Edwina Brandon forged ahead

April 14, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Edwina L. Brandon, who died March 31 at the age of 75. Her obituary was published in the April 2 edition of The Herald-Mail.

A quiet boy growing up, Adrian Brandon said he got used to hearing his mother say, "Eek, a mouse" whenever he came into the house.

As Edwina Brandon was nearing the end of her life, her children -- unsure if she was aware of her surroundings -- were startled when she sat up in bed and said "Eek" just as Adrian came into the room.

It was his first visit home in about six years.

Adrian said his mother was funny and fun.


"I always looked forward to coming home." he said.

With a little memory jogging from his sister, Linda Stutzman, Adrian admitted there was at least one occasion when as a child, he arrived at the Highland Way home with a sense of dread.

"We'd jump on trains and jump off at Hagerstown City Park and walk home," Adrian said. At that time, the family home was next door to the railroad tracks.

On one occasion, the train conductor -- who happened to be a neighbor -- saw what Adrian and other children were doing, stopped the train and brought the children home.

"We were about 10 years old then," Adrian said. "I remember I was grounded to the porch for the summer."

A music devotee all of her life, Edwina often would weave her motherhood duties into her love of music.

"She would always take me with her to choir practice," Adrian said. "We'd do our homework while she sang."

Edwina had grown up on two different farms in Pennsylvania, one of which was next to the Eisenhower farm near Gettysburg, Pa.

The mother of five children, Edwina moved her family when Linda was 12. Edwina's ex-husband, Lyndale R. Brandon, had been a dairy farmer and was an insurance salesman when the family came to Hagerstown.

Linda said she and the older Brandon children were the farm kids.

"Mom always put out a big garden," Linda said. "We weeded as chores, but more as punishment."

She remembers Adrian riding with their grandfather on his tractor through the farm fields. He would be out there so long that Edwina often would walk out, retrieve a sleeping Adrian and bring him home.

When Edwina's youngest child, Claire, was 3 months old, Edwina went back to school, where she learned shorthand and became a medical secretary.

"I'd hear her typing in the night after we went to bed," Linda said.

Claire Valentine said she never will forget that her mother always was there for her and her brothers and sisters.

"She took everything in stride," Claire said, even to the end of her life. "Mom said she left everything up to the doctor and God."

From her home in Georgia, daughter Cynthia Mitchell said she always will remember that her mother would introduce her to company as "Child No. 3, Daughter No. 2."

Those fond thoughts were mingled with recent events as her mother's health was declining and Cynthia and her siblings were coping with that.

In February, Linda said her mother's only regret was that she wasn't as affectionate with her family as she could have been.

"Mom was very stoic -- she didn't say I love you a lot," Linda said.

Adrian said his mother's favorite expression was "forge ahead," and she lived that phrase to the end of her life, even as her health was failing.

"She never wallowed in it ... she took it on the chin and kept on going," Linda said.

Edwina had a lot of friends and traveled with them for as long as she could.

"She kept her mind busy and she loved her singing," Adrian said.

Although Adrian never had his mother's gift for song, he did pick up one musical talent from her.

"She'd always whistle for us to come home," Adrian said. "Later, she taught me to whistle."

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