My former neighbor, Famie Schuldt, died on Sunday here in Chariton at the age of 94 after, as eulogists used to say, a long life well lived. The last couple of her years had been spent at Homestead Assisted Living.
But had this been an earlier year, Famie would have been on her knees alongside her flower bed just south of the house on those premature spring days we had a while ago, clearing away winter debris to ensure that her flowering bulbs would be able to arise and bloom unimpeded.
Then, perhaps, a walk out behind the garage to speculate on how many tomato plants, green beans and anything else that caught her fancy could be squeezed into the tiny patch of garden she maintained there.
She was what my late father would have called "a worker," in the sense that she always seemed to be working at something.
I'm told, although it happened before my time in the neighborhood but not long after she had moved here to be near a daughter and son-in-law, that she soon became exasperated at the oversupply of feral cats in the vicinity and responded by trapping them single-handed in a humane manner, then calling to have them carted away to confinement.
One year, when I was here mostly on weekends, I drove into the drive one afternoon as Famie, armed with a rake, was meticulously tending the edges of the alley that separated for half a block our properties.
It had been a long winter with lots of snow and the plows, in the course of keeping the alley clear, had deposited much gravel in the grass on either side. She returned it all, from her side of the alley and mine, to the roadway where it belonged.
So here, in her honor, are some photos taken a couple of years ago of Famie's spring flowers. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Lutheran Church with interment of her ashes at a later date in Cedar Rapids.