Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 15, 2018

One life at the Century Mark

Wedding day, February 23, 1942.  Edith and James Albert Bowden.

My mother, Edith Henderson Bowden, was born September 15th, 1918.  This is her century mark in chronos.  She died to this body and place to go live in eternal time – kairos – when she was 68 years old.  Thirty-two years after her passing she makes her mark among the living who knew her.  She is the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known.  No disrespect to all others of her gender, but I’ve never met a woman who matched her.

When she was born, her father was in the U.S. Army preparing to go to the Great War in France.  She was the second of four children.  At the age of 12 her father died suddenly from a bad heart valve and her life changed profoundly.  The family went to live on the farm run by her widowed, 68 year old grandmother – the indomitable Grandmother Bobby Holland League.  They survived the Depression with plenty of food by hard work, little money and no electricity ever.  Rural electrification wasn’t everywhere in South Carolina in the 1930s.  She became so much more than these humble origins.

Deeply devout Christian.  Beautiful.  Brilliant.  Sophisticated, yet unpretentious.  Kind.  Tough.  Feminine.  Courageous.  Artistic.  Musical.   Fun.  Funny.  Reader.  Knowledge seeker.  Wonderful wife.  Great Mother.  Awesome Mimi.  Dedicated kin.  Loyal friend.  Informed citizen.  Bon vivant.

Truly remarkable.  Ask anyone who knew her.

My joke with Southerners is that she wasn’t a “steel magnolia” because steel isn’t tough enough compared to her.

My joy and great hope is seeing some of her in eight grandchildren and (currently) fourteen grandchildren.

My eulogy isn’t even a shadow of her light.  She was so much more.  And, thirty-two years later, still is so much to me.  All the time.  May it speak a bit about her to the reader.

Edith Madge Henderson Bowden


17 October 1986, Arlington National Cemetery

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 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 the 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 thirty eight places into homes in forty years. She was more Army than my Father. She had three children and eight grand-children. No man had a 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.” 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 into God’s children with character and strength. She said, “Life is seen is 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.

I count myself so blessed beyond measure to have Edith as my Mother.   Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.  Happy Birthday, Momma!



  1. This is really beautiful, and quite a tribute to you mother and family. Thank you for sharing. Kathy (Eaton) Kennedy

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