We bloomed and blossomed in every way under each other’s care and tutelage. We had wonderful teachers, not all of them found within the classroom walls. The Cheryls loved flowers. We all might have been the first to misuse our old 10 speed bikes as off-road mountain bikes. We searched the fields for flowers. We picked, dug, stole, and grew them in the bright sunny windows, or bought them, if absolutely necessary. Not much has changed there over the years. A few flowers were not of the flora variety, but rare humans who, opened our eyes, tore at our hearts, and pivoted us in new directions.
Kay was a bit quieter than the rest of us. Maybe she was in shock having grown up in a quiet, one-child household. She felt spoiled because her Iowa farm parents were able to afford, first, the luxuries of a guitar, and then the tuition of Concordia. She owes her attendance to fondness for her 8th grade teacher who spoke highly of Concordia. She wanted to be a teacher just like him. Separation from Kay’s close-knit family was traumatic as she started college. As they attended the opening Concordia family church service, her mother and she wept openly. I think we all did. What we thought was a ripping separation from our families, was the opening of our hearts and souls to the bonds we created.
The vividly landscaped campus, so near to farms and fields led us deeper into connections we felt with the Earth’s resources. I had been raised in Denver and the openness filled an ache in me that I did not know was there. So it did with these girls over the years, as we slowly became women.
Some of us did not teach in private schools as we prepared to graduate but Kay received some fine advice as she removed her name from the Iowa teaching list, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you wasted your college education; you will use everything that you learned.” How this prophecy came true for all six of us and, the speaker, without a single Bible lesson!
On her family’s 100 year old Iowa farm, Kay now grows vast quantities of beautiful buds and blossoms to feed a hungry nation. But her trials too have been great. Her tears could irrigate those fields, if not for the salt. She has relied heavily on the strength she gained from our nurturing years, but we were not there for a life tragedy that burdens her heart every hour. Still together, we feel the pain, and her river of tears. Despite our distance, we stand as always, side by side, mops in hand.