Friday, December 23, 2011

Footprints in the Snow by Ruth Heston (Amanda's daughter)


Footprints in the Snow

The Carlson's, Charles and Josephine and their children, Severin, Clara, Carl Adolf, Amanda, and Frank, lived comfortably in their first home on Ridge Street until a few years later when Charles purchased property on Park Street in the West part of the city of Keokuk. This proved to be their permanent home for them and three generations yet to be. It was a very nice location just across the street from Bluff Park, a most appropriate name given to the park, for it was situated high on a bluff that offered a scenic view of the Mississippi River. Bluff Park also offered a unique view of three states, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois.
Not unlike their former home on Ridge Street, Josephine used her gift of artistry to once again paint beautiful murals on the walls of each and every room in their home on Park Street. And the little wooden trunk that accompanied them on their recent voyage from their homeland in Sweden was placed at the foot of their bed. The treasures it once held during the voyage now held Josephine's beautiful hand made quilts.
Soon after the move to Park Street another member joined the family. There lay a big beautiful dog on their front porch one warm sunny afternoon possibly seeking a bit of shade from the bearing down summer sun. Josephine, in passing a front window, saw the dog lying there panting and went to the kitchen to find a suitable pan to fill with cool water. The dog was thirsty and after drinking the pan dry, he looked up into Josephine's loving eyes as she looked down into his, and at that moment a certain bond passed between them.
It was that day the ever grateful loving dog found an ever grateful loving family. They named him Shep. Soon he answered to Ol' Shep. Not that he was old by any means, young adult maybe, but not old. Perhaps Ol' was attached because of his loyalty, intelligence, and courage.
The summer passed and all too soon the leaves began showing their fall colors. If a leaf on a tree has any feelings at all, it isn't anxious for autumn, but autumn comes to all of creation and a time to let go. And the leaves did let go from the old oak tree in their front yard. Winter came early that particular year and brought with it lots of snow. Sleighbells rang out from the many horse drawn sleighs passing by.
It was nearing Christmastime and Josephine, Clara, and Amanda were busy in the kitchen baking and decorating cookies, baking fruitcakes, and other traditional goodies that went along with the season.
The day before Christmas the snow began falling. Lightly at first with flakes as big as siver dollars and then smaller flakes began falling the rest of the day and the wind picked up causing blizzard-like conditions. Charles reluctantly annonunced the family would not be venturning out to attend the customary early morning church service due to the weather conditions.
After relishing their traditional smorgasbord on Christmas Eve, everyone gathered around the Christmas tree and opened their long awaited gifts to one another. It had been a full day of excitement filled with anticipation and was soon a welcome bedtime. However before the little family turned in for the night Charles once again, as he did every Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story from Den Heliga Skrift (The Holy Scripture).
When all were asleep, Josephine slipped out of bed to look out the window to see the snow had drifted onto the front porch below and was very deep. Being of strong will, Josephine laid out her clothes for the trek to Julotta and crept back to bed. She lay there listening for the chime of the clock on the wall downstairs to strike four and when it did, she dressed in semidarkness. She donned her winter coat, wrapped a shawl around her head and shoulders, pulled on her galoshes and slipped out the door so as not to awaken the family. Nothing was going to keep her from going to Julotta. Julotta is a Swedish word meaning 'Chrismas service before dawn'.
As Josephine trudged along on her journey to the little Church on 12th and Morgan Street perhaps a mile and a half from their home, she found it to be a beautiful silent night, a Holy night, for all was calm and all was bright.
When she had walked perhaps three blocks in the deep snow, there suddenly appeared the figure of a man just ahead standing quite still who seemed to be waiting for her. As she drew near, he called her by name and said to her, "Josephine, you are going to Julotta". In a soft spoken voice he went on, "I am also going that way and it will be well for you if you walk in my footsteps." With that, he turned and began walking swiftly ahead of her leaving deep footprints in the snow. She was bewildered as to how he knew her name and where she was going at this early hour in the morning, but ever greatful for his offer and followed in his footsteps that indeed made walking much easier. However she pondered on this all along the way.
As Josephine neared the church she beheld a warm and welcoming sight to see candles had been placed inside at each window reflecting their flickering light to outside and onto the drifted snow. Upon entering the church she looked for the good man to thank him for his kindness in making the footprints in the snow for her to follow even up and to the door, and there they stopped.
It was still very early and the church was quite empty except for the Pastor who was standing in the pulpit looking over his message for the Julotta.
He greeted her, "Merry Christmas, Josephine, how good to see you and to think you are the first to come through the door on this joyous Christmas morning"!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nathan's Second Year Birthday

When Nathan was just shy of two years old he ended up in the
hospital with a broken femur. He had been playing down the street where a
neighbor was putting new sod on his yard. All the neighborhood men of course
were gathered – offering insight and “directing”. One of the neighbors, John,
lived right next door to us and knew Nathan well. John was playing a “game”
with Nathan. Nathan would run up to John, and John would grab both of Nathan’s
legs and pull him down the little hill on his bottom. The “hill” was just a 2
foot bump really at the junction of the yard and the sidewalk. Nathan loved it!
He ran up again and again to get a “ride” down the hill. All went well, until
on his last try, Nathan for some reason turned and tried to run while John
still had hold of one of his legs. Tears and screams and we knew something was
amiss. I gathered Nathan up and raced home. After a quick “wash-up” since
Nathan was covered in dirt from his day outside in the mud, he had calmed down
a bit, However, it was soon apparent that his leg was askew and so we were
promptly off to the hospital.
Nathan was of course frightened and yet he was generally a
quiet, thoughtful kid. He tolerated his time in the hospital as best he could-
better than most adults would since he was in traction for two whole
weeks. He looked particularly pathetic
at times, because he had entered the hospital just shy of his 2 year old
birthday and had not had his first haircut.
He had long blond curls which after days in the hospital were beginning
to look quite scraggly.
He spoke not a word to doctors or nurses who entered his
room. Chuck and I stayed with him 24/7. Chuck spent the nights in his room and
I was there during the day while Chuck was at work. He had a private room so it was at least not
too hectic most of the time. Nathan played with a helium balloon that hung over his bed, we read to him, and he
played with “Woofy”, a stuffed dog that John had brought him. John felt horrible about the accident. He and
his wife had no children, and John had tears in his eyes when he came to the
hospital with the soft stuffed dog. Nathan held no grudges. He did not connect
John at all to his hospital stay, and was happy to see him. However, Nathan did
not treat the staff so kindly. He literally did not speak a word to any of the
doctors or nurses the whole time, except for one small phrase.
Nathan had his 2 year birthday in the hospital. We brought
his presents to the hospital room and had a very low-key “celebration”. The
nurses had a surprise for Nathan though!
Several of the nurses on the floor entered his room with a small
birthday cake, complete with 2 candles blazing, singing happy birthday to
Nathan! He looked up and gave them a
sweet smile and you could see the excitement in his eyes.
They were so happy to see him smile. One of the nurses, who
had the duty of checking and adjusting the tension on Nathan’s traction
apparatus, was especially happy. She exclaimed to him.” Oh, Nathan, we have
waited so long to see a smile on your face!
The smile faded quickly and Nathan looked up at them all quite sternly and
responded “You can leave now.” That was it. Not another word to them!
Nathan came home a couple days after his
birthday and spent the next 2 months in a body cast. He learned to lie on the floor
and spin around on the hard cast. He could
spin around like a lazy susan to get to his toys that were arranged in an arc
around him. When he did get out of the cast it took him several weeks to learn
to walk easily again, but soon he was running around as if nothing had
happened. His first outing after his cast was removed was to the barber for his
first haircut!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dodging the Bullet


Dodging the Bullet

My mother, Maxine, was blessed with good health for most of her life, so I was surprised when I received a call from her neighbor informing me that Maxine was rushed to the hospital and was in serious condition. I packed quickly and drove the two and a half hour drive from Columbus to Toledo in record time. My sister, Linda, did the same, but her drive from Hammond was closer to four hours. This was in the 'olden times' when we had no cell phones, so the questions and concerns racing through my mind were many. I can’t even remember who made it to the hospital first…Linda or me.

We met Maxine’s neighbor, Jill, who told us what she knew  Maxine had not been feeling well for a couple of days. What Jill did not now was “Maxine Language” which is this. Maxine says she is not feeling well….translation is: “I don’t fell well, which means that I must be really sick because I never tell anyone if I feel ill because I do not want to go to a doctor. In fact, I have not been to a doctor since my final check up after the birth of my second daughter because doctors are in business to find something wrong with you, and in order for them to stay in business they will do their best to find something wrong.” I had heard that statement many times from Maxine, and up until that day it had worked well for her. But at that time she was getting prepped for emergency surgery.

Maxine had gone to a potluck at church and left early because she “did not feel well.” The next day a number of her friends called to see how she was feeling, and she assured them that she was just a little “under the weather.” She had talked with me via phone and told me that someone had brought some ginger ale and that tasted good and she would let me know if she began to feel worse. What she had not told any of us was that she was unable to eat anything, unable to urinate and had to have been in extreme pain.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Mother.
She was in her early twenties.
 

Fortunately, Jill had a key to the house.  She found Mother on the couch looking very ill. She gave Maxine the choice of letting her drive her to the hospital, or calling the emergency squad. Maxine chose going to the hospital with Jill…but only after she took a bath and fixed her hair. (Those of you who know Maxine, know that she never left the house unless her hair was perfect and her clothing coordinated with purse matching shoes.) Jill finally was able to get Mother to the hospital where she was rushed through emergency. Jill had called Linda and me while waiting for mother to finish her bath, so both of us were able to make it to the hospital before she went to surgery.

Linda and I met with the surgeon as he as going in to talk to Mother before surgery. He let us join him as he asked Mother a few questions.

“Maxine, you have pancreatitis. Your gall bladder has burst and we need to remove it. Can you tell me your age?”

Mother, “75 years old.”

Surgeon, “Do you drink alcohol?”

Mother, (with a look of disdain) “I’ve never let a drop of liquor pass my lips.”

Surgeon, “Do you smoke?”

Mother, (another look of disdain) “No!…and let me answer your next question without you asking. I have only had one sexual partner in my whole life.”

Linda and I exchanged glances as the surgeon was taken a bit by surprise. But he was not at all prepared for her next comment.

Maxine. “Doctor, what is causing my stomach to puff out like it is? I have never had a puffed out stomach and don’t intend to ever have one.”

He assured her that the puffiness was caused by swelling that would go away after surgery... only to have her reply.

Maxine, “Do you think that you could do a tummy tuck while you are in there?”

Linda and I exchanged glances again…rolling our eyes...biting our lips, but neither of us was surprised at this. The doctor assured Mother that the swelling would go down and that this was an emergency surgery and they would be unable to do the tummy tuck. They rolled her out the room after we gave kisses and hugs and the doctor paused to speak to us.
Top picture is my parents and bottom is Maxine.

“Your mother is very sick. Her kidneys have failed and she may be on dialysis the rest of her life. When I read her vitals sent from the emergency room I expected to see a dead person. I could not believe that someone with such vitals would live, but when I walked through the door, she was sitting up in bed fixing her hair, smiling and told me she was doing okay.”

Of course, Linda and I were not surprised at this behavior and assured him that “that’s Maxine.”

Linda and I had lots to think about while Mother was in surgery. Linda was upset that Mother had not told anyone how sick she really was. I was trying to convince her that maybe Mother just did not realize how bad it was. Whatever... we both knew we needed to make arrangements to be at home to care for Mother when she returned home. We tried to be positive because, at that time, we were not even sure she would live through surgery.

Finally, the surgeon walked up to us and told us that Maxine had gone through surgery well. He had a jar of her gallstones to show us. To my surprise the jar contained many little brown balls that looked like rabbit droppings. I was expecting to see marble sized gross ill shaped stones. It turns out that Maxine had pigment gallstones, which only about 15% of people get who have gallbladder problems. My father had had cholesterol gallstones…the more common type…the ugly kind. Of course, if Maxine was going to have gallbladder problems…she had to have the tiny “cute” type stones.

Her surgery went well. They were able to do the simple laparoscopic surgery where the gallbladder and stones were removed from tiny incisions. She was still very sick and her kidneys were still weak, but they were beginning to work and the outlook was good.

I forget how many days she was in intensive care. Every day Linda and I talked with the nurses and doctors. They all expressed disbelief at Maxine’s recovery. Her kidneys were back to normal and soon she was released to go home. On our last visit the doctors met with us to explain her home care. One of the last comments the surgeon made was, “You know, your mother dodged the bullet this time. We did not think she had a chance to pull through. We have a new name for her: Super Woman.”

As we left the hospital, Linda was muttering….”Oh no, now we have to convince Super Woman that she needs to get regular physical checkups. I fear what they have created giving her that name, Super Woman.”

