When we first met my brother-in-law, Mike Reed, I don’t think he was really ready for our family. That phase lasted for just about five minutes…and then Mike was showing off his great sense of humor. He loves to pick on his sisters-in-law, and nobody is safe. Mike is quick witted and funny. Half the time, you have no idea what to expect from Mike, but then maybe his teasing is in self defense. I think my sister, Caryl really enjoys that about Mike. A home that has laughter is definitely a happy home…and they are so happy.
With the purchase of a place in Casper, on Poison Spider Rd, we are looking forward to the day when they will finally live closer to us. Mike and Caryl have been spending a lot of their weekends at their new place, tearing down old buildings, and putting up fencing. It just looks better and better every time they come down. Mike is very talented at most carpentry work, as well as lots of other household repair jobs, so he doesn’t need to hire the work done for very many things. He has become one of our go to people for things around my mom’s house too. It can be a real asset to have people in the family that can take care of the things that need done around a house, because it saves you so much money…and Mike often works for food, hahaha!! I think that is how we get back at him for all the teasing he does to us. Just kidding Mike!!
Mike is a very loving family man…devoted in every way. He has made the transition into a blended family better than most stepfathers would have. That is because he really cares about the kids, and now, grandkids that he and Caryl have been blessed with. Now with the addition of the new place and the future addition of horses, I know the kids and grandkids will all love to come to their place. That might just apply to a whole lot of the nieces and nephews too.
Caryl and Mike love to go 4 wheeling and camping, and can sometimes be found doing just that with our sister Allyn, and her husband, Chris Hadlock and their family, and our sister, Alena and her husband Mike Stevens. They enjoy sitting around the fire and just enjoying the evening. Caryl and Mike also love to entertain, and have barbeques and get togethers at their place and at their cabin at Seminole Lake. So, we have all had the chance to enjoy their places. Thanks Mike and Caryl!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Few relationships are like that of two little sisters. They love each other from the moment the youngest arrives…well most of the time. That first year of the younger sister’s life, will determine if she is a pain in the neck, or cool enough to take what her big sister can dish out. It will also determine just how much she is willing to put up with, before she takes matters into her own hands. It is a learning process for both sisters. Most generally, sisters will end up being friends for life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few bumps in the road. My own sisters and I are good friends, but that doesn’t mean that the years we spent sharing our childhood home were smooth as silk, because they weren’t. We are five different people with five different personalities, and that is bound to cause clashes every now and then.
The same is the case for my sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Brenda. Jennifer had been the baby of the family for two years when Brenda came along. With three older siblings bossing her around with all their no no’s, Jennifer was very excited to have a younger sister, who wouldn’t be the boss of her. Maybe they could even be best friends. And, things were going along well…most of the time. Jennifer loved her little sister very much. It was almost like having a real life doll when she was a baby, and then later, she had a friend who liked to play the same games she did. It was much better than having a little brother, in her mind, because boys just want to play dumb cars, and not dolls. Jennifer hugged Brenda often, and life was good.
Nevertheless, Brenda was her own person too, and she didn’t always want to do things Jennifer’s way. They have two very different personalities, and what one finds funny the other might not. And, as with most little girls, they can both get annoyed when their friend starts feeling too much like a frenemy. No one likes being laughed at, even if that isn’t really what was happening. Sometimes it might have been just a matter of something striking Brenda funny, and Jennifer didn’t agree. That was all it took. Jennifer was…less than amused with this little sister…who she loved very much. That didn’t excuse Brenda’s laughter about something that Jennifer didn’t think was funny. With that one little giggle came a totally new situation. They were now definitely frenemies, and Jennifer was sure that things would never be the same again. Thankfully, the whole situation was a fleeting moment in their childhood years, and they would go on to be friends again…until the next little clash, that is.
Those firsts in the world of aunts and uncles are among the coolest of times in a person’s life…often the closest thing to having your own kids. Quite often the first time you become an aunt or uncle, you are still pretty young, unless you are the oldest child. For my two younger sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law, they were 14, 12, and 7 years old. Becoming aunts and uncle was a very exciting time for them. My sisters and I became aunts 4 years earlier when my sister Cheryl had her daughter, Chantel. For Bob’s family, with the exception of Debbie, Corrie was the child who made them aunts and uncle, and they were quite excited about it. I could relate, for sure!
