Thoughtful Thursday 9/3/2020

Today is a bittersweet day. My cousins and I will gather to lay one of our own to rest this afternoon. Mom is not coming, I’m sure, due to her limited vision and hearing. It’s a very windy day today, and the Omaha National Cemetery will have even more wind. It just seems wrong to be grieving one of our own so soon. Sure, some of us are in our late sixties, but we’re hanging on. Truth be told, it’s amazing we are still all alive. When you think of accidents, illnesses, we have been fortunate. It is a whole different feeling to bid farewell to someone without our older generations present.

We have become the older generation, right now. How did that come to pass? It seems like I was babysitting younger cousins not too long ago. I suppose fifty years has gone by quickly for them, too. Looking back, it didn’t take long at all. We are parents, grandparents, partners, workers, who were all raised with a good work ethic, a sense of law and order, and concern for our fellow humans. I can only hope the children we all have will make the world a better place for all of our grandchildren. It’s quite poignant when you think of it. Our grandparents felt much the same sixty years ago.

Before the service, cousins and I talked about how old all the little kids were, and how dare they all grow up. We truly are the next group in the rotation. Those little kids have kids, and they’re not so little anymore. That’s what families do – they sometimes grow apart, they lose touch, and reacquaint during days like these.

Somber. Sad. Sober. But paying tribute to a man who, as a very young man, made a promise to his country, and kept that promise beyond anything else in his life at that time. I’m grateful to have been a part of his life as a kid, and I marvel at the beautiful carpentry work he could do as a grown man. He was a dad, a grandpa, a brother to his sister and brother, a son to his parents. The three of them will reunite in heaven.

His family has the loss, the empty chair to deal with at holiday dinners, the extra Christmas stocking to hang or not hang, the pictures to divide up. Cherish your people. Take photos. Apologize. Even if they were wrong, apologize. Reconcile while you still are able. Don’t let it be too late.

Clinging to a mistake, just because it took a long time to make it, is just not a good thing to do. Sure, it’s uncomfortably comfortable, you know what to expect, you don’t risk anything. Well, except your life, your future, your happiness. Breaking out of a bad place to stay is courageous. It’s to be admired. It’s unnerving to witness if you think your life is comfortable. When you leave the comfort of your life for the unknown, it is scary. Scary good and bad at the same time. Persistence and tenacity is what wins out. Over thirty years ago, I made an unpopular decision and divorced my first husband. We were married eleven and a half years. The last year and a half, I was very unhappy, unfulfilled, and felt unloved, more like the help than the wife.

I found out I wasn’t wrong. I made a mistake in marrying so young, and for picking the person I did. I believe that is the kindest way to put it. I outgrew him. He was contented at 31, to be who he was then, for the rest of his life. I felt stuck in a story I didn’t write, living a life that I didn’t really choose. I needed to grow and learn more than I knew. It was the best thing I ever did. Yes, I made mistakes. My kids and I were happy. We worked hard. We laughed a lot. I worried a lot about money and all of that, but it worked out. And we’re still standing.

I was very fortunate to find someone who is a fine man. He is smart, experienced in life, and has a loving presence that reveals how much caring he does for those around him. He is very motivated to do a good job at whatever he tries. We fit very well together. Timing was everything in our lives, to meet when we did. And God was good to both of us to put us together.

We are in the last third of our lives. Maybe less than that, maybe the last fourth. It matters a lot these days how we spend those we have left, for however long we have them. Enjoyment and happiness trump drudgery and misery any time. Break out. Find some help, it’s out there. Don’t stay just because you’re afraid. That’s exactly why you shouldn’t. No one should have to be afraid. Ever.

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Today, Begin! Start towards a different path. Go a different way, learn something new. This is a perfect time to start. And keep going. I’m with you. Many will be right behind you. Just go for it.

Thank you for taking time to read today. I appreciate it so much. I will blog much earlier tomorrow, as we all begin a long weekend, the last holiday of summer. I’m ready for jeans and hoodies. How about you? Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Civil.

And, Richard John Wheeler, Sr., RIP, Semper Fi!

A Tale of Two Birthday’s

As I mentioned yesterday, today is Mom’s birthday. For 91, she’s doing great. Of course, the baby of the family (Timmy!) presented her with flowers last night so she could enjoy them all day. I kid a lot about how she really likes him best (it’s true), we now use that to our advantage. If she needs to be told something, he’s the one who does it. She listens to him. HAHA! All in good fun. Tim’s a good man, we just have to give him a bad time. Mom loves us all, each in a different way.

Mom and brother Tim (her favorite!)

I recall the story Grandma told about the day Mom was born. Grandpa and Grandma were married for six long years before they had Mom. On a 105 degree day, August 25, 1929, Rosemary entered this world. She was born at home, and Grandma said, “Once I got my hands on that baby, I forgot about how hot it was.” I believe her. Can you imagine giving birth at home in 105 degree heat? I can’t. Not at all. Grandma, my hat’s off to you. What a trooper! The Babe and I are taking lunch to her today, and will visit for a bit before we pick up Addison from school.

The other birthday I have a story about today is about our cousin, Rich. I believe he would be 63 years old today. Rich passed away earlier this year. He had cancer, and was in Grand Island, under the care of the VA. Like all of us, he had his problems. We all do. But I do remember him today. He was always so happy his birthday was the same day as Aunt Rosie’s. As kids, we couldn’t believe it, we didn’t hear much of two people in the same family being born on the same day, although many years apart.

