Frances Helen Waid Sievers
b. June 10, 1921 m. July 24, 1943 d. July 19, 1980
- Wife, mother of four, grandmother of five.
- Spent her first fourteen years in Columbus, Ohio before her family moved to Milwaukee.
- A Girl Scout through high school.
- Graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, degree in Special Education.
- Married her high school sweetheart when he was serving in WW II.
- Packed and moved several times throughout southern Wisconsin with her husband and young family as my father settled on a career in education, before making Viroqua, Wisconsin their home for 18 years.
- Opened her first business, a sewing and fabric store, in early 1962, above the local auto dealership before she moved it to a main street storefront a few months later. Taught tailoring and hat-making through night school during that period.
- Sold the business a few years later when she transitioned to teaching ceramics classes and eventually, opened a small studio.
- Loved the arts and museums and never stopped missing city life.
- Liked purses that matched her shoes.
- Loved gloves that coordinated with her outfits.
- Made me new outfits for the first day of school, Christmas and Easter.
- Let me operate her cash register and taught me how to make change when I went to her shop after grade school.
- Taught me to sew when I was ten, using scraps she’d bring home from her store.
- Insisted on hospital corners when we changed the beds.
- Didn’t care that the vacuum cleaner was heavy, I still had to vacuum the staircase on Saturday mornings.
- Had a simple breakfast of fruit, toast with peanut butter and milk ready for me every morning.
- Taught me how to avoid the lumps in gravy.
- Made me feel special each birthday with my favorite meal of sloppy joes and angel food cake.
- Made sure I left for school early enough to allow time for my dawdling on the mile-long walk during grade school and junior high. (High school was a block away.)
- Followed the “sit there until you eat it” parenting model.
- Cheered when my brother and I played taps by filling pop bottles with various amounts of water.
- Laughed when I wrapped wax paper around a comb and made my own kazoo.
- Told me she’d make clothes for me like she made for my sister, when I took care of them as well as my sister took care of hers.
- Made a great tater-tot hot dish, but beyond that, was not known for her cooking.
- Made sure my brother never ate alone when he came home from sports practices after the rest of us were done eating.
- Would not let me attend an important high school football game because I needed to finish a project that was due the following day. Stayed home with me.
- Loved to hunker down to watch Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible and The Wild Wild West.
- Took me shopping in Madison and Milwaukee for back-to-school clothes in high school, so I didn’t have what everyone else bought locally.
- Probably took life too seriously at times.
- Grew beautiful iris.
- Smoked Pall Malls.
- You knew it when she meant it.
- Faced breast cancer with bravery and courage in 1971. Lost the battle after it returned in 198o.
I’m not sure how I’ll honor her memory this Sunday, but I imagine a tear will be shed. It’s been a long time. And I’ll thank her for all the gifts she gave me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, those with us and those waiting for us.