Bunnie and I started dating during Labor Day weekend in September 1956. We were married three months later on Friday, December 7th. For 51 years, she was an outstanding wife to me and an outstanding mother to our children.
The first time that Bunnie met me she was not impressed. It was a few weeks later on Labor Day weekend 1956 that we learned that we had a lot in common and had a strong attraction to each other. We started dating and were married three months later at Eglin AFB, FL. We have been inseparable ever since except for those times when work or illness kept us apart for short periods of time. We had fifty one years together sharing the good and bad times. She taught me the real meaning of what a relationship needed to be. She was fiercely loyal to her family and had a very strong sense of values and would never back down if she felt she was in the right.
As a wife, she was a loving caring woman - the best. There was never a time when I didn't feel her love for me. She was the love of my life. In my wedding ring she had inscribed "To part is to die a little." She hated for us to be apart for any period of time. She loved our life together. She loved daisies. She provided a home that was always clean and beautiful. During the last ten years we were especially close as we did a lot of traveling and camping, culminating in our last few years as campground hosts. It was a job that we both loved, sharing the joy and peace that can only be found in nature.
As a mother, she was dedicated to her children. She loved them without condition. If she felt that they were right, she would defend them fiercely. If she felt they were wrong, she would discipline them with love and teach them her values. She always felt that she could have done a better job raising them but I don't see how. I cannot believe that she is gone and I miss her so very much.
From her son Bill Jordan:
ODE TO MOTHER
Our Moms..... For those who are lucky to still be blessed with their Mom, this is beautiful. For those who are not, this is even more beautiful. May we all be so blessed.
The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked
And the guide said "Yes and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there."
So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you." And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have earned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength."
And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was a little bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said, "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."
And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her.
And they said, "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."
Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks; she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you... Not time, not space... not even death.
May We Never Take Our Mother For Granted.
God Bless You, Love, Bill.
From her son Rick Jordan:
In my strongest memories of Mom, there is always a bright, gleaming smile and a presence that made the room light up. One might think that I feel that way because she was my mother, but I saw the way so many people responded to her cheerful, optimistic personality. Even in the hardest of times, she managed to pull out a smile that could make everything seem like it was going be okay.
She was a fighter. She overcame obstacles of health (an ovarian cancer scare, Legionnaires Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, severe migraines, ulcers...) with a stoic attitude that would have made her an incredible soldier in the toughest of wars. It is obvious now that she internalized so much of her stress and saved the best for those around her.
How did she feed that clan of children (and all their friends who were welcomed into our home as if they were part of the family) every day? She managed (along with Dad's strong work ethic) to make it happen, no matter how small the budget of the week. Casseroles, freshly baked brownies, cakes, and a lot of luncheon meat. We never felt deprived, though it was always a happy day when the groceries unloaded from the car after a recent payday. There was a fiasco once, though, when she and Dad decided to mix Carnation instant milk with whole milk to make it last a little longer.
I remember her in our childhood home with music around her, and often, it was her whistling or humming a soft tune that made the mundane chores seem magical. She always had a stack of books to read, and her quiet time was sitting alone in the living room (which was mostly off limits to the brood absorbing the latest romance novel, biography, or chronicle of some aspect of American history.
When I was a child, and she picked us up at school, of course I was so proud. On the last day of Kindergarten, she arrived to retrieve me after I had already boarded the school bus. There she was, looking glamorous in our new white Ambassador station wagon, and I remember how happy I felt, at five years old, to drive away with my beautiful mother.
Mom used to frost her hair when we were children, tipping her brunette locks with shades of blonde and grey. It was startling when she stopped, that her hair was such a dark shade of brown, when other women her age were now frosted naturally. I suppose it was her Algonquin ancestry proving itself.
We always had the cleanest and most beautifully decorated home in comparison to others we knew. Mom was always painting or recarpeting or moving things around to find a new look: New paneling in the den, a fireplace in the living room (remember that Swedish black fireplace with the white rocks around the base of it?), a new deck off the back of our Grist Mill Road Colonial. Always comfortable, her interiors were an expression of her creativity, and we all worked very hard completing our chores to make things sparkle.
Whenever Dad was away on business, Mom could not sleep. She would make a bed on the sofa in the living room every night that he was gone, and stayed up reading until morning. Usually, she would have one of her children nestle in a sleeping bag on the floor beside her, because she was a little afraid to be alone. She kept vigil awaiting Dad's return, a tribute to the deep love she felt for him. Indeed, even when he came home every night from work, she would greet him with enthusiasm, a spirited embrace and a kiss. We always knew how deeply they loved each other.
It never occurred to me until after I was in college that Mom and Dad's nicknames could be amusing to others. "Bunnie and Chick" seemed so natural to me, as did their being together. It was a surprise to me when I learned that they came to know each other with their monikers predetermined. "Bunnie," Mom said, was a nickname she was given in high school by her friends, because she was always seen moving so quickly from place to place, getting things done in swift and efficient manner. That remained true her entire life. The rapid rate at which she had children gave her name further dimension, I think. Charles Jr. became "Chick" during his childhood to distinguish himself from Charlie, his beloved father. It was a name specific to his generation, and it was fate that the two would meet and become so uniquely bonded for all time.
There are so many images of Mom that circle my thoughts and they help me to realize what a special life we were all given. It was difficult to watch her health decline in the past year, but even to the end, she kept her humor, and then, there was that smile. Just to remember that gives me great solace.
She was one of the most loving and giving people I will ever have known. In combination with Dad, we could not have been more blessed as children.
I remember her telling me once that she was afraid she loved her children too much, but that it was a reaction to the way she felt when she was raised (having come from a broken home in the forties, which was very unusual). She expressed her love frequently, and with fervor. I can only say that today I am glad to have felt such radiance and love from her, because it will stay with me all my days. Even now, I know she looks over us and still loves us "too much." That is also a great comfort.
I wish you love, dear Mother, in your great new journey above.
From her daughter MariElaine Amerine:
Standing at the door of the bathroom while mom put her make up on. I always thought to myself, I hope to grow up to be as beautiful as her.... How thankful I was that she was home every day when I got home from school.... Her innocence in having to have off-color jokes explained to her... Sharing her insights as a wife and mother with me when I had a family of my own. Her wisdom brought assurance and confidence. Her extraordinary love for her family and friends.... There's so much more that I would always want to continue to add. She leaves a beautiful legacy.
From her son Michael Jordan in a note to me:
I think the memory of Mom I hold most dear isn't a "remember the time" kind of memory, but of the special connection that I shared with her and the deep respect I have for the wonderful, loving person that she was. When I think of Mom I think of the values of tolerance, generosity and kindness that she instilled in me and demonstrated so well in the way that she approached her life. I think of the warm, loving smile that was always there to greet me whenever we would visit. I think of how fortunate I am not only to be her son, but also to have been her friend and someone she enjoyed spending time with. Throughout my entire life, both you and Mom have been there for me. No matter what I have dealt with in my life, I never once doubted the love and support of my parents. It is in these memories that I take comfort. It is through these things that I know parts of both of you and Mom live inside me.
Your loving son, Michael