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Organ Tuner Man



After courageously leaving their homeland in Holland, Sweden to begin a new life in America, the Carlson's claimed Keokuk, Iowa to be their destination. Charles and his beloved wife Josephine, along with their four children, Severin, Clara, Carl Adolf, and 9 month old daughter Amanda, moved into a lovely two story white frame home on Ridge Street.
Their only remnants and treasures from Sweden were neatly folded or carefully wrapped, such as dishes and glassware, in the little wooden trunk that accompanied them from their homeland. It appeared even smaller when they opened it in their newly aquired home. However, it didn't take Josephine long to tastefully decorate their home until it was very warm and comfortable and inviting to the many visitors they made welcome.
No need for wallpaper. Josephine was quite an artist and painted beautiful murals on the walls in every room. Both Charles and Josephine were gifted with many talents and music was another. An organ graced one wall in the parlor room and Charles' beloved wooden clarinet was hung by a leather shoelace on the wall nearby.
Another one of Josephine's attributes was baking. Oh how she loved to bake. The aroma of freshly baked bread, and cakes, and pies, and meats, wafted through the house and out through the open windows into the neighborhood. No wonder the many who came to her door to visit and have a cup of coffee, upon leaving would be given a loaf of Swedish rye bread or whatever was being offered from the cupboard on that particular day. The Pastor was no exception. He visited quite often and was always given the best chair in the parlor. A little glass of homemade wine and a little cake was his usual treat. Yes, it was told down through the generations that he was, in fact, a very faithful visitor. And in turn, Charles and Josephine and family were very faithful to their church.
They loved their home and the friendliness of the townspeople, and their church. In the year 1891, another son, Frank Amil, was born to Charles and Josephine. Severin was now 16, Clara was 11, and Carl Adolf was 7, and little Amanda would be 3 in August. Charles was very proud of his family and ever thankful to the Almighty for their countless blessings.
As the children grew, so did their inherited talents. The two girls learned to cook and bake and sew and the boys were musical and artistic that even sifted down through the generations. In the evenings the children would gather around their mother, Josephine, at the organ and Charles playing his clarinet and sing hymns and songs from a well worn Swedish Song Book. It was getting more noticeable that the organ was playing off key and needed servicing. So a service man was called and came to their door one fine day to tune the organ.
Josephine was in the kitchen baking so she called for Clara to let the man in and show him to the parlor. He came in with his satchel containing his repair supplies and pulled the organ away from the wall so he could work on the back. Little Amanda was curious of this new visitor and watched him from the doorway. As the organ tuner worked, he kept looking up at Amanda. This went on for some time. Finally, she went out to tell her mother, "Mother, that man keeps watching me". Josephine kept on kneading the dough and then suddenly stopped and looked up at the wall in front of her knowing the reason for his strange behavior. She quickly grabbed a towel and wiped the flour from her hands and hurried to the parlor and to the organ. She knelt down and smiled at the repairman but in so doing, she carefully retrieved a large jar of coins she kept hidden in a nook in the back of the organ near the floor. She gave the organ tuner man one last quick smile and carried the jar to the kitchen.
After a good long while, Josephine heard him playing the organ that proved to be on perfect pitch, so the mission was successfully accomplished. She paid him for his good service but he left with a scowl.
The jar of coins would have fit nicely in his satchel, but we'll never know if he would have stolen it or not.
For many a year Josephine played songs and the children sang but never again did they need
The Organ Tuner Man

By Ruth E. Heston (Amanda’s Daughter)


