My husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz is the kind of person that you can always count on. When people need help, she will do everything in her power to help them. Margee has always been a hands-on grandma. While her kids worked, she was there to pick up the grandkids from school, and when her daughter-in-law had cancer, and then passed away, she stepped up to help her son Dan raise his two children, Zech and Stasi. I remember those years well. Her sweet little grandchildren were just 4 and 2 years old, and they didn’t know what was going on. Their mommy was gone and their daddy was very sad. Their grandma became their rock. Stability is a time of chaos. Her sacrifice is something none of them will ever forget. They always knew that she would always be there for them. She was also there for her daughter’s children, Brian Kountz, Nathan Avey, and Destreyia Cannon. They spent lots of time at her house, and she picked them up from school and took them to things they needed to go to. They all love her dearly.

When my mother-in-law, Margee’s sister, Joann Schulenberg developed Alzheimer’s Disease, Margee was there to sit with her when we needed to take my father-in-law, Walt to the doctor or other appointment. We always knew that she would be there for us. The=at period of time was so important, because while her memory was failing her, it was so important to have her family around to help her hold on to the memories she could. Margee talked with her about the old days from their childhood, and about their parents and grandparents. Those memories and the talks that kept them going, were a gift that Margee gave to her sister, and they were a treasure to me, because I knew how much they meant to my mother-in-law. Truly the worst thing a family member can do to a patient with Alzheimer’s Disease, is to simply remember them they way they used to be, and never go to see them. It doesn’t matter if they remember that people came to visit, because that person knows, and the patient knew at the time of the visit. Kindness doesn’t get more perfect than that, and Margee visited her sister as often as she possibly could. We knew she was always there for her sister…even when it was difficult for her to get there. We knew.

One of the coolest moments of her life was when she became a great grandmother to Destreyia’s little Brody Thomas Overby on March 8, 2017. Margee loves being a grandma, and now a whole new generation of babies was starting to arrive. The future looks very bright indeed, and Margee will always be there for these new little ones too. Today is Margee’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little, we used to go to visit my husband, Bob’s aunt and uncle, Linda and Bobby Cole every year, right before school started. It was the final trip of the summer…Labor Day weekend. Soon after, they would be back in school, and they lazy days of summer would be over. We all looked forward to going, and it was always a lot of fun.

Linda and Bobby lived in the small South Dakota town of Kennebec. It was one of those towns that you could miss if you blinked on the way by. Back then there was a grocery store, a school, and one hotel…Linda and Bobby’s hotel. We never had to find a place to stay, because we always had a room in the hotel. Their hotel was an old building, filled with antiques that I’m sure were there in the days of the Old West. Well, ok, maybe not, but they were old enough to be from that era.

Kennebec operated at a very slow pace, because there wasn’t much to do there, besides visiting and a good card game. Linda and Bobby loved to play cards, when they weren’t square dancing that is. They belonged to a square dance club and they went to lots of dances during the year. They loved dancing and the costumes.

Our girls always loved to go for visits too. They got to hang out with their cousins Sheila and Pat Cole, and while they were older than our girls, they all still had a great time. The kids all played together with minimal fighting, and there was little they could do to get into trouble. We always enjoyed our visits to see Linda and Bobby and their family, and now that both Linda and Bobby are in Heaven, the memories are even more precious than they were before. Today would have been Linda’s 71st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

Grandma Hein as we knew herI never had a problem remembering Grandma Hein’s birthday. Grandma is my husband, Bob’s grandmother, so I didn’t grow up knowing her birthday. Nevertheless, I always can always remember that day. I suppose it is because, every year, Grandma had a special date with a ground hog. Everyone has dates…and I don’t mean the romantic kind. There is a date with death, a date with birth, a date with an upcoming test, or graduation. We don’t always call these things dates, although, some of them we do. And every year, we have a date with our birthday. That was the kind of date that Grandma Hein had. Every year of her life, Grandma knew that her day was extra special, because she got to find out about the coming Spring. She mentioned that to me several times, so I know she liked it.Groundhog Day

