George and Gladys Bowden

$13,937 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 183 people in 3 months
Created December 16, 2018
George and Gladys Bowden lost their home to an electrical fire in Shadow Lake Village, Middletown , NJ on December 15th. Please donate to help this 90 year old couple rebuild their lives.
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Gladys Margaret Melluish Bowden, 88, of Red Bank, NJ passed away peacefully January 12, 2019 in Shrewsbury, NJ. She was born in Bucaramanga, Columbia to Teresa Galvis Diaz and James Melluish.

She put herself through college, graduating with a BSN in 1953 from Russell Sage University and Columbia Presbyterian School of Nursing. Gladys was head nurse at Columbia Presbyterian’s Harkness Pavilion for a number of years. Later, she owned and operated Boatman’s Exchange before a successful real estate career with Joseph G. McCue Agency in Rumson, NJ. She was a member of the All Saints Memorial Episcopal Church in Navesink, The League of Women Voters, The Navesink Garden Club, Preservation Red Bank, and Ship Ahoy Beach Club.

Gladys is survived by her loving husband of 38 years, George S. Bowden, her four children, Michael McDermitt, Christine McDermitt, Amy McDermitt McGrane, David McDermitt, George's five children, Faith Courselle (WY), Robert Bowden (CT), Christine Bowden McClelland (NM), Sue Bowden (Switzerland), Lisa Bowden (AZ), and many grandchildren and dear friends.

Gladys and George traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Virgin Islands, and the United States.
She was an avid and decorated gardener devoted to her flowers along the white picket fence at Hubbard Park. Gladys was a soft spoken, courageous, and elegant lady.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend visitation, 11am-1pm, at All Saints Episcopal Church in Navesink, NJ on Friday, January 18th. A Memorial Church Service will follow at the Church at 1pm. After the burial, on site, all are welcome to attend a reception at the parish hall to share food and stories. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gladys’ name to All Saints Memorial Episcopal Church or Monmouth County SPCA.

Please join us if you are nearby to celebrate the beautiful life of Gladys.
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Dec 29, 3pm MST

I don't claim to know what prayer actually is, but in this story it has felt like oceans of light, or a steady surround of ceaseless selfless giving, or a giant collective you-got-this filled with love pointed in one direction by hundreds of people.

There are 9 of us kids in the Bowden/McDermitt clan. Most of us have been surrounding their beds all day every day for two weeks. Plus there’s the highest thoughts minute by minute sent from grandkids, cousins, extended families, and enormous networks of friends (theirs, ours) built across lifetimes.

The campaign to help George & Gladys, at last glance, is at 484 shares, 5100 views, 169 donations, $16,115 given and pledged on and off-line in 13 days (deep thanks to everyone who has given).

I received communion for the first time in my life with my father in his rehab room the other day when Mother Debbie, an Episcopal minister, brought her traveling Eucharist set up and placed it on his plastic top rolling tray that slides across his lap when he is in bed. The notes in the bulletin say communion is open to all.

I've been back home (this one, here, with my wife and child in the SW) just a couple days to restore before returning again to NJ on Monday---the skies are crystalline blue, we are surrounded by snow capped mountains to the east and north. Last night my stepmom Gladys got discharged from ICU in N NJ and transported to Shrewsbury rehab where my dad George has been for a week, pining and aching and worrying for his wife of 38 years. My sister Chris took a video of their reunion, Gladys beaming, my dad bawling, he bringing her hand to his head, both of them in wheelchairs unable to perform larger gestures than this. It's all in their faces and hands. Everyone in my household is crying watching this.

Two weeks ago to the hour my brother Bob
and sister Chris waved goodbye to my dad and his wife, probably said "see you tomorrow," a Sunday--as my dad likes making blueberry pancakes on weekends, especially for visitors, as ritual. They pull away from Shadowlake (a retirement community built in the 70s in Middletown NJ) for a Christmas party with old friends. Less than 2 hours later, G&G's bedroom wall turns into a fire monster (my father's words), which he tries to conquer with bathroom towels, then clothes. The fire was not started by these clothes found in ash heaped on the faulty floor board heater, but the heater itself. My brother's cell phone rings just as they sit down to eat. Bob said of that moment he'd just been telling a story about a family in his town in CT that was displaced by a fire, how he'd just donated a bunch of household items to help them rebuild.

Dr Costa, my parents primary care doctor who has not been the attending physician at either hospital or the rehab facility, came to visit George shortly after he was admitted. He describes our elders to us as two twigs propping each other up. He is relieved to know the fire was electrical. Dad at 91 now weighs less than I do, and Gladys is a little bird.

I hear dad in the video say "the girls" (his, Gladys'?) "are a godsend." His tears drop onto his gray sweat shirt, a gift from the nurses in the hospital he left a week ago because the clothes he came in with, though washed several times since, still smell like smoke, and he has nothing else to wear.

Last night dad got wheeled into Gladys' room to eat dinner with her, and again for breakfast this morning. Glad's daughter, Chris, just wrote me to say that G&G are now resting comfortably together in the same room, and the sunlight is streaming in. I'd venture to say the light is also streaming out.

My brother writes this morning that dad sat up in bed, stood up by himself and got his clothes on (for the first time, unaided, since fracturing his hip).

Light travels as a wave, but unlike sound or water, it does not need any matter or material to carry its energy along. This means that light can travel through a vacuum---a completely airless space. The wave does not dissipate no matter how far it travels.

--Lisa Bowden
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447 shares 3258 views:
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Dec 19, 2018

I think we all wish we could have been there when the fire broke out thinking perhaps maybe we could have put it out, to have gotten everyone out unscathed, or otherwise run interference with our super hero imaginary wish fulfillment capes. I cry when I think of my father crying for help on the lawn distraught about not being able to move his wife. I cry thinking of my stepmom on the kitchen floor.

When my train got into Red Bank I went to see my recently bathed and rested father in the hospital last night, his voice cracked as he spoke of not having a home to go home to, and about losing their cat—-how incredibly close his wife was to Abbott (like a “son”). How he hasn’t seen his wife in a week (well, it’s been 3 days, but). I didn’t get to N NJ to see my stepmom last night, but she wouldn’t have been able to speak because she is intubated and trying to survive.

My father makes a party out of every situation with stories and appreciations of everyone in the room, and while this is no exception (he has charmed and entertained the entire nursing and medical staff)—there is also deep grief just under the surface. It’s a stark and stunning kind of grim-buoyancy. And we need to keep listening long enough for it to come through.

Today this story has four heroes:
1. the cop who pulled my stepmom out
2. the security guard who went in and tried
3. my father who tried to put the fire out with towels and clothes, who called for help until it came, and who then had to be physically restrained by the cops to keep from going back into the house for Gladys.
4. Carol the neighbor who called 911

To that I add the cops who restrained my father, the 60 firemen who put out the fire, the fireman who tried to resuscitate Abbott their cat, Amy my step sister who was called first by the officials and came to the ER, my brother Bob and sister Chris who have been by my father’s side, my step sisters Amy and Chris by Gladys’ side, my siblings and step siblings who cleared through burnt rubble of the house retrieving salvage yesterday, my step sisters who picked up the body of our parents’ cat, my cousin Thomas who is making a wooden urn for him, Fernando my dad’s awesome nurse, the specialists at St Barnabas burn unit who are treating Gladys, Mother Debbie who comes every day....and so on, and so on.
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Thank you all for making a contribution to help George and Gladys at this time! George fractured his hip last night in the hospital walking (when he wasn’t supposed to) and will go into rehab when he is discharged from the hospital. Gladys has been moved to an ICU burn unit at St Barnabas in N NJ to receive specialized lung treatment. Amy and Chris (from NH), Gladys’ daughters are with her; my siblings Bob (from CT) and Chris (from NM), two of George’s children, have been with him in Riverview hospital as well as dealing with health and house insurances, housing/care next steps, salvaging anything from the house, the Fire Marshall, doctors, visitors, keeping everyone informed, and all the emotional heavy lifting this situation requires. We are so appreciative of all their efforts. I am flying out tomorrow morning from Tucson to be there, my other sisters will be there in the weeks that follow. Please keep G&G in your thoughts and prayers, esp now as things are very tough going. With deep gratitude to friends and family and everyone who is thinking of our family, and who have given.
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$13,937 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 183 people in 3 months
Created December 16, 2018
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