Why are these important to me? First of all, my husband had this stone wall built to make it easier to garden on this portion of our hill. As you can see it is quite steep. Before we had the wall built I had started sweet peas from seed. I was delighted when they sprouted and bloomed for a couple years. When the men came to build the wall I asked if they might be able to save the sweet peas. They said yes. I failed to tell them where I wanted them to transplant the vine. Turns out they placed it smack dab in the center of the garden. As you can see the vines came back just fine! This year I decided instead of trying to train it I would just let it go over the wall.
But why is this flower memorable to me? Well, a dear friend told me about them. When I spotted them growing along a portion of the road we travel to get home I decided to try my hand at growing them.
Becky Sommer was my friend at school from at least 1959 (when we are pictured next to each other in the class photo). She is a highly talented artist whom I have always admired. Her parents were Dwight and Maria.
Dwight and Maria were married for 69 years before she passed at age 93. Her family was Russian and she was one of 8 children. She bore 6 children to Dwight. “Her creativity was expressed in her artwork and poetry, participation in Cincinnati’s Green Thumb Garden Club and All Saints Episcopal Church’s Altar Guild, flower arranging, and bringing style and warmth to her home and family.”
Dwight was music teacher at my cousins’ elementary school! He passed at age 98. “He was a gifted and beloved music educator at Elmwood Place School until his retirement in 1976. Dwight was so well loved and revered that 21 years after his retirement, the music room was dedicated to him. He continued to teach, mentor and follow the musical careers of many of his students until well into his 80’s.”
So besides being Becky’s parents why were these folks so meaningful to me? First off, Dwight drove me to high school along with Becky and maybe one or two others for years. Our high school was on his way to work. By playing our local classical radio station on the way to school he introduced me to a broad array of classical music!
When I joined the Episcopal church in 1965 who did I find there but the Sommer family! I had an immediate feeling of connection.
Maria once told me that when she and Dwight were dating he brought her bouquet of sweet peas. Evidently, he picked them on his way to see her. So growing them seemed like something I wanted to try. I know she had some flowers in her backyard, but don’t remember her growing them. I also remember she had terrible arthritis in her hands in her later years. I remember visiting once and being shocked to see braces on her wrists.
Still, why this strong connection to my friend’s parents? Well, when my family of origin blew up in 1968 I needed a place to live for a few months until my classes began at the University of Cincinnati. The Sommer family took me in. Maria had a huge old gas stove with a side drawer. Times I was upset she would sit me down for tea. Pulling out the crackers she stored in that drawer (being always warm the drawer kept them dry), she would fix me jelly on warm crackers to go with the tea. Then she would let me talk if I wanted to talk or just sit and compose myself. Cannot remember a better example of Christ’s love and compassion in my entire life, except maybe Mary Dirkse. She is another story for a different time.
I think Maria would approve of these vines hanging down from the stone wall, especially when the humidity leaves huge drops of dew on the flowers and leaves. Wish I had a nifty drawer to keep my crackers dry!
I know these folks are worshiping God on high. I pray their children and their children’s children follow Christ as closely as they did while here on earth! May I, too, live out their example while I walk the earth!