And The Winner Is: ALICE


1996 - Molly at her high school graduation with her grandparents.

1996 – Molly at her high school graduation with her grandparents.










The nominees are:

ALICE IN WONDERLAND ~ by Lewis Carroll

STILL ALICE ~ by Lisa Genova

WHAT ALICE FORGOT ~ by Liane Moriarty


ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE ~ starring Ellen Burstyn

ALICE WARNER ~ starring in No More Spitting

And the winner is (drum roll please): ALICE WARNER ~ affectionately known as Oma, mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother of ten

For her starring role as mother of Jim Warner, the precocious, adorable 5-year-old boy she caught spitting. How did she respond? She seated him on the sofa, gave him a big bowl and said. “Fill it.”   He spit and spit and spit, until his mouth was dry, and there was only about a tablespoon of spit in the bottom of the bowl.

He had to sit for a while longer and keep trying to spit. Did it break him of spitting? You betcha!

Here’s to my mother-in-law, whose son grew up to be the best husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, son-in-law, teacher, coach and overall wonderful man who to this day is a confirmed non-spitter.

1993 ~ Oma, her son Jim and granddaughter Molly

1993 ~ Oma, her son Jim and granddaughter Molly

You’ve been gone a dozen years, Oma, but we still miss you. If you were here and my mother wasn’t deep in dementia, the two of you would sit together, have a glass of iced tea, and enjoy all the antics—and the love—of your combined families.

1992, Oma holding great-granddaughter Shelbey

1992, Oma holding great-granddaughter Shelbey

Jim teaching Oma to use a computer, 1988

Jim teaching Oma to use a computer, 1988





Filed under celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren

52 responses to “And The Winner Is: ALICE

  1. Lovely! Was she of German origin? (Oma is the German equivalent of Grandma)

    • Jim’s sister Donna and her husband were stationed in Germany when their son (Alice’s first grandchild) was born. They rented an apartment where the older couple became the Oma and Opa to the baby. The nickname caught on, and all of Alice’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren called her Oma. The license plate on her car was Mom/Oma. 🙂

  2. What a great tribute to your dear mother-in-law. I am sure you are very thankful that she raised a fine young man for you to marry! She certainly knew how to cure him of a nasty habit. Many mothers could learn from her.

    • Darlene, I think that if all our mothers got together, they could create a fun book of practical child-rearing tips! This one–breaking her little boy’s habit of spitting–is one of my favorites. 😉

  3. juliabarrett

    Yep. She’s the winner. Made me laugh out loud. Great story.

  4. A lovely tribute to your mother-in-law!

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law, Marylin. She gets my vote for sure! I enjoyed all of the photos. xo

    • When Grace was a baby and Molly was pregnant with Gannon, Oma was in a nursing facility in Colorado Springs so Jim could visit her several times a day during her last months. She kept asking how many days until Molly and Grace would arrive. We would tell her and she would smile and say, “I’ll wait for them.” She died several days after they arrived and she got to hold Grace and pat Molly’s stomach where Gannon was. It was a sweet, special time.

  6. Molly

    Ohhhhh….. Oma! You were the grandma who taught me proper dinner table manners, demonstrated how to be a wonderful hostess, gave me pointers for bowling, and taught me how to be a good momma to a little boy!

    Gannon is so much like his grandpa, so full of energy and when that energy is not focused on positive things (like sports and activities) it often ends up in mischief. Oma told so many stories about how she mothered such a energetic boy, that when I had my baby boy I referenced back to her stories for assistance!

    I am sure Oma watches down from heaven with a smile on how her boy , Jim, grandfathers little Gannon!

    • Absolutely, Molly! And even though Jim’s dad, Opa, died before we knew him, from the stories we’ve heard I know he was a great man, much like your dad. I think he and Oma are both smiling from heaven as they watch Jim being a wonderful dad and grandpa. 🙂 ❤

  7. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Sweet tribute, Marylin. You were blessed with two great “moms!”

  8. Lovely post and tribute to your Mother in law…and precious family photographs.

  9. You always have clever ways to develop your themes. I like the idea of a contest with nominees. I read Still Alice when it first came out and loved the movie. Two other book titles are familiar to me, and now a new one: Alice Warner’s No More Spitting. Beats writing the “I will nots . . . ” on the blackboard – eh?

    • Thanks, Marian. When I was growing up, I didn’t have any friends named Alice, and when I married Jim, even my mother-in-law went by Oma. Now Alice is very popular again. When I thought of all the books I’d read with Alice in the title, the blog post idea just took over. 😉
      If you haven’t read What Alice Forgot, it’s a very good mystery to read.

  10. My goodness, dear Alice sounds like a wonderful woman. She’s someone I truly would have enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee with. What an awesome tribute!