Grandma’s life wasn’t always easy. Her mother, Viola Leary, was in and out of their lives, and when she returned, Grandma wasn’t sure she wanted her there. Of course, there was a step mother in the picture at some point, but that marriage didn’t last either, opening the door for Viola’s return. Viola was back in Grandma’s life until her dad’s passing, and then resurfaced at the time of her own passing. Unfortunately, Grandma’s relationship with her mother was never an especially close one, even when her mother lived with them. Of course, I also understand that there are two sides to every story, but since everyone else had passed away, I only heard the one side.

Grandma was a hard working woman. I’m sure that is partly because of all the years she spent taking care of the house that she and her dad and brother lived in. I remember going to her home for visits, and finding scan0056 (2)myself thinking that Grandma just never slowed down. She could run circles around most people and never seemed to get tired. I think that is how most ranchers’ wives are though. The day just never seems to end.

It was always so much fun to go to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hein. It was a trip we made sure we took every year, and I have always be thankful we did. It has been so many years, and I really miss those trips and I miss Grandma and Grandpa Hein. Today would have been Grandma’s 108th birthday, and while Spring is supposedly 6 weeks away, the day is special because it is hers. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.

img_5890So many times, a loved one leaves us when we least expect it. We thought they were too young, or that they would always be there, or at the very least, we thought we would have a little more time. Then, in the blink of an eye, our loved one has left us and moved to Heaven, and we are left with the pain of loss, and continuing grief. Such was the case with my cousin, Bernard “Shorty” Cameron, who slipped away in the wee hours of Sunday morning, November 27, 2016. Shorty had been a part of our family for almost 47 years, having married my cousin, Shirley Wolfe on December 28, 1969 in Reno, Nevada. Their marriage would bless them with two beautiful children, Larry and Tonnya, and four grandchildren, Nehemiah, Tyrel, Moira, and Conner.
Shorty, and my cousin, Shirley have spent most of their married lives living high up in the woods of Wolfe mountain, named after her parents, Ruth and Jim, who settled there and gave the mountain it’s name. They built three houses on the mountain top, near each other, but with plenty of room to spread out and make their places their own. Shirley and Shorty raised a variety of animals and their two children there. I suppose some people would say that it was a lot like the Wilderness Family movies, but they liked the life they led. Being in the great outdoors, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by tall trees and the wildlife that roamed the area.
My mom, Colleen Spencer, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and I had the chance to go and visit our family in Washington in 2013, and while it was a sad event, because it was for my Uncle Jim’s funeral, I still treasured the trip, because it gave us a chance to see our precious family again. I am especially glad now that we were able to see Shorty, because as it turns out, it was for the last time. That thought makes me quite sad. It was also the last time they got to see my mom, who left us in 2015. You just never know about these things, so it is always important to take the opportunity when it presents itself. I’m glad we got to spend that time with Shorty. We love you Shorty, and we will miss you very much.

imageWhen my niece, Lindsay Hadlock Moore’s husband Shannon took a position as Special Teams Coordinator at East Carolina University, it meant that they would be moving from the Miami area of Florida to Greenville, North Carolina. That also meant that in due time, my sister, Allyn Spencer Hadlock and her husband, Chris would be traveling to visit their kids in their new home. That time came this week, when Allyn flew out last Saturday, and Chris joined them on Wednesday after a work related trip to Chicago. As Allyn was getting ready to fly out, she sent out a text to the rest of my sisters and me to let us know that she was leaving and when she would be back.

