The most remarkable woman I ever met
Happy Mother’s Day 2013. Especially to my wife and two daughters – all Mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Mother. My Mother was 32 when I was born. The picture of my Mother, above, is when she was about 22 – in 1940. Yet, when she died at age 68, she was like this young woman in more ways than not. This picture captures much of the woman my Father married and I knew as my Mother. She was the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known. Of course, I haven’t seen my two daughters live all their lives, nor my three grand-daughters live theirs. So, my Mother is the most remarkable one to date.
She always was as full of life as she is in this picture in Greenville, SC.
She was from Greenville County, SC. A Southern belle. A Southern woman I’d call a steel magnolia, except steel isn’t tough enough.
Here is what I said in her eulogy at the Fort Myer, Virginia Chapel on October 17th, 1986. She was buried with her husband in Arlington Cemetery.
Edith Madge Henderson Bowden, September 15, 1918 to October 13, 1986
Before we commit the body of my Mother, Edith Henderson Bowden, to the earth we shall share a short testimony to her. Any family may eulogize their departed Mother as someone special, but we gathered here today know that Edith, Momma, Mimi was a very special person. She was richly blessed with special gifts.
She was bright, beautiful, humorous, musical, artistic, practical and capable of accomplishing anything she set out to do; except one. She wanted to live to an old age with the indomitable spirit, courage, and charismatic grace of her beloved Grandmother Bobby. She could not will the extra years on her life. Yet, the quality of her life was much like the Matriarch of her South Carolina family. Her hand shaped the clay of her immediate family like a sculptor. Her love and caring for her extended family and friends warmed you and many others in a way which you can actually feel in your hearts.
This was a remarkable woman. She will not be remembered on a monument, a building, a stamp, or any man-made edifice, but she had the character, the qualities, to be so great a public woman. Instead, she lead a private life of excellence.
She made over 38 places into home over 40 years. She was more ‘Army’ than my father. She had three children and eight grand-children. No man had a more loving or better wife.
No children had a more loving or better Mother. We were instructed throughout our lives. We grew up on stories of family – from religious persecution in France through pioneer days in South Carolina, the War Between the States, the Great Depression, World War II and Post-war Europe. The stories always had morals about living with courage and dignity, facing adversity with pride, enjoying life with humor, music and love. She would preach, “It is who you are, not what you have.”
Also, she preached through the lessons of our lives. I teased her that Jean Calvin was alive in her. Each failure, disappointment, hardship was part of God’s plan to strengthen you for tests to come. Everything was meant to build us in to God’s children with character and strength. She said, “Life is seen through a veil of tears.” Yet, the harshest trials and death in this life are not meant to slacken our thirst for life each day.
She repeated that the Lord will never give you a burden you can not bear. Psalm 118 says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” This is her most profound testimony.
Edith Henderson Bowden taught this philosophy and lived the Scripture like no one else. She had an unabashed zest for life. She rejoiced in the seasons and in the abundance of life and beauty in all of nature. She exuded strength, character and love.
It is her joy in life and our love for her living which makes her passing another of God’s mysteries. When she said farewell to my Father’s body, she said, “This was the house he lived in.” Today, we bury only her mortal vessel.
Remember that she said Easter is the happiest day of the year. It is the holiest of days because of the Promise the Lord has made. It is because of this promise that we can rejoice even in death.
Remember Edith Henderson Bowden as she wanted you to remember. Follow her example and love the life the Lord gave you. Let us go from here with Psalm 118 in our hearts as Edith taught and lived.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Goodbye. – James Atticus Bowden
This Mother’s Day I think of my Mother and just smile. I see flashes of her in my sisters, nieces, daughters and grand-daughters. Every lightening flash that shows her in a woman of her line stops me like the real bolt of electricity exploding on earth nearby. She was such a force of humanity.
A few weeks after she died, several of the doctors and nurses from Fairfax, VA sent me a letter in Germany where I was a serving soldier. They couldn’t find out what was wrong in three weeks in the hospital until after she died in the autopsy. They shared the medical Latin for her passing and wrote what remarkable courage and grace she showed them. That was my Mother.
There’s so much more that could be written. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Momma. I love you so.