My Cousin, Lois Ann Buchta Ladd on her wedding day in 1976

My cousin Lois in a teal wedding dress on the occasion of her marriage to Michael “Mike” Ladd.
My cousin Lois in a teal wedding dress on the occasion of her marriage to Michael “Mike” Ladd.
Lois Ladd — Photo used with permission from the Lois and Mike Ladd Estate

My Cousin Lois died unexpectedly, and it was the kind of death that gets picked up by the news wires and appears in newspapers from the New York Post to the Cherokee Tribune Ledger of Canton Georgia.

I learned of it myself this past Tuesday morning while I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, doing what one does — waiting.

My mother had an appoint with a new healthcare provider, and since getting established often takes more time than a regular check up, I had brought plenty of things to do, but before I got to those things, I went to Facebook and saw there was a message from the wife of one of my cousins. Usually our exchanges are pleasant and fun, but this was decidedly somber.

She wrote:

I have been struggling with how to appropriately word this I am still in shock Lois and Mike Ladd were murdered in their home this weekend right now that is all I know homicide is still investigating and will not release any information yet

The Lois she referenced was was my father’s first cousin — my first cousin once removed. Mike was her husband.

I understood immediately why the writer had struggled with the words: there aren’t any.

If she had told me Lois and Mike had died in a car accident while pulling my cousin’s flamingo festooned golf cart to a Mardi Gras celebration, I would have understood.

If she had told me they had died as a result of a dual parachute malfunction while living out a lifelong dream to sky dive, I would have understood.

If she had told me something had gone horrifically wrong and they had died in a bonfire explosion while celebrating an obscure holiday, I would have understood.

But the two of them being stabbed to death while they slept — I don’t understand, and I never will.

Because of where the murders occurred, the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis lead the investigation, and the murders of my cousin and her husband became Report #691.

By 5:15 CDT, on Tuesday, March 19, the Major Case Squad announced that a suspect had been identified and was in custody, and while there were some leads still being pursued, they expected the investigation to wind down fairly quickly. As of this afternoon, Report #691 is now on the “Past Investigations” webpage. Less than three days after the case was opened, it seems that it is nearly ready to be closed.

But I don’t want the lives of my cousin and her husband to be defined by the manner of their deaths, so I want to share what they were like in life.

My cousin Lois and her husband Mike had an “open doors” and “open hearts” approach to life. If you needed a ride or a cup of coffee or a place to live, they would help you out.

They were just as generous with their skills. The last time I saw Mike, he correctly diagnosed the origin of a persistent leak in my then home in North Carolina — all while riding in the backseat of the new Ford Flex my cousin Lois was driving as she made periodic interruptions to direct me to look at some geographical feature or to tell me some historical tidbit. The leak was something that had eluded a parade of leak finders I had brought in, but Mike figured it out in almost no time, and as soon as I got home, I was able to hire someone to finally fix the leak.

And if you were (or even were not) in need of an adventure, Lois in particular would make sure that you got one.

On that same visit she learned that my youngest son did not yet have his driver’s license but did have his driver’s permit.

Wanting him to be a road trip ready driver, she took us out in that same Ford Flex on the back roads of Madison County where her older brother Allyn had taught her to drive.

She traded places with my son, and then had him take the wheel. Lois would periodically yell “STOP,” and when the vehicle came to a rest, she would critique my son’s driving, tell him to pull his shoulders back, then advise him not to worry when crossing what looked like perilously narrow bridges. The drivers coming in the other direction, she assured him, would have more experience and would not let him hit their trucks.

The lesson went on for what felt like hours, but was probably only forty-five minutes. When she felt that he had mastered the gravel backroads of Madison County, she then drove us into town to a vacant parking lot, where she instructed him on the finer points of parking and turning when she told him to.

Every single day with Lois was memorable, and I am sorry that there will not be more of them.

The first time I visited Lois as an adult, this was the sight that greeted me:

The lighted pink flamingo sculpture on my cousin Lois’s front porch, that greeted you rain or shine.
The lighted pink flamingo sculpture on my cousin Lois’s front porch, that greeted you rain or shine.
Flamingo in the rain

that flamingo ended up inspiring more than one crochet project including this flamingo inspired practically perfect bag:

A granny square crochet purse with a flamingo fabric lining that I made for my cousin Lois as a hostess gift
A granny square crochet purse with a flamingo fabric lining that I made for my cousin Lois as a hostess gift
One side of a flamingo inspired granny square purse

as well as this crochet soccer ball:

An African flower crochet soccer ball I made as a hostess gift for my cousin Louis using a palette of her favorite colors
An African flower crochet soccer ball I made as a hostess gift for my cousin Louis using a palette of her favorite colors
A crochet soccer ball for Lois

It was hard to be around Lois for any amount of time without some of her enthusiasm for life and the color teal rubbing off onto you.

I am going to miss my Cousin Lois and her husband Mike for the rest of my life, but I will do my best to follow in her footsteps with her simultaneous embrace and break with tradition as exemplified in her choice of a teal wedding gown, and I will remember the two of them as they were on their wedding day and every day after that: working together, side by side:

My cousin Lois and her husband Mike on their wedding day. RIP Lois and Mike Ladd.
My cousin Lois and her husband Mike on their wedding day. RIP Lois and Mike Ladd.
Lois and Mike Ladd — Photo used with permission from the Lois and Mike Ladd Estate

Written by

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog: https://www.crochetbug.com

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