave their kids something to tease them about. They were dubbed the star gazers. On one trip to South Dakota, the family went to the Rushmore Caverns. They were worried about how Aunt Ruth would do there. She made it further than expected, even going through Fat Man’s Misery, but just couldn’t make it the whole way. I’m sure my sister, Allyn Hadlock could totally agree with Aunt Ruth when it came to claustrophobia.
Over the years, she learned many things about medicine, which is another thing she and I have in common. She could care for cuts, even deep ones, without scarring and without benefit of a doctor. From setting broken noses, to cuts deep enough to almost run from heel to ankle, she could do it all. I suppose that is also what made living on the mountain top in Washington state feel safe and cozy to her. While she didn’t really like the snow and cold, she did love her mountain, and being so close to her family. While Aunt Ruth loved spending time with our family too, she was nevertheless, a Gypsy of sorts, and liked to go and see new places. The gypsy in her would eventually take the family to Nevada, California, and finally to Washington state. Shirley tells me that she was the happiest when she was traveling. After they retired, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim traveled to Oklahoma, and wintered in Arizona and several other places where it was warm.
She gardened, canned, cooked, baked amazing cakes and then decorated them too, and she sewed their clothing. She was the kind of woman the Bible calls a blessing to her husband and family, and so she was. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 89th birthday. Shirley says and I agree, that her laughter is what she misses the most. It lit up her world. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ruth!! We love and miss you very much!!