"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls and Love

For as long as I can remember my nickname among my immediate family has been KeichaBell. When I was very young, around three or four years old, I made frequent visits to my neighbor's house a few doors down, always announcing my arrival by ringing the doorbell. I remember being so small that I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach the bell. The neighbor, an older woman named Sister Kunz (in the LDS religion adult women are referred to as sister and adult men as brother) gave me the nickname.  My earliest visits were spent sitting next to her on her bed, as she was immobilized recovering from her first knee replacement surgery. She'd do her leg exercises and I'd lie next to her, mimicking her every motion. 
Lois Kunz
November 15, 1917 - December 20, 2012
Yesterday I learned that Sister Kunz had died. She was in her nineties and I knew she hadn't been well, so her death wasn't unexpected, but I was saddened by it nonetheless.  As I looked at her picture with her obituary, memories came flooding back to me. It's been years since I've seen her, but seeing her great smile and warm eyes made her giggle and laughter come flooding back into my memory. She had a great giggle, and was often delighted, telling funny stories with a contagious glee that made a vivid impression on my young mind. 

Until yesterday, I never really thought about what a nuisance I must have sometimes been to her and her family. That she never acted or showed anything but love and a warm welcome to me is a testament to her kind, generous nature. In fact, as I reflect on those years I realize many of my memories of that period of time in my life are from her home. Most Sundays found me sitting with her during church instead of my family, riding home from church and staying for Sunday dinner, often joined by her adult children. I can still picture the stools at her counter that I'd sit and spin back and forth on while I watched her cook and frequently bake her famous dinner and cinnamon rolls.  After dinner, I'd watch the Lawrence Welk show with her and her husband while I played with the Barbies that belonged to her older teenage daughter. 

Sister Kunz was always busy, even when she was sitting and watching TV her hands were seldom idle. She did beautiful knitting and crochet work, and was almost always working on a baby blanket or booties. In her basement there were frequently quilts up on blocks, as she was also a talented quilter. I think I probably took my first stitches on a quilt on one of her beautifully hand-stitched creations. In my cedar chest, where I keep things I treasure and plan to keep forever, I have a set of placemats she crocheted as a gift for my first wedding, and a miniature quilt she made especially for my baby doll. I also treasure her cinnamon roll recipe, which is the only one I've ever used. 
Although the actual number of years I spent in frequent contact with her was small, since we moved away from her neighborhood when I was seven, her influence on my life was huge. In her home I always felt special and welcome. She treated me as she would a cherished grandchild, always patient and interested in everything I had to say. Her hugs were the kind of soft, grandmotherly hugs that make a small child feel incredibly safe and loved. In her home I wasn't a younger sister, competing for attention with my siblings, or waiting for attention from my busy, overwhelmed parents. I was simply her Keicha Bell, a little girl who for some reason was always welcomed with open arms, a warm smile, a hug and an abundance of love. 


  1. She does have a beautiful smile; I'm sure she is deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.
    It sounds like she loved you very much.
    My condolences to you, Keisha...or as she called you, KeishaBell.

  2. I had forgotten how you got the nickname of Keicha Bell. Sister Kunz was a blessing in our lives. You have written a beautiful tribute to her. XO

  3. What a sweet person, and a very wonderful memory post. I can see you in my mind's eye reaching for that bell, Keicha. People like her enrich everyone's lives. You were very fortunate to know her and thank you for sharing this memory with me. :-)

  4. She sounds like a wonderful woman, a real gift to your life. Every child should have someone like that -- not family, just someone who loves you. You were blessed.


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