Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom

Today, April 30, 2013 is the 85th anniversary of my Mom's, Mary Louise Bansbach, birthday. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri and lived a long and wonderful life. When she passed in 2008, a bunch of her kids made the pilgrimage to the Ozark Mountains to inter her remains beside my Dad, Robert Graham Lee, Senior, also of St. Louis, Missouri, in the National Cemetery at the corner of Grand Avenue and Glenstone in Springfield, Missouri. Below is a post I did at the time of Mom's Last Bus Ride. I miss you Mom and pray you are doing well with all your friends and think a kind thought or two about this olelongrooffan once in a while. Love you. My brother Jim did a blog on Mom's Last Bus Ride here and, at his prompting, I have added my thoughts.

The entire reason for my On The Road, By The Numbers roadtrip was to head from the Birthplace of Speed to the Queen City of the Ozarks to attend the internment of my Mother's remains adjacent to my Dad's, who passed in 2003. My Mom and Dad enjoyed life and encouraged everyone to see the positive aspects of every person, situation and experience encountered in Life. In the late '60's, with all the turmoil happening throughout, not just their life, but the world in general, my Dad had several thousand of these flower power stickers printed up. These represent, not just a slogan or catch phrase, but a way of life. I am glad to see one survived and displayed in such a prominent location on my big brother Jim's Bus. More on that later.

As I mentioned, Mom passed earlier this year after having lived a very full life. A debutante in her youth, a wife of a thought provoking journalist, a mother of 10 kids, grandmother to many more, a mentor to her great friend Beth and an active participant with many of her peers in the "Lunch Bunch".

These three photos are a few of the many, varied aspects of the Life of Mary Louise Bansbach Lee. A beautiful ballerina, an attractive young mother to my BigBrotherBob
and the mother of a large, diverse family. She tried to fulfill, almost to a fault, all of the roles she thought were appropriate of a mother in the 50's, then 60's and finally the 70's. Once her older children were grown and moved on, she then had to raise the "four little kids" in the 70's and into the 80's. While obstacles, whether of her own doing or the doing of others, were constantly placed in front of her, she diligently, in the manner she best knew how, navigated those obstacles and, always, came out a winner.

We all love her.

Now my brother Jim owns an old school bus pictured here in that tell tale snowstorm of a couple years ago. Jim enjoys his old trucks, as does the jeep junkie, the numbers, the kid, the horse rancher, Lil Jim, the youngsters, well just about everyone, including my Mom. On the interior roof of that bus is that Celebrate Life sticker, while I covet it, it is best placed where it is.

Jim suggested we all ride to Mom's ceremony in the Bus and I was thrilled to be invited. You see, while this is Mom's Last Bus Ride, it was my first. While I missed seeing the joy on her face while on that Bus, I know that smile when I see it. Always positive and upbeat.
So we set off for the National Cemetary with me shooting photos of the regular bus riders and trying to keep Mom aboard also.
Lil Jim, his daughter Sophie, the Youngster Austin and Lil Mom, Kristin, in the background.

This is Jim driving the old beast and I am loving it.

Trey, Lil Jim's son, Sarah and Ganey, members of the Big Jim Lee family, along for the ride.

Everyone is getting settled in at the Pavillion and Big Jim, as always, making sure everyone is satisfied and comfortable.

My brother Ed's in laws, the Jim and Mary Anne Dunn family were so supportive in attending. In the following photo, Jim and Mary Anne are previewing the photos and arrangements dedicated to Mom. The daisies, my Mom's favorite flower, were sent by my sister Mary and, at Mary's request, a flower was distributed to each attendee by my niece's Sarah and Stephanie. It was a thoughtful gesture and well received by almost everyone in attendance.

The following photo is, unfortunately, the only one I took of Mom's mantle. However, it is significant as her grand and great grandsons were looking on and niece Stephanie was there also. The men in the left of the photo are (l-r) Fr. Bob Landewe, a near lifelong friend of my folks and Mike McDevitt, my brother Jim, and Paul McLaughlin. Those three attended seminary at St. Meinrad's in Indiana and that is how those, then Seminarians, and now, priests met my folks.

This is the Tom and Viola Lee family, less, I am sorry, Stephanie and Jaycee. Thanks so much to Michelle and the men in her family for making the trek down. It means a lot to me.

Again, the St. Meinrad boys.

As shown in the following photos, my brother Tom did a fine job of reading a great scripture my Mom selected for this purpose.

The following photo is just an overall group shot of some of the crowd. That is my sister Jane and her family in the background, behind those boys. We missed you at the Celebration of Mom's Life.

As you can see in the following, So enough already, Alphonse--sorry strike that--Big Jim is ready to go, driving the oldest SUV in the world. I calculated on the ride. We would have had to have taken an SUV and a sedan to get to Mom's ceremony if we had not taken the bus. And with everyone who rode home on it, we would have needed another sedan.

We all arrived safely home. I guess a tradition I must incorporate into my Bus rides is the bus going a full bore 40 mph on Seminole then braking at the last minute for that 4 way stop at Kimbrough. All survived and I am confident the bus was operating on adrenalin from the day's events.

Here is Ed, aka the jeep junkie, regailing his nephews and friends of his exploits in getting Big Jim's CJ whatever running just a day or two earlier.

In the above photo, Tom is responding to a question from Jaycee. Jim is speaking with Janet and Jerry Stievator, Janet is a friend of Mom's from Lunch Bunch, and we are thrilled at least one member was able to make it. Not sure who that scarecrow is in the background, talking to his friend, Bud, Lite.

I sent James Lee, aka the Kid, out with my camera to take some pictures and this is What He Saw Today

A bunch of the girls inside that screened in porch, of course Neighbor Jack was there also.

A great shot of the jeep junkie

More pics of the womenfolk in the shade.

No, not that bell..

Youngster Austin

Youngster Trey, smoking one of the "cigars" my Mom used to always have available to the youngsters when they came to visit.

Here the jeep junkie is showing Lil Jim the proper way to get into the cooler.

Some other random pics of the afternoon Celebrating the Life of Mary Lou Lee.

Ed and Tom purusing the box of photos and enjoying every minute of it.

Lil Mom trucking around the back yard on Mom's 3 wheeler. What a joy that was!!

Of course, the jeep junkie and the bus working on that old CJ2A.

And, James and Trey clean up using Mom's bike as another form of transportation.

Tom and Jim, you could not have exceeded in chronicling Mom's life other than the wonderful way you did. All of your siblings thank you for your efforts and I am confident that Mom, wherever she may be, feels the same way.