Of course, in our family of jokesters, it had to happen. Our sister, Cheryl Spencer imageMasterson made the comment that Allyn, who would be landing in Raleigh, would be flying into Andy Griffith Land. I laughed, and Allyn commented, “Yay, Mayberry.” Then she said that, of course, Lindsay actually lives in Greeneville, North Carolina, or more correctly, a suburb called Winterville…to which I commented, “Sounds like Mayberry to me.” and Cheryl commented, ” Greenville, Mayberry. Pretty close!” If you will recall, the big city that everyone went to on The Andy Griffith Show, was Raleigh…which got the whole conversation going in the first place. Mayberry, of course, was a fictional town based on Mount Airy, which is Andy Griffith’s hometown. Mount Airy is three and a half hours west of Winterville, and a place that maybe the family will go see someday, since there are a number of Andy Griffith related sights to see there, such as Andy Griffith’s house, the Andy Griffith Museum, the Mayberry Fountain, and the Mayberry Campground, and several more I’m sure.
Of course, Andy Griffith…as much as we all loved him, was not the reason that Allyn and Chris traveled to Winterville, North Carolina. That honor belongs to their daughter and son-in-law, and now they are having a great time touring the campus of East Carolina University, and just spending quality time with their kids. It is always hard to have some of your kids living so far away, and you find yourself really looking forward to trips to see them, and their trips home to see you. they are having the time of their lives visiting, and really the only thing that has in common with Andy Griffith…is that this reunion is taking place in Andy Griffith Land.

cousinsBest FriendsWhen my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom, Collene Spencer, and I went back to Wisconsin this past summer, the goal was to connect and re-connect with cousins in the area. One cousin we got to re-connect with was our cousin Pam Wendling. Pam and Cheryl were each others oldest friends as well. Born just over six months apart and living just on the other side of a back yard fence from each other, their lives were constantly intermingled for five years, during which time the girls became very close. Our move, and the miles between Superior, Wisconsin and Casper, Wyoming would separate them, and would prove to be a very hard time on the little girls. It’s hard to have a companion you have known all your life, move away. And for little girls of only five years, I’m sure this change would seem sudden, even if they were told of its coming ahead of time. It is hard enough for adults to understand why people move away, and even harder when you explain it to little kids.

Over the years, our parents got the two families together as much as the miles would allow, but after we all grew up and married, busy lives on both sides would keep us from seeing very much of Pam and her brothers, Bill and Jim. You just don’t realize how quickly the time flies by, and before you know it, years have passed since you last saw each other…much less spoke on the phone. I don’t think we realized just how much we missed that contact, until Pam and her husband, Mike Wendling came to Casper for a visit. It was then that we knew that we needed to make the trip back to Wisconsin to visit all of the family we have there. It was such a lovely trip, and we enjoyed the time we got to spend with all of those cherished individuals

Pam then shared with us, her baby scrapbook…put together for her by her mom, our Aunt Doris Spencer. In it, we saw those cherished moments shared between to little girls who lived on opposite sides of a back yard fence. We reminisced about the many trips we had taken to visit each others families. I remembered the excitement of their anticipated visit, and how much we enjoyed the time spent with our cousins. Pam has always been someone I looked up to. She…like my older sister, Cheryl, always seems so sophisticated and so pretty. I always wished I could have possessed those qualities, and maybe people would say I do, but I just Mike, Pam, and Aunt DorisPam in her classroomnever felt that way. Pam has been a elementary school teacher for many years, and in fact, will be retiring in January, when this semester ends. She and her husband, Mike are planning to take some time to head to sunny Mexico and get away from the cold winters that occur around Lake Superior. While we are very happy for them in their new ventures, we also hope that their new found freedom will allow them to make a few more trips to Wyoming to visit their cousins, who don’t want to wait so long to see them again. Today is Pam’s birthday. Happy birthday Pam!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Broken wristI love the two annual family get togethers that the Byer side of my family has. It seems like each year brings the passing of another of my aunts and uncles, or at the very least, a close call, and as each of them gets a little older, the possibility of losing another of them seems very real. This year when Aunt Virginia arrived, with her arm in a sling, we found out that she had fallen the day before and broken her wrist. It will be in a cast as soon as the swelling goes down a bit, but when I think of what could have happened, had her granddaughter, Autumn Beadle not been there, I cringe. Autumn is so good to her, as are her son Steve and his wife, Wanda.

