sunshine

Time goes by so quickly, especially concerning the passing of a loved one. My mind just doesn’t want to wrap itself around the fact that it has been four years since my mom went to Heaven. I know that there are many people who have been without their parents much longer than I have, and they know exactly how I feel on this 4th anniversary of my mother’s graduation to Heaven.

As I write this, I can think of so many things I would have loved to tell my mom, who was one of my biggest fans when it came to my writing. She loved the history stories, especially when it pertained to the family history. This year has been such a wonderful year for new and interesting finds, and it seems like I want to call her almost every day to tell her something new. And there are so many days I want to ask her about something I’ve discovered. Sadly, when we are young, we don’t realize just how important those family stories will become when we are older.

Mom, was always the bringer of the sunshine to our house, singing to us when we woke up, when we were sad, or when we were happy. They were usually little one or two line songs, but they said it all. She told us little bits and pieces of life with her siblings, and all the singing they did, giving us a glimpse of all the laughter and fun that was our grandparents house when all the kids were there. Mom was the middle child in a family of nine children, and that probably gave her a unique view of things. She got to participate in the fun things the older siblings are doing, and she was still young enough to enjoy the things the younger siblings were doing. Being the middle child, born between the only two boys, put her in a unique position too. She got in on some of the antics the boys got into…much like the three musketeers. Mom always had a fun-loving attitude, and that made life with Mom lots of fun. Today marks my mom’s 4th anniversary in Heaven. While we know that she is having the time of her life, we miss her very much. We love you Mom.

My Aunt Delores Byer Johnson was always the kind of person who brought sunshine with her into a room. She loved to make people laugh, and she didn’t mind being a little bit silly if it would brighten everyone’s day. My mom, Collene Byer Spencer used to tell me about all of the inventive ideas her sister used to come up with.

Mom used to tell me that with Aunt Dee is the house, there was never a dull moment. Aunt Dee might have been teaching the kids how to dance, or playing the piano she bought for the family, or teaching the kids how to fly…using a coat and the wind of course. It didn’t matter what scheme Aunt Dee had in mind, everyone knew it was going to be a lot of fun, because Aunt Dee made it fun. She had a way of doing that.

Aunt Dee has been gone now for almost 21 years, I can still hear her laughter and see her smiling face, every time I think of her. She loved life, and she had such a zest for life. I suppose that is why I miss her so much. She loved spending time with her nieces and nephews, and never made us feel unimportant. When we were with her, we were important. Family was everything to her.

In many ways, I think Aunt Dee was a kid at heart, and that was what always made her so much fun to be around. I will always miss that, and I can’t wait to see her again in Heaven. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We all love you very much.

Spring Will ComeFor years now, part of our Mother’s Day gift to Mom was to clean up her yard, make necessary repairs, and plant flowers in anticipation of the coming Spring. Mom had decided that she really had everything she needed, and so asked that this be our gift to her, because these were things that she could no longer do. Mom and Dad had always loved their flower gardens, planning them out every year. They always had a beautiful yard, but with Dad in Heaven and Mom’s knees the way they were, she just couldn’t give them the care they needed anymore. And yet, her yard was very important to her, because it had been important to them. We were carrying on the tradition she and Dad had started, and she wanted to be out there with us, supervising and wishing she could get down there with us, because unlike me, she loved digging in the dirt to plant the flowers that would grace her yard. It is not my thing exactly, because while I love flowers, I don’t like digging in the dirt to plant them. Nevertheless, I understand why this was what she wanted, and that makes it important to me too.

Spring will come this year, as it always does, but my mom will miss spring and Mother’s Day this year. Her house will be my sister, Cheryl’s house now. It is my hope that the tradition of planting the flower garden in the planter that Dad prepared will continue in some way. I don’t know if it will be the sisters or Cheryl’s children, but I hope we at least plant the front gardens for Mom, Dad, and Cheryl, because like it or not, Spring will come this year, as it always does, the sun will shine and the flowers will bloom, and while Mom will spend this one with Dad in Heaven, enjoying God’s amazing gardens, she would not want their gardens to miss out on God’s glorious Spring gardening season.

