by Sharon Tausch
There is a time and a season for all things, and according to Stover residents Kay and Andy Armstrong, there is no better time than the present to spread a little cheer, especially if there is a holiday involved.
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, like any other holiday, brought with it a certain amount of good cheer and fellowship. This year, however, the Irish holiday fell on virtually the first week of the quarantine mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic that is wreaking havoc on global populations. Especially for hospital workers, nurses, and residents of nursing homes and senior care centers.
Little things can mean a lot, and on St. Patrick’s day Tuesday, March 17, as Andy was loading delivery items for Kay’s Kreations to go to Golden Age Living Center, Kay had the idea to send a free green and white holiday flower arrangement with him to present to the staff.
“I just thought it might bring a smile to someone’s face to see a St. Patty’s Day arrangement to commemorate the day, and never gave it another thought,” Kay said. It was not long, however, before someone else’s thoughts about her generosity were made public on social media.
Kay later learned from another person’s Facebook post her last-minute decision to send a holiday arrangement to the local nursing home was greatly appreciated by those who passed by it throughout the day.
“I didn’t think of it as a big deal, but if it made people smile it made me happy, too,” she said. “I was just thinking it was hard on everybody living there and working there during this isolation period and wanted to spread a little cheer for the day.”
The hardest part of dealing with the coronavirus situation for people who are “people” people, is having to isolate themselves from their friends and loved ones and, according to Kay, she and Andy are definitely “people” people. “We love working with others for causes or just having a good time at a gathering,” Kay said. “But right now, that isn’t possible, so we need to do whatever we can to get through this, and help wherever we can.”
An organization in which the Armstrongs are involved is the Missouri Rural Community Crisis (MRCC) organization that helps bring food to those who are in needed to the VFW Post 5178 in Gravois Mills for distribution. In addition to working with MRCC, Andy is a U.S. Navy veteran who enjoys promoting local activities for his fellow veterans. He is the trustee for the Post, and Kay is the auxiliary secretary. They go to meetings each month and the auxiliary has a monthly fundraiser called “Show Me The Money,” and Saturday, April 4 is the date scheduled for the party for special needs children from local areas. “The children play games, we feed them, and have a good time,” Kay said. “But all activities may need to be postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.”
Other activities and events at the VFW hall include Friday night fish dinners from March to October. The site has a bar, and Friday night features karaoke. Kay said these happenings may need to be postponed for a while, but she is not complaining. “I agree with what President Trump is trying to do, and I have faith God is going to get us through this,” she said.
Like other merchants and business owners in Stover and its surrounding areas, Kay’s Kreations is doing its part to accommodate customers by taking remote orders and keeping their business open. Kay said a global pandemic was the last thing on her mind when she began thinking about opening a shop, and when she and Andy opened the doors for business in late November, she was excited to be living her dream, having no idea the community was going to be going through an isolation period in a few months.
One aspect that has not changed for Kay and Andy regarding the COVID-19 situation is their attitude. “We will continue doing what we do, taking precautions as we go along. We will get through this together with everyone else,” Kay said.
Growing up the daughter of parents who were both ministers, Kay is thankful for having been provided with a religious background that gave her a strong faith and trust in God. Like nearly everyone else at one time or another, she has gone through times where her faith has brought her through.
“This difficult time we are going through now is no different,” Kay said. “We will get through it. Right now, I am working on flower arrangements for two weddings taking place in May. Andy continues watering the plants because he is better at knowing how much water they need than I am, and we continue enjoying being at home with our two chi-weenies,” said Kay.
Chi-weenies are little dogs that are a mixture of Chihuahua and Dachshund breeds. “You can tell which dog has the most of the two varieties in it,” Andy said. “The oldest is predominantly chihuahua and is rather aggressive, and the younger one is more laid back with more of the Dachshund bred into him.”
“They are very interesting to watch,” said Kay.
At home or at the floral and craft shop, Kay and Andy enjoy working together. “I couldn’t do what I do without Andy,” Kay said. “He helps me with some of the tasks I am unable to do and makes deliveries to our customers.” Andy said he likes delivering flowers and being able to discover the area, especially in the country, and he enjoys working with growing things. Kay said she is glad he likes to make the deliveries because she fears she might get lost in the country. “He also enjoys meeting the people he delivers to,” Kay said. “I enjoy meeting people who come into the shop and creating the arrangements, and working with my sister Brenda who creates the jewelry for the shop.”
The Armstrongs have been Stover residents since 2018. Prior to their marriage, Andy was from Garden Plain, Kan. and Kay lived in Sedalia. “We seem well-matched. I like to talk, and Andy loves being able to help other people, ride his motorcycle, and run the back roads. We both like to camp with our RV and fish, although I catch more rocks than fish,” Kay said. Life, for the Armstrongs, has been good, and they do not intend to let the pandemic discourage their faith in the future.
According to Kay, she and Andy are not so much afraid of getting the coronavirus, although they both have heart issues and Kay is a diabetic. They are more concerned about their children and what lies ahead for the coming year. “My biggest worry is the kids and grandchildren,” she said. “This year, a grandson will graduate and we’re wondering if there will be a ceremony, and my youngest daughter is having a baby. We’re all just hoping to get back some type of normalcy as soon as possible.”
Kay and Andy are looking forward to getting back to normal and putting the COVID-19 dilemma behind them so they can look forward to local group activities and family gatherings again. Kay has three children, Kristal and Nick Smith of Smithton, who have three children Masun, Abbey, and Harly; Travis Clark of Sedalia; and Taylor Rew and husband Derek of Sedalia. Andy has two stepchildren, Justin and Allison Strickland of Wichita, Kan., and Samantha Strickland of Kansas City. Andy has a brother and a sister in Georgia and Kay has a sister.
Family, friends, and making new friends are all important to the Armstrongs. Equally important is being able to do whatever they can to make life easier during trying times for others. If someone is in need and Andy or Kay can help, they will be there to offer their help and spread a little cheer along the way.
by Sharon Tausch