Gladys M. Nothstein Bausman was born on Feb. 3, 1920, and died Oct. 1, 2000. In 1959, she was the first woman elected as Township Supervisor in Mahoning Township and in Carbon County, and the seventh woman in the state of Pennsylvania. Along with her husband George, she owned and operated Bausman’s Goat Dairy, one of 14 goat dairies in Pennsylvania during the 1950s and 1960s. Her children, Wendy and Kevin Bausman, each have written a tribute for her.
When the news of my mom’s death spread throughout my congregation and the naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif., I began to learn about the kindred spirit that exists among women who have lost their mothers. These women cried with me and told me, “There is something deep that happens in our souls when a woman loses her mother.” All of these women talked of mothers who loved them and modeled that every woman can be all that God wants her to be.
I never heard my mom say, “A woman can do anything with her life.” Rather I saw her doing so much with her life as a woman. So, despite a culture that often said otherwise, I grew up believing the future was bright with possibilities. Mom only had an eighth-grade education; yet she wanted not only a high school diploma for me, but a college degree as well. I remember Mom filling out one financial aid form after another to find the help I needed to get through college.
All of us found it difficult when I went to California to go to Fuller Theological Seminary. But it was time, and Mom let go. I know my decision to go into the Navy as a chaplain surprised her. She was worried at first, but she and Dad were proud I wore the uniform and served our country. Eventually the bumper sticker, “My daughter is in the U.S. Navy,” appeared on their car, and they followed my career all over the world.
Mom and Dad were with me at one of my promotions and when I received one of my medals. I felt Mom’s pride and especially her prayers. She listened to many a tearful story of the challenges of my ministry and of being in the military. She knew I was part of two traditions that have not always embraced the giftedness of women. Mom experienced her own pain as a pioneer woman in politics so she understood what I was experiencing.
On Sept. 30 at midnight I separated from the U.S. Navy, completing almost 15 years as a chaplain. Mom died the next morning. I believe she waited to leave this earth until she saw me through my ministry in the Navy.
My connection to Mom deepened two and a half years ago when I became a mother. Suddenly I had a new perspective on her. As I sat and rocked Amanda, I remembered distinctively a time when Mom rocked and comforted me when I was ill as a little girl. I felt so loved and safe.
As I live out being a mother, I often find myself whispering out loud, “Mom, how did you do it? How did you balance a baby, a toddler, the goat dairy and all your other household responsibilities?” And often I find myself saying, “So this is how it feels to love your child. This is how you have felt, Mom.”
I am grateful that Mom got to see and hold Amanda. She and Dad had prayed so diligently for my husband and me to have a baby. The last time Mom saw Amanda, almost a year ago, she said to me, “I was so happy for you when your baby was born.”
A friend who lost her beloved mother a few years ago said to me, “Wendy, our strong mothers have passed down their strength and courage to us. And now we pass it down to our children.”
I will tell Amanda about her strong and pioneering grandmother. I will tell Amanda that her grandmother told me about God, so I now share God with her. And I will tell Amanda how her grandmother paved the way for me, and in turn for her, to use the gifts God has given to us.