I was talking to a dear friend on the phone the other day and out of the blue she said, “Oh, I can’t wait to see our irises!” This took me by surprise, since it was eighteen degrees and we had 4-6 inches of snow on the ground. January seemed an odd time to think of irises!
But I was happy to talk about them for several reasons. First, this friend and I had exchanged some irises and it’s always neat to see what new colors you get in the spring. Second, this made me think of warmer weather and that is always a good thing in my mind. And the last thing that came to mind, was Miss Seifert.
Miss Seifert as an older lady who lived across the street from me when I was growing up on the west side of Evansville. We had an acre lot that once was the farm house of Grossman Fruit Farms. There were various fruit trees on the property, as well as blackberry, raspberry and other berry bushes. But if you wanted to see flowers, and I mean, a lot of flowers, you had to go across the street to Miss Seifert’s house.
Miss Seifert taught horticulture at the university across the highway from us. Back then it was called ISUE; now its USI. She certainly had a way with plants. I remember that she gave my mother several varieties and colors of irises, so that we could have a nice patch of them just off the front of our house. I loved to go to her house and try to count all of the different colors and varieties that she had. I don’t remember how many there were, but if have yet to see a garden that comes close to matching hers.
Miss Seifert was a generous woman. I can remember her paying me to shovel snow or rake leaves (they were probably our leaves that had blown over), or to help her around her home. She always told me stories about her family and the things she did when she was a little girl. We both had cats and would often exchange cat stories. When she would go on trips and I would feed her cat, she always brought me back something that had a cat on it. I had salt and pepper shakers that were cats, statues and label pins. One time she brought me a locket and had put a picture of a cat inside of it.
The last time I saw Miss Seifert was several years ago, when my mother and I visited her in a retirement community. Outside her little apartment, on her patio, were several plants. If you had walked up from outside and looked at all the patios around the building, you could have picked hers out…her plants seemed healthier and heartier than anyone else’s.
I don’t know if that dear woman is still living. I do know that she made a huge impact on my life when I was young. She was so generous and kind. I remember popcorn balls and hot chocolate in the winter and fresh lemonade in the summer. She took the time to teach me things about her garden, but more importantly, she took the time to listen to me. I felt like I was someone important to her. Looking back now, I can see that she didn’t talk down to me, although her education and experience was years beyond mine. She liked to hear my ideas and thoughts. I always felt good when I left her house.
Do you have a Miss Seifert in your life? If so, you are blessed! Are you a Miss Seifert to someone else? Think of the joy you could bring to someone’s life just sharing with them the things you enjoy and surround yourself with everyday. More importantly, think of how much more valuable they will see themselves if you show them how important you think they are.
Take time to show a child how important they are to you today so as they grow, they can realize just how valuable they truly are. -Sonia Keepes