Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Powerful Influence of Mothers, May 12, 2018

To describe my mother
would be to write about a hurricane
in its perfect power.
~ Maya Angelou

Happy Mother's Day Weekend 2018!

This weekend is an opportunity to honor all mothers. I am grateful for every one of the moms and grandmothers in our larger family, whether they are still with us or have passed away. In particular I am thinking of these moms: my wife Cindy, my mother Maida and my Grandmothers Nola and Bura. Whoever the important moms are in your life, make this a special day for them.

My Mother Maida. Fortunately my mom Maida Gower Shepard is still with us. She lives in Anacortes, Washington with several family members who are helping to care for her in these last years of her life. At 93 the aging process is taking its toll, but her family is doing their best to respond to her many needs.

40 years ago this spring, my Mom and Dad decided to leave San Diego, where they had lived for over 35 years. Two years earlier, at 55 years old, Dad had retired from Civil Service work at the Naval Supply Depot on San Diego Bay. He and Mom, a spry 53 year old at the time, were nearly finished getting their 6 children to adulthood. The time seemed right, so they decided to move to Western Washington. Mom's sister Vicki had moved to Western Washington a few years earlier, and my parents had some friends who also lived in Anacortes, so they settled there. Mom still lives in the home on Wildwood Lane that she and Dad bought in the summer of 1978, the first year they were in Skagit County, Washington. Their home has served our family very well for these last 4 decades. Dad passed away in their home some 15 years ago after a battle with COPD, but Mom remains comfortable ensconced at the family estate on Wildwood Lane.

Set among tall, windblown, evergreen trees, with a circular drive usually full of cars, the house is a short walk from beautiful little Lake Erie and the mountain of the same name that looks down on it. The home is where both my grandmothers, Grandmother Gower and Grandmother Shepard, spent the last years of their lives. They too deserve to be remembered and honored on this weekend of Mother's Day.

My Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (middle)
and my Mother Maida Gower Shepard (far right)
The first picture I am sharing today was taken in 1978 not long after Mom and Dad bought their home on Wildwood Lane where this picture was taken. My Mom Maida is on the far right with their youngest son Russell next to her. Our father Gene Shepard is just behind Russ. In the middle in the soft purple pantsuit and the carefully coiffed wig is my solemn but gentle 81 year old Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. On the left is Jerry and Jane Clark with their youngest daughter Becky who were visiting from Lubbock, Texas.

Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). My Dad's Mom, Bura Davis Shepard, died in 1986 after living the last couple of years of her life in Anacortes. Originally from Spencer, Indiana, Grandmother Shepard lived in Oklahoma and then Colorado before moving to San Diego where she lived the biggest part of her life, some 40 years. There, in the middle years of the 20th century, she had the good fortune of watching her and Granddad's 12 grandchildren grow up. We grandkids were very fortunate that Grandma Shepard was actively engaged in the lives of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). My Mom's Mom, Nola Shannon Gower, died in 2004 also after having lived the last few years of her life at the Shepard home in Anacortes. Originally from Mountain View, Arkansas, Grandmother Gower lived in Oklahoma for 17 years before she and Grandpa moved to San Diego where they lived the largest part of their lives. Grandma Gower was also engaged in the lives of her 12 grandchildren in San Diego as they grew up. All of us grandkids have many wonderful memories of life on Lynne Street at their home in what was called East San Diego back then.

My wife Cindy and My Grandmother Nola Gower with Nathan
The second picture I am including today, taken in 1977 shows Grandma Nola Gower with my wife Cindy Harris Shepard next to her. Grandma Gower is holding our son Nathan who was just a few months old. My Grandmother, who lived in San Diego, was visiting us in Sylmar, California, where we lived at the time.

I am struck once again at how significant these women have been throughout my life. I am constantly reminded of how much I am a reflection of them: their values, their hopes, their aspirations, their spiritual orientation, their attitudes toward family, their sense of humor, their approach to life. Their influence on me has been felt my whole life and will continue to be felt as long as I live. I have a strong suspicion that all my siblings and cousins could say the same thing for themselves. For all these reasons, I am glad to honor these women on this weekend of Mother's Day. Thank God for the powerful influence for good of Mothers and Grandmothers!
- - -
Steve Shepard

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