My husband’s aunt, Margaret “Margee” Kountz is the youngest and only surviving aunts on his mom’s side of the family. Margee has two kids, Dan and Sandy, and five grandchildren (one…Brian Kountz lives in Heaven now), as well as five great grandchildren. Margee has always been a very hands-on grandmother, helping her kids with the care and transport of her grandchildren many times over the years. These days, with so many parents working, grandparents have taken on the role of “keeper of the village” that it takes to raise a child.
Of course, Margee worked all those years too, but she still managed her time in such a way that she could be there when she was needed to help out with her grandchildren. As a hands-on grandma myself, I can relate to just what a treasure those precious grandchildren are. I just wish, like I’m sure Margee does, that those years hadn’t gone by so fast. These days, all of her grandchildren are grown up, and several have children of their own.
Margee is retired now and doing well. She has begun to explore new things, like Facebook…something she probably never would have done had it not been for her granddaughter, Staci, who kept showing her things that she thought would interest her, and finally got her hooked. I was surprised. I didn’t think she would ever get on the computer, much less, Facebook. She doesn’t always talk much on there, but I know she likes to look around. It is interesting, I must admit.
These days, Margee likes being at home and enjoying her free time. She also loves having the great grandchildren come over for visits. They say that we should have the grandchildren first, and maybe they are right, but the great grandchildren are pretty special too. Today is Margee’s 73rd birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen is studying to be a nurse. It was not her life’s dream, but rather a change that came about after spending years as a caregiver for both sets of her grandparents, Allen and Collene Spencer, and Walt and Joann Schulenberg. Corrie was a faithful team member and loving caregiver to them all. She was meticulous, loving, kind, and cheerful. Whether she knew it then or not, Corrie possessed all the traits of a successful CNA or nurse, except for the medical training that is. I sometimes wonder if she had any inkling of what the future would bring. She knew she was good at caregiving, but did that doesn’t necessarily transfer to nursing. It doesn’t matter really, because God knew.
From the time Corrie was 15, she worked in one office or another…just 3 really, and she was very good at what she did. She married Kevin Petersen just a month and a half after her high school graduation. At that time, she wasn’t interested in college, but rather was looking forward to starting a family. She was content and her family was her whole world. Life went on and her boys, Chris and Josh grew, but when they were 10 and 8, my her grandpa became ill, and that started 13 years of caregiving, first for one grandparent and then for another. Our family “caregiving team” needed lots of help, because it really does take a village to take care of a person, and the hardest thing is to have a village of one or two. Corrie, her sister, Amy Royce, and their kids, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen all became a part of that village, and we couldn’t have done what we did without each and every one of them.
When our village was no longer necessary, an event we wished had never come, Corrie began to feel like she needed a different career. God was leading her to make a career change. The time she had spent caring for her grandparents would change her forever. She prayed about it, and made the decision to follow God’s leading. She would have to trust Him to make a way, which He has in every way, and through every aspect of her training…because God knew it was right for her. Today is Corrie’s birthday!! Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Most people think of Prince Harry as a playboy, and to a degree I suppose they are right, but there is a side of him that most people never see. Prince Harry has a heart for the children who, sadly, have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in Lesotho. He has visited the small African nation several times since 2006 when he set up Sentebale with the help of his good friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, who is the younger brother of the king of the small African nation of Lesotho. I had the opportunity to watch a segment a while back about the prince and his charity, and I was very impressed with the love he had for those children…and the love they had for him. He was not aloof with them at all, which is what most of us would expect from royalty, or any politician. His interactions with these children was honest, open, and sincere, unlike so many who lightly shake the hand of their admirers, or politely kiss their babies. No, he showed a love and respect for them that was so obviously real, and in turn, they came out in droves to see the person they loved back. I was very moved by that segment, and I’m quite sure I’m not really doing my feelings justice, because it was so amazing.
Prince Harry walked through their villages, and gathered information on what they needed an how they were doing. He took the time to speak to the children…to find out what their interests were…and what they needed, worried about, and indeed, feared. These children had no parents, and those caring for them, while loving people, are often stretched to their limits in time to spend with each individual child, so to have a Prince from England come and take the time to spend with them…personally…well, it must have seemed surreal to them, and yet, here he was, and it wasn’t the first time. He named is charity Sentebale for a reason. Sentebale means “forget-me-not” in the language of the Lesotho people. It is the word they use when bidding farewell, so that they will remember those who have left their presence for a time. He wanted them to know that he was not going to forget about them. And he has not.
Prince Harry is my 19th cousin on my dad’s side of the family, so what he does interests me, whether it interests other people or not, but even those who aren’t particularly interested in the Royals, must admit, that Prince Harry’s work on this charity and the others he is also a part of with his brother and sister-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, make him more than many people thought him to be. And to top it off…he’s an uncle now, to little Prince George. Today is my cousin, Prince Harry’s birthday. Happy birthday Prince Harry!! I hope you have a wonderful day!!
My sister-in-law, Brenda has been a part of my life since she was 10 years old, and my sister-in-law since she was 11 years old. She has always been a sweet girl, who was kind and loving. Her loyalty to those she loves is unsurpassed. During the time that her parents have been ill, she has been someone we can count on to be there to help in any way she can. She is one of our village, and she is invaluable. She has dealt with some pretty tough things, and she knows how hard it is on a person.
Brenda is more than just a sister-in-law to me…she is a friend. She cares about me. Recently, when we had a birthday party for me, my daughter Corrie said that part of my gift was to go to lunch at Mongolian Grill. With the events lately concerning my in-laws, I was not really sure when we might be able to go to lunch. A little more than a week had passed, and I was too busy to think about the planned lunch date with my daughter. Brenda, however, didn’t forget. She was going to take a couple of days vacation, and she planned the daily lunchtime duties into her vacation days, in order to allow me time to go with Corrie. It was such an incredible thing to do…and one I will not forget!! Sometimes my days are very full with caregiver duties, and it makes me feel very loved when someone steps up and does something so nice for me. Brenda is the kind of person who looks for ways to help out and make life easier.
In some families, the longer you are part of the family, the more distant people become. They move away, and come home once every 5 years, or they live in the same town and you hardly see them, but not so with Brenda. She has stuck with the village during some of the toughest times we have gone through. She can always be counted on to do whatever she is able to make our journey a success. We are up against health issues and of course, time. We know that at some point the journey will end. All we can do is try our very hardest to hold that day at bay for as long as possible. Team members like Brenda are extremely important to that goal.
Today is Brenda’s birthday. I want to wish her the very best birthday she has ever had. She has been so good to me, and I can’t tell her how much that means. Happy birthday Brenda!! We love you very much!! Have a wonderful day!!
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!!!