The picnic, on Sunday, was a lot of fun. The day was beautiful, with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. The food, as always, was great. We have so many good cooks in our family. My mom, my daughter, Amy and I had an opportunity to visit with Susie and Clyde Young, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim Richards, Aunt Sandy Pattan, Peter McDaniels, Aunt Bonnie AutumnCliff and Keith ByerMcDaniels, Uncle Wayne Byer, Aunt Jeanette Byer, JeanAnn Stanko, Elmer Johnson, Keith Byer, Cliff Byer and his family, Cindy Ellis, Aunt Virginia Beadle, and Autumn Beadle, Shannon and Terry Limmer, Jim Pattan, John Pattan, and so many others. I especially like that Mom got to visit with all these people, because while I am on Facebook and have a chance to connect with them, she is not. In our busy lives, it is really hard to go visit our family members at their homes, but Mom doesn’t do the computer, so when people can’t visit, she doesn’t see them much. She misses that time with her family a lot, and loves every chance she gets to see them.

I always find it interesting how much the children have grown. It gets to the point that you Elmeraren’t absolutely sure who they are. The ones I see pictures of on Facebook I can usually remember, but some you just don’t get to see as often. I can remember through the years wondering “who’s kid” this one or that one was, and my mom was having the same trouble, when she didn’t know who Mayme Williams was, or Aunt Bonnie’s great grandson, Mateo. And she’s not alone in that I hear lots of us asking, “Who does that kid belong to?” Then of course, to throw a monkey wrench in things, so people bring a friend, and you find out that it’s no wonder you didn’t know that kid…they aren’t even in the family. At least you now know that you aren’t losing your mind! That’s just how it goes at The Annual Byer Family Picnic!

Lynn Cook as a boy IIAs the youngest of five children in his family, with three older brothers and one older sister, my guess is that there were plenty of times when my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook was picked on. That seems to be the way families go, especially with the youngest child. The older kids either wish that the kid would leave them alone, or they just like to tease the kid. Either way, he has to learn to deal with the teasing or get bigger than his siblings so he can make them treat him differently. In my opinion, Lynn did the latter…yes, definitely, he did the latter. Actually, I think he always got along well with his siblings, but in true Lynn Cook style, you have to admit that I had you going.
Lynn, the MP
In the service, Lynn was an MP in the Army, stationed in Germany, where he also earned his Masters Degree in Maximum Confinement. That set him up for a career he would have for a number of years…deputy sheriff. Lynn’s size was a big asset in that career, because when an officer is quite tall, it can be intimidating to someone who was considering resisting arrest. Just one look up and they rethink. Lynn liked to take advantage of his position on occasion, to pull over his future brother-in-law, my husband Bob, just so he could visit with him…lights flashing of course. That way, while they talked, everyone thought Bob was Weston - Lynn's lookalikegetting a ticket. I’m sure he did this to other friends too, but I also think he took great pleasure in pulling this on Bob.

Of course, time changes things, and those little jokes don’t happen as much, mostly because Lynn lives in Powell and we live in Casper. Don’t think that Lynn doesn’t make up for it when he does see us though. But, these days, Lynn is busy with his grandchildren and since his retirement, going camping a lot. When I saw this picture of him, I was surprised at just how much his grandson, Weston Moore looks like him. I knew that Weston resembled his grandpa, but when you look at Lynn at the same age, I just couldn’t believe how much. Today is Lynn’s birthday. Bob says that in belated retaliation, I should tell you…happy birthday old man!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Andrea Renae Beach editedWhen my niece, Andrea was a little girl, she was so cheerful. She loved to laugh and joke. She loved it when her grandparents and other family members came to visit her family in Washington. She would always get so excited when company was there. When my sisters and I went to visit Caryl and her family one year, when Warren, Andrea’s dad was on sea duty in the Navy, the house became wall to wall beds, and Andrea was so excited to come out in the mornings and greet everyone. The day seemed perfect to her, because there were so many aunts in the house. I suppose having a lot of aunts in your house at one time might mean lots of attention, and really, what kid doesn’t want lots of attention. And what better kind of attention is there than the special attention of having four aunts in your house at one time. Of course, Andrea did have to go to school for part of that visit, but she did get to spend a lot of time with us. We all had such a good time.

