My niece Cassie Iverson is spending her first birthday without her mom. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg went to Heaven on January 19, 2021, after suffering a stroke. It’s been a hard year for Cassie so far, as anyone who has lost a parent can attest. Really that first whole year is the hardest. All the firsts without your parent. Cassie and her mom were just the two of them from the time her mom was 16 years old. They were so close. I could say that they were best friends, but they weren’t Rachel was the mom and Cassie was the daughter. They were closer than just friends could be. A person has enough friends, and can always make more, but a mother is a treasure, and you truly only get one.
Life changed, as life does. Rachel got married and had two sons, Cassie’s half-brothers, Riley and Tucker. Then they divorced and Rachel was a single mom again. Just her and her kids. Cassie was older then, and she and her mom grew closer. Rachel watched as her beautiful daughter grew and found new interests. Sure, there were difficult times…teenaged years, sibling fights, and such, but Rachel loved her kids and they all knew that they were going to be ok.
When Cassie got married and had babies of her own, Rachel was so proud. She loved her grandchildren beyond measure. Rachel was also very proud of her only daughter. Cassie is a very talented photographer, and Rachel would often tell me about her photography trips. She was just so proud of Cassie. She was also so proud of the mother Cassie was. She watched as Cassie raised Lucas, who was born with Down Syndrome. Cassie became the best advocate for her son. Cassie is a real fighter when it comes to her children, Lucas and his little sister, Zoey, and that made Rachel so proud. She knew that Cassie would give her children the best life she possible could. Cassie learned about being a mom from the best…her own mom, Rachel.
Life without her mom will never be the same for Cassie…she will always miss her mom. It is impossible not to, but I hope she also knows just how proud her mother was of her. Often when we spoke on the phone, Rachel would tell me, with pride in her voice, about the wonderful accomplishments of her daughter. Photography, kids, camping…another thing they both loved, and so much more. Cassie, your mom is in Heaven, but she is still watching over you, and she is still so proud of everything you have accomplished. I know this year is a tough one, but remember that she lives on in your heart. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! Your mom would want that for you. We love you!!
For my husband, Bob’s Aunt Margee Knox Kountz, there would never be a time in her young memory when she didn’t have a brother-in-law. Her older sister, Joann Knox Schulenberg got married when Margee was just 4½ months old. Of course, this is not a normal occurrence in families with only three children, but my mother-in-law, Joann was almost 16 years old when the first of her younger sisters, Linda Knox Cole was born, and almost 18 years old when the second of her two younger sisters, Margee was born. Due to the number of years between the births of the girls, almost like having two families, my mother-in-law was preparing to get married when her mother was pregnant with the her youngest child. So in all reality, Margee was barely born before becoming a sister-in-law. My father-in-law thought Margee was so cute. He told my mother-in-law, in some letters written while he was working in another town, that he wanted them to have a little girl just like Margee. She was very special to him, and of course to her sister, my mother-in-law, Joann too. I know Margee was not the only person to ever become a sister-in-law, as such a young age, and of course, there are some who are born into that position, but usually they come from bigger families. I just think it would be a little strange to grow up a sister-in-law from such a young age.
Over the years, much has been required of Margee. She was a single mom for as long as I have known her, raising her two children Dan and Sandi and eventually helping out with her grandchildren, while parents worked, or as in the case of her son, Dan’s children, stepping in to help raise them after his beloved wife, Darlene passed away in 1998, when her children were Zech and Staci were about 4 and 2 years old. That was a terrible time for those children and their dad, and Margee, along with Darlene’s parents, stepped up to help them get through it, because as we all know, you don’t get over it, you just get on with it. No, life has not been easy for any of them, but with Margee’s help, these kids have done ok.
Margee stepped up when she was needed most, but then, that is what she does. Whenever a situation arises that leaves someone she loves in need of help, Margee is willing to help in whatever way she can. Whether it is with the little ones, or when her sister needed someone to be with her, because she could not stay alone anymore because of Alzheimer’s disease, or after the passing of a loved one, Margee always steps up. Margee is always someone you can count on. She always comes through for you in a pinch. That is the mark of a wonderful person. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When my niece, Susan Cook Griffith met her husband Josh Griffith, she knew he was special. Susan was a single mom to her daughter, Jala and the two of them were living in a little two bedroom house. After dating a while Susan knew Josh was the one. It was February 13th, and Susan was ready to take their relationship to the next level. Josh was over at her house, and her parents dropped by with a card and a box of chocolates for them. She had just put her daughter, Jala to bed. Susan had made up her mind that if Josh didn’t propose on Valentine’s Day she was going to. I’m not sure how she felt about popping the question, but sometimes a girl just has to take matters into her own hands.
Back then, camera phones were a new thing, and Josh had one, so Susan was always asking him to let her look at his pictures. She didn’t even have a digital camera yet, so looking at pictures taken only moments before was a real novelty. Josh teasingly told her that if she got him a chocolate, she could look at the phone, but she said that if he showed her the phone, she would get him a chocolate. Susan won out. I think he planned it that way, or at least planned for the possibility. He handed her the phone. The first picture Susan saw was an open box of chocolates, but the box of chocolates held a secret. One chocolate was missing, and in it’s place, was a ring. Susan jumped up and ran to the kitchen where the box of chocolates was and opened it up. She stared at the ring, then turned around to find Josh right behind her on one knee. He asked her to marry him and, of course, she said yes. It was such a simple way to propose, but it was as romantic as it could possibly be. Susan knew that she was getting quite a romantic man to be her husband, and that life was going to be beautiful. Later, she found out that Josh had gone to her parents house and asked her dad for his daughter’s hand in marriage. It was there that the plan was devised…the chocolates, the ring, the picture, and the plan. He had thought about having her daughter, Jala bring her the ring, but then, he decided against that. While that way would have been very sweet…I think his way was more romantic.
They knew they would need a bigger house, so they bought one in October of that year, and were married in June. Josh wanted to make sure that Jala knew that he wasn’t just marrying her mom, but that he was choosing her to be his daughter too. They had a special part of the wedding ceremony for 3 year old Jala so that it showed everyone of his intentions toward both his new wife and his new daughter. Josh makes sure that they include Jala in everything, and in 2008, Josh and Susan gave, then 6 year Jala, a little sister named Kaytlyn. For Josh, both are his daughters. It’s just the way he is. Josh is a hard working man, usually working from 6am to 11pm, but usually making it in for dinner every night. When he worked on the oil rigs, the men called him Superman, and his crews broke many records during the time he worked there. For his family though, he brings on the hilarious. He chooses to make them laugh every day, and to keep life in their home happy, so he is always right there with a crazy comeback…and life is filled with laughter. Susan tells me that she could go on for hours about her wonderful man…do you think she likes him a little bit? I do. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you too!!