Helen Elizabeth Bumgarner Milstead, 82, of Harrisburg, NC, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, was welcomed into a heavenly homecoming on September 24, 2019.
Mother was born on September 26, 1936, in Lincolnton to Floyd and Lillie Mae Bumgarner. She had three brothers and two sisters. She grew up in a little country house “down on the line of houses” along the banks of the South Fork River.
Mother summarized her childhood beautifully, “Ours was a simple life, not rushed or hurried like times are today. It was a time when neighbors gathered in our yard under the big old shade trees and talked and sat for hours. These same friends were there to lend a hand when needed, and we in turn helped them. I often return there in my mind and I can see our house, my mother in the kitchen, my daddy on the front porch and the family gathering in for special meals and times of joy and laughter”. Our Mother never lost her love and fondness for her childhood home and returned to Lincolnton often.
In high school, Mother was a proud member of the National Honor Society at Lincolnton High School. She never failed to remind her daughters or granddaughters of this and always felt (with good reason) that her academic success led to ours.
Our parents shared an epic love story that began in 1957 while Mother was working as a dental hygienist in Lincolnton. They eloped 6 weeks later and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina soon after. There, they shared 59 loving years together before our Dad passed in 2017. Mother and Dad adored each other – they served their Lord first, and then each other. They each had a significant role in their marriage, but their relationship was filled with love. The last words they spoke to each other were “you’re the love of my life.”
Mother and Dad raised three daughters, Susan, Kelly, and Sharon. Life at home with Mother is fondly remembered with meals prepared with love. Every Sunday morning began with the sound of the pressure cooker and smell of roast cooking. Her role at home was more than a traditional housewife – she showed us how to be kind and loving by the way she treated others. She was actively engaged in our school activities and loved to help with homework and volunteer at school.
Mother was the best Grandmother to her granddaughters, Rebecca, Amanda, and Lily. She was there for every moment in their lives, smiling and cheering them on. The girls always looked forward to their annual spring break trip to “Grandmother’s beach house.” Her face would light up at the sight of her granddaughters, and they cherished their time spent together. A hug from Grandmother was the greatest comfort. The girls believe everything they’ve ever gotten in life came because of Grandmother’s prayers.
Mother served her church for almost 40 years as a leader in women’s ministries and worked tirelessly to teach her Sunday school class. God’s presence in her life was reflected in how she loved others. Mother was a wonderful cook and enjoyed sharing her recipes. She was the best wife, mother and grandmother we could have ever asked for. Her love and devotion to her church, her friends and her family is a legacy that will live on for each of us.