Aunt Alice was supposed to be taking an art class on Tuesday. Instead, she lie in a hospital bed, on this her final day. We saw her on Monday. She told us about how her friend, Joan, had died just days earlier with her best friend and a glass of wine … “Soon,” Joan said. “Soon.” Then, she was gone. It was a good way to go, she said.
Then it was here turn. It was far too soon for Aunt Alice to leave us like she did. I hope, surrounded by lots of love from her best friend and husband, Uncle Ed.
We had Aunt Alice years longer than we expected. I always told people it was because she unselfishly prayed, not for her self when diagnosed with cancer, but for her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was always praying.
When we found out she had cancer some years ago, Uncle Ed invited us to a party at Beaver Bay where they had a summer cabin. It was one of many parties hosted by the “keepers of the family traditions” – Ed and Alice.
This party was for Alice – to celebrate with her healthy and alive and not wait until a funeral to have a gathering. It was 2005, according to my Uncle Clifton and Aunt Laverna. I only recall one comment that day made by Alice’s daughter Sheila, who said, “All that is good in me, comes from my mother.”
I could write a book about dear Aunt Alice, but not now. It kinda hurts to much. Alice kept the family together by hosting countless Christmas parties for the Kasemans. Ed and Alice had the Bismarck nieces and nephews over countless times for Ed’s German specialties. He was my inspiration for trying my hand at Grandma’s pickles; strudles and other traditional foods. He shared recipes with me and Alice shared the family history with photographs and handwritten narratives.
Ed had a green thumb and grew roses for Alice. She loved flowers and painted them on glass so they would be eternal. When my grandparents passed, they inherited “the grandma plant.” One year for Christmas, she started a cutting for each of the nieces and nephews at the annual Christmas party. I have that plant and many cuttings as we continue to pass it along to our children.
There were glass ornaments and other tiny tokens of her love each year we came together. In the past few years, the parties became small dinners for the local folks. Good times and good food. Alice loved to paint. She took many art classes and inspired her granddaughters to create also. When JC and I had the privilege of staying with Ed and Alice at their condo on South Padre Island, Texas, the first thing we did was take an art class in Zen Doodling. It was great.
I could fill a book with Alice’s kindnesses … but not now. Now, I am so thankful that the last words I said to her were, “I love you and we will take care of Uncle Ed for you.”
Maybe I will have a chance to get all the stories on paper, but for now I just want to reflect on Aunt Alices’s wonderful life.