twins

Approximately 3,000 twins were pulled from the masses on the ramp at Auschwitz, most of them were children; only around 160 of them survived. As the trains rolled into Auschwitz, the guards were trained to watch closely. They were looking for strong workers, the elderly, and the weak, and they were looking for twins…especially identical twins. The parents of these twins were thankful that they had twins…at first. They seemed to know that their twins would not be sent to the gas chambers, but they did not know that they would be taken away from them forever, and that they would be sentenced to a life of torture in the hands of a madman. The Nazis didn’t care about the feelings of the parents whose twins were yanked from their arms. They knew that Dr Josef Mengele wanted these twins for his medical experiments. Mengele wanted to find a way to cause more twin births to increase the Nazi world population. He also wanted to find a way to manipulate the traits twins had so that if they were blonde haired, a trait that supposedly meant that they were half Aryan. That said, he wanted to bring any problematic areas into line, such as the lack of blue eyes. He would inject chemicals into their eyes to try to turn their eyes blue. And that was just part of his insanely sadistic experimentation.

Ten-year-old Eva (Mozes) Kor and her twin sister, Miriam (Mozes) Zeiger, were one of these surviving sets of twins. The twins were born on January 31, 1934 into a Jewish farming family in the village of Portz in northern Transylvania, which was a part of Romania at the time, but later became a part of Hungary, which came under German military occupation in late World War II. Their family was deported to Auschwitz in late 1944, a fact which probably was to their advantage, because they were at Auschwitz for a shorted time that some survivors. The twins father, Alexander; their mother, Jaffa; and sisters, Edit and Aliz; all died at Auschwitz.

Eva and Miriam spent nine months in the clutches of Dr Mengele, during which time he would inject them with mystery cocktails of germs, viruses, and chemicals…just to see how they would react. Following one such injection, Miriam’s kidneys stopped growing. They remained the size of a child’s for the rest of her life. Eva recalls that after one injection, she became very ill, with a high fever. During her illness, she kept telling herself that she must survive, or else Miriam would become “surplus to requirements,” meaning that she would be given a lethal injection of something so that dual autopsies could be performed on them. Mengele wanted to see any differences the twins might have. The girls were determined that they would survive for each other.

Dr Mengele who has killed about 1,500 pairs of twins in two years, was known to perform horrible surgeries on twins, without anesthesia. One day the girls saw a set of twins brought into the barracks after surgery. The twins had been connected at their backs. Their organs had been interconnected. They were in horrible pain, and they died a short time later. While the “Mengele Twins” were given “special privileges” in some ways, better clothes and food, they were not spared the horrors of death. They saw it all around them, and they had no one to comfort them after they witnessed these horrors.

Then it happened…on January 27, 1945, while Eva and Miriam are lying in their bunks, the girls heard shouts of “We’re free! We’re free!” They ran to the door of the barracks, but couldn’t see anything for a few minutes because of the snow. Then they saw the Soviet soldiers in white camouflage. It was a wonderful day for them. The girls immigrated to Israel and lived in a Kibbutz that had been set up for children orphaned by the Holocaust. The grew up and both married, but only Eva had children. Miriam passed away on June 6, 1993. Eva went on to forgive the Nazis for the atrocities against the Jews. She not only forgave them, but she took young people on annual tours of the Auschwitz complex, because she didn’t want people to forget what happened there. She actually passed away while on one of those tours on July 4, 2019. These were amazing women. Would that we could all forgive in such a manner.

My aunt, Jeanette Byer is a sweet, loving person, who is also very strong and independent. She and my uncle, Larry Byer married on February 11, 1956, just 2½ months before I was born, so she has been my aunt for my entire life. She has always been a blessing in our lives. She never says an unkind word, and she is always very encouraging to everyone around her. Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry raised two children, Larry Byer and Tina Grosvenor. Then their lives were blessed with grandchildren…(Twins) Melissa and Melinda Grosvenor, Adam Byer, Matthew Grosvenor, Travis Byer, and Melodie Grosvenor. Their lives were further blessed with several great grandchildren. Uncle Larry passed away on December 22, 2011, after 55 years of marriage. Aunt Jeanette carries on in good health and enjoys her ever growing family, but always missing Uncle Larry.