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Voyage



The Voyage

On April 15, 1889, the day they bid their loved ones good-by, Charles and Josephine (Kasperson) Carlson and their little family of four, the youngest being a nine month old baby daughter, loaded their small wooden trunk onto their horse drawn buggy and proceeded to the waiting boat. Charles' two sisters and brother chose to remain in Sweden. They, along with many good and faithful friends, followed in their buggies. All along the way, the Carlson's turned to wave to their followers. At first the buggies were quite close together but as they went on down the little lane, the followers grew farther apart. By the time the Carlson's reached the boat, they were quite alone.
Once on the boat, they made many new friends in the several weeks it took to cross the waters from Holland, Sweden to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The weeks went by quickly during their safe passage. The older folks were eager to share their many stories and laugh over their many Swedish jokes. It was told, one old gentleman unpacked his accordion and Charles brought out his beloved wooden clarinet and during the journey they sang and danced and must have had a grand old time. Charles and Josephine's children, 14 year old Severin Benght, 9 year old Clara Josephine, and 5 year old Carl Adolf, played games with the other children and even joined in the merry singing and dancing. Little Amanda Gustafva was too young to join in the fun, but rather stayed in her mother's or father's arms and being the youngest passenger, was given much attention.
Two years later another son, Frank Emil, was born in America to Charles and Josephine in the year 1891.
As the boat approached land and dropped anchor, it was an exciting day for the voyagers to disembark and be welcomed by such a large crowd of people who had gathered along the New York shoreline.
There were a great number of wagons and buggies waiting for the new arrivals. After bidding their good-bys and boarding the various wagons, they took off in all directions. Many families stayed in New York while others ventured west and to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota to make their homes. Charles and Josephine continued on with a number of travelers going south into Iowa following the shores of the Mississippi River to the city of Keokuk located at the southeastern tip of the state that was incorporated in 1847. They claimed this city to be their destination, their new home and dreams of the future for both them and their children and their children's children and for the generations yet to come. It is here where their journey ends and the stories begin.

By Ruth E. Heston (Amanda's Daughter )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

When someone smiles and tells me to have a Happy Thanksgiving I am reminded of our family Thanksgiving dinners when I was a young child. I would be sitting at the table, lower lip quivering, as my mother dished small portions of the traditional food onto my plate, assuring me that I would ‘like’ it. I knew better than to be vocal about my dislike of the food since we always had guests for Thanksgiving Dinner. How I wished for a dog that would sit under the table eating food I would slip its way. No such luck. It seemed everyone would be gushing over how delicious everything was as I tried to choke down each bite. What made it worse was that the dessert was even worst! At least I would not be forced to eat that.
Now, I am the adult and I have been more adventurous in my eating Thanksgiving food. It helps that we have a ham as well as turkey. I try to sit close to my nephew, Nathan, because he must have the same genetic code in food as his aunt. They call us picky eaters, but I say we must have more sensitive taste buds.
This brings me to the story of a Thanksgiving a few years ago that was at my place. Maxine, my mother, lived with me and we had my sister’s family for the holiday. (Linda and her husband Geoff, my nephew, Nathan and his wife Leeanne and their bulldog, Spike, my niece, Maggie and her puggle, Poppy, my niece Becky and her children, Audrey age four and Cooper who was a baby) We also had Geoff’s Aunt Janet come for dinner. She lived close to us (Columbus, OH) and helped house the rest of the family that had to travel from Hammond, IN. They arrived Wednesday and would leave Saturday.

My father always prepared our Thanksgiving feasts and after his death people might assume that Maxine would take over. But we knew that would be a disaster. My father would always send mother out of the kitchen to entertain the guests. The few times she had ‘helped’ with dinner resulted in something getting burned. Linda is now the cook of our family. She followed in my grandmother’s footsteps in that she loves to cook and enjoys having people over for a good meal. I am a survival cook…willing to volunteer my “talents” but not much experience with cooking a feast.
So, here we were, Maxine and I, standing in the kitchen Thanksgiving morning, looking at the turkey, arguing over who would be the one to stick a hand into that bird to pull out the package of gizzard, heart, liver and whatever else is inside. (We learned that from accidently cooking it in the turkey the year before.) I did not want to touch the turkey. The slick cold skin gave me chills. Linda was not surprised when she came into the kitchen to find Mother and me wrestling with the slippery turkey.  It’s difficult to wash something if you can’t touch it. We were saved from this ordeal when Linda moved us aside, took that turkey in her hands and had it ready to roast by the time I had the ingredients out for the rest of the meal.
It was also nice that my kitchen was small and two people trying to prepare dinner made it too crowded to work efficiently….so Linda did the majority of the work with me setting the table and being referee when Spike, Poppy and my two cats had territorial wars. Actually, that is an exaggeration, the dogs were good most of the time, and the cats stayed hidden in my bedroom.
Dinner was uneventful. The only snafu was when mother tried to superglue a broken cup and managed to superglue a fork to her fingers. Becky took charge and had the fingers free from the fork by the time dinner was served. The rest of the day went smoothly.
Leeanne and Becky were off to the mall Friday morning. Maggie and I decided to take Audrey to see Santa later that day. I like to shop about as much as I like preparing a turkey, but I thought visiting Santa would not be too bad. I think Audrey was five…maybe she was four…whatever the age, she was excited, and that put me in a good mood. We drove to the mall and found a parking space not far from the door. Things were looking good. Once through the mall doors I felt the crush of the crowds and wondered if I had made a mistake. Fortunately I knew where Santa was, so we walked directly there only to find a sign, “Santa is feeding his reindeer,” hanging by the gate into Santa’s North Pole. My plans to have this be a quick trip to see Santa were dashed. The line of excited children waiting to see Santa was long. I looked around to see if there was something else we could do until the reindeer were fed.
Audrey
Maggie saved the day when she pointed out a Build a Bear store. Great diversion! If you have ever been to a Build a Bear, you already know the routine. First, pick out a bear! That’s not as easy as it sounds. The wall was covered with all types of bears…pirate bears, peace bears, pink bears and polar bears. Plus, there are not only bears. There are cats, dogs, birds and numerous cartoon characters. Audrey chose a brown bear in a reasonable amount of time. Now to get it stuffed. She was given a little heart to put inside the bear, and then told to spin around three times while making a wish…and then the bear was put on a stuffing machine…and soon we had a puffy, cuddly brown bear that Audrey named Rosie.

