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Weeds into wildflowers

Our dear friend, Lynette, recently passed away. It was a shock. I’m still not sure I’ve comprehended our loss. I can’t tell you how many times something has happened, and I make a mental note to call Lynette ... only to quickly remind myself I can’t do that anymore. My heart still aches and probably always will.

Lynette Ivey was best known in this area as an educator. She taught school in the Princeton Elementary School District for many years, and she was a great teacher. She was one of those teachers who started the day long before many of her colleagues arrived, and she was the one who was still working in her classroom long after many of her colleagues had gone home for the evening.

Any student who had Lynette as a teacher was clearly impacted by her. A traditional teacher from years gone by, she had great hopes and expectations for her young students, and they didn’t disappoint her. They embraced learning and loved it — many times because Lynette had gone that extra mile to make learning interesting, within their young grasp, and of course, fun.

But Lynette’s teaching career was just one facet of a life filled with countless adventures. Our dear friend had a variety of interests and just as many friends. She was always the one to send a note, a thinking of you or a get well soon greeting card. Likewise, she was the one to take a home-baked loaf of bread, freshly baked cookies or a bowl of homemade soup to a friend or neighbor.

Even though Lynette moved from the Princeton area a few years back, we’d speak frequently on the telephone and occasionally meet in Princeton, at her new home near the Wisconsin border, or in Rockford, where we’d spend the day shopping, eating lunch, sipping coffee and chatting the day away. We’d laugh, catch up, reminisce and laugh some more. We were never at a loss for words.

Lynette was a positive influence in many lives. She touched many souls, including my own. Because both of us had fought the cancer battle, we shared many tears, fears and other emotions that only we were able to understand, as opposed to those who hadn’t personally fought that fight. While each of us went through treatments, there were daily phone calls, greeting cards, notes sent in the mail and visits. The bond grew stronger.

And now she is gone. In the blink of an eye, she left all of us behind to wonder how our dear friend filled with so much life and goodness could be snatched away so quickly. My heart hurts for her husband, Bob, and their adult children, whom she cherished. Life will clearly be different for all of us without Lynette’s presence.

While Lynette was able to leave many memories behind, I have to tell you about one thing she used to do that has caused me to feel her presence every time I travel through the countryside. Living in the rolling hills of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Lynette spent many a day parked on the side of the road and gathering what most farmers in this area would deem as weeds — Ditch Daisies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Yarrow, Chickweed, Chicory ... At the end of each adventure, she’d have a bouquet of these “wild flowers,” which she would take home and place in a special vase we had given her a few years back. To Lynette, they weren’t weeds, but wildflowers to adorn her table and bring some sunshine into her world.

Frankly, I think Lynette’s ability to turn weeds into wildflowers was perhaps the best lesson she taught us all ... even when it didn’t involve “flowers.” Always the teacher, she taught us that while less-than-desirable issues or weeds may clutter our lives, there are opportunities to turn them into something worth keeping, something to brighten one’s world, something to admire.

What a great gift she gave us ...

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