As the oldest girl in the family, I babysat nearly all my cousins. Not so much the Conrad family, but the Wheeler’s and Burbank’s, yes. Uncle Mickey and Aunt Judy went out every Saturday night. Mom decided I would babysit, (I had no choice in the matter, ever), so either my uncle or aunt would pick me up. I ended up spending the night, it was late), after Creature Feature, by the time they got home. I’d sleep on the couch, then we’d all go to Mass at St. Agnes, where the kids went to school. Simple times for sure.

I earned a whopping fifty cents an hour at all my babysitting gigs back then. $3.00 for six hours. Sometimes the three kids (Rich, Mark, and Jolene) would be good, sometimes they were not. I’d feed them, clean up the kitchen, we’d make popcorn and watch TV. Rich was always building stuff, even at about 8 or 9 years old. He sorta had a temper, and often, he’d break his masterpiece apart because something wasn’t right. Bed time! I felt bad for him, and tried to cheer him up.

Fast forward a bunch of years, after he graduated from Creighton Prep, he entered the Marines. I was married and had my second son on November 7, 1975. Rich was home on leave, and came to see me. He wore his uniform, and I was so happy to see him, all grown up. It was one of the nice things he did for people. He continued his training, and became a guard at Camp David. He had to have a good record to qualify for that. I don’t remember when he crom hisame home to work for his dad, but he settled in back in Omaha. In later years, he became one heck of a carpenter. Maybe he inherited it from his biological dad who was also one heck of a carpenter. Gifted.

Fast forward to about 1982. He installed carpeting in my bedroom. He refused to be paid for it, and even went to Christmas Eve Mass with me and my three kids. I divorced in 1982, and Frankie was in the procession as an altar boy, Nick was 7 and Becky was 3. He offered to help me with the kids, in case they fell asleep. What a very kind thing to do. I’ve always remembered him that way. Offering help. He later married, had kids, and lived life. We lost touch until the wonders of Facebook reunited everyone.

I knew he was ill. So sad to see a young person suffer and die early. Mom is the only one of that generation left in her family. All her sisters are gone, and one uncle lives in Valentine, but we never see him. It’s an exception to lose a cousin before the previous generation is gone. Something just isn’t right about that. He cared for his mom before she passed a few years ago. Wow. Sobering. In September, other cousins, his children, grandchildren, and I will gather at the Omaha National Cemetery to tell him goodbye. Rich, tell Grandma, Grandpa, and all our aunts and uncles we miss them. And my dad. Especially my dad. Thank you!

Rich, on behalf of your extended family, we love you. We are glad you’re safe from all this world stuff. And we hope your first birthday in heaven is the best. Save a few spots for all of us. Whenever it’s our time. Then, heaven will see celebrations like never before, with the four fabulous Bobell girls and all their families. What a great thought!

Richard Wheeler, Sr.

Have a blessed day, everyone. Remember. Call you family. Tell them you love them. There’s never enough time. Be safe.

Super Saturday!

What a beautiful bride we celebrated yesterday! My cousin’s daughter Alyssa married Bryson yesterday, and it was a perfect event. Holy Ghost Church in Omaha is where the ceremony was. The bride’s family had lots of memories from there. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations, graduations. Six cousins in that family attended school and Church there for over 50 years. I still have such a happy heart today from the experience.

Part of why I feel this way has to do with the COVID-19 quarantine we have experienced. After the unrest of our lives in the first half of this year, it makes us appreciate family in a ways we haven’t yet done. The stories, the funny things that happened as kids, they all make life much more full. And sharing them with the people who helped create those stories is a joy. I’m laughing at some stories as I’m writing, and am grateful I have all the cousins we have to reminisce with.

In about another month, some of those cousins will again gather to lay another cousin to rest. We have lost one to cancer. He fought it for years, and it finally took him. It will be a sad day for his brother, sister, kids, and other closer family members. All of these descendents of the Fab Four Bobell Sisters will love and support each other through this event as well. We are now the elders of the tribes. Our moms were stubborn women, yet we knew they loved us in their own special ways. My mom is the only one left of the Bobell Sisters, and we know someday, she too will be gone. More stories, more love shared.

Yesterday, the Omaha Public Schools released a change (already) to the school year. Instead of starting next week and being in person, it will be delayed another week and be all online. No, it wasn’t something the Superintendent did on purpose, I’m sure if the cases in Omaha/Douglas County had not skyrocketed in the past week or so, the school year would not have had any changes. I would think there will be other districts in the area who follow suit, but if not, carry on. The kids are very important, and we must teach them how to cooperate with the way things are even though we don’t agree. We all learned that very important thing growing up, it helps society be more cohesive. Give and take is in order. From all of us, not just kids/teachers/parents. Let’s be a good example.

Yes, there is.

For today? I’m listening to some tunes and writing. Updating Chapter One. I think once the missing component is found (within me), it will go smoother and quicker. I don’t want to do a poor job. I want to be proud of what I produce. Just like practicing years and years to quilt, yes, here I have to practice writing until I get it. Won’t give up!

Thank you all for reading today. Go hug a cousin today. Or at least call them and catch up. It’ll do both your hearts good! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Stay safe. Distanced. Masked Up. Washed Up. All of it. Let’s show COVID who’s boss!

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A Toast to Cousin’s Today!