Aunt Cecilia is 100 Years Old Today!

A centenarian! That’s what my Aunt Cecelia is today. Born March 28, 1915, Aunt Ceci is one-hundred years old. According to one source, only 7347 U. S. citizens are now 100 years old, and today my aunt has joined their ranks. Special things will happen to her today. Aunt Cecilia Risser Metzler will receive a letter from President Obama. Friends and relatives will send her cards. Her family is planning a reception in her honor. Who knows what else is in store for her.

Last May, when Mother was still alive I wrote a post about her and her sister-in-law Cecilia, then both nonagenarians. You can read it here. Aunt Cecilia is my last remaining aunt on my mother’s side of the family. She’s IT. And what a life she has lived!

In an article that ran in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal (Sept. 20, 2004) journalist Lori Van Ingen listed all the volunteer service that has spanned Aunt Cecilia’s life time. Mother sent this article to me with a sticky note referring to her own volunteering at C. B, Choice Books.

2004_0920_The Intelligence+note

Her Service

  • Pastor’s wife with my Uncle, Rev. Clyde Metzler at Hernley’s Mennonite Church near Manheim for 31 years (1943-1974) where visiting members and volunteering got into her blood, where it became “her line of work, really,” she says. She sent out 15-18 birthday cards monthly for many years.
  • Partner with her husband at Mount Joy Furniture Hospital, Mount Joy, PA
  • Volunteer at Nearly Nu Thrift Shop in Manheim, PA.
  • Kitchen Assistant for 5 years for Meals on Wheels where she created menus and was involved in daily food preparation.
  • Served at Mt. Hope Dunkard Brethren Home in Manheim for 7 years, feeding residents, pushing wheelchairs, writing letters for them, and doing some mending. She also played the harmonica for residents, a skill she learned from her dad.
  • Volunteer at The Mennonite Home for 8 years where she fed and read to the residents, worked in the thrift shop at the home and helped in the laundry.

Some Losses

The life of Cecilia Risser Metzler, volunteer extraordinaire, has not been a bed of roses unless one considers that roses have thorns. Her youngest daughter Eunice, engaged to be married to Robert Keener, died suddenly of complications from a congenital heart condition. A few years after Eunice’s death, Clyde and Cecilia drove from their home in Pennsylvania to Goshen, Indiana to attend Robert’s subsequent wedding to Rhoda, but not without misgivings. The Metzlers both had considered Bob a member of the family, so it felt awkward to attend his marriage to someone else, another reminder of the loss of their precious Eunice. In the course of time, however, Bob’s wife Rhoda learned about the death of Cecilia’s husband Clyde only 4 years after their daughter’s death and wanted to know more about Cecilia as a real person, and not just the mother of Eunice, her husband’s former fiancée.

Uncle Clyde and Aunt Cecilia Metzler attending the wedding reception of Robert and Rhoda Keener in Goshen, Indiana - March 18, 1972
Uncle Clyde and Aunt Cecilia Metzler attending the wedding reception of Robert and Rhoda Keener in Goshen, Indiana – March 18, 1972. Illustration in the article “a friendship that might not have been” by Rhoda Keener in Christian Living magazine

Rhoda writes of Cecilia’s strong faith and of how she coped with two losses by organizing a group of seven other widows to do volunteer work, eat out together — even play Pitch and Putt Golf. This jolly group went to the mountains and seashore at Cape May regularly. One year Cecilia attended a Super Bowl game.

Game Girl / Cheerleader

Did I mention Cecilia is a game girl too? Competitive and exuberant by nature, Cecilia loves playing board games, card games, dominoes – even computer card games. She paused long enough in her game of Tumbling Numbers on the computer to have her photo taken with my sister Jan, brother Mark and me last November at Landis Homes.


Besides a game girl, some would call Cecilia a cheer-leader too. However, she doesn’t need a short, twirly skirt or megaphone to root for the Phillies’ baseball team or the Philadelphia Eagles. She admits to not quite understanding football though her son Clair has given her some pointers. In her home town, she was also an avid Manheim Central Barons fan because she was a close neighbor of coach Mike Williams for 25 years. When the state champion Barons had their parade in the fall of 2003, Cecilia “took her place in the square to cheer their accomplishment. When Williams saw her, he stopped the parade, got out of his convertible and gave her a big hug.” She said:

I was so amazed, stunned. I thought he’d wave, but didn’t think he’d stop the parade!

