Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vivian Had Moxie

Vivian Fae Bridgwater, 75, died November 11, 2012 at her Oklahoma City home. Vivian was born October 14, 1937 to Rufus Milton and Ruby Eleanor (Friedlund) Woods in Kalvesta, KS. She was raised in the Kalvesta area where she attended grade school and graduated from Cimarron, KS High School in 1955. She received her Associates degree from Bethany Nazarene University. She married Donald Bridgwater in 1958 and to that union were born two children: Jeffrey and Shelly. She worked in the Accounting and Payroll fields for many years in Cimarron, KS, Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK. 
Vivian's life was filled to overflowing with family, friends and co-workers. She was absolutely devoted to her children and grandchildren. Whatever they were about, she was about. She also loved a good joke or prank -- even when at her expense. Her servant heart meant that no task was too big or too small -- at work, at church or at home. 
Of course, that is only part of the story.

Vivian was the mother of one of my best friends. I was the best man at his wedding. Somehow, over the years, we have remained tight. Even my sister is a friend of the family, which also includes my buddy's sister. Our lives are intertwined, and Vivian's passing hurt.

What this obituary does not say is how she supported her husband while he finished his schooling - he was a zoologist who ran the OKC zoo for some years, if memory serves me. However, when he was finished with his education, he left Vivian and her two young charges on their own.

Keep in mind that this was the sixties, and divorced single women with kids going it alone was absolutely unheard of. This did not stop her - she proceeded to raise her children by herself. Not entirely by herself; she was born into a big family that helped her out considerably over the years, but by and large she raised two children quite well. Both her children are successful, responsible and loving adults I am proud to call friends.

The family that raised her and looked after her (of course, she did some lookin' out for her own as well) could be considered a clan. When her parents moved off the farm and into town, the house they built had a completely open basement that ran the full width and  breadth of the foundations so that there was one huge meeting/family/dining/play room for all the kids, grandkids, and great grandchildren to romp. It was always a madhouse of screaming, playing children, adults with Solo cups filled with tea and paper plates with fried chicken and other assorted covered dishes, and a lot of camaraderie and love. So, there was an extensive support system, but it also required input as well as receiving help.

We always thought she was pretty cool. Jeff and Shelly don't see it that way, of course, because she was their mother and that was just the way she was. She certainly was a disciplinarian, but she never got excited or dramatic about much of anything. Always seemed to know what, how and why we were thinking, or why we did something. Disappointing Vivian was a crushing blow - you just did not want to do that.

Plus, she was always attractive, dressed well, and had very restrained tastes in clothing, furnishings and so on. Pictures filled the house.

Music and religion filled her life as well - she was always involved in her local church - on the board of directors, in the choir (she played the piano as well), involved in all the various activities with youth, serving the elderly, or whatever. She did love her music, and even as a child the family sang together - the old hymns with everyone joining in was right up her alley.

And, she was one of the few people I know that I consider to be the epitome of a Christian lady. Gossip never crossed her lips, nor did talking behind someone's back, or running someone down. Truly, she followed the maxim of "If you cannot speak well of a person, do not speak at all." And it was never obvious that she was avoiding saying whatever negative thoughts she really had - she just never even brought it up. I never once heard her bad mouth the father of her children - the details came from others. She never put him down around the children, either. I gotta say she had way more intestinal fortitude than I - my mouth is weak in that regard. Hers was not.

Of course she was a wonderful grandmother - there are five grandkids who worship the ground she walked on. Jeff's kids gave eulogies at the funeral (Shelly's are a tad young for that), and that was the hardest part of the whole affair - to hear what they had to say. She was never a pushover - she surely did discipline them as well! There were tales of washing mouths out with soap for thing said that should not have been uttered. Any events they were involved in? Grandma was there, supporting them.

For me, growing up Catholic meant never hearing a ton of hymns that others consider de rigueur. One of Vivian's favorites was played at her funeral just as she preferred - by family members on guitars, banjo and singing - and the Woods family has some very talented pickers and grinners. I'd never even heard this one before, but it was one of her beloved hymns. You'll just have to hear Johnny Cash and pals on this one:


Vivian, you are in a better place, but we're going to miss you anyways.


thereoughttobeatest said...

Thanks Buddy!

Jeffro said...

Piece of cake, ol pal!

threecollie said...

Awful sorry to read this...

drjim said...

My condolences on your loss.

Anonymous said...

Thanks big Jeff. tb

SteveK said...

Hi Jeff. Sorry to hear about the loss of your dear family friend Vivian, who was such a positive influence on your life. I remember you telling me she was like a second mother to you. I never met her but she sounds like she was quite a lady. My condolences to her children and grandchildren. -Cousin Steve