Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mom's Life

Yesterday I spoke at my mom's funeral and celebration of life in Tucson. I represented our families through sharing a eulogy and stories from her life. After I have time to process more, I will post more thoughts.
We honored our mother, connected with family and friends through stories, laughter and tears. We will continue to celebrate her life and legacy in June in California with more family and friends. If you knew mom and would like to attend, just contact me.

Here is what I shared at her graveside ceremony.
Babs' Senior Picture
November 15, 1944 - March 1, 2017


Today is the day we celebrate and honor the life of our amazing mother, Babs. It is with praise and rejoicing hearts that our beautiful Maman, Elizabeth Anne Bowden Buehrer, was fully restored in body, mind, and spirit on March 1st after a long battle with dementia and kidney failure and is now with our Lord Jesus. Her favorite song to hear on the piano was Amazing Grace (good Southern roots) and we are thankful and amazed by the grace we are given through the gift of our Lord Jesus.
Babs was born in Jackson, Mississippi to Lieutenant Colonel James Bowden and Mrs. Edith Madge Henderson Bowden. She grew up around the world, as an army brat she would say, living in France, Germany and the States. She loved telling us stories about she and her sister Sue and Brother Bubba, rides in jeeps, dinners with officers,  and all the trouble they could get into in their castles in France. Mom’s first spoken language was German, then English, and French. She graduated from Orleans High School in Orleans France.

While attending University of Arizona, mom met dad at a college group breakfast after attending a Billy Graham crusade. They married June 19, 1965 and celebrated 50 years of marriage in June 2015. In total they were married 51 ½ years.  Mom loved her three daughters (Susan, Debby and Becky) and set a path for our future when she return to California State University, Bakersfield to complete her degree and Lifetime Teaching Credential. Dad and his girls spent countless hours taking mom across town to CSUB, while we spent our time at the movies, usually seeing Star Wars.  I have vivid memories of her graduation ceremony, the grass, the bugs, and being thrilled when they called her name as she earned her Masters.  Mom taught primary elementary school for 27 years, spending the majority of her years in 2nd grade.  All three girls helped mom on many nights and weekends grading papers with colored pencils, pens, stickers and stamps on the floor of the living room.  We created art for her bulletin boards and helped her pick out books for her classroom library.  Babs served as a mentor teacher to new and aspiring teachers throughout her career, hosting many workshops on creating curriculum units that were fun and engaging.  Mom was thrilled when all three girls became teachers.
Easter 2015
She was a one of a kind mom who loved us all fiercely. We are who we are because of who she was. She taught us to be strong, independent and sassy women. Those words describe our mom. People would ask her if she was upset she had all girls and no boys. Her simple response was, the boys would come later. She would always tell us that if God brought a husband to us, that was an additional blessing, nevertheless, each of us were expected to be able to provide for ourselves. She gave us a love for reading, the smell of new school supplies, and the fulfillment that comes from investing in our future, as educators. She raised us to be spontaneous, a bit goofy, love our own families fiercely, and crank the music up to dance when we clean the house. She instilled in us the sense of fun creative play. We were allowed to take bed sheets and make store-fronts to hang outside our bedroom doors. We could transform the kitchen into a cafe or ice cream shop. We could make giant tent cities in the family room. Mom would let us camp in our own back yard, have friends over to spend the night anytime, and she made sure that when we had friends over, they always felt at home. “How many am I cooking breakfast for this morning?” she would holler up the stairs, and then proceed to make a traditional southern breakfast feast, grits and all.  Our friends were mom’s “other kids” and they knew it, they felt it.  
Even as her memory faded in her last few years, she reminded us how handsome her son in laws were (Andy, Christian and Jeff) and how proud she was of each of them. She was even more over the moon about her grandkids (Hannah, Madi, Maguire, Katie, Carter, and Ben). She loved babysitting, attending sporting events, music concerts, helping and reading in their classrooms, and buying treasures for her grandbabies. Maman would play barbies, polly pockets, legos and trains with the children, but mostly loved holding them in her lap as she read until they fell asleep.  She loved checking their height against her own “Oh My Goodness-how tall are you now?” They were always her pride and joy.
Mom loved traveling with dad around the US to visit family on the east coast in their retirement. They loved their time at Virginia Beach and long car rides in their convertible. They talked of always loving the lights of Tucson at night, especially from the top of Swan Rd. Mom enjoyed visiting new cities and learning about the history she loved so much. She always looked for postcards from her travels, books for classroom or grandchildren, and taking pictures in the places they visited. Travel brought a sense of freedom and adventure that she absolutely passed on to her children and grandchildren.
Our mom always loved her dogs. She raised dachshunds, cocker spaniels, and mutts. She loved her furry grandkids too. All of the family dogs held a special place in her heart and helped her tremendously as her memory faded. If she could sit and pet the dogs, near her grandkids, with her coca-cola, she was happy.

It is hard to accept this new normal without our mom here. We knew the end was coming but that doesn’t make any of this easier. We just want everyone to know that our mom, the wonderful wife, sister, friend and teacher, was an amazing woman. We miss her everyday but know she is with her parents, her dear cousins, and her sweet friends. We rest assured that on our day, she will greet us into heaven with her loving open arms. We love you, momma.
"Absent in the body, present with the Lord." 2 Cor. 5:8


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