By Leah Sander
MENTONE — Kim Eiser has called Mentone home for around 40 years.
“We have a little bitty town, so everybody knows everybody and everybody’s business, so you might as well be good so people don’t know bad things about you,” she said.
If anyone in Mentone doesn’t know Eiser, they will have a chance to see her when she serves as the grand marshal of the 2021 Mentone Egg Festival’s parade.
The festival, back again after being canceled last year due to COVID-19, starts Thursday, June 3, and runs through Saturday, June 5. The parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Eiser said the festival has been a big part of her life.
“It’s not a big, huge weekend, but for people who live here, it’s just a wonderful way to have a big party and get together,” she said.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Dreams of the Future.” Eiser said her own future dreams include spending time with family.
Eiser’s family expanded recently with the birth of her first grandchild, Paige Yvonne Estep.
“I hope to spend lots of time teaching Paige things that she needs to know,” Eiser said of the future. She also added she hopes for more grandchildren.
Another dream is to spend time cheering on her former students by attending sporting events and the like. Eiser taught first and second grade for 35 years, all at Mentone Elementary School.
“My kids are a huge part of my life and I love when they fly off and do their thing and some come back home and some go far away,” she said. “That brings me joy just watching them be happy,” she said of watching them at events.
Watching her students in extracurricular activities means a lot to her as she was unable to do it physically in person for several years. That was due to being treated for cancer. The disease is in remission now.
Cancer wasn’t her first health scare. Eiser had a stroke while working at Mentone Elementary on Oct. 31, 2013.
It happened as the school day was finishing up and caused Eiser to collapse on the floor. One of her students ended up going for help.
“They’re my little heroes,” said Eiser of her students. “If they hadn’t been with me, if they hadn’t gone to get the lunch lady, if they hadn’t done what they were supposed to do, I could have been paralyzed forever.”
Eiser was able to take medicine, which reversed the effects of the stroke. She returned to teaching later in that school year.
Regardless of her health issues, Eiser considers herself to be “blessed.”
“I’m blessed beyond measure,” she said. “Just the good feelings, the friends, the family, the church family, everybody that has supported me through this cancer time and I have had the very best support at home.”
Eiser raved on the family support she has received, including from her husband of nearly 40 years, Mark Eiser, and her daughter, Brittany Estep.
The family’s 12-year-old miniature Schnauzer, Jeb, has also provided comfort to Eiser, though that it almost disappeared one day when he got lost. The dog escaped the Eiser home and ended up standing on SR 25 in front of Dollar General. Someone took him inside the store, where Eiser picked him up.
“So the town of Mentone kind of came alive and helped us figure out Jebbie’s story and here he was still in town being taken care of by people who didn’t even know him,” she said. “Well, I know them now. It’s a good little place to be if you need somebody.”