Regular readers know I favor Special Days. Often they are birthdays of people important to me. And that is the subject of this day – the birthday of a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from her, first mentioned five years ago and the birthday blog I began last year. Today, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 82. As you can see from the picture below, taken at Meghan Lee’s wedding wedding in 2012, she doesn’t look her age. She’s active, vibrant and works virtually full-time teaching piano, which she loves. She also works side-by-side in the church with my dad.
Last year I called Mom to get some background for the original post; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts. I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman, graduating summa cum laude (meaning “with highest honors”) from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953, the day on which she also became engaged to my dad.
I have a harder time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi. Between my daughters, Mom and me, there’s a joke that “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors,” in her younger years. That’s a fact that I post here with her permission. It makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, a trip that holds many special memories. Just look at her photo and see the twinkle in her eyes.
This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, many of them multigenerational. She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended.
This is a woman ahead of her time. After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the farm, yes, right here at Her Father’s Homestead, where as a “wedding gift” Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing. The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead for three months before traveling by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and trans-oceanic travel was not common, leaving her parents on the East Coast. And in Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room and she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language.
I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock. Writing these words has given new meaning to that picture. My mom, known as Grandma or Gma to my children and CEB in my own writing, is as hardy as the best of them. I am most happy to share her with you. Bonne Anniversaire , ma mére. I love YOU!