It was always hard for Andrea when family had to leave to go home. She didn’t get to see any of us much, and that was really hard. Of course, we knew how she felt, because we felt the same way every time Andrea’s family had to go home after a visit. It is a tearing situation. Loving family members from afar creates a lonely kind of a feeling. Holidays are smaller affairs, because you live too far away to be there with the rest of the family very much. That was hard for Andrea, because she heard about all the fun the rest of the cousins had at the big gatherings. Of course, she knew that it could not be helped, and that her family loves her, but it is still hard for a little girl to understand why they can’t come for Christmas every year. Still, her parents made their holidays fun too, and made their own traditions. That’s how it works when you live far away from family. And those traditions are just as fun as the ones the rest of the family has, just different…just your own.

I think living far away from family, can often bring you very close to your siblings. Andrea and Andrea & Topherher younger brother, Allen have always been good friends. Oh they had their little tiffs, just like any other siblings, but they grew close over the years. With Allen in the Navy and stationed in Japan now, I’m sure that Andrea feels a twinge of loneliness whenever her brother comes to mind, but she will always know that no matter how far apart they are, he will always be her brother, and he will always love her. New traditions are always a part of life, and now with her son, Topher to think about, I’m sure Andrea is making her own traditions to build memories for him. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Though she is still a ways away I hope that she knows that we are thinking of her today and hoping it is a great day. Happy birthday Andrea!! We love you!!

Uncle Clifford Spencer & Cousin Cornealius DavisI have noticed in the family history books that my Uncle Bill Spencer put together over the years, that people in the family, or maybe that era, would sometimes just pick up and go visit a different branch of the family…often without much or any advance notice of their impending arrival. I suppose that sometimes they just got excited about finding out about a different branch of the family, and decided to go check it out for themselves. Being a bit shy around strangers, family or otherwise, I find this type of visit to be very strange indeed. What do you say to those people after the initial, “Hello, You don’t know me, but I am your relative from Wyoming.” I would simply have no idea. That is probably why most people who do go to visit relatives they don’t know or don’t know well, take someone else with them…to help carry the conversation. I can’t imagine going alone, and yet that seems to be the norm for some people.

My grandfather did just that when he went out to visit his Aunt Tessie, as did his brother, my Great Uncle Clifford. Oddly, both of them just dropped in on Aunt Tessie!! I don’t know if Uncle Clifford just liked what he heard about Aunt Tessie from his brother, my Grandpa Allen Luther Spencer, or if he was curious about her and her family too, or if he even knew of the prior visit by a member of his family, but he went, and he went alone. I also have to wonder what Aunt Tessie thought of the whole thing…like, “What is it about me that makes these people keep just showing up here?” It appears to me, as it did to my Uncle Bill, that my cousin Cornelius Davis, who was Aunt Tessie’s son, found his cousin a little strange, or maybe the entire visit was just strange to him. It’s possible that he was wondering why these relatives just popped in like they did too, without any advance notice…or maybe he was wondering just how long this guy planned to stay.

Bob and I have gone many times to visit his family in Forsyth, Montana, but we always told them that we were coming, and our stay was just a week. I guess, in days gone by, when it takes a long time to get somewhere, it didn’t make sense just to stay a week, because it probably took several days driving out, so if all you had was a week, you would have to turn around and leave again. Still, I can’t imagine going for a visit without letting anyone know. Of course, the phone was not widely used in those days, so it would mean a telegraph, but it seems that many people just went and didn’t worry about it. Whatever the case may be, my cousin Cornealius seemed to think it was rather a strange visit indeed.

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