Lois was a person who flourished throughout her life. Her roots deeply implanted in her Christian faith. There was no question that she was indeed a child of God.
Her life was not an easy one, growing up during the Great Depression, losing many childhood friends in World War Two, becoming a widow unexpectedly in her fifties, being struck with breast cancer several years later...and spending the last years of her life, living with Alzheimer's Disease. No, her life was not an easy one...but it was a life that was richly blessed. And she was aware of, and thankful for, those blessings.
Lois was a bit of a rebel...doing things that were not considered conventional. She married Fred before he graduated from Concordia seminary. When the high school kids that she was teaching to read said that they resented being taught to read from "Dick and Jane" books...she taught them to read using comic books and the Oregon Driver's Manual. When her husband died, Lois refused to wear black. In fact it was a gold wool skirt with a red blouse she wore to the funeral...it was Fred's favorite outfit on her. Some friends encouraged her to "get out more" after she became a widow, so Lois took square dancing lessons. Most square dancing clubs only admitted couples at that time... but she convinced Stars and Garters to let her join solo. There she made some of
her dearest friends. Lois loved all of the male attention, and often danced every set. She also joined a group of the women there in an art class every week. Throughout her life, Lois had enjoyed sketching, drawing with pastels and charcoals.. .and in her sixties, she began oil painting. A prolific painter, our walls are filled with her paintings. We have so many, in fact, that we are able to rotate them according to the seasons. She especially loved painting mountains, seascapes and farm scenes.
As Lois was going through chemotherapy following her mastectomy, she discovered yet another talent. .. writing. What started as a small collection of stories from her life (which were to be shared with her grandchildren).. .quickly became a book which she also illustrated and published herself. It is called, "I Wasn't Born Old!" That book has been a blessing for all of us...not only to our family...but to her friends...and even to the people who cared for her in the last few years of her life. Sharing that book with them helped them to see Lois as more than "their patient."
Together, Lois and Fred opened their home to hundreds of people. During the seventies, they led sensitivity groups in their living room every Sunday evening. Over the years, many people moved in with them when they had nowhere else to go. Some people were going through a divorce, others had been released from jail or the mental hospital. Some were kids who just couldn't live in their parent's houses. Folks often stayed for just a few days or weeks, yet others stayed for months. After Fred died, Lois continued inviting people in. Years ago mom told me that when we moved up here from California, she and dad asked God to bless our home. . .that they might always freely share it with others and that it would be a place of peace and rest. He did.
Last spring, our hospice social worker asked mom if she had given me any advice on being a good parent... and if so... what was the best advice she gave me. I couldn't recall any advice in particular... I could only say that she showed me by her own example... how to be a good parent. We waited for Mom to gather her thoughts (really wondering if she would respond at all)... and then Mom said, "No. I just lived it." It was moments like that one, which kept me going as I cared for her during the last year of her life.
One thing that I particularly enjoyed about living with Lois, was that she truly enjoyed life. She loved to celebrate it... in a variety of ways. When my girls were little, she helped sponsor and support both of their Camp Fire groups. The groups met in her home regularly, doing crafts at the dining room table and on the over-sized coffee table. They held their annual camp outs in her back yard and in the morning, they hunted for little individual boxes of cereal that she helped hide in the front yard. She hosted countless slumber parties, pizza parties, bingo, bunko and Tupperware parties. She held bar-b-ques in the back yard and moved picnics onto the living room floor if they were rained out. Lois was up for tea parties, dinner parties, even fust day of school parties at 6:00 in the morning. We would color eggs together with the girls at Easter and hide them...in our "traditional" spots. After the egg hunt, we would have our "treasure hunt" where the girls had to follow clues to find their candy filled eggs and other treats. Before Halloween, we made our annual trip to the Pumpkin Patch.. .and on Oct. 30th we would carve our pumpkins together. We always shared a feast on Thanksgiving...and on November 30th we would hang up the Advent calendars that she had made. They were long panels of felt, decorated with hearts and other cut outs. ..with 24 curtain rings attached. On each of the rings was tied a small wrapped gift. One to open each day until Christmas. Christmas Eve we would go to the candlelight service at church. Christmas morning there were presents around the tree to be opened. Lois celebrated life all year round. We will continue in these traditions and celebrations.
Today, even in our sorrow, we celebrate Lois' life...and her enthusiasm for living. We give thanks to God for the lessons she taught us in the way that she lived her own life.
"God be with you." Those were the last words that one would hear when they were departing from Lois' company. She might call it out from another room if she was busy in there and you were headed out the door. If she were able, she would walk you to the door and give you a hug and say those words... watching as you took off down the road. Phone calls often ended with "God be with you." Last year, as one of our hospice workers was leaving, mom (who had been extra quiet throughout the visit) called out to her as she left the room "God be with you!" The woman came back and thanked her.. .hugging her around her shoulders. "That's the best thing anyone has said to me today. ..thank you." Mom turned to me with a puzzled look on her face. "Why don't people say that more often?" And then with conviction she added, "They should." She's right.
God bless you mom. And from mom, I say...God be with you all.
Arrangements under the direction of Caldwell's, Hennessey, Goetsch & Mcgee Funeral Home, Portland, OR.