In the process of cleaning out a set of papers in my bedroom I came across this eulogy/tribute I wrote for my Grandmother and read at her funeral in February 2001. This is not the usual kind of thing I post on my blog, but I thought this venue would be a good place to get this out to family members who may want a copy of it. Further, Ecclessiastes tells us that “it is better to go to funerals than to festivals, and sorrow is better than laughter, for it has a refining influence on us.” Therefore, as we remember a life lived, it helps us reflect on the life we are living today. Hope you enjoy it!
“Alice May Richardson Robinson was born on May 27, 1902. May 27, 1902 . . . nearly 99 years ago. Think about that. Alice lived to see all but 800 days of the twentieth century, and almost 400 days of the 21st. She was 6 years old when the first Model T hit the streets. She was 11 years old when Cecil B. DeMille produced the first feature film. She was 18 years old when women first got the right to vote. She was 27 years old when the stock market crashed. She was 45 years old when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play professional baseball. She was 67 years old when a man first walked on the moon. She was 73 years old when Microsoft was created. What change in one lifetime!
All of you who knew Alice knew how important home was to her. You see, a few years ago, Mary Jo went over to take Alice for a drive. Alice, confused by the effects of Alzheimer’s on her brain, began to tear up, and told Mary that she wanted to go home. Mary began to ask where home was, but no matter where she mentioned, it didn’t seem to satisfy Alice. That day she didn’t seem to know where home was.
It’s not surprising that Alice would want to go home, because home was always important to her. Home was where her family was. Alice’s first home was in Laseen, Kansas where she spent the first six years of her life. Then her family moved to Gentry, Arkansas, the place Alice would call her home because it was there she met her childhood friends. It was also in Gentry where Alice learned to play the piano, a talent that would last her a lifetime. We all remember hearing Alice play ragtime hits and the “Entertainer,” but not everyone knows that Alice also played the piano for the silent movies, often losing herself in the movie, and forgetting to play until someone would start whistling a tune that she would take up and play. Gentry was home, because that is where her family was, and family was important to Alice evidenced by Alice working in the Post Office in Gentry to save enough money so her brother Frank could go to college. It was family that also led Alice to move to Seattle in 1924 to work for the “Seattle Post-Intelligencer”, as she moved out there with her aunt and uncle. Alice was truly ahead of her times, a woman in the workplace, as she also worked her way through some business school classes to improve her skills. Her time in Seattle was memorable to her, and why not – her weekends included sailing in the Peugeot Sound, quite a feat for someone who could not swim!
It was family that called Alice home from the Northwest when, after 3 years, she began to get homesick and returned to the Ozarks where (at the ripe old age of 26) she met a handsome young man over a game of pinochle that she would marry in March 1929. Alice and Glenn would start a love affair that would span almost 50 years, as they finally settled in Southwest City, Missouri after brief stints in Joplin and Kansas City. It was in 1936 that Glenn and Alice moved to Southwest City, and many people came to know them for their Drug Store, but Southwest City was home for Alice because that was where her family was. Glenn’s daughter Glenna would soon be joined by 5 new brothers and sisters as C.B., Frank, Mary Jo, Dick, and Don along with Glenn and Glenna became the center point of her life. She was a loving mother who defended her children, while teaching them hard work and respect working in the drug store, or cleaning windows on Saturday morning. Her relationship with Glenn, though, was always something special. They worked together at the drug store, but days would end with a drive through McDonald County together, and usually an ice cream cone shared at Dairy Queen before returning home to their chairs where they might work a crossword together. Glenn often told Alice she’d outlive him by 20 years, and he was almost right . . . she outlived him by 24. Her later years in Southwest City were also marked by visits from the family, grandchildren especially – 22 of them to be precise. A warm bowl of brown beans and applesauce would usually be awaiting our arrival at Mimi’s house.
Alice grew older in body, but not in attitude. She was in her 80’s when she went to the Senior Citizens lunches and then only because her younger friend invited her. As the years passed, her memory began to go, but her body and will certainly did not. On one occasion, Alice was taken to the Grove Hospital to be treated. Upon arrival, a nurse asked, “Do you know where you are?” Alice never missed a beat and said, “Yes I do. I am in the Grove Hospital, and there is the door, and I’m walking through it!” Alice would move to Grove to spend her last years. Alice now had 40 Great Grandchildren and two more on the way. What a tremendous legacy to leave. The legacy she would want to leave, for family was so important to her. Home was so important. That is why her statement to Mary that day as they drove was so appropriate, “I want to go home.” Mary’s answers of Laseen, Gentry, Seattle, Joplin, Kansas City, Southwest City, and Grove all did not seem to satisfy her. She said she wanted to go home but she didn’t know which home – none seemed to satisfy her. On February 12, 2001, Alice May Richardson Robinson died of natural causes. She got to go home. After many days of hard work, she went home to be with Glenn, probably sitting in their chairs after a hard days work once again. She went home to her Heavenly Father’s house. And this home really satisfies her. She is now home, and we are all thankful to have known her along the way.”