George Bowers: Mom’s story
About 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve, our mother, Violet Bowers, had a serious accident with her gas cook stove resulting in third degree burns over 50 percent of her body. After pressing her alert button, rescue teams immediately responded. What happened over the next 33 hours was nothing short of miraculous and is a story that must be told.
First, however, I want to thank all the emergency personnel for their swift, professional and caring service to mom and to us, and thank this incredible community for your love and care for her and for our family over the years and especially during these past two weeks. I’m so thankful and blessed to live in the Shenandoah Valley.
Now mom’s story. Mom told the first responders to tell her family that she loved us and not to feel guilty because she wanted to live on her own. As the squadmen took her to Rockingham Hospital, she told them how blessed she was and sang with them. One of them said that of all the calls she’s answered, she’s never encountered a woman with such great faith. She said, “To hear your mother praising Jesus and singing hymns as she was being transported to the hospital will forever change my life. I was there to take care of her, and I found myself being strengthened.”
At RMH, the plan was to transfer her to a waiting helicopter for transport to the UVA burn unit. She did not want to go. She was very emphatic that she didn’t want any heroic measures and that she was ready to go to heaven. Instead, on the verge of shock, or in it, she sang “Amazing Grace” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” with us in the emergency room. As I read her Bible verses, she quoted them along with me under her oxygen mask. When I stumbled over part of Psalm 23, she kept going, loudly quoting, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” And she feared no evil. She told one the ER doctors, “He’s always with me and to think that Jesus came to earth at this time of year to save us from our sins.” She ministered to her family, to the hospital chaplain, and to other pastors who came to “strengthen” her.
After getting her into a room for whatever remaining time she had left, she led her family in singing the Doxology which begins, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” When asked if she was OK, she said, “I don’t know how I could be any more comfortable.” She told us she knew we had a lot to do on Christmas Eve and to go take care of our families. We assured her that we were taking care of our family. She continued to profusely thank her nurses and us for all that everyone was doing. She requested that we sing, “Meet Me There,” which we did as she sang along. She kept saying, “God has been so good to me. I’ve had such a good life. I’m so blessed.”
As far as we could tell, Mom was never in any pain and we thank God for this special miracle. But her peaceful calm response in the face of such trauma demonstrates the fruit of her lifestyle over the preceding 84 years. She prayed and sang and memorized Scriptures long before she needed them in an emergency. She cultivated the peace of God in her heart all along life’s path and it was there to see her safely through death when her time came. She didn’t talk much after about 5 p.m. Christmas Eve and went to be with Jesus about 24 hours later on Christmas Day. As one of her granddaughters observed, “She got the BEST Christmas present.”
Mom would be very uncomfortable with all this written about her because she always wanted the attention on Jesus. But because her life and death WERE all about Jesus, her testimony must be shared. Mom would like nothing more than for someone else to put their faith in Jesus as a result of her living and dying. It was and is her desire for us all to “Meet Her There” in heaven. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, just admit that you’ve sinned and ask God to forgive you. Repent and turn from your sin and ask God to save you and he will. Find a Bible believing church and begin to live each day like mom did: worshiping, praising and obeying him that we might all fulfill her desire and “Meet Her There.”
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.