We knew her as Mom Bigelow. For more than 30 years, she was a mainstay at our sister's farmhouse outside of Endicott, NY. Her name was Dorothy Bigelow. She was married to Donald Bigelow for... a lifetime.
Dorothy was supremely female. She never fully entered the 20th century, and certainly did not find the 21st century very friendly. Her life was one without the need for so much technology. It was a life lived in the light of her children and her grandchildren.
She was a tall woman, always smiling, eager to help others, eager to love her 6 children and... we don't know how many grandchildren (or great-grandchildren), and eager to enjoy life on her terms. Simple terms that many today would not understand. Her life was all Home and Family. That is what we remember about Mom Bigelow. That her home and her family were the focus of her life. That she always had a baby on her hip. That she made it her duty to give, even when there was little left in her (or her pantry) to give.
In her later years, when others were slowing down, she kept going-- an elderly woman taking care of other people, a bit older perhaps, but frail and dependent. Mom Bigelow found pleasure in the care and attention she gave to others--never seeming to expect any for herself.
But, she was cared for...in heart and in hand. The family took care of her gently, caringly, these past few years during her declining health. Donald, her staff, her mainstay, the man she married as a young girl, had passed before her, leaving her lonely and bereft, but we do not remember Mom Bigelow ever complaining or show the sadness we know she felt in her heart. She continued to smile that radiant smile of happiness...whenever anyone visited her, or was kind enough to help her attend a child's graduation or wedding. (there were many, many of those, we can tell you!)
We were not as close to her as we might have been. We cherished her in different ways than her immediate family... since we were part of the extended family. Today, as we stood at her graveside, in the company of more than two dozen family members, not including the very young children (hushed and wondering what was happening, when they weren't running about the cemetery grounds), we looked around at the group assembled there and it made our heart swell. The world is not a bad place, we thought. A world that could make a woman such as Mom Bigelow...is not a bad world.
The tears flooding so many eyes, are not sadness, we thought, as much as they are disappointment. She is someone who will be missed in so many ways. Missed for her cheerfulness. Missed for her enduring kindness. Missed for the example she set to all present-- one of giving and joyfulness. And yet, each and every person there, carried a bit of Mom Bigelow away with them as they slowly wandered back to their cars, following the eulogy.
Each and every person, blood relative or not, walked away with the sun warm on their backs, ignoring the cut of the wind jerking at their jackets, and tucked a tiny bit of Mom Bigelow in their heart of hearts, where they will cherish her forever. Because the world does consent to give us the pleasure of such a woman, very often.
The family (aren't we all family, of a sort?) was blessed to have her for 83 years. For the rest of our lives, each and every one of us, will still feel in our souls the warmth she shared so willingly --and bask in the privilege of having known her. It's a treasure that will never diminish, no matter how long we live.
With loving memory, we dedicate today's post to Mom Bigelow. May she rest in peace.