If friends were flowers, I'd pick you !
Left to right: Matilda Wren, Malissa, Malissa's husband Jeff, Linda,
Michael, Mackenzie, Mitchell, Grandma Besse, (family friend)
Monica, George Oliver.
(Friend Linda used to write reminders on her hand, so the tattoo artist who did her image included a message on her hand...this is so Linda. Linda died due to a tumor or cancer in the brain...we have not been told what happened.)
How do I say good-bye to my friend Linda? For 13 yrs. we shared our highs and lows. And in that time her five kids Malissa, Michael, Monica, Mitchell and Mackenzie, her 90 yr. old Hungarian mother Besse, her son in law Jeff and two grandchildren Matilda Wren and George Oliver were family to me.
Linda had been divorced since her children had been toddlers. She had raised them all by herself in a Bohemian household filled with love and artistic creativeness. All of her kids had been on Homecoming Courts, all beautiful and each a part of Linda. Malissa had her mothering skills and was nurturing to the grandchildren, as well as a loving wife - so beautiful; Michael her funny side- with acting talent and a chef's instinct on cooking, sported a tattoo saying "MOM" and a cross on his arm for years; Monica her independent single graphic artist- sweet as the day is long and living life in total communion with everyone and everything in NYC; Mitchell in education and sports - independent, travelled and very dependable (marrying soon); and Mackenzie her photographer - feisty and complex, with fairy soft beauty - a flower child. Then there was Grandma Besse who loves Betty Boop, playing bingo, cooking and driving her car around town like a bat out of hell!! No one is sweeter than Besse. What a legacy Linda left behind in all of them.
Although I admit I wanted to gouge out the eyes of her ex-husband through the years, I have been told he is very nice and to his credit was with the kids, holding Linda's hand to the very end. Linda never stopped loving him and had never found anyone to replace him.
The local funeral director, Jim, and his daughter Maggie (Mackenzie's friend) took over on the funeral, holding it at a rental party barn they owned. It was two hours of visitation, the Memorial ceremony, and a picnic with food donated by the community organized by Maggie and Jim took over the grilling of hamburgers and hot dogs with friends. He even did a swing dance with Monica at the end of the night. It was magical.
The kids set up an altar of Linda's favorite things from her porch and met with the lines ofpeople on a rainy day. Some came and went but at least half stayed on as hundreds showed up to pay their respect to Linda from our tiny little village. All the seats were filled and the large hall lined three deep as one after another spoke of Linda's ability to connect to others. She never had a lot of money, but tons of love and concern for people and animals. She loved to garden (put in my perennial garden) and do weddings as a sideline (I went to her last one she was supposed