Susan Somers Speth Funeral talk
Contributor: vkanarr Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Susan Somers Speth Funeral talk on October 5th, 2009
by her sister Stephanie Fronberg
My Sister … My Friend
One of the cards I received from a friend expresses the beautiful sentiment “As you remember your sister, may you find comfort, as you remember the yesterdays that were filled with your sister’s warmth, laughter, and love. It’s a comfort to know that your tomorrows will be touched by her memory.” Today as we honor Susan, I want to share some of those memories of My Sister … My Friend.
My Sister, My Friend - Nurtured Nature
Perhaps Susan’s earliest interest in gardening started in her youth when all of us worked picking pole beans each summer. Our mother would drop us off at the Logan Tabernacle at 6:00 a.m. and we would travel by bus to the bean fields, which were west of Richmond. We had to pick our assigned row of pole beans from top to bottom, and then have it inspected before we could move to a new row. We had a 5-gallon bucket, which we repeatedly filled up and emptied into a large gunnysack. When the gunnysack was full, we hollered for the Bag Boy and he hauled it off to be weighed and emptied. We could hardly wait until lunchtime so we could sit on our overturned bucket and rest our feet as we ate our sack lunch. If we caught other kids trying to steal the large groupings of beans on our row, we yelled “Cluster Picker”. We received about 3 cents per pound and could usually pick 60 to 80 pounds of beans each day, which earned us about $2 per day. No one was allowed to leave the field until all the beans were harvested. At the end of the day, the beans were transported for processing to the Del Monte canning plant in Smithfield.
Susan loved nurturing her yearly vegetable garden ... the planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, and finally storing the fruits of her labors. She stocked her food storage room with rows and rows of home-canned fruits and vegetables, which she freely shared with others. Many times, she gave me jars of her of grape juice, tomato sauce, applesauce, peaches, pears, beets, beans, carrots, and cream-of-the-crop Bear Lake raspberries. She personally taught me how to maximize my own garden plants and make an abundance of bottled green beans and spaghetti sauce. Susan also loved cultivating the flowerbeds around her home. There was always a beautiful variety of decorative vegetation and blossoms.
My Sister, My Friend - Multiplied Her Talents
Susan excelled and expanded her skill and talent in many areas. She managed the day-to-day affairs of her and Donald’s apartment complexes and their business at Somers Video. She developed a multitude of skills through these two businesses, such as, interviewing potential tenants, showing apartments, completing background checks, collecting rent, managing and enforcing leases, monitoring the unit and building conditions, cleaning, finding economical appliance replacements, repairing woodwork and walls, painting, wall papering, bookkeeping, payroll, managing inventory, retail sales, and customer service. That is only a partial snapshot of her talents. I want to give you an in-depth view of some of her other skills which influenced my life.
As a teenager, Susan became interested in genealogy pedigree charts. She began a lifelong endeavor in researching our lineage. Years later as a young woman, she expanded this interest and began collecting and organizing ancestral artifacts such as pictures, personal letters, and certificates for births, deaths, marriages, and church ordinations. She helped our parents write and document their personal histories. She became the Family History expert for both our Mothers and Fathers lineage.
Susan’s hands were always busy skillfully creating a homemade and useful gift for a family member, neighbor, or friend. When she found time to relax and watch a movie or television, her hands were actively engaged with a crochet hook or knitting needles and a ball of yarn. Susan built up a large collection of handmade gifts, which were ready at a moment’s notice for Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Weddings, and Baby Showers. Susan’s talents not only benefitted the people around her, but also some non-human individuals. She sewed a lot of doll clothing for many of us. My Barbie had a wonderful array of handcrafted outfits, which were far superior to any sold in the stores. Susan also knitted my hairless dogs several winter sweaters.
Susan was a highly skilled seamstress and could construct spectacular items with her sewing machine and serger. Her extraordinary sewing talent benefited a magnitude of people, many of which are here today. As a teenager, Susan sewed all her own clothes, as well as all the clothes for me. I have some fond memories of my favorite dresses that I wore in Elementary School. When I reached Junior High, nice slacks, but not jeans, were allowed for girls. When I got older and learned to sew, Susan taught me many helpful techniques. When Susan entered High School, she was recruited by Bessie Pack to be the primary costume seamstress for the yearly musical productions. She made dozens of elaborate costumes, often embellished with ornate details and custom fit to each drama student.