It is so odd to think about taking the reigns on things like this, but as my cousin Elmer Johnson said, “Just remember they taught and trained us for this day, now it’s time for you guys to take your place at the head of the table.” They did train us well. They taught us things like never go to bed angry, keep on the sunny side, and that family is so very important. They taught us to help each other and stick together, no matter what the situations of life might bring. They Dad's Plantertaught us that love never fails. No matter what people do or say to you, react to it in love, because you don’t know what they have been going through. You might be the only bright spot in their day, but only if you walk in love. Yes, when I think about all of the life lessons they taught us, I can see that they did train us very well, and while we will never get over their home going, because we miss them so very much, we will get on with life, because that is what they would want for us. We will take our place at the head of the table. We will carry on with traditions designed to keep the family close. We will honor their wishes, hopes, and dreams for us, by always sticking together, and always putting God first in our lives. Spring will come, and with it, the flowers, the sunshine, and reasons to smile again.

My parents on their wedding dayCCI06282012_00015_editedbFrom the moment he first met her, my dad always called my mom, Doll. It was a term of endearment reserved for Dad alone to use. To us, of course, she was mom, or mommy when we were little, but to everyone who really knew her, she was the keeper of the sunshine. Mom was a person who was always happy. Even when times were tough, she managed to lift our spirits by always telling us to, “keep on the sunny side” whenever we left her house. It was the way we went to school, and later to work. Those were the words we heard after we had lunch or dinner at her house. She wanted our world to always have a bit of sunshine in it…even on a cloudy day.

Mom was a dedicated servant of God…spreading His word to all who would listen…and some who didn’t want to. She wanted everyone, but especially those she loved, her parents, siblings, husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as all her extended family to be in Heaven when they left this world. She loved the Lord so much and looked forward to the day when she would be able to look upon His face, and thank Him for saving her. She loved going to church and singing praises to God, and hearing His word. She bought many teaching tapes and books, because she wanted to know all she could about this wonderful Saviour who loved her…no matter what!!

Mom loved a celebration. Being born on New Year’s Day, her birthday was always a celebration…Dad always made certain of that. He love a celebration too. Mom loved the Fourth of July fireworks, and the parade. Anyone who knows her…or ever sat next to her…will remember her whooping when a float or one of the fireworks particularly pleased her…and many of them did…many of them!! Looking back now on her whooping, it somehow doesn’t seem so embarrassing as it did in my younger days. I suppose all kids think the things their parents do are embarrassing sometimes. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Mom. She was filled with joy, and sometimes…no, most of the time…it just bubbled out. She couldn’t have stopped it even if she had wanted to. And that’s ok, because even if you were embarrassed about it, it always made you smile in spite of your dignified self.

Late Sunday night, February 22, 2015, my dear mother left this world to go and meet the Saviour she had so long dreamed of meeting. I know He greeted her with the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”, because she was definitely that. I also know that she was met with some other cherished words. I expect, like my niece Jenny said, that my dad was standing there at the gates, and he immediately said, “Hello Doll.” It has been just over seven long years since he left us, and Mom has missed him so much. The next sweet words she likely heard were, “Hi Grandma!!” spoken by her two little great granddaughters, Alyssa and Laila, “We’ve been waiting to get to know you!!” And of course, there were greeting from her parents, in-laws, siblings, and other family members who have gone ahead of her. Yes, Heaven gained a new little bit of sunshine last Sunday evening, and the Earth just doesn’t seem quite as bright as it was before, because our Keeper of the Sunshine has gone to her Heavenly home.

Mom went home on her terms. She went healthy. She had a great week, having lunch with her kids, and going to dinner on Thursday night with my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me, at her favorite place…Red Lobster. She went to church on Sunday morning and very much enjoyed being surrounded by her beloved family and church Mom'sFamilyMom afamily, all of whom she considered to be a great blessing. She set up a visit with her sisters, brother, and other family members to go spend the afternoon with her sister, Evelyn, who was in the hospital. She and Cheryl had a nice quiet evening, and then Mom was going to bed, but she decided to go to Heaven instead. Mom, we miss you so much already. Our lives will never be the same again…until we are together forever in Heaven. We love you so very much. We will see you again very soon.

imageAs I read through the posts of my various friends and family members on Facebook, I see mostly happy people who deal with occasional down days or irritated thoughts, but among those people, one person stands out as being always positive, always happy, and always uplifting. That person is my niece, Kellie Hadlock. You might say that anyone can post positive things, but still have negative thoughts and such, but I have known Kellie all of her life, and I have never met anyone as genuinely happy as she is. I believe she is truly filled with the joy of The Lord.

Kellie’s passion is music ministry, and she is amazing at it. She has a beautiful voice and her songs come from her heart. I think that to sing such beautiful songs about the love of our God, you have to have such a deep relationship with Him, that His joy simply flows out of you. That’s what happens with Kellie when she sings.

But, Kellie’s joy doesn’t stop there. Every aspect of her life is accompanied with a huge smile. Most people don’t smile for even a quarter of their lives, but I think Kellie probably smiles for 90% of hers…at least. There doesn’t seem to be anything that upsets her happy nature. Kellie puts the joy of The Lord first on her to do list every day, and her posts on Facebook show that. She never posts image Continue reading

Topher 3Topher 2My grand nephew, Topher, is going into his last year in the single digit age group. It’s a time of many changes. Topher has always loved cartoons and super heroes. One of his favorites has been Spiderman. As he gets older, the super hero phase will begin to pass…unless he is like his Great Uncle Bob, who still likes super heroes…some people never grow up. Topher likes to draw, and I think his work shows promise. If he keeps at it, he might be able to sell some of his art someday…but, he would not have received any of his talent from his Great Aunt Caryn, that’s for sure.

Topher is a goofy guy, who loves to smile. He is always making funny faces, because he likes to make people laugh. I love seeing all the pictures his mom posts of his smiling face. Topher is very good with younger kids, too. He makes them laugh, and plays well with them, even if they are a bit younger than he is. Lots of kids don’t like kids that are younger than they are. Topher is a good leader and role model for younger kids too, because he is respectful and kind. I think people like to have their kids around someone like that. Topher is also helpful when it comes to keeping an eye on those younger kids.

Topher has been such a blessing to his parents and grandparents. His goofy ways bring sunshine to their days, and smiles to their faces. I can’t imagine what life would have been like if Topher had not come into our lives. It is so hard to think about how fast he is growing up. Next year he will be into the double digits ages, and before very long, he will be driving, dating, grown up, and married. Where does the time go? We don’t get to see Topher very much, because he lives in Rawlins, so every time I do see him, I am stunned by how much he has grown. He has long since ceased being the baby I remember so well, and has turned into a big boy.

He loves video games and listening to his favorite tunes. I imagine that he will be getting into sports and other school activities before long, if he hasn’t already. Some kids start that stuff Topher 1Topher 4young, and others jump into it as they get older. Topher will be going into the 4th grade next year, so he is almost to the point of being one of the big kids on campus but, I doubt if Topher would take advantage of that. He is too busy making friends, and in general, being well liked. Today is Topher’s 9th birthday. You are growing into such an amazing young man. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Clothes on the line 1It’s funny how some of the most insignificant things can spark a memory of childhood that takes you back decades in an instant. As I was looking through some old pictures, from when I was about 4 months old, I noticed something at the edge of the picture. My sister, Cheryl and I were the main focus of the picture my mom was taking, but she also go a picture of the clothes hanging on the clothesline. Many home still have that clothesline in the back yard. For most of those homes, it is a forgotten relic of many years now in the past. Most people don’t bother hanging their clothes on the line to dry. We have a dryer sitting right next to the washer for that job. Of course, if we want to get that sunshine fresh scent to them, we have to as a chemically infused dryer sheet to the dryer, because otherwise they simply get dry…nothing more.

I remember, as a kid doing chores, that one of those chores was to hang the clothes on the line, and later to bring them in, fold them, and put them away. Of course, the clothes didn’t have that dryer induced softness, and so they might feel a bit scratchy at first, but that sunshine fresh scent was wonderful. It wasn’t the heavily perfumed scent that the dryer sheet produces, but rather the light scent of fresh air. I suppose that if you didn’t pay close attention, you could miss that scent, and therefore would think it was probably just my imagination, but I can say that I hung enough clothes on the clothesline to know what that scent smelled like, and I liked it, even if I didn’t really like the chore of hanging and folding those clothes.

