Thursday, February 16, 2012

My way of thinking/ Barbara Howe

On February 16, 1972 my mother, Barbara, transitioned to her new and eternal place in the Universe.  40 years later, not a day goes by that I don't think of her.  I imagine it will be that way until mom and I meet again.

It seems appropriate that I share Barbara with you on this anniversary.  She was a rare and wonderful human being.  I was only 17 when she passed over, but that was old enough to appreciate what an incredible woman she was.  The lessons she taught me by her remarkable example are lessons well worth learning.

Mom was a Christian singer, starting at the age of six.  She was somewhat of a prodegy and began singing on the radio in 1932.  That was in Beaumont, Texas.  At age 16 the family moved to California and she continued to sing on radio programs in Los Angeles.  As she got a little older she was a popular soloist in churches and big tent meetings.  Music was one of the most important things in her life, just one of the many things we had/have in common.

Barbara became popular with a singing group called, Phil Kerr's Harmony Chorus.  The group did a musicale program at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium every Monday night in the early 1950s.  In 1952 she met and married my dad and in 1954, I came along.  My brother, Phil joined the family two years later.

Without writing a book,  I'll settle for that thumbnail sketch of Mom's life up to that point.  But by the late '50s Mom's health began to deteriorate.  She would have trouble performing live because her energy was so low.  It turned out that she had a defective valve in her heart and the prognosis was not good.  But by 1965 medicine had progressed a long way.  She had one of the first open heart surgeries where they replaced her defective valve with a plastic one.  It was pretty experimental back then and it caused many problems such as rejection and strokes.  The positive thing about the operation was that it extended her life an extra seven years.  Time enough to raise her boys and pass on her wisdom and love.

I learned the importance of staying optimistic, thinking positively, and living each day to the fullest.  I learned the value of things like loyalty, compassion, and commitment.  Mom taught these things by exemplifying these qualities herself.  Whenever I find myself forgetting any of these things, I remember Barbara and find it easy to choose to be like her.  Even at the very end of her life, she still found ways to give of herself to everyone who needed her help and guidance.  She always encouraged my brother and me, and she was so proud that I was a singer.  She was at every performance even when she was confined to a wheelchair.  She taught me how to be a good person.  I honor my Mother by emulating her in every way I know how.

There are so many stories to tell.  I'm sure this won't be the last time I write about my Mom.  Today, on this 40th anniversary of her transition, I just wanted to share this inspiring woman.  I love you Mom!

                                       Peace and Love,




  1. Very nice, Bill. This is exactly how I remember your Mom.

  2. Bill, What a wonderful woman! You have written a beautiful and lovely tribute to a someone who obviously made the world a better place by being in it. I can only imagine how scary the heart problems were for her, you and the rest of your family. Your mom would be so proud of who her son became!

    caregiving. family. advocacy.

  3. Thank you so much, Trish. I KNOW my mom would be proud of me. It feels good to know that YOU like who I've become!



  4. Bill, This is a lovely tribute! Obviously your mother passed along both her musical talent and her capacity for love. She left you at a difficult time--just when you were moving into adulthood--but she has stayed with you as well and continues to live through your memory and the way you live your life.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  5. Thank you, Judy. I said it on Austin's Bloggers but I will repeat myself gladly. There is no finer compliment than being compared to my mom!

  6. Wish I had known her Austin!

    Love, Jon

  7. so beautiful! thank you for sharing <3

  8. Another year has passed and I thought about writing about my mom again. But, after rereading this, I decided that this was good enough for now. I feel the same way today.