Another Picture of Audrey (I don't have a picture of Rosie.)
I thought we were finished, but found we were guided to displays of clothing, shoes, headbands, purses, backpacks, etc. Of course, Rosie must have an outfit. There were way too many choices and this was too much like shopping. I was willing to buy the three outfits Audrey was looking at, just to escape from the store…but fortunately for me, Maggie convinced Audrey that Rosie would be happy with one outfit and probably did not need the sunglasses. She must have been looking at the price tags because by the time we left the store with a fully clothed Rosie and I was less $68. The look on Audrey’s face was worth it though, but I was glad to exit the store and head for Santa Land.
The line was not bad and Audrey was soon on Santa’s lap. Her picture was taken and then she ran to us with a beautiful smile and eyes shining as she hugged Rosie. I bought the picture, and we were soon on our way. I was feeling happy and satisfied. When we got home Audrey showed off Rosie and told Nana (Maxine) and Linda about Santa. I checked the bag for the picture, but it was not there. I searched the car and garage and realized that I must have lost the picture in the mall. Panic surged through my body at the thought of going back to the mall. By that time Becky and Leeanne were back from shopping. Becky told Audrey that they would get a picture in Hammond. Audrey was fine with that. What a great child…no crying, no whining…she dealt with it much better than I did.
Saturday morning found everyone packing and getting ready to return to Hammond. Out of the quiet there came a loud cry, “ROSIE!!! ROSIE!!! He’s killing Rosie!!!” I ran into the living room to find Spike holding Rosie in his massive jaws with a look of delight in his eyes.




I’m sure he thought someone had gotten him a new toy as he tossed Rosie in the air, grabbing her stomach and shaking his head. Bull dog drool was not only washing Rosie’s new outfit but was flying through the room. Spike was ecstatic. It became a game, and he was fast and clever as I tried to rescue Rosie. Nathan finally pried Rosie from Spikes jaws and we assessed the damage. Fortunately it was minimal, and only needed a few minutes in the dryer to bring back Rosie’s fluff.
The cars were packed and we were saying our good-byes. We walk out the door and find the patio gate is open….and Poppy is gone. I’m not sure how Poppy was found; I just know that I feared she had gone into the ravine to explore. Poppy returned and put into the car….and everyone drove off to Hammond. Mother and I went inside, sat down, sighed and smiled. We had survived another Thanksgiving!
That was a few years ago. Audrey is a teenager and is a member of a swim team. Cooper is a Boy Scout. Our family has grown. Nathan and Leeanne have two lovely children, Abby and Jackson.

Jackson and Abby at Maggie and Mike's wedding.
I have gotten married to Ray...and in August, Maggie and Mike were married.  We are going to celebrate Thanksgiving in Hammond this year. There will always be a bit of sadness knowing that Maxine and I will no longer spend Thanksgiving morning waiting for Linda to save us from the cold slippery turkey…but we still have the memories. We miss you, Maxine, Geoff and Rae, but are so thankful to have had you in our lives for as long as we all did.

Leeanne and Spike
Poppy