Continuing to Celebrate Aunt Alice’s 100th Birthday in Heaven

Thank you to Kristi Enghauser Berland for letting me use one of my favorite pictures of Aunt Alice. It was taken on Christmas Day, several years before Aunt Alice died.

I think this is the last of a four-week post about Aunt Alice.  If you knew Aunt Alice, you would certainly say she deserved to have so many blog posts about her.

I asked my relatives to contribute their thoughts about Aunt Alice.  Thank you to those of you who did.  I apologize if I accidentally omitted anyone. 

These thoughts about Aunt Alice are in no particular order.

My cousin, Marty McClellan Babbington, wrote, “Aunt Alice single-handedly kept Hallmark and the USPS in business.”  Marty, indeed, she did!  I miss Aunt Alice nearly every day, but I still find myself looking for a Hallmark card from her every holiday, no matter how small the holiday may be.  I bet Aunt Alice sent out at least 50 Valentine cards every year, along with the other holidays.  And if you so much as had a sniffle,and she knew about it, you got a get well card on the double.

Marty continues with these words:  “My favorite memories of Aunt Alice always surrounded our trips to Florida to visit Uncle Earl and her.  The trips to Kmart for the Early Bird Special, which was a Fish Fry (and had a line out of the door if you weren’t there by 4:30), the bike rides (Aunt Alice on her three wheeler) and the special side trips.  They SPOILED me and Chris Hinds (my first cousin who was in middle school and I was going into my Senior Year of High School).  They took us to Busch Gardens AND on an Airboat ride of the Everglades.  They also took us for a Beach Day on the Gulf.  When I went with my girlfriend, Andrea, we played cards every night and they let us each have a Bailey’s (we weren’t old enough to drive, but guessing we were about 15).  I LOVED how we all gathered around the TV to watch the weather report in Ohio.  Aunt Alice would get such delight in how much it was snowing or how cold it was in Ohio, when we were in Florida.”

And Marty also counts this as a favorite memory:  “When Aunt Alice and Uncle Earl got married she let me make her wedding cake.  It was my gift to her, but she still gave me $100.  That was a HUGE amount for doing what I loved (and it was probably a very ugly cake, though I was proud of it) and for a 13 year-old kid.  She was SO GENEROUS.”  Indeed, Aunt Alice was always generous, Marty!

Marty concludes by saying, “Aunt Alice  always made you so happy, she always had fun and you had fun with her and made you feel so loved.”  Marty, you are so right! I could have truthfully written the same thing!  

Another cousin, Paula Long Dunham, remembers, “I don’t have a favorite memory except how thoughtful she was. She ALWAYS sent cards – birthday, Easter, thanksgiving, anniversary, and Christmas. she always signed them, ‘Lots of love & best wishes.'”

Paula continues to remember:  “Aunt Alice was strong.  She  outlived two husbands. She was always kind, generous,  down to earth upbeat, interested and funny!   I loved her jokes.”  Paula, you are so right!

My cousin, Michael Cummins’, wife, Joan, says her “Favorite memory is spending hours together at the nursing home putting jigsaw puzzles together and learning family history (being an “outlaw” meant I had not heard most of the family stories).”  Joan, Aunt Alice had our family history tucked away in her mind, but I’m glad she wrote the important dates on paper!

Kristi Enghauser Berland was Uncle Earl’s granddaughter;  we met when Aunt Alice and Uncle Earl got married.  (Aunt Alice’s first husband,  Uncle Paul, died of liver cancer in January of 1976. Uncle Earl’s first wife passed away about the same time. Uncle Earl and Aunt Alice met as they walked around their neighborhood.)

Like everyone else, Kristi has “a lot of great memories!  I remember visiting them in Florida and learning to play different card games.  She had so many good jokes and funny stories in addition to her life stories.  I remember going with her, my mom, and my kids to Chuck E Cheese.  She really seemed to enjoy giving them the coupons to get their coins for the games.  Then she would hold the coins and tickets, so everyone would be continually running back and forth the whole time.  I also remember the things she used to make with the yarn (not sure what they are called) and, of course, all of her puzzles!” 

Kristi, I must admit…..I’m not completely sure what you’re referring to regarding the yarn, but could they have been macramé plant holders?  Kristi, thank you for telling us about Chuck E. Cheese!  I’m hungry now!

Kristi’s brother, Kevin Enghauser, echoes all of our thoughts when he says,. “ I have so many great memories, it’s hard to narrow down!   Some of my favorites are below.”

Kevin says, “We would visit Alice and my grandfather Earl as children at their
Florida home over the Easter holiday.  They would always make it special, including hiding Easter eggs in the yard and a nice Easter dinner.  Of course, we would spend time at the beach and get sunburned during our visits.  Every night before going to bed, Alice would make us a big bowl of ice cream and mix Chex cereal into it!  It was so good!  Something I would always look forward to!”  Oh, Kevin, the ice cream with Chex sounds wonderful…..I’m going to try to remember to try that the next time I have ice cream!

Another favorite memory that Kevin shares is this:  “My wife Rebecca and I (we were dating, not yet married) went to Florida and visited with Alice (this was after Earl passed away).  She had a very close group of friends (many I had met years earlier) and they played cards and dominoes regularly.  Rebecca and I had such a great time listening to their stories, laughing and enjoying our time together. Such wonderful memories.” 

Finally, Kevin says, “Most of all, she always treated me and my entire family as her own. After my grandfather (Earl) died, she could have gone her own way. You hear about those things happening. Instead, we grew closer. She was always there for us. I loved her, the same as a biological grandmother and she loved us right back. She loved the kids and they loved visiting her as well. She loved her puzzles, especially when she lived in the nursing home. She gave a couple puzzles to us before she passed. We have them framed and hanging in our home, in her memory!” That sums up Aunt Alice’s life quite well, I believe.

All of the above and more are some of our favorite memories of Aunt Alice.  I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t include this: If you’re looking for a way to ensure you read through the entire Bible in a year, I’ll repeat what I heard  Aunt Alice say many times. And every time she said it, she prefaced it by saying, “Aunt Lillie used to say…..” (Aunt Lillie was my grandmother’s sister, so she was my great-aunt, and an extremely religious woman.) Aunt Lillie’s wise words were to “Read three chapters of the Bible every day except Sunday. On Sundays, read five chapters. By the end of the year, you’ll have read the entire Bible.” Actually, you’ll finish a couple of days before December 31 rolls around.

I think it’s fair to say that Aunt Alice built herself into so many lives that she will never truly die.

Copyright February 10, 2021 by Marty McClellan Babbington, Paula Long Dunham, Joan Cummins, Kristi Enghauser Berland, Kevin Enghauser, and Rebecca Henderson.