These days, I dry my clothes in the dryer, because quite frankly, like most people I know, Clothes on the line 2I don’t have time to spend hanging those clothes, waiting for them to dry, hoping the wind doesn’t blow them away, and taking them back down, before folding them and putting them away. The modern conveniences of the day win out in this day and age. And in reality, I suppose, seeing the clothes on the line in these pictures didn’t make me want to go hang clothes on the line, but rather it reminded me of the days gone by. The simple days of childhood, when the hardest chore was something like cleaning my room or handing clothes on the clothesline. We were so free then. No real obligations…we didn’t even have a part time job. We were kids, we did kid things, and we were living a carefree kid kind of life.

A client was in my office yesterday with his little granddaughter. When he gave her a kiss, his whiskers rubbed on her cheek, causing her to make a face. When he told us why she had made the face, it took me back about four to five decades. Back to when I was a kid, and my dad used to play with my sisters and me by giving us whisker rubs. It was something Dad did when he was in a playful mood. He would come home from work, and we would gather around to greet him. Dad always loved to tease, and see if he could put a smile on our faces after his long day at work.

Dad’s 5 o’clock shadow would always scratch us when he would kiss us hello, and I suppose that was how it got started. Just like my clients little granddaughter, making a face at the scratchiness of her grandpa’s face, we probably made the same face. My guess would be that he thought our little face was so funny that he did it again to see that funny little face that looks a bit like a kid who just ate lemons. After a while, it became kind of like the “tickle torture” we had used on our sister, Caryl…a “weapon” used without warning to get a rise out of us.

I suppose people might wonder why such an act would be continued after the first time. Well, the answer would lie in the fact that after Dad would finish giving us the whisker rub, we would invariably say, “Do that again, Daddy!!” It was always a fun little goofy thing we had with Dad, and as we grew older, and had children of our own, they too, were introduced to the whisker rub. No one was exempt, nor did they want to be, because to be exempt, would have been to be left out of the fun.

My dad was a great dad and a great kidder. He brought fun and laughter to our home, and made each of his girls feel like princesses. We were so blessed. Family was the most important thing to him. He had so much love to give, and such a good heart. He was always doing fun little things to bring a smile to our faces and sunshine to the day. I miss those days…especially when I see a dad or grandpa playing with their little one or even accidentally doing something similar to the playful things my dad did…like the whisker rub!!!

I grew up in an age when people spanked their kids. In fact, I can’t think of one friend who never had a spanking. And my mother could discipline with the best of them. I just don’t think she liked it much. Oh, she could get in there and scream as well as anyone, and she wasn’t a push-over by any stretch of the imagination. But, in reality, I don’t think that she really liked all the screaming and arguing that went on in a house full of girls. You see, my dad was the only man, or boy in the house for all of our young years. Counting mom, it was 6 to 1.

Raising 5 girls with all of the emotions that can go on with 5 drama queens, I can’t help but wonder how she managed to keep her sanity. Part of her way was to tell us, “Just wait until your dad gets home!!” And it was a threat that would bring fear to our hearts, although I don’t exactly know why. My dad had a way of working out a situation without the need for a spanking, much of the time. Mom’s big threat was all the trouble we were going to be in when dad got home, and believe me, if you deserved it, you got it…big time, but if it could be worked out without a spanking, dad could do it. He really didn’t spank us much, we just knew that if he did…boy were we going to wish he hadn’t had to.

Mom’s way, on the other hand…whenever possible anyway, was to spread the sunshine and smiles. I remember that even if we had all been screaming and fighting, when all was said and done, Mom would sing some song like, “Let a smile be your umbrella, on a rainy, rainy day.” Or she might sing, “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life.” Anything to stop the fighting and hopefully put a little cheer back into the house. Mom always hated the fighting that could go on in a house full of girls with very different points of view…and believe me, we could go at it. So much so that sometimes Mom would just decide that if fighting was what we wanted to do, we were going to do it!! Have you ever tried to fight on demand? It has a way of making you feel really ridiculous. At some point, you give up and end up laughing about the whole thing. I guess she was a pretty wise woman.

Mom always wanted her kids to be happy. She wanted our lives to be…just a little bit like living in Perfect. And while she knew that there was no real place like Perfect, she knew that her words and songs could add a little sunshine to our lives, so that has always been her goal. To this day, whenever we seem down in the dumps, or life is filled with stress, we can count on Mom to tell us, “Keep on the sunny side!!” That is just how she is. it’s who she is…the Keeper of the Sunshine!!

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