It has been a rough week on my old street in Fairmont, Minnesota. On Sunday, little Kasey Cae Scheff passed away. She lived in the house where I grew up. On Wednesday, one of the neighborhood moms, who was also a good friend of my mother, passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.
I can barely remember when Mrs. B and her family moved to Fairmont. According to her obituary, it was in 1970. I would have been nine years old and in third or fourth grade at that time. Her youngest daughter was in my class at school. We were all in Girl Scouts together --- Mrs. B, her daughter, my mother, and me. I did music; her daughter did swimming. I moved away after graduation; her daughter stayed in town. I had one child; her daughter had more. I haven’t seen her daughter for years, but I did see Mrs. B when I was home for my dad’s funeral. She was about 77 years old at the time and still her jovial self, sharp wit and keen sense of humor still bright. Frankly, she seemed almost unchanged from our summer camp days, just a bit older.
I can also remember going to Mrs. B’s house once in awhile, almost always with my mother, to see the latest quilt project. Mrs. B had the largest machine-quilting device I have ever seen, even to this day. It took up one entire side of her family room and then some. I always imagined making a quilt and bringing it to Mrs. B so she could finish it for me --- quickly --- so I wouldn’t have to spend hours (or months or years) quilting the project by hand. I never did make that imaginary quilt and, even if I did so now, I no longer have the luxury of taking it to a beloved neighborhood mom so she could perform the task that I was too lazy to complete.
My mother told me recently that on the first day of school in the fall, after the children were all safely delivered up the one-block hill to our local elementary school, the neighborhood parents (read mothers) would gather for coffee and go house to house, sifting through sandboxes for items that had been missing since the end of the previous school year --- spoons that filled buckets, forks that were used to decorate the sides of sandcastle creations, muffin tins that were excellent molds for fortresses against invading sandbox soldiers. One by one, the neighborhood mothers who must have participated in this annual ritual are passing into history. Another one departed this earth on Wednesday. Even though I don’t think about it much these days, I do miss them all. Their humor, their talents, and the love that they had for each other is a precious example of community that I have yet to see duplicated. I thank God for each one of them and look forward to seeing them in Heaven.
If you would like to read the obituary for Mrs. B, click here.
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.