Back to school…

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It’s September and I’m pulled by the whisper “back to school, back to school.”

Most consider New Years Eve/Day the start of a new year. (I mean, it’s in the name.)  But for me, that’s just another party.  The REAL new year starts in September.

When I was young September meant fresh lined paper, big orange erasers, pencils and glue. Ooooo and that crayon box.  As I grew older it meant seeing my friends again, new clothes, spiral notebooks and pens. College life was packed with new adventures but still had the same rhythms.

As I transitioned from student to instructor many of my supplies were purchased by the University or college.  Yet there were always special items here or there purchased for the pure joy of a new year (I’m looking at you, multi-colored post-it notes).

I’m retired now. Education was my calling.  It was hard and exhausting, joyful and exhilarating in equal parts. While it was never EVER easy, I still felt lucky to be able to earn a living by doing something I loved. Early retirement was a choice I don’t regret. As much as I loved teaching, it was time for me to pass the baton to others with the passion to teach.

Still, it’s September and I hear the whisper “back to school.”

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“I’m a kitty …”

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“E” is a kitty.  Proof, you ask?

  1. She recently had a kitty birthday party (turning 7).
  2. She loves cheese, can purr, crawl, and snuggle like a kitty.
  3. She gets along very well with other kitties.

If any of you still doubt, click this short clip with proof that “E” can joyfully be a kitty anywhere.

Maxine Bowman 1924-2016

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My sister, husband, and I flew from Oregon to Kansas to attend my mother’s memorial service and spend time with our mid-west family. I shared some of the lighter moments in the post “Funerals, Family, and Food.” https://bobbibowwoman.com/2016/04/06/funerals-family-and-food/

The Lawrence, Kansas Community of Christ minister, Debbie Galbraith, was gracious enough to send me a copy of the entire memorial as a keepsake for my Oregon family.  Below are portions of the service where over 100 gathered:

“…Maxine is now re-united with many loved ones who preceded her – her parents, her six brothers and sisters, her daughter Karen and her loving husband Novy–who no doubt wondered what took Maxine so long to get there.”

“Of course we will miss her smile, gentle nature, words of encouragement, joyful outlook on life and steady presence.  But our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for a life well-lived.”

“It’s almost impossible to think of Maxine without thinking of her husband of 65 years, Novy.  They were quite a team. This is especially true in their work with the church.  Every congregation — if they are lucky — has its Matriarch and Patriarch and for those of us at University COC, that was Maxine and Novy.

Maxine’s faith was demonstrated over and over through humble servant ministry.  Whenever a new person visited the congregation, Maxine was the first to greet that person and welcome them into the sanctuary.  She studied the scriptures regularly and provided valuable insight over and over during Sunday School or other gatherings.  And I’ve shared this before…whenever our congregation competed with each other in a friendly game of Bible Jeopardy, Maxine was always the first to be drafted on a team and that team would invariably win!   And let me also say that behind that sweet demeanor of hers, she was quite competitive!”

“Maxine’s love of music is well-known.  Her gentle touch on the organ and piano was a God given talent and she developed it fully and shared it freely.  Maxine has been accompanying church services for her entire adult life.  We can safely say that would be thousands and thousands of hymns over the years on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings –not to mention the various weddings, funerals, or “road show” performances in nursing homes.

I once asked Maxine if she ever grew tired of shouldering this responsibility and she said “I view it as a privilege to play for the Glory of my Lord”.  I will never forget that response, and to anyone who might grow weary in their own ministry efforts, we are wise to remember her genuine enthusiasm.”

“What you must know is that in addition to her faith, there was nothing more important to Maxine than her family.  She spoke often and lovingly of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins and other members of her extended family.

And as her own children and grandchildren grew up, her love extended to their spouses as though they had always been part of the family.  You all were certainly a source of pride in her life and she loved each of you very much.”

“Maxine had many talents, hobbies and interests.