  11. The spitting story tickles me. A similar story from my childhood did not go as planned. My mother made my brother sit and smoke an entire pack of cigarettes when she caught him smoking at around age 6(!). She thought he would become so ill he would never do it again. As green and sick as he was that night, he got up the next morning and said, “That was fun. Can we do it again today?” He is quite a smoker today. :-/

    • Oh, Jane! That’s what we need to do: collect and share BOTH kinds of mothering advice stories. The ones that worked, and the ones that didn’t.
      😉 Green and sick…and wanting to smoke again! That’s quite a story!

  12. Meagan

    Oma was so amazing! I remember when we would visit her in the nursing home and she had a very very old cell phone, almost the size of a brick, that she would let me play with every time. Such a wonderful and beautiful soul.

    • Oh, Meagan, such a sweet comment to share. Yes, Oma was certainly a wonderful and beautiful soul, and we were all fortunate to have her in our lives! She would be so proud of all of her family.

  13. Jane Sturgeon

    Two wonderful ‘Moms’ nurtured two beautiful souls to adulthood for you and Jim to find each other. ❤ xXx with oodles of hugs for this 'sharing'. Xx

  14. Wilson's

    Thank you for sharing, what a great story, hard to imagine Uncle Jimmy getting in trouble?!! Uncle Jim is the best as are you Aunt Marylin – we love you xoxo

  15. What a sweet and touching story, Marylin. When I was brought up in Germany my Opa and Oma lived with us. My Oma died when I was six but my Opa became a very special person in my live. My mother told me that whenever I cried as a baby he carried me around and later would never allow anybody to discipline me ( I needed it sometimes) , including my parents.

    • That’s what a grandfather is supposed to do, Gerlinde, carrying around his beloved baby granddaughter and refusing to let others discipline her. 😉 I love it! You were fortunate to have your grandparents live with you, and I’m sure your Opa was missing your Oma after she died.

      • He missed her horrible. I rember how he carried her in his arms because she was too weak to walk. He also missed me when I came to the United States.

  16. Jim

    Thank you, sweetie, for a wonderful tribute to my mom. She did teach me many important lessons, even when I was quite young. Since this week’s blog is about her, may I tell you in loving detail about another childhood lesson she taught me, one that has affected me for my entire life?

    It happened when I was five or fewer years old. I know my approximate age because I wasn’t in first grade yet. I remember going lots of places with my mom before I was school age. This particular day Mom loaded me into the car when my dad was at work and my sis was in school. We drove sixty-five miles to Denver to go on another shopping trip to The Denver Dry Goods Co. Mom was born and raised in Denver and always felt right at home in downtown Denver. After following Mom through all the boring Ladies’ and Household departments in the store, I finally got to look around in the toy department. This was always my big treat though Mom never bought me anything. I just looked at all the boys’ toys and made a mental list to tell Santa next Christmas. As if. 🙂

    Time came to leave the store. We had been walking round ‘n round through the fun rotating-door onto the sidewalk when it happened. I saw a man sitting on a flat wooden platform with small wheels on four corners. His pant legs were tied in big knots because he didn’t have any legs. He was holding a tin cup in his left hand and another cup sat on the platform next to him. The cup in his left hand held pencils with little flags attached to each. The cup resting on the platform had a few coins in it. The coins were mostly nickels and pennies. I knew what nickels and pennies looked like because I would get one when I was good or I did a little “chore” for Mom or Dad. The man looked at Mom as we passed and offered the pencil-cup. Mom started to open her purse. Before she got it open, I snickered and said, “Look, Mommy, he doesn’t have legs!” Mom grabbed me by the hand and yanked me as fast as I could walk toward the street corner. She bent over (possibly kneeling on the pavement) bringing her head to my exact eye level, held me by both arms, and made me look straight into her eyes. Her voice sounded shaky but her eyes didn’t waver. “Don’t you ever make fun of anyone different from you. Not ever again! You hear me, young man?” I felt like crying, but I held it in and nodded ‘yes’ I heard. “That man lost his legs in the war,” she whispered.

    I knew I had done something terribly wrong and my mom was hurt and ashamed. My dad had been in “The War.” He came home safely when I was one-year old. Now it was 1949. I was five or so. Sure, I knew about war already, or so I thought. My dad was my hero. All Americans were. We boys in the neighborhood ‘played war’ all the time. We fought over whose turn it was to be the Americans. I guess I thought war was fun and everyone’s dad came home safely. I didn’t know it yet but I soon would: My own dad had a hard time after the war. I heard him crying one night and my mom told me it was the war.

