Miss Rumphius…anew

Yesterday, I learned about a loving husband who planted four and one-half miles’/ 400 acres’ worth of sunflowers in honor of his deceased wife, whose favorite flower the stately giant flowers had been.

Referring to his wife as the “Sunflower Lady” of the neighborhood, who brought happiness to those she met, the husband credited his wife as the inspiration for the planting of her favorite flowers. He cited how, before her death, she had suggested raising and selling sunflowers to generate money for cancer research and patient care, as a way of paying back the goodness she had received during her multi-year battle against multiple myeloma.

Before even reading the news story, just as soon as I read the headline (Husband Plants Four Mile Stretch of Sunflowers in Tribute to Wife Who Died of Cancer), I immediately thought of the “Lupine Lady,” author Barbara Cooney’s great-aunt, a.k.a. “Miss Rumphius,” who made three promises to her grandfather, including the pledge to make the world a more beautiful place.

Miss Rumphius did that by scattering lupine seeds, near and far, since the purple wildflowers were her favorite, and she wished to share her joy in beholding the flowers with everyone who lived in the neighborhood or visited the vicinity of her beloved house by the sea.

Although every day is a wonderful day to ponder the beautifully written and illustrated Miss Rumphius, as a librarian, I shared Ms. Cooney’s story in honor of Earth Day. Students liked that the main character was a librarian, mostly, I think, because they thought I took special delight in that work role connection with Miss Rumphius.

I liked that the students responded to the story with a multitude of ideas about how they, individually and collectively, could make the world a more beautiful place, including by simply smiling.

In terms of the sunflower planting in the news story, I like that the sunflowers stand tall, in silent testimony that death does not have the final word. Faith, hope, and love do.

If you would like to read the news story, here is the link: Sunflower Tribute

The more I reflect on both stories, the more I wonder if the “Sunflower Lady” knew the “Lupine Lady,” given that both women lived the charge to leave the world a more better place; both using flowers to make a loving statement.

Did the “Sunflower Lady” read Miss Rumphius when she was a child? As a mother, did she read Ms. Cooney’s inspirational story to her own children?

…I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the answer to any either or both questions were a resounding Yes!

What do you think?

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