Jennifer would become our first babysitter, and would also have the most difficult time of it when she found out that Amy could be very hard to feed, since Amy and bottles…well, let’s just say they would never be friends. Brenda got to babysit when they were about 3 and 4, so she didn’t have to deal with Amy’s bottle boycott, and probably had a lot more fun with it, because she could play with them more. Ron…on the other hand, never really babysat the girls much; he was simply their playmate, which might have been the best deal of all. One thing I know for sure, Ron was always happy when he got to hold the babies by himself. I guess it made him feel grown up. Growing up around your aunts and uncles to a large degree was such a blessing for the girls. There was always someone to do things with, and later on, the tables turned, and they became the babysitters, so it paid off to a degree that their aunts and uncle took care of them.
Becoming aunts and uncle, changed the lives of my sisters-in-law and brother-in-law forever, as it does for all of us. Helping out with the raising of those precious little ones that you have been blessed with, is an amazing opportunity, and a big responsibility. Those kids look up to you, and it is important to give them a good role model. I am glad that the aunts and uncles my girls had…on both sides of the family were great role models, and I love each and every one of them very much.
Today marks the first time in my life that I don’t have a dad to celebrate Father’s Day with. After my dad passed away in 2007, I still had my father-in-law that we celebrated Father’s Day with. Nevertheless, it was very lonely, because I missed my dad. And yet, I was blessed in that I still had my father-in-law. Now, those days are over, and I feel very sad again. And when I think of how my sisters-in-law and brother-in law and my husband must be feeling, my heart aches for them, because this is their dad and they have never had to deal with those feelings before…the emptiness that only comes from the loss of a parent. I feel sad for my sisters too, because we know that the death of your parent is not something you ever get over. You simply have to go on with life…because time marches on.
Still, today is Father’s Day, and in our hearts we will all celebrate the men who were our dads. The fact that they live in Heaven now, in no way diminishes the blessing they were to us in their lifetimes. We were so very blessed to have them in our lives for those years that we had them. We were very blessed that they each lived to be over 83 years old…long lives each one. We were very blessed that each of them had sound minds right to the end. They gave us their wisdom through the last conversations we had with them. So many of the elderly have had their minds and memories stolen from them by dementia, so this was a blessing beyond measure for us, and one I wish everyone could have.
My dad and my father-in-law were both hard working men. Their families came first in all things. They would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it, because they both walked in love. We were so blessed to have witnessed the kindness they showed to those around them. It sometimes amazes me just how very much alike they were in so many ways. How I came to be so blessed in that way…overwhelms me. I was blessed beyond measure by the two dads God placed in my life, and my heart acutely feels the pain of their passing to this day. I know that it will feel that way until I see them both again in Heaven…a day I look forward to with much anticipation. Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to my two dads. I love and miss you both very much.
Through the 38 years of my marriage to Bob, I can’t begin to count the number of knitted, crocheted, and sewn gifts our family has been blessed with. My mother-in-law had such talent and creativity. I had a heavy sweater with my favorite activity at the time, bowling on it. My kids had everything from Strawberry Shortcake to skating to unicorns on theirs. And of course, each time they outgrew one, they got a new one. Bob had one with a sports car on it. These sweaters are warm enough to be a coat. In fact, I didn’t buy a coat for any of us for years. She made afghans, dish cloths, pot holders, and so much more. We were so blessed to have all the things she made.
For many years, my sisters-in-law, Debbie and Brenda, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, put their crafts in the multiple craft fairs around town and did quite well on sales with them. Everyone of them made things that were different from the others. And we have all benefited from all of them. It is always such a blessing when you don’t have to buy the things you need, because someone loves you enough to just give you the things you need.
My mother-in-law has been doing these things for most of her married life of 63 years, and in reality, still does them…but now it is in her memory. If you ask her what she did today, she will tell you that she made a few dish cloths. You might as well not argue with her, because in reality she did. She may not have used a crochet hook and yarn, but she did crochet the dish cloths. She uses the end of her shirt, and the oxygen tubing that she is holding. You might have to look closely, but if you do, you can see that she is wrapping the yarn around an imaginary hook, and she is very careful not to lose a stitch. If you ask her to do something with her hands, she really can’t, because letting go of her crocheting would result in lost stitches. The only solution is t o remove the crocheting from her hands, while reassuring her that you will make sure you don’t lose any stitches, and then she will do what you are asking…at least until her crocheting miraculously comes back into her hands again.