Years ago, Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanette set up a mobile home on their land east of Casper, and inside it she had a family ceramic shop. She didn’t sell ceramics or anything, but it was a place where that family could go and make ceramics for gifts, to sell, or just for themselves. My grandparents, George and Harriet Byer were some of the main visitors at the little ceramic shop, and the things they made were beautiful. They blessed many people in the family with the ceramics they were able to make at Aunt Jeanette’s shop. I can picture it now. The good times they all head there…working on ceramics, while talking and laughing…just enjoying each other’s company. I’m sure Aunt Jeanette misses that a lot. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

11052499_10205901003542891_3385690118780094748_nBeing one of a set of twins, my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens always had a little bit of help in the trouble department. Now, I don’t say that Mike or his twin brother, Pat were delinquents or anything, but they were pretty good at pulling pranks…especially as teenagers. I’m told there was a time when they decided to take a fire extinguisher from the hosital. I’m not sure how they managed to get out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher, but somehow they did…I mean who just lets a couple of teenaged boys walk out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher? Seriously!! You know they are up to no good, and…they were planning nothing but trouble for sure. So, after sneaking out of the hospital with the fire extinguisher, the two boys jumped in their car, and drove around town, squirting people with the fire extinguisher!! I don’t know about you, but I can say that it would be quite a shock to be walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly out of nowhere, I am hit with the spray of a fire extinguisher. It’s like having a pie thrown in your face. Total 10999978_10205901001742846_7702417278737030242_nshock!! And then to have two teenaged boys drive off laughing…well I’m sure the police were running all over town trying to find them…to no avail.

Mike, and his brother, Pat, for that matter, are a couple of characters, and I’m quite sure that their mother had her hands full trying to keep them in line. Mike is the kind of guy who likes to have fun and he loves to play jokes on people. Nevertheless, I suppose there is always the possibility of having a joke backfire. One day, he came into the house with a nail in his foot, and it was gushing blood. He told my sister, Alena that she had to pull it out. She was totally freaking out about this whole thing, but she did pull it out. Then, she decided that this whole thing wasn’t funny at all. You see, it was April Fools Day, and the “nail” was only attached to his sock. The sock was full of Ketchup, and that was the crowning touch on this great prank. Now, I can’t say if Mike Alena & Mikewalked away with a black eye on that one, but I’m sure that she told him how she felt about the whole thing…in the midst of her laughter, that is. Yes, Alena thought it was not a nice prank to pull on her, but it was, nevertheless…a really good prank.

I think life in the Stevens household is probably a bit unpredictible, because in addition to Mike and Alena, there were three children, Michelle, Garrett, and Lacey, who were all groomed by their dad to be pretty good in the trouble department too, thanks to their dad…not that Alena didn’t help with that too. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Aunt BonnieAunt EvelynIn most families, the siblings tend to look at least a little bit alike, but sometimes, two or more of the siblings really look alike, and they aren’t even twins. It isn’t that they look exactly alike all the time, but sometimes you see a picture of them or the have a certain look on their face, that reminds you so much of one of their siblings that you are sure it could be the sibling and not the person. That is the case with my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels, my Aunt Evelyn Hushman, and my mom, Collene Spencer. Of course, every time I saw a look on the face of one of them that so closely resembled the others, I didn’t manage to get the picture. Nevertheless, I think that if you look closely, you can tell that these three sisters looked a lot alike.

I have noticed a resemblance to these three and their mother, my grandma, Hattie Byer too. I think they took after her, much more than they did, their dad, my grandpa, George Byer…other than in the area of height. Grandma was very short, only five foot, in her tall days, while Grandpa was over six feet tall. The girls fell in around five foot six or so. Some of the kids did look more like Grandpa, but these three girls more like their mom. I always loved to see them all three together, because then you could really get to see the looks they would get that were the same, or hear their laughter, which was quite similar too. It was just a fun thing to see, and something I miss very much now.Grandma and Grandpa ByerDad & Mom 25th Anniversary a