    Mom and I glanced over at the wounded veteran after the scolding was over. He had been watching us. He still held the pencil-cup in his left hand. He set it down on the platform and gave Mom a polite salute with his right hand. Then he looked across those several sections of pavement straight at me. We were on the same eye-level. He looked at me with serious, I don’t know, almost sad eyes but then smiled slightly and nodded as if to say “OK”. Mom took my hand again, gently this time, and led me toward the car. When we got in the car, Mom’s eyes looked sad. I told her I was sorry. She said she knew I was and it was OK. I dug in my pocket and pulled out two nickels I had for ice cream. I asked if I could give them to the man. She shook her head ‘no’ and said it wouldn’t be right. She said I could put the nickels in the basket at church instead. I didn’t understand everything that day. Nevertheless, I knew in my heart that the day had been big, but I didn’t know yet how big. Thanks to my mom, the lesson of that day would accompany me for a lifetime.

    My mom didn’t like to gossip. She didn’t do it and she seemed to tune-out people when they gossiped. She always told my sister and me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Mom belonged to the Pre-Civil Rights generation which seemed to tolerate bigotry in its many ugly forms all too often. But not my mom. She didn’t have it in her. I learned by her example at a very young age and over many years that respecting “different” does indeed apply reverently to wounded veterans; respecting “different” also applies to people with any kind of disability; to people of different cultures, social status, race or religion. I don’t ever remember my mom being prejudiced or bigoted toward anyone. Regarding the current rainbow movement, if Mom were alive today, I think she would probably say to folks, “Start with mutual respect and go from there.” As for all the unspeakable violence and warring factions in the world these days, I wish my mom were alive. I would ask her advice and listen intently. Maybe “Alice for President”!

    • Oh, Jim, your mother was such a lady–polite, respectful, kind–who also never blinked or turned away from injustice or bias of any kind. This is a perfect example. Thank you for sharing this, honey. I love you. ❤

  17. Just skimming here but loving Jim’s long-but-worth-reading story and comment. I would vote for Alice for President. And the spitting story is a classic! Bless you all for lifting my day. Already!

  18. Marylin, thank you for sharing these precious family photos and for making me laugh once again with the lesson of spitting. ❤️

  19. Cindy Speas

    Aunt Alice and Uncle Bud provided the east coast Speas family with a fantastic Colorado welcome every other summer. We would drive three long days across the country to visit Grandma and Grandpa Speas. Alice was indeed the hostess with the mostest, planning activities or family reunions without batting an eyelash. My favorite times with her were when we were both up early and, over coffee for her and cereal for me, she’d tell family stories or show me beautiful family heirlooms and pictures or respectfully listen to my little girl thoughts, with a smile and a twinkle. Her warm and loving heart made me feel so special. I always strove to be on my best behavior, because I never wanted to see that disappointed look that Jim talks about! Here’s an Alice AND Jim memory: on one trip, we arrived in Colorado on my 12th birthday. Jim presented me with a dozen red roses (I have a photo somewhere of all the cousins and me, in the middle holding the flowers, with the mountains as backdrop), and I was over the moon with such a sweet gesture. My guess is that if Aunt Alice didn’t suggest it directly that day, her example of how to do the right thing was already an inspiration to her wonderful, then 18 year old son. I miss the times that Alice and my dad, and Uncle Paul and Aunt Rita Arlene would sit around the dining room table at the Warner house and tell stories. Thanks for the memories, Alice!

  20. Cindy, thank you for these memories! I can just see you and Alice having your early morning talks, with her drinking coffee and you eating cereal. And a dozen long-stemmed red roses for your 12th birthday is such a thoughtful and loving gesture! These family memories are beautiful! ❤

  21. Definitely sounds like the most worthy Alice snagged the award! And her precious granddaughter, Molly, looks soooooo familiar! Hmmmmmm, where have a seen that face before?!? 🙂

    • That was Molly in 9th grade, already 5’9″, Shel! 🙂
      These pictures bring back such memories. Now her daughter is almost 13 and her son is almost 12, and they’re growing up so fast.

  22. A beautiful tribute, Marylin! Such a great life lesson. Wonderful! XO

  23. Thanks, Robyn. And if any of your children start spitting, I know Oma would have gladly shared this solution with you. 😉

  24. Cristy Hitchcock

    This is wonderful Marylin, and cousin Jim, your memory of the veteran just made me cry! Growing up and living in Florida my visits to Colorado were few and usually many years apart but my best memories include Aunt Alice and Uncle Bud. She was always so interested in what was happening in my life. Most adults of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s really didn’t listen very carefully to kids like they do now. Maybe Art Linkletter! Aunt Alice ALWAYS took the time to listen, ask questions and be genuinely interested in what Cristy was doing, my school, my work, and even my love life! She is so very missed. I loved reading everyone’s memories.

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