While attending college at Utah State, Susan worked at the Bernina fabric store. Our Dad used Susan’s employee discount to purchase Susan and Mother a Singer and Bernina sewing machine. Sondra had already married and she used Susan’s discount to purchase a Bernina machine as well. I recall shopping at Bernina many times while she was working. Several years later before Susan left Bernina, her and Mother upgraded and each got a top-of-the-line Bernina machine. I received the older Bernina machine. As a young teenager, I was thrilled to receive my first sewing machine and ecstatic that it was a Bernina.
With the influx of mass-produced low cost clothing, the market for sewing diminished. Susan was eager to pick up a great bargain as stores removed their fabrics or went out of business. Donald’s mother, Beth, worked in the fabric department in JC Penney. When that department was eliminated, I recall that Susan waited until the very last clearance day so she could get the rock bottom, lowest, give-away price on the remaining merchandise. She took home quite a haul of fabrics and notions that day, including a couple of pattern cabinets.
When Susan’s children were small, she was a seamstress for “Daddy’s Little Princess”, which sold feminine lacey dresses for infants and girls. The company shipped a professional serger to her home and provided the cut out clothing pieces, buttons, and laces. Susan had a weekly production quota of 25 to 60 dresses to construct, depending on retail demand. When the family took trips or when she and Donald went out of town, she would stay up all night and sew so she could complete her quota before she left town.
Susan was not afraid to commit her time and talent for long term craft projects to share with her and Donald’s extended families. Shortly after she married, Susan made us all individual Christmas stockings to hang each December. She carefully planned and designed a different theme for each stocking to personalize it according to the person’s interests or hobbies. As the extended families increased in size with marriages and children, she added new stockings. Years later, she hand-crafted sets of the Three Wisemen figures. She constructed each Wiseman by purchasing an upper body and attaching it to a gallon sized bleach bottle. She sewed biblical clothing for each, made them a crown, then added intricate embellishments to complete the outfits. Each Wiseman held a gift of Frankincense, Gold, or Myrrh, which Susan made by using the pieces of costume jewelry and common household items. Year in and year out, she was continuously making the Christmas stockings and sets of the Three Wisemen, which must have totaled close to two hundred items. This Christmas will be a special one, as we set out our Christmas Stockings and decorate our home with the Three Wisemen that she so generously shared with us all.
Another ongoing project of Susan’s was to sew the children Quillows, which is a small quilt which folds up into a pillow. She picked out the fabric tailored to the child’s interest. My boys thought of their Quillows as a cool type of “Transformer”. As older toddlers, my sons loved and treasured their Quillows, which instantly replaced their “blankie”. Those Quillows went on every car trip and vacation, to sleepovers with friends, and even on Scouting campouts. Over the years, no one ever suspected the boys were bringing along their security blanket. After the first Quillows virtually disintegrated from use, Susan made them replacements, which have been put away as a childhood keepsake.
My Sister, My Friend - Was “Just Fine”
Susan fostered a humble and down-to earth way of life that suited her “Just Fine”. She was thrifty and frugal and lived by good old-fashioned hard work, determination, and perseverance. She combined careful planning and thrifty shopping to provide the basic needs for her home and family. She lived by the old saying of “Use It Up … Wear It Out … Make it Do …or Do Without”. She did not pursue an extravagant lifestyle or base her happiness on acquired luxuries, which has become so common in our modern world. She did not worry that “the grass was greener on the other side of the fence”. Her grass may have had a few weeds and bare spots, but it was “Just Fine” for her.
Susan’s life had its peaks and valleys, but she pulled herself up by the bootstraps and did not cultivate discouragement. She accepted whatever lot was hers to bear and made the best of every circumstance. She improved what could be changed, and then cheerfully accepted the rest. Last month as the doctor was making her daily rounds, she asked Susan how she was doing. Susan replied, “I’m fine!” The doctor smiled and said “Susan, you have been ‘fine’ every time I come in here.” I am certain that Susan’s answer was quite unusual for a patient battling survival with advanced cancer. Susan endured her hardships without complaint or bitterness. Although she wanted to be healed, she trusted in God’s plan and timeline for her destiny, even if it meant that Heavenly Father would call her Home very soon.
To close I would like to reference another of the cards I received from a friend. The sentiment says “The evening time of life falls gently like the setting sun. Work on earth has ended and a well-earned rest is won”. What a joyful reunion it was when Susan return to our Heavenly home and lovingly embraced her deceased parents, father-in-law, and grandson. Susan’s memory will long remain in our tomorrows, as we remember her extraordinary talents and the generous service she so freely shared.
I loved Susan! She was My Sister … My Friend.