With Aunt Evelyn and my mom living in Heaven now, Aunt Bonnie is the last of the sister look alikes. The bad thing about that is how much we miss the other two, but the good things is that when you see Aunt Bonnie, there is a good possibility that you will see a look, a smile, or hear a laugh that sounds just like Aunt Evelyn and Mom. It makes them feel a little closer. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Mindy GrosvenorA couple of years ago, I friended Mindy and Missy Grosvenor on Facebook. They are my  first cousins once removed, but I didn’t know them very well, because I didn’t see them very often. Over the past couple of years, however, the relationship I have with the twins has completely changed. I have been treated to their special kind of humor and their wonderful personalities. The girls love kids, and they work in their mom’s daycare, babysitting, among others, their nieces and nephew…the children of their sister, Melodie and her husband, Brian. These girls have such a sweetness about them, that I can imagine that they are wonderful with the children. The girls are very kindhearted, and they have a great sense of humor. While they are a little shy, they get over that once they get to know you…and since I’m shy too, I can fully relate to shyness. Nevertheless, I doubt that they are shy around the children.

When they aren’t taking care of children, Mindy and Missy like to spend time at the mall, shopping and people watching, which is a pastime many of us like. You can get great fashion ideas, as well as seeing bad fashion things to laugh about, at the mall, and then find the very store to buy what you saw. Of course, there are very few places where you can go and have your face painted, but Mindy and Missy are young at heart, so they found a place recently, and had beautiful butterflies painted on their cheek. I like butterflies too, so I especially like that. The girls like to go to the movies too, and my mom; sister, Cheryl; niece, Jessi; and I recently ran into them when we were all going to see “The Christmas Candle” at Studio City. We all Missy Grovenorenjoyed the movie very much, and it was very nice to see the girls.

Missy and Mindy are the first of several sets of twins in our family, and so were a novelty for a while. It would be a number of years before another set of twins arrived. I always thought twins was such a cool thing…like twice as nice, I guess. I often thought it would have been cool to have a set of my own, but that was not to be, so I’m glad that I have been able to get to know these girls. That way I can share in the whole twin thing…a little bit anyway. Today is Mindy and Missy’s birthday. Happy birthday girls!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Lacey StevensWhen a family has sisters in it, there is always the possibility of fights going on, and even more the possibility of arguments. It is no different with my nieces, Michelle and Lacey. Most of the time they get along very well, and they always love each other…that is just a given. I suppose it could have been different when they were little. They might have had the sibling rivalry, the kid sister, or just the you touched my stuff fights, but those things didn’t completely dominate their young life.

As little girls, I didn’t think there was a huge resemblance between the girls, but as they get older, I find myself thinking that maybe I was wrong. Recently, Lacey posted the above picture on her Facebook page, and I had to do a double take. She looked so much like a picture of Michelle that I remembered seeing, that I couldn’t believe it. Sisters can resemble each other sometimes, but rarely do they look like they could be twins, unless they are twins. The girls dad, is a twin, of the fraternal type, and I think these girls look more alike that their dad and his twin brother. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t noticed it before. Well, I had to point that out on the picture that Lacey had posted, because I knew that they were very close, and they would like that.

Lacey did like the comment, but little did I know that my comment would start a sparring match between the girls. While Lacey liked my comment, Michelle posted, “Haha, she wishes!” Then, Lacey came back with, “I got the good genes…Michelle is just jealous!” Michelle followed with, “Good genes? More like identical genes.” Now on that comment, I think Michelle Michelle Stevenshit it right on the button. That seems to be exactly what my sister, Alena and her husband, Mike managed to do…create identical twins 5 years apart.

The girls and their brother Garrett always have a lot of fun when they are together. They share a great sense of humor, and a love of laughter. They don’t mind clowning around to make people laugh either. Lacey can be the quiet one of the bunch, but when she gets to know the people around her, she can clown around with the best of them. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Happy birthday Lacey!! Have a great day, and don’t fight with your sister so much ok, hahaha!! We love you!!

Twins...NotEvery year, in the tradition my grandparents started, the Byer family gathers to celebrate the Christmas season together, and to keep my grandparents’ dream alive. It was their desire that their children wouldn’t drift apart after they were gone. The family has done their very best to honor their wish, and the Byer Family Christmas Party is a big part of honoring that wish. Over the years, we have all worked together or split the hosting into families, but the party has always been held. Santa Clause has shown up to talk to the kids, bags of treats for the little ones were always given out, and the food…the best in the world. But, the most important part of these wonderful gatherings is the family. Re-connecting with all of them and hearing all about what is going on in their lives…that’s what it’s all about…that’s the dream that our grandparents had for us. The connection to family.

This year I had a chance to hear about how well Autumn Beadle is doing in school, and her plans to graduate at semester in her senior year, and then it’s on to Nursing School for her. I got to see how much she cares for her grandma, my Aunt Virginia. I got to touch base with Aunt Dixie, Uncle Jim, and their family. We used to see them at the mall a lot, but in recent years that hasn’t worked out so well. I ran into Michael and Deena McDaniels on Black Friday, and we laughed about our shopping trials tonight. I had seen Missy and Mindy Grosvenor at Partiersthe movies on Thursday, and we had a chance tonight to discuss how much we liked “A Christmas Candle” tonight, as well as how much they like taking care of their niece, Piper and sometimes her brother and sister, Parker and Payton. Cousins, Clyde and Susie Young spend much of their winter months in Arizona these days, but they were able to get home for the holidays and the party.

Anthony McDaniels showed up in a suit, adding a special touch of class to our party, while Shai Royce and Christina Masterson dressed up as twins, even though they are not. Aunt Bonnie’s little grandson, Noah spent the latter part of the evening trying to give her a bunny tail. Aunt Sandy has been a mainstay for information for some of the great stories I have been able to relay about the Byer Family, and has also spent several afternoons with my mom this year at the Senior Center, which my mom has cherished and fully enjoyed. The party has brought Elmer Johnson back into our lives after a time of not being able to be there, and since he and I have connected on Facebook too, we have grown to be even better friends than we were as kids. Aunt Jeanette is doing well, and always brings a smile to my face with her awesome laugh. Corrie and Kevin Petersen and their boys Christopher and Josh have been busily planning for Chris to start college in Sheridan next year and Josh to get his driver’s license. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Cottonball FightGeorge were not able to join us this year, but their granddaughter, Rachelle French took lots of pictures for them so they would not feel left out.

This year’s highlight, however, had to be the idea someone had to open up bags of cotton balls for the little kids to play with. It turned into a cotton ball/snow ball fight, and everyone had a wonderful time. Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia Spethman; Kya and Noah Hamilton; Logan and Lea Orr; Mateo Steiner and Dera Elvidge; Noah Williams; Parker, Payton, and Piper Dobson; Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson all had a wonderful time picking up, loading up on, and throwing those cotton balls. I don’t know who thought of it, but it was a great idea.

imageimageOne year ago today, we received a new little addition to the Schulenberg family. Little miss Reagan could have arrived on her mommy’s birthday, and in fact maybe she tried, but she wasn’t quite fast enough, and so they each have their own birthday…one day apart. I also, have to think that was probably the last time Reagan was too slow about anything. Babies have a way of growing up way, way too fast, and as they grow, they also get their teeth too fast, crawl too fast, and walk too fast. Before you know it, they are in school, driving, dating and married and having kids of their own. Whew!! It’s enough to make you get winded.

Reagan looks so much like her daddy, that it is like they are twins, but she got her silly personality from her daddy and her mommy. Reagan makes the funniest faces, and has from the time she was just teeny, but lately she has been making some new faces. Things like trying to wink, the “who me, I didn’t make this mess” look, and the “here mommy, you eat it, if it’s so good” look, are just a few of the looks I have noticed. I think that as time goes on, we will be treated to many more of the silly looks that our miss Reagan can make.

Reagan, like many other kids, likes to take the things that are stored in a box out of the box, so she can get in the box. She reminds me of my kids and my grandson, Chris. All of them loved playing in boxes…after the contents have been removed…I mean, who needs the toys or books Reagan - 11 months oldimagethat were in the box anyway. Reagan is getting to that age where getting into things is what she is all about. And her funny faces still play a part in all that…like, “I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about!! I wasn’t getting into anything!!” She has a side to her that is very easy to see. I can tell that this little girl will be just as sweet as she can be…with a big helping of mischief on the side. Today is Reagan’s first birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have  an extra special day!! We love you!!

