How can you say goodbye to someone you have known for your whole life? How can you say goodbye to someone who has been a part of your life, a part of your memories, since before you can remember? …
How can you say goodbye to someone you have known for your whole life? How can you say goodbye to someone who has been a part of your life, a part of your memories, since before you can remember?
My Aunt Anne passed away this week, and the world shifted slightly on its axis. Anne was the last of her generation in our family; a child born in 1926, just weeks before my own mother, Shirley Kohler, was born in Kohlertown. Anne was born in the apartment over the Democrat to Nellie Catherine Stevens Stabbert and Fred W. Stabbert, Sr. on July 4.
I remember my Grandma Nellie telling me that the doctor had prescribed Guinness stout for her, believed to help nursing mothers. Though Grandma had taken the abstinence pledge, Grandpa was only too happy to enjoy the stout, but little baby Anne nevertheless grew big and strong. And determined. She never stopped learning, never stopped challenging herself, and never gave up.
I grew up next door to Aunt Anne and her husband Perk Robisch, and their four children, my first cousins. Tim, Anne Marie, Elaine, and David were the primary playmates of my three sisters, my brother and me throughout our childhood, with games of whiffle ball, kickball or shadow tag held every night after dinner.
Anne's house was our second home, and I spent many happy hours there. Anne was always available for a talk about nearly anything—I remember talking her ear off about The Who's “Tommy”, a rock opera that enthralled me. And she listened.
But Anne was a perpetual motion machine. I never knew her to be standing still for long. She did it all, and she did it with style and perfection.
She baked my wedding cake and the wedding cakes of everyone in the family (Claire, the story is confirmed. See below). She sewed wedding dresses and bridesmaid gowns.
Anne mastered anything she started, from baking to cooking to making quilts. She ran church kitchens in Callicoon and Florida and worked diligently in every community endeavor she undertook. Hers was truly a life of service.
Anne did nothing by halves. When she decided to go back to the university to complete her teaching degree, she drove from Callicoon to Oneonta to take her classes every day. She became a first-grade teacher at Delaware Valley Central School and taught innumerable children to read, starting the Reading Is Fundamental program locally so that DVCS children could get free books.
When my mother was lying in her death bed, Anne showed up to be with us, working in Mom's kitchen and giving comfort to us all, especially Mom.
If anyone has earned her rest, it is my dear Aunt Anne. Her love and handiwork have blessed generations of our family and so many others. When I think of her, I always remember that traditional Methodist hymn “Work for the night is coming, when man's work is o'er.”
Aunt Anne, may you rest in peace—all your many works here have been well done.