Cooking was one of Maxine’s favorite activities.  Indeed, one can only conclude that Maxine was a Rachael Ray before there was a Rachael Ray.  The Bowman sibs remember how Maxine made homemade yogurt while they were growing up, way before yogurt was readily available at the local grocery store.  In fact, years later when yogurt became popular on store shelves, John expressed some real surprise, when he found out that there actually were flavors of yogurt…apparently your Mom prepared the plain, vanilla variety (probably healthier that way!)

Maxine also was way ahead of her time nutritionally as she would try to sneak in “healthy ingredients” such as wheat germ, flax seed, tofu and carob into regular recipes to get her family to eat healthy.  And using the harvest from Dad Novy’s garden, Maxine would can all kinds of things to store in the basement for future consumption.

Maxine and her fruit pies were legendary.  Apparently not satisfied with store bought apples, Maxine would harvest her own from apple trees.  According to Granddaughters Renee and Carrie, this “harvesting” involved climbing up into the trees to shake out the apples.  And to the surprise of no one, Maxine actually did this into her 70’s!!”

“I also remember being the recipient of yummy dishes prepared by Maxine for our congregational potlucks.  Thinking back on those, and based on what I know now, it makes me kind of wonder if Maxine ever slipped in any wheat germ or oat bran into any of those!

To the family, music was as natural as breathing.  Maxine would often wake up the kids by belting out a song to rouse them from their beds.  And growing up on the farm, the kids were used to their Mom singing hymns out loud while working around the house.

And I never quite got the right terminology here…whether the Bowman siblings were “offered” piano lessons or “forced” to engage, but Mother Maxine taught her kids piano and was a stickler for daily practice sessions.

And the family Von Trap had nothing on Family Bowman.   Beginning in Warrensburg with Karen and Patti, and continuing on with Bobbi, John and Maggie…where there were 2 or more children gathered, there was opportunity for a choir – in multi part harmony, and led by Maxine’s encouragement and guidance!  And I’ve heard they were AWESOME!

Maxine’s family also remembers her as a talented seamstress, making clothes for each of the kids.  This talent extended not only in the sewing of kid-sized clothes, but also miniature-sized in the form of handmade outfits for Carrie’s Barbie’s and cabbage patch dolls.

Apparently, Maxine once sewed a leisure suit in a dusty rose color for Novy to wear.  Now even in the 70’s a hand-made, pinkish suit might have caused people to look twice, but I think we can all be confident that Novy wore it with pride and loving appreciation for his wife’s talents!

Maxine and Novy encouraged their family to explore the world, and this included various camping experiences closer to home.  For one particular camping trip, the sibs remember that their Mom made them each their own duffle bag…each bag had a different stripe of color that matched the color of their toothbrush!  As a mother of 5 active kids, I’m sure this was just one of the many tricks that Maxine used to keep them all organized!”

There are so many “Forever lessons” that we can learn from Maxine’s life: (1) the importance of lifelong learning.(2)…kindness to all people (3)…the importance of building a foundation in Faith through God and Jesus Christ (4) living a life of joy.”

“And in a world that might seem difficult to face without our Maxine among us…the smiles, laughter and memories she created will live on forever.”

For Maxine and her family, lovingly by Debbie Galbraith, April 3, 2015

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Thank you, Debbie, for this lovely gift to our family and those who loved our mom.

The Gathering

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What a treat to travel from the valley to the Ocean.  Better still, to have the whole family, three generations under one roof for a weekend.

Board games in the TV Room

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Cousin giggles.

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Pre-bedtime electronics and snuggling.

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Piling on Robert. (Papa)  Love these munchkins (and Robert as well).

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Our boys with their daughters. Love these dads!

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My daughter in laws – So lucky to  have them. Love their beauty (inside and out)

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Talent Show Saturday night… magic tricks, jokes, stunts, and all ’round silliness.

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Some worked as a team.

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What a great weekend.

We’ll do it again!  Oh yes!

 

 

Sunday Comics

This first one is a real insight into my sports knowledge: