Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An orchid for Ivy, an unforgettable love story January 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:12 AM

This story about Ivy published in the May/June 2007 issue of Minnesota Moments magazine.

THIS MORNING, LAVERNE HOFFMAN buries the love of his life, Ivy. They were married for 63 years, have two sons, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren.

While the length of their time together certainly impresses, there is something else truly remarkable about the Hoffmans’ love story.

You won’t find this bit of information published in Ivagine E. “Ivy” Hoffman’s obituary. Yet, it is a cherished part of this Morristown couple’s relationship.

Every year since 1947, Laverne gave Ivy an orchid for Mother’s Day. How sweet is that?

A few years back, I interviewed Laverne about this tradition for a brief story published in the May/June 2007 issue of Minnesota Moments magazine. I didn’t talk to Ivy because she was in poor health and living in a care facility.

But Laverne matter-of-factly explained why he gave Ivy that annual orchid: “I had to get her something, so I got her that (an orchid).” After that first flower, Ivy came to expect an orchid and a meal out with her husband on Mother’s Day.

When I talked to Laverne in 2007, he told me that he visited Ivy every afternoon at the care facility.

“She’s been a wonderful wife,” he told me then. “I don’t think I could have ever found a better one. I kind of fell for her and she fell for me.” The two met at a dance hall along Cannon Lake near Faribault and married on September 12, 1946.

He attributed their happy, decades-long marriage to one thing—“behaving.” That comment made me smile.

Now today, as I think of the Hoffmans, I am smiling again. I never knew Ivy. But her obituary hints of a strong woman. She worked for 30 years as an LPN, among other jobs, and served as a president of the American Legion Third District Women’s Auxiliary. Perhaps most notable, at least to the public, Ivy broke ground in tiny Morristown by becoming the community’s first female city council member. She held that position for eight years and also served four months as acting mayor.

Yes, her accomplishments were many. She even pierced a 12-year-old neighbor girl’s ears using ice and a potato, according to a memory posted on the website of the funeral home handling her arrangements. Linda says she never had a bit of trouble with her ears. Another writer fondly remembers  “a great lady and friend.”

But for me, Ivy will always be defined by an orchid and by her husband’s loving words, “I don’t think I could have ever found a better one (wife).”

What a sweet, unforgettable, love story.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling