When your children grow up and start dating, you begin to hope that they will be able to pick the right spouse, so theirs will be a “til death do we part” kind of marriage. It’s really hard to let your kids make their own choices, because you wonder if they will know what true love is, but then does anyone know at first. I don’t know how my girls both managed to get that perfect mate…just like I had…on the very first try, but they did, and I couldn’t be happier for them. Each new year of their marriage is sweeter than the year before.
My daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, married her husband Kevin Petersen 23 years ago today, and their marriage has been richly blessed. She was only two weeks out of high school, but they knew that it was right. I remember being so busy with both wedding and graduation. I barely had time to think about the fact that my little girl was getting married and leaving the nest. In fact, I recall being a bit surprised that I wasn’t torn up about it, and then just chalking it up to the fact that Corrie’s little sister, Amy was still here at home, so it wasn’t really an empty nest.
The wedding went off without a single problem. It was beautiful, and the kids were both so happy. The reception went off perfectly as well. The kids were relaxed and enjoying the time to visit with their friends and family. The cake was beautiful, the wedding gown stunning, and the rings were exchanged, but of course what made the wedding so amazing was the love shared by two young people who were now ready to set out on their own and begin a new life. Even then it didn’t occur to me that I would feel any of the common empty nest feelings. Then came the time for them to leave to begin their honeymoon. Everyone went outside to see them off, and they drove away waving and smiling. The day was over, except for the clean up.
There were still a number of guests there when I went back in, including my sister, Cheryl Masterson. As I came in the door, I turned to her and said, “Well…they’re gone.” Immediately, the floodgates burst. The tears that flowed were completely unexpected, but could not be stopped. My baby girl was a married woman, and she was heading out to start her adult life with her husband. They had each other now, and she no longer needed her mommy to guide her through life. I realize now that I was wrong, and that those were the thoughts of a newly, if not just partially, empty nester. There would be many times she…they would need me again. They were married, not gone forever. Their lives have taken many turns, and there have been many times that they have needed me, and I have needed them. They couldn’t possibly be more of a blessing to me. Happy Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!! Have a totally amazing and wonderful day!!
I never got the chance to get to know my grandmother, my dad’s mom, but I have heard so many great things about her. She was such a strong woman, running a farm, much of the time with just the help of her children, and carrying on the day to day workload that it takes to run a family and get all the kids headed out for school and such. She was not a big woman, as the size of this dress told me, and yet, she has always seemed larger in my mind, because of her capabilities. The dress shows that she was maybe a little taller than I am, and slender. I had noticed that too, in other pictures, but she also had to have been very strong, to carry the load of the work and home responsibilities that she did. I’m sure it was the size of the work that she did, and not the size of the woman, that made me think she had to have been a bigger woman that she really was.
My grandmother’s parents immigrated to the Unite States from Germany in the years before she was born. I’m sure that many of the traditions for Germany came along with them too, and I know that my dad’s grandma spoke much German or a combination of English and German to my dad when he was little, including “So, du bist a ocha man” which would translate to “So, now you are a big man” when he fell after rocking back too far in his chair at the kitchen table. I have to wonder what other traditions were passed from parents to daughter.
One thing that I’m sure was passed along was a good work ethic. My grandmother was a very hard working woman, who was really nothing like the frilly, lacey wedding dress that she wore on her wedding day. The dress, while beautiful, was soon replaced by the everyday work dresses of a woman with a pioneer spirit and the strength to do what needed to be done to make a living on a farm. Of course, I suppose there are very few of us who would wear clothing during our marriage that would be anything similar to the gown we would choose to wear for our wedding day. Still, I think that the gown we choose for our wedding day does depict the type of woman we are…at least at the time. People change as they mature, and life events play a huge part in that change. I’m sure that my grandmother rose to the occasions in her life to become the strong woman I have heard about all my life.
I have not seen my cousin Shirley for about 30 years, but recently we have reconnected due to my mother’s desire to give Shirley our grandma’s wedding gown. Shirley is the oldest granddaughter of my dad’s and her mom’s mother, and as such, the wedding gown should go to her. It had been left in my dad’s care. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to give the dress to Shirley, but we had no way to get a hold of her. God takes care of the things we aren’t able to, and almost immediately, Shirley’s son, Larry showed up in a family tree search I was doing in Ancestry.com. He was searching too, and we connected. He got me in touch with Shirley, and then we and several other family members connected on Facebook. It is amazing how one little step can change the lives of so many people.
Since reconnecting with Shirley I have learned several things about her. Shirley is a patriotic American, who believes in the Constitution and the freedoms and rights it gives to each of us. She believes in hard work and being able to keep what you earn. She believes in the right to keep and bear arms. As I said, the Constitution and all its rights and freedoms. She and I are very much alike that way. It makes me proud that my cousin and I share our conservative American beliefs.
I also know that Shirley loves living up in the mountains, away from the crowds in town. That is not so unusual in that her family lived outside Casper on a piece of land in the Dempsey Acres area when she was a little girl growing up. I guess you could say that country living was in her blood. After leaving Casper, and trying some big cities, the family would move to the mountains of Washington. Shirley is a hard working woman who likes the simple things like the birds and other mountain sounds of the summer morning.
Today is Shirley’s birthday. We are sending you birthday wishes across the miles. We are thankful that our families have reunited again, though we have not yet seen each other in person yet. We hope your day is filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Happy birthday dear cousin!! We love you!!