Over the last 7 years, my family and Bob’s family have both been taking care our parents in one way or another. Sometimes the need is greater in one family and sometimes it is greater in the other. Taking care of other people is simply not a job that can be done by one person. As my sister, Alena says, “It takes a village.” During this 7 year journey we have taken, we have come to understand that some people are able to give more time, because of bosses that allow much flexibility, or jobs aren’t 9 to 5, or year round. Others cannot give as much time, and some don’t live here. Some can’t handle this type of work emotionally, and some can. Still, all of our adult family members have helped out in some way…as have some of the children.
There are many unsung heroes here, including my boss, Jim who allows me to have the time off to take my in-laws and my mom to the doctors appointments, and to do other important things that their needs require. Without Jim, none of this would have been possible…truly!! Other family members come to mind, when I think of those who have selflessly given of themselves…often setting aside their own interests to help another person who can’t do this alone. My sister, Cheryl, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my daughters, Corrie and Amy, and my husband, Bob have all been there steadily through these 7 years, and Bob’s Aunt Margee, who comes to sit with her sister, my mother-in-law whenever we need her. I have to wonder how we managed before Margee retired. And of course, Bob’s niece, Machelle, who comes down from Powell to cut my in-laws’ hair, perm my mother-in-laws hair, and do much maintenance work around the house, and Bob’s cousin’s daughter, Stasi, who loves to come to visit and help my in-laws around the house. What a special girl she is. Our other sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and their families have done as much as they were able, and their help has also been invaluable through these past 7 years. Truly, I could go on forever, but there isn’t room, so I hope you all know how much you mean to me and how much your help as meant to all of us.
There are also 4 people who were tremendous help especially during the years we were taking care of my dad, and to this day, as much as they are able. My grandchildren, Chris, Shai, Caalab, and Josh started caregiving at the tender ages of 10, 10, 9, and 8. That kind of help is almost unheard of at that age. Chris and Shai work now, and are not able to help as much as they did, but they still help whenever they can, and enjoy spending time with their grandparents just to visit as well. Caalab and Josh don’t work yet, so they are more able to come along now, and Josh has especially shined in the most recent care of his great grandmother, my mother-in-law, since they seem to have a connection. She responds so well to him, and they love each other very much. He pretty much won’t let his brother, Chris do very much for her, because he really wants to do it.
It really does take a village to care for an aging parent or other loved one who is ill, and until you have been a caregiver, you just can’t understand how much work it is. There is no “unimportant person” and even the smallest contribution is a major help. Yes, it takes a village to care for another person who cannot care for themselves, and when it comes to villages, I have to say that I have been a part of 2 of the best villages ever put together to get 2 families through some of the worst health crisis situations you can imagine. Villages just don’t get better than these. Thank you ALL!!!
When our children are little, we don’t know who they will grow up to be. We hope they will be responsible people, who will be there for those who need them. We hope they will be the kind of people who will leave this world a better place than they found it, but when they are just little, you don’t know. You try your best to raise them in the way that will make them successful and responsible, as well as capable of handling whatever comes their way. As every parent knows, children do not come with instruction manuals, which leaves their parents on uncharted waters. So you do your best and pray that your meager ability is enough. My prayers were answered in abundance. My children and grandchildren are the best. I am truly blessed.
Of course, the child has something to do with who they turn out to be as well, perhaps even more than we do in the end, and that is when they can become truly amazing. My girls amaze me every day. They have grown into compassionate, caring people, who help others in a selfless manner. I could not get the things done that I need to do, if they were not there for me, and willing to help me with the many important things involved in caring for elderly parents. Many things would not get done, or would be done poorly, without them.
I think that the way a child handles caring for their grandparents is a good indicator of how their own parents can expect to be cared for when their time comes. If that is true, I know that my daughters and my grandchildren, who have also all pitched in to help with their great grandparents, will be loving and compassionate to me and my husband. I just hope that I can stay healthy and active enough to make it a very long wait for that needed care. Nevertheless, I know they will be there.
As I write this, my children, grandchildren, sister and sisters-in-law, have taken over the load, so that Bob and I can get away for a 4 day weekend in Denver. I am so blessed. My family is the greatest in the world, and I want them to know that I love them more than words can say.