I received this email today, from the Juneau church of Christ:
"Evie H passed on this morning with Arlene and Bill by her side. She had been on oxygen and in failing health this past week but she was at peace and ready to go be with Stan. She went peaceably made comfortable by the staff at the Juneau Pioneers Home. She was the first convert in 1946 when a group from Pepperdine came to Juneau for a 6 week campaign. She was baptized in the Gastineau Channel about midnight. She and Stan were wonderful, faithful Christians who showed God's love in their lives every day to everyone.
There will not be any services per Evie's request."
Humble in her death as she was in life, it doesn't surprise me that Evie requested no memorial service. There will be no ceremony, but that won't stop everyone who knew Evie from celebrating her life, and grieving her loss, in their own way.
As a child, I remember thinking that Evie looked like Aunt Bea, from the Andy Griffith Show. She and Stan were originally from Maine, and, even after their many years in Alaska, never lost their peculiar-but-delightful manner of speech, adding "r"s where there were none, and omitting them where they belonged. We all teased them about that, especially since they named their daughter "Arlene," but pronounced it "Al-lene."
In her younger years, Evie used to drive a little black Volkswagen bug. When the streets were deep in snow, she could get around town when, it seemed, no one else could. We lived at the top of a very steep hill. On snowy Sunday mornings, when we found ourselves stranded up there, we would inevitably hear the distinctive sound of Evie's little bug, climbing our hill to bring us down to church. We never asked her to come; she would just show up, laughing off our words of thanks.
I always thought that winter might be Evie's favorite season. Once the lakes froze over, she and Stan would pack up a car-full of kids and take us out to Auke or Mendenhall Lake to ice skate. I remember just standing there, on my wobbly skates, sipping the hot cocoa they never failed to provide, and watching the two of them skate off together. Although they were both jolly and plump on land, once they laced up their skates, they became as graceful as a pair of Olympic ice dancers, holding hands and gliding across the lake.
When I was in the fifth grade, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I became very ill. Although the doctors weren't able, at first, to diagnose my problem, it turned out to be an abscessed tooth that took me out of commission for two weeks. My jaw swelled up so badly that I couldn't open my mouth. I was having a hard time taking in food, and my strength was failing. Until, that is, Evie showed up at our apartment, toting a container of warm, homemade custard sauce. It was thin enough to drink, and I thought it was the best thing I'd ever tasted. Evie was tickled that I liked it, and each day brought me another container of her homemade custard. Maybe it's a little over-dramatic to attribute Evie and her custard with saving my life, but in my 11-year-old mind, that's exactly how it felt.
I had heard that Evie's health was failing this past week, and I prayed that her passing would be peaceful; I believe my prayers were answered. Stan must be thrilled to finally have his Evie there, by his side. I'd like to think of them as holding hands, once again, and skating together across some heavenly lake.