|Charlotte Carpenter Seifert|
The constant ringing of the phone was out of place. I was working outside again, ripping out the ivy that my mother, an otherwise intelligent woman, had planted all around her home. I heard it again. Knowing that if I ran inside to answer the phone, the person on the other end would be hanging up or trying to sell me Readers Digest. I ignored it.
But it persisted. Three calls, four, in a few minutes.
Something seemed wrong, so I took a break to check my answering machine. "Karyn, please call me," the troubled voice said. "Charlotte's gone!"
Charlotte, my Dad's last remaining sibling, was fine - what could possibly have happened? At 87 she was slowing down, but don't we all at that age?
Born in 1924, she and her twin sister were four years younger than my father. She graduated from Kansas State University and eventually met and married Earl Seifert - settling down in Parsons, 20 miles from her home town of Oswego. Devoted to her husband and children, she was a stay-at-home mom who raised three bright children. When they were through High School and away from home, she decided to go back to college to update her teaching credentials - thinking she'd enjoy nurturing students in the classroom. But, Charlotte was tiny, quiet, polite, perhaps even a bit shy, and the new breed of students probably ran right over her. A few years of substitute teaching was plenty for her.
I always thought of Charlotte as the typical 50's Mom and in my mind, I see her in her kitchen in a dress and heals. (Though this mental image may be June Cleaver instead....) We always delighted in going to her house - in part because she was such a fabulous cook! (When your mom thinks pouring a can of baked beans in a dish, slicing a can of spam into it and baking it for 20 minutes is serious cooking - an invitation to Charlotte's was an extreme treat!) Charlotte was known for her pies - in particular her pecan!
Charlotte was a doer, a helper, a goer. Even in her 80's she would make the 2 1/2 hour drive alone to Kansas City to visit her son, and if you suggested an outing - she was ready! Rumor has it she even got stopped for speeding just a few years ago!
The past few years, Charlotte has been living in a duplex near an assisted living center and she ate lunch there. Not one to miss a meal, she didn't show up today. A few calls between friends, someone went to check on her and found her dead. Apparently she was just getting her day started, but the Universe had other plans. Charlotte went on her terms - in her own home to the end, still active with her friends, organizations and church.
Charlotte, we will miss your sweet smile, your little chuckle and your gentle way.