Reliving wonderful memories of Mrs. Sieders

I knew Hinderika Sieders the way children know adults. She was Mrs. Sieders to me; I’m not sure I ever knew her first name.
I watched her from a distance, from the perspective of being a visitor in her home, a friend of her children. She was the mother of my schoolmates and someone I had an immediate and profound awe of.
Mrs. Sieders made everything nice.
In her quiet and unobtrusive way, she demanded the best of her children, of her community, and of her guests. It was easy to be polite and well-behaved at the Sieders’ home; there were eight examples to follow.
Despite having eight of her own children, I was always welcome to have a “sleep over” on the occasion of Rita’s or Joyce’s birthdays. And the best part of their birthday: money baked right into the cake—dimes and nickels, and sometimes a quarter, wrapped carefully in waxed paper and baked right inside the cake waiting to be found upon eating.
It was magic, as we sat around the table, perched on our knees in anticipation of who would find money in their slice.
Almost everyone did and if someone didn’t, then we shared. Sharing was automatic; something beyond an expectation.
When we played at the Sieders’ home, we rolled big sheets of white paper out on the large dining room table. With scissors and catalogues, we created our imagined future homes. We played for hours doing that while Mrs. Sieders hovered around keeping her house in perfect order.
Before Mr. Sieders built a new home for his family on the farm, their original family home was lacking a few luxuries, but none of us noticed or cared or thought it was anything but perfect.
There was a pond on the Sieders’ farm, a small one with a tree bending over it. Henry could swing out on a rope and drop in, and I was fairly certain he would grow up to be a superhero.
He was tolerant of his younger sisters’ friends, more so than most boys would be. He was the eldest and led by example.
I loved the Sieders “kids.” They were all so thoughtful and kind, and I loved watching them love their mother. She didn’t always speak English and I was enthralled by the sound of her voice, the accent that made her English sound special, and I tried to mimic it on occasion, pretending that I, too, had come from far away.
Mrs. Sieders was direct and straightforward, and always kind. Undoubtedly she had known the suffering of war in Holland before she came to Canada, but it had only enhanced her sense of fair play and kindness—the kind of kindness that didn’t gush or ooze, but merely was, as innate as the colour of her eyes.
Mrs. Sieders sewed, as did Mary and Joyce. I would guess that they all inherited her ability to “create,” whether it is with the sewing machine or in the kitchen or the garden.
I watched Mrs. Sieders sew, from a distance, and I decided that I, too, wanted to be able to create such things and I joined 4-H to learn under her guidance.
My memories of the Sieders’ family and farm are deep and rich. Though time and geography separates us, it was my great fortune to grow up not so very far from their farm.
I admired the Black Angus that strolled in their pastures. I admired the example of “family” that they lived and breathed, and our community was enriched by all of them.
Undoubtedly, the Sieders’ children miss their mother and are grieving her recent passing. But I remember them and I know they will be celebrating the amazing gift of being her child.
wendistewart@live.ca

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