Monday, January 12, 2009
Remembering Aunt Evie
Remembering Aunt Evie (Evelyn (Stuhlman) Bierman)
(My aunt, passed away on January 7. This is a version of the remarks I prepared for her funeral)
When I was growing up couples who were celebrating their 25th or 50th wedding anniversaries were given a bracha on Shabbat morning. After that bracha if there was a couple getting married soon, the rabbi said the veteran married couples were setting the example.
Aunt Evie set the example. She had seven sibling, including one who died before she was born. She is the last survivor of her sibling. She is the last of her generation. As I was preparing these remarks I talked to my sisters and they have totally different remembrances of Aunt Evie. He got married when I was seven years old, however, I don't remember the wedding. I know I was there because I'm in the photographs. My first vivid memories are visiting her in Moberly. MO as an eight year old. I went with Marla, who was two years younger, by train. I still find it hard to believe that my parents let us go on a three hour train ride without an adult. Marla wore white gloves and we acted like seasoned travelers. We went to Moberly once a year for several years. We got to know Aunt Evie and Uncle Ralph's neighbors, family and friends. They lived in a small house on a hill on a huge lot. We couldn't even see the street from their windows of their house. They took us swimming at their country club and shopping downtown. Downtown was close enough to walk from their house. I really don't remember much else about the visits.
Rissa remembers going on the train with cousin Lisie and once with cousin Leah. They, too, wore white gloves to go downtown. They sledded down Aunt Evie and Uncle Ralph's big hill. Rissa also remembers driving to Moberly for Thanksgiving and soon as we got there Aunt Evie would have chopped liver and crackers for us.
Aunt Evie and Uncle Ralph came to St. Louis at least two times a year that I remember-- Yom Kippur and Pesah. Aunt Evie and Uncle Ralph came to St. Louis at least two times a year that I remember-- Yom Kippur and Pesah. Aunt Evie’s job was the make the salt water for the sedar plate. The salt water needed the ratio of salt and water to be exactly right. The seder guests even complemented her on the solution.
After Uncle Ralph retired they moved to St. Louis to be closer to family. In our later years one can afford to take the time to be with people, learn, and practice the wisdom developed over the years in the “rat race.” Retirement is in some ways the Shabbat of our lives. Retirees are able to rest body and soul giving one the opportunity for growth in knowledge. Uncle Ralph liked to tell us about the community college courses that he so much enjoyed. I don't remember Aunt Evie taking or talking about courses. However, Aunt Evie wanted everything in order. Meals had to be on time and with the table exactly set. She taught us manners and derech eretz. She even visited our home in Chicago a few times. She even volunteered to take on some of my worries. Hopefully, we learned from her that fields and flowers are far more beautiful than ever before. Every holiday, every regular day we will remember that for Aunt Evie her family and community were important. She always sent a card or called on birthdays to all her nieces and nephews. She was at an age that she though long distance calls were only for special occasions or sad news. I called her a few times just to say hello.
Aunt Evie never liked to think of herself as old – and that's how Rissa remembers her, vibrant and active – walking through Cosco with Gavin before Naomi's bat mitzvah – the two of them on a search for chocolate cake.
Since she never had children we will have to be her legacy.