Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is my mom

I had the privilege of writing the eulogy for my mom's memorial, which is this Saturday. For those of you who didn't know her, or those of you who knew her and can not be at the memorial, here is a glimpse at my mom's life on this earth...

Vivian Annette Gow was born on September 29, 1936, in St. Louis, Missouri. She was sandwiched right in the middle of two older brothers and two younger sisters. At a young age, Vivian became a Christian. After finishing high school, she attended Midwest Bible Institute, studying Bible and accounting. She also taught Sunday School at her church in St. Louis. In fact, that is how she met her husband, George. He was a single dad and she was his children's Sunday School teacher. How convenient!

Back then, the Sunday School teachers would visit the homes of their students. Vivian visited George's house more often than any other. Of course, she would never admit it, but then again, she's not here to deny it.

Vivian's mom told her that she thought George was looking for a wife. Vivian's retort was that she was looking for a husband.

Six weeks later, they were married. That was almost 43 years ago.

Romance notwithstanding, you could say that the two combined forces to raise their five children. One year later, child number six was born.

In 1971, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where they finished raising their children. They attended Bethany Bible Church, where George and Vivian became volunteer youth leaders.

Vivian liked working with the teen-age girls, and there's a funny story about the time she volunteered to be a chaperon for the youth group's inner tube trip down the Salt River.

Vivian had a fear of water. She never learned to swim. She reluctantly agreed to being a chaperon because if she didn't go, the teen-age girls wouldn't be able to go. There she was, scared to death of water and floating in an inner tube down the river. But wouldn't you believe it, there was a bend in the river, and a tree branch knocked her out of her tube. Out of all the people on the trip, she was the only one who needed to be rescued.

Besides working with the youth, Vivian's passions included gardening, making cards and crafts, motorcycle-riding (as a passenger only) and camping. She was a charter member of the Christian Motorcyclist Association.

One of her bike buddies, Kim Looper, said Vivian made camping on the motorcycle look very easy.

Susan Harty, who lived across the street from the Gows for most of her childhood, also remembers the good-old-days of camping with the family. And then there was the Friday pizza nights, where Susan and her sister were always welcomed. Susan remembers laughing so hard that soda would sometimes come out through her nose. She especially remembers coming home from school and Vivian always having the best snacks in the freezer--stuff her mom never let her have.

Vivian sure did enjoy cooking, and--of course--feeding people. Entertaining was her specialty.

Her daughter, Deborah, said that her mom passed down to her the art of entertaining. Family gatherings were important to her mom.

Her daughter, Christine, said that her mom could throw a party like no one else. The food was always great. The table always set perfectly. The house always looked beautiful.

Vivian had an open heart and open home for those in need. Growing up, there was always an extra person in the house, whether it was a relative, friend or stranger.

One of the people Vivian reached out to was Dawn Luptak and her family. Dawn said that Vivian was a godsend to her because she watched her two toddlers, just to give Dawn some "mommy time." Eventually, the children called Vivian and George, 'Mommy & Daddy Dow.'

George said that his wife wanted to be remembered for being caring and giving and helpful to people.

He said that when the two of them went shopping, there were always extra items in the basket. He would ask, "Why are you buying that?" and she wouldn't respond. But he knew that she was storing things away for other people. She would buy something for someone, even if their birthday was a year away. Then she wouldn't be able to stand waiting to give it to them. That was just the way she was. She was a very giving person.

One gift that she left her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was her positive attitude about dying.

When she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she accepted it as part of God's plan for her life. She never complained, even when she became bed-ridden. She accepted it.

Vivian's positive attitude had an affect on everyone who came to visit, including the caregivers. They loved to come to her home because Vivian was so positive. She wasn't bitter. She wasn't bitter because she had hope. She knew she was going to be with Jesus.

Vivian's favorite verse in the Bible was Philippians 4:8, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."


Ryan said...

Beautiful Christine, thank you for sharing this.

Ruth said...

Thank you Christine. I pray God's comfort for you today on this memorial day. I am so sad I won't be with you but I thank you for this. I will always remember your mom for her spirit. She was such a postive person who radiated her love. And no matter what happened in her life she would bounce back and still have that same faith and hope.
Love to you and your family.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this. I too am sorry we were not able to be your mom's memorial. Your eulogy was right on - just the way I remember her. So glad we were able to reconnect not too long ago. Love to all!

ruthbrooks said...

What a beautiful eulogy, for an obviously beautiful person! Thanks so much for sharing this, Christine! You and the family have been in our prayers!