You can live stream the service at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnIOJobUoxjJ0Lx4nVtSUPA
Of Living and Dying
Audrey Juanita (Swenson) Bugbee
With every labored breath she takes, slow and intermingled, we watch and wait. We know that it won’t be long – days, maybe weeks. Or, is this the final moment, the final gasp of air that will cross her lips, the last bit of oxygen that will fuel this aging and frail body.
We touch her skin and try to offer comfort. Her body is warm and soft; in contrast to the sometimes-regimented mother that raised us from birth. When she opens her eyes there’s a sense of acknowledgment; she knows we’re there – she knows we are near.
We search for the significance of death. More so, the lessons of dying. Certainly, as we observe her peaceful repose, these are the lessons of life itself.
There were times, we know, when our hearts wouldn’t have been so tender; times when we had our disagreements – where we didn’t see eye to eye, and times of unfulfilled expectations. There were times when we let her down and even times when she, perhaps, let us down.
Age and maturity have a way of ironing out these wrinkles of life and living. Definitions of love don’t always come quickly and, for sure, they don’t always come easily.
Watching this slow progression of dying, this labor of breathing or that of keeping her eyes open, along with the challenges of being comfortable or cognizant; we’re left to wonder whose pain is worse, hers or ours?
But in the end, we realize that dying is a time of forgiveness and grace. It is a time to find a deeper meaning of love; something that often eludes the living.
Audrey Bugbee passed peacefully on Friday, March 26, 2021, shortly before 3:00 p.m.
Son, Paul, and his wife, Kella, held her hand and embraced her spirit as she drew her last breath. Her beloved grandson, Benjamin, joined them within minutes, in time to say goodbye. In the five days preceding her death, she had seen and visited with each of her other children – Bruce, Mary Jill, Peter and John, along with their spouses – Diana and Richard, and cherished granddaughters – Natalie and Anna.
Audrey Juanita (Swenson) Bugbee was born on June 17, 1926, to Swedish immigrants, Swen W. Swenson and Emma Victoria (Nelson) in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. She graduated from Walnut Grove High School in 1944 and obtained an elementary school teaching certification in 1946. She moved to Minneapolis and worked in a variety of jobs before teaching in a one-room schoolhouse and the Pennock school system between 1946 and 1948.
On November 13, 1948, she married William G. (Jack) Bugbee and began her career working and ultimately managing the Bug-Bee Hive Resort on Bee-Utiful Lake Koronis in Paynesville, Minnesota. She frequently lamented her mother’s advice given before she married Jack, “All he’s looking for is a wife who can clean cottages and fry fish.” She was affectionately known as the “Queen Bee” around the resort and among friends.
Audrey especially enjoyed an active social life with a close circle of friends throughout the Paynesville area. She was fond of Big Band music, loved dancing and singing, and loved to cook and entertain. Always a Swedish beauty queen, she was a Mrs. Minnesota finalist in a statewide competition in 1962.
Audrey and Jack raised a family of five children at the resort, instilling a solid work ethic, independent thinking, financial prudence and hospitality.
She is survived by her children, grandchildren, a sister – Eunice Morgan, and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her Mother and Father; two sisters, Lorraine Schmiesing and Dolores Sorbel; a brother, Curtis Swenson; and her devoted and loving husband.
Less than three hours before she died, we asked if she remembered that Dad, her husband, died exactly ten years before, on March 27, 2011. She opened her eyes, looked at us and, without hesitation, quietly responded, “I know that.”
You are invited to share in a gathering of family and friends at the Paynesville Lutheran Church on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., followed by a service of remembrance at 11:00 a.m. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Johnson Funeral Home in Paynesville.
The family is grateful for the many expressions of friendship, love and support exhibited to our mother throughout her long and active life, especially those who cared for her in her final years. Memorials are preferred to the Paynesville Area Community Foundation, Koronis Manor or Paynesville Lutheran Church.
To send flowers to Audrey's family, please visit our floral store.