Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IN REMEMBRANCE: Lois Faith Brumbaugh

My Little Sis: Lois Faith Brumbaugh 1960 - 1993

A bright light went out the night we lost Lois. 
She was my little sister. I can remember staying with my Cripe cousins during the time she was being born. My father came over and the adults were having a discussion of what my baby sister's name was going to be. Later, I remember going to my Grandma Weigold's and seeing my mother with the baby next to her in the bassinet. Lois was a beautiful baby. She had dark hair and large brown-black expressive eyes. 

I always felt protective of Lois. Although I was five years older than she was, we would talk about life and things. She seemed to have the ability to attain what she wanted, even with my parents. I would be in awe. I was always proud of her many accomplishments and abilities. I liked her sense of style, humor, piano playing, intelligence, and innate sensitivities. We weren't very much alike but enough alike to "get life" in a similar way.

The five of us. Lois. Lois and me (bottom).
Let me tell you some about Lois. God gifted her with a sharp mind, natural musical ability. She had perfect pitch and musical intelligence. If she could hear it, she could play it. Lois was quick with her wit making come-backs at just the right time. She also had a sensitivity toward people, noticing their moods or struggles. 

Her giftedness was appreciated by her colleagues, former college friends, close friends and acquaintances. Many shared with my family the ways she touched their lives, going the extra mile, or sharing a cup of coffee at the right time when they needed it. Her bosses told us how Lois would be in the same interview as them, but she could see something that was under the surface that nobody else noticed. She would pick up on the little things that matter. 

She was a fun-to-be-around co-worker. Lois liked fashion. She made her own jewelry, wore dangling earrings, could put clothing together in a way that set the outfit off, sometimes sewing her own clothes. I liked watching her become a woman who overcame her shyness and learned to present herself well.

Lois was beautiful. We shared the brown eyes, they run in the family. Hers flashed brightly. I loved Lois. The night I got the news that she had left us, it felt like I was walking in shock, like the world would never be quite the same. Similar to the way people felt when Princes Di's crash was broadcast, interrupting the evening's programming, Dan Rather's voice quivering with uncharacteristic emotion. Lois moved people that way. A person wanted her to succeed and do well, but we could see her vulnerabilities as well. 

I wanted my sister back, to talk to her again. She had been my encourager, calling me up once in awhile and saying things that made me feel appreciated. Lois noticed those small things that others never commented on. She wanted to help my husband and me because she knew my family was going through a lot. My children, and the other nieces and nephews, thought she was the greatest. She always gave the "fun" quirky gifts at Christmas. They called her "Aunt Lou." My oldest two remember her best. They were nine and eleven when she passed on.
The Brumbaugh Sisters - Norma, Marilyn, Juanita, Lois. 

The day we drove to Oregon to say our goodbye, was a long day. There were several vehicles with family members, cousins, my grandma and others. While stopping at a rest area and viewing the river as it flowed, my young daughter, LaVonne, said to me, "I wish Aunt Lou was Sleeping Beauty and a handsome prince would kiss her and she would wake up." 

We arrived in Stayton, Oregon at my sister, Marilyn's, house. Soon it was overflowing with people. Everyone was in disbelief and shock. We were devastated. My oldest son, Joshua, arranged the alphabet magnets on the refrigerator to read, "Aunt Lou still loves us." It was hard for my family to say good-bye to her. She was too young. Her death had come too soon and not in a natural way. 

The memorial service was full of tears and sadness. When my brother, Paul, spoke he said, "It's not right that we're here today." My sister Juanita read the Word.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19. NIV
Mrs. Odell, a former pastor's wife, spoke of Lois in children's church as a little girl, making eyes at Richey S.. We all laughed, imagining her as a little girl. At the end of her speaking. Mrs. Odell paused. Her eyes scanned the room, then she said with a confident voice, "God is still in control." So much we needed to hear those words that day. The service concluded with all the verses of Amazing Grace being sung as we stood together. The voices raised loudly as one. There was energy in the air and power in the words. It felt as if we were claiming a victory over the darkness that had snatched my sister away.

One scene from that day is etched in my mind. We are standing next to her fresh dug grave that is now her final resting place. The sod and dirt are slightly damp. We are on a hill there in Stayton, Oregon. Most of the mourners have left, but we remain. My siblings, Paul, Juanita, Marilyn, and me, are standing next to my father. We are all alone for a few minutes. My father's long arms enclose us as we huddle close together, heads bowed, unable to speak, sorrowing in solidarity through our broken hearts and flowing tears. It is just the four of us and Dad. He shakes his head and says he never thought something like this would happen. We find ourselves agreeing, shaking our heads, overcome with a grief that takes your breath away and penetrates the inner core. 

Then some of us wander over to where baby Sharon Elisabeth Brammer's marker tells of another sorrow, when the family grieved a few years before in 1982, when we lost my sister's eleven month old to leukemia, the firstborn grandchild of my parents. I see the marker with her name. Fresh tears flow, and I feel the loss afresh.  I am glad my sister is laid to rest near her niece. It seems right and fitting.
Here is our last family picture with Lois. I am at the bottom left, Lois at the top to the right of Dad. 1991
I write this today because this week it will be twenty years since we lost Lois. I have never liked September since. I still miss her and wish she was here. Every once in a great while, I will have a dream with her in it. She is vivacious and charming. I will ask her, "Why did you have to leave us?" and she will smile at me and then fade away. Then I wake up. It always makes me sad and happy mixed together. For those of you who knew her, I want you to remember her smile and the gift she was to us. That is what we should think about at this time. The happy memories of Lois Faith Brumbaugh, beloved daughter, sister and friend.


  1. Thank you for this lovely post on your sister. I am deeply touched by your love and memories of her. How great is your loss. I will be praying for you this weekend as you speak and refer to her.
    I can resonate with what you have written because this is the 30th year since I lost my mom. This has had a profound effect upon my life. It is beautiful how you remember and love. Thank you, Susan

  2. Hello Susan, Yes, personal stories are often touching and difficult. I'm always thankful that we can find courage to face the losses and we can know there is hope. Losing my sister changed my family. We became more sensitive to others and more demonstrative with each other. I'm sorry you lost your mother so long ago. Some things we accept as best we can and then go on with our lives, but it doesn't mean that they didn't matter. That is one reason I honored my sister's memory. Blessings ...