Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Linda

My cousin Linda passed away this past weekend.  From what I heard, her cancer was quick.   It was a stage 4 killer before anybody knew she was even sick.  I have to wonder how long she had maybe kept her own little secret.

Since there were 13 “kids” in my dad’s family, there are 70 or so first cousins on just that one side of my family.  Not first cousin, once removed and all of that – but first cousins.  So it is not surprising that I don’t know many of my cousins very well.   This was the case with Linda.  So how do I mourn a cousin I barely knew?  I’ve discovered the answer is with tears.

Linda was older than me.  I’m not sure how much older - maybe five years or so.  She was the cool, can do anything she wants cousin.  For much of my early years I wanted to be like Linda.  The bad, daring kind of girl.  Linda knew no bounds.  She drank and smoked too much, drove too fast, and cussed like a sailor. 

Linda introduced me to makeup and the poufy high teased hair styles of the 60’s.  She was a cousin that my mom and dad tried to shelter me from.

Linda was one of the kindest persons I ever knew.  She didn’t put people down or talk behind their backs.  She just wanted to live life her way – and so she did.  Her demons were many.  I cannot recall a single family get together where she didn’t either arrive drunk or soon succumbed to the liquor.  Yet even in her drunken haze – or perhaps because of it – she always had a hug and kind word for everyone. 

She was there for me.  When my dad passed away a little over a year ago I missed her at the visitation.  She was one of the cousins who always showed up at any family event – including funerals – so I couldn’t imagine she wasn’t there.   But as we walked down the aisle following the casket, there was Linda in the third to the last pew of church, reaching out to hug us and telling us that she was there for us.  And then she was gone.  Just gone.  I never got the chance to tell her how much that hug meant to me.  It was the last time I ever saw her.

I found out much later that she was dealing with her own tragedies.  Her husband was recuperating from a stroke.  She had driven from St. Louis to send “Uncle Ed” off.  She had made the 2 1/2 hour trip, only to give a hug and watery smile and return home again.   That was Linda.

I am embarrassed to say that I imagined that she was probably once again drunk.  And she may well have been.  That was also Linda.

All I know is…  I probably saw Linda once every two or three years and yet I am going to miss her a lot.  She lived life her way.  Not a good way by most standards – but her way.  And her love was genuine.  Genuine love cannot be faked.  I cannot imagine another reunion, wedding, or funeral without Linda.  Linda  was always there.

14 comments:

AliceKay said...

How truly sad. You and your family have my deepest sympathies.

Linda sounded like someone you "need" to have in your life, in one way or another and for whatever reason. Genuine love can be shown in many ways. Some people just show it better than others. Better isn't quite the word I was looking for, but it's the one that's there in my mind. And you are correct in saying that genuine love cannot be faked. I agree.

*big hugs to you*

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Deanna. My sympathies to you and Linda's family. She sounds like a special, loving person in spite of her lifestyle. Sometimes those are the people misunderstood and overlooked. The old expression to "never judge a book by it's cover" comes to mind.

I remember well when I was growing up that my father wouldn't want me to have anything to do with certain kids because of the bad habits of their parents. I guess he thought like father, like son or daughter? I don't know. Anyway I usually ignored him and chose my own friends. :)

And, wow, what a big family! I envy you that. I have one first cousin, who I rarely ever see, and one aunt that I'm close to. Besides my own children, that's all that's left of family other than a few distant cousins. My hubby has several first cousins and they all get along pretty well but sadly we don't see them much except at funerals. Why is that? Families just don't visit like they used to. Everyone's too busy, I guess.

Hugs, Cheryl

Rita said...

My sympathies. I am glad you saw the loving, kind side to her. You're so right. Genuine love cannot be faked. She's probably up in heaven giving out sweet hugs. :) She sounds like a remarkable woman. We all have our demons--so true.

Lynn said...

Im so sorry about your cousin Linda, she sure sounds like someone that would have been nice to have known. I have cousins that I don't see often but I would also be sad if I never got to see them ever again, sympathies to you and your family HUGS

Rural Rambler said...

Oh Deanna I am so sorry about your cousin Linda. I had a sis-in-law that died and things just were not right without her. I will be saying a prayer for her and a prayer too that you find some peace in dealing with your grief. When you didn't post for awhile I wondered. Take care!

Nana said...

Awww. I am sorry. She sounds like a wonderful person.

Vicki Lane said...

A fine tribute. Blessings to you for loving Linda as she was.

Funny in My Mind said...

I think whenever we lose a relative, it is like losing an extension of ourselves. It reminds us that we could go at any time and a part of us leaves with them.

junyah said...

I have to say that i think i would feel the same as you when it comes to cousins, first cousins anyway, like you i have a ton of them.My mothers side had 12 kids and my fathers side has 5 brothers and 5 sisters, making i have no idera how many first cousins. I will say i have been able to meet up with a few of them on Facebook.Somebody started that family tree thing in F/B and it said yesterday they had found maybe 70 realitives.But im not buying christmas cards for all of them. lol.. sorry to hear your loss hun, Hugs U .Y.O.P. Junyah

tattytiara said...

She's remembered for her love and kindness, what more beautiful legacy could a person have? My sincerest condolences. I'm sorry life didn't present you two with more opportunities to spend time together.

Toriz said...

*Hugs*

jewelzmomof4 said...

I didn't know Linda...or if I did i don't remember her :( She sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing. I wish I had had the opportunity to know her. Love you mom and i love that you are such a great person to be able to love someone even with their "bad" habits.

spacegirl60 said...

Genuine can never be faked. So sorry for your loss. Funny how people you don't see very often can influence your life so that you miss them.

You will have fond memories to remember her by.

Intense Guy said...

I am so late in expressing my sympathies that I feel the need to apologize for being a bad friend. I'm sorry I wasn't here for you when you needed me.

With the multitude of cousins that you have - it seems to me (who only has a handful) amazing that you remember so much about any one of them in particular - it's obvious Linda meant more to you than you suspected - and the circumstances of life - busy with the kids, the church, and your job meant you weren't able to develop a heart-to-heart connection that ... even for all that ... was there.

I hope you are doing okay and I know that Linda is still watching you and hoping that you remain the cousin she loved.