Coach Williams also dropped by her Landis Homes apartment to autograph her Baron’s snow globe (quoted from Intelligencer Journal, cited above.)

Words of Wisdom

“What is your secret of a long and productive life, Aunt Cecilia?” we wonder. She has shared two bits of wisdom to overcoming the rough spots in life. Remember this, she says:

  1. Life is a struggle, and
  2. Life is a struggle

“Once we truly know that life is difficult and we truly understand and accept it, then we are no longer overwhelmed by it.”  (Reference: “A friendship that might not have been,” by Rhoda Keener in the Christian Living magazine)

Aunt Cecilia, I think there might be a parade of family and friends coming by your residence at Landis Homes today. Through God’s help, you have triumphed through the dark valleys and inspired us from the mountaintops of your rich experience. And we thank you!

Happy Birthday!

Daughters Erma and Orpha with Aunt Cecilia in 2012
Daughters Erma and Orpha with Aunt Cecilia at Oregon Dairy in 2012
Aunt Cecilia, grand-daughter Tana, daughter Dorcas, and great=grand-daughter __________
Four generations: Aunt Cecilia, grand-daughter Tana Hey, daughter Dorcas Martzall, and great grand-daughter Rosa Hey

Do you have elderly relatives that have hit the age ninety mark? Have any reached 100? What words of wisdom have they given to you?

Coming next: A Robbery, Sad Friday, and a Clump of Daffodils


7 Things I’m Thankful For

My secret joys (and struggles) show up in my gratitude books. You can see some of them here. But my list this week has sprung from my 9-day trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and take care of Mother’s house in mid-November 2014.

In her devotional book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp begins with a chapter entitled Surprising Grace in which she discusses how she and her Farmer Husband “give thanks even when things look like a failure.” Or when one experiences loss.

This year Mother died, we’ve had to sell her beloved house and its contents, I’ve struggled with a motley crew of personal challenges, and still I give thanks:

  • Health – I have an odd muscular neck pain (yes, pain in my neck!) yet I went up and down 3 flights of stairs from attic to cellar dozens of times, no problem.
  • My sisters and brother – We sorted, boxed, laughed, cried, disagreed, but ultimately met the challenge on time.   MarianJeanMark
  • My Aunt Cecilia – She’ll be 100 years old in March, still going strong. We found Aunt Ceci cheerfully playing the Tumbling Blocks game on the computer beside her. “It keeps my mind sharp!” she laughs. A Mennonite preacher’s wife, Aunt Cecilia Metzler raised a family of five children on a Lancaster County farm.AuntCecilia
  • My Aunt Ruthie – The photo is fuzzy here, just like her memory. But after she viewed some of the movies she filmed in her 20s and 30s that appear on other blog posts (here and here) she smiles, “ These pictures really make my mind come alive.” RuthieLookingVideo
  • An heritage with spiritual depth – When my ancestors arrived in The New World, they brought with them the Holy Scriptures. This one, the Nuremberg Bible, is dated 1765.


  • The memory of my Mother – When Mother died, she still had a current driver’s license, paid all of her bills by check, and kept appointments on her calendar. She sent birthday cards to all her children, grand-children, and great grand-children, represented by names penned into the blocks. She died on the 28th of July, a date we marked with a red asterisk.


  • My family – This photo is six years old, taken when baby Ian no longer needed a breathing apparatus. Just so you know: our daughter Crista is blonde, Joel, dark-haired. With the older boys now 11 years old, we are due for an update!

Beaman_Dalton_Christmas Card_2008

Ann Voskamp continues by quoting the first reference in Scripture containing the word thanksgiving, mingling peace and gratitude:

And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 

Leviticus 7:11 – 13   ESV

My conclusion: Gratitude brings peace and ultimately joy.

Writer Voskamp concludes: ” . . . standing straight into wind is how to fly on His wings of grace.”

Finally, a song I remember from childhood from that seems appropriate for the season:

What are you grateful for? Join me in naming your blessings.