I was Linda's obnoxious little brother. One episode lodged in both our memories was the time Linda and I were so mad at each other that I threw a pair of scissors at her. She ducked and the scissors broke the window. When our parents came running and got after me for breaking the window, I told them it was Linda's fault because she ducked.
But there were good times, too. She and I would walk downtown to see movies. We made a makeshift dollhouse and played with that together. We celebrated our dog's birthday by putting a candle on canned dog food and donning party hats. And for a Halloween costume contest at a bonfire in town, Linda made herself up to look like a black mammy, and Mom made a full-body pig costume for me, and at the contest Linda held me in her arms. We won a football.
|Linda and me in 1961|
Over the years, Linda and I have grown closer and closer. Mom and Dad have passed away. Our sister Gloria died all too suddenly. And now, several months ago, Ron died after a long bout with cancer. Besides my own wife and children, Linda is now my closest relative--close in love and closest in distance, with 324 miles between us.
Now my family and I live in the Ozarks, and sometimes I think it's a natural Ozark phenomenon for its inhabitants to become poorer and poorer. I plan to retire, finally, in less than two years, and meanwhile we were down to one, 23-year-old, unreliable car, that lately has been conking out and refusing to start. We've had to watch our money disappear into taxicabs, trying to commute to work (there's no mass transit here). And I was worried about what sort of transportation problems we'd have when I retire.
I wasn't the only one depressed. Last week Linda emailed me, saying that she's been feeling down lately and wanted to come visit us during my three-day weekend to play games with her brother, listen to our old records, etc. We were excited. When she came, I had her pick me up at work, since our car was still giving us problems, and Linda came in a 2003 Chevrolet Venture van she had just bought for herself. It was beautiful and full of modern features we had never even seen before. My wife Micki and some of our kids were with her. And on the way up the highway to pick up our son and take him to work, Linda asked me, "Do you have a two-car discount on your insurance?"
"Well, yeah," I said, "but we don't have two cars."
She said, "Yes you do."
Her being depressed was not true, but only a ploy, an excuse for her to come without us suspecting anything. Really she was very excited and delighted to be helping us. My sister Linda bought us a van and brought it to us--the nicest vehicle we've ever had. How happy I am that, long ago, Linda ducked.
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