Marie BurgessWhen you have a family member in a nursing home, and you visit them often, the other residents of the nursing home soon become…almost like your family members too. You get to a place where you know their names, their personalities, and their funny little quirks. Of course, I’m not going to tell their names, even though I know them, but there are the two old ladies that didn’t know each other until they went to the nursing home and became roommates. Now everyone calls them the twins, because they are inseparable. They may not know where they are going, but they will be going there together…and together, they wander the hallways, always smiling and totally happy.

There is the little old lady who is often the first one to tell you hello when you walk in the door, and she doesn’t mind giving medical advice if you have a cough or some other simple ailment, because “she raised 7 children, so she knows what to do for a cough” and for just about any other ailment. She isn’t pushy though, she just wants to be helpful. There is the little old lady that walks down the halls and out of the blue, she just starts dancing a jig, and can even click her heals. While her mind doesn’t work as good as her body, she is perfectly happy and content in her surroundings. Of course, every nursing home has the sad ones and the grouchy ones, but many of them are happy and cheerful, and they always put a smile on my face.

The one that really surprised me the most though, was my mother-in-law’s roommate. She is a happy little lady and quite talkative when you get to know her. She will tell you that she was “born in Oklahoma 94 years ago, and that is the place where the tornadoes are…you know”. It wasn’t the things she said or the way she acted that surprised me, but rather…the way she looked. I mean, who would have guessed in a million years that my Grandma Hein as we knew hermother-in-law would end up sharing a room in a nursing home with a woman who looks so much like her mother-in-law. Yes, grandma was 10 years older than mom’s roommate, and Grandma never made it to 94, but I can easily imagine that she might have look just like her if Grandma had made it to 94. It makes me feel kind of good about mom’s roommate, because when she talks to her, it seems like she knows her, and maybe she thinks she is her mother-in-law. The other day she told her, “I was wondering if you were coming in.” It was just like something she might have said to her mother-in-law…like she thought her roommate was her mother-in-law, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did.

Glen, Tina and the twinsWhen Missy and Mindy were born, our family would have something that it hadn’t had in many years…identical twins. It was very exciting!! I remember how cute they were, and how fun it was that most of us couldn’t tell them apart. Of course, their parents always could, but that’s normal I guess. For me, the problem persists. I still can’t tell them apart to this day, but being able to tell them apart isn’t the most important thing in the world. Knowing these sweet girls far outranks telling them apart for me. Missy and Mindy’s great grandmother, my grandmother was very excited to have twins in her family. I remember her smile when she held those babies. It was a special gift, and one that any grandparent would be excited about.

These cute little girl look alikes captured our attention. We were all excited to have twins in the family, and while we now have 3 sets of twins in the family, these little girls would always be the first. It was like a whole new territory. Twins are such fun for anyone who is involved with them. The challenge of trying to tell them apart, and the antics twins almost always pull, by trading places at some point or another adds to the mystery that always surrounds twins. I don’t know if Missy and Mindy ever pulled those tricks on anyone, but if they didn’t, they certainly missed out on a good chance, because they could have. I almost think they didn’t pull those tricks, because they have always seemed like the most unlikely ones to do so. If they did, I guess that will be another story.

I didn’t really know Missy and Mindy very well, even though they are my cousins…until I Grandma Byer, Mindy and Missy Grosvenorconnected with them on Facebook. I love reading their posts, and having conversations with them on messaging. They are both such sweet spirits. It’s rare to find that in people these days. They truly care about their friends, and about people in general. They strive to do what is right, and they stand for what is good and moral. I occurs to me, that I have missed out on a lot of good things during the years that I didn’t know them well.

Today is Missy and Mindy’s birthday. Happy birthday girls!! I have so enjoyed getting to know you better, and I am very glad we had Facebook to help with that. I hope your day is the very best it can be. Love you both!!

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