Yesterday my brother Bill called from California with the news of the sudden and most unexpected death of my mother -- Betty Lou (Bundy) Brown -- who died in her sleep in her Minnesota home on Wednesday, July 23rd.
She would have been 83 on August 19th and while she had a history of heart problems was well enough on her last week on earth to do one of the things she loved best: playing Bingo at the Elks Lodge.
We were blessed to have her as long as we did (she had triple bypass surgery in 1992) and I am feeling particularly grateful today that we had a good, long visit with her over the holidays last year. (Here's Betty surrounded by kids and grandkids last November on Thanksgiving Day.)
... and my sons will both be blessed throughout their lives to have had a Grandma who loved them and challenged them to be all they could be. Here she is with my younger son, Brian, also on Thanksgiving ...
... and here with Jamie, home on leave from the Army in 2006.
When asked how she handled my "coming out," Betty famously said that she was a lot less surprised to find out I was a lesbian than she was that I was called to be a priest. She was both proud and supportive of my work and ministry -- even when we sang those dreadful "unfamiliar hymns."
Her presence at our wedding in February 2006 was a blessing to all of us ...
... and my feelings today are that the best tribute I can pay to her life and love and support is to continue with the work we are doing here at Lambeth Conference -- to continue to challenge our Anglican family live up to the Christian Family Values my mother didn't just talk about but lived.
[The Brown family ... circa 1959]
Arrangements are, as they say, "pending" -- but we anticipate a Memorial Service in early August in her hometown of Alexandria, Minnesota. Thanks to all who have sent prayers and messages of condolence. I feel very embraced and enfolded not only by your love and care but by God's -- and by the promise we claim in our Lord Jesus Christ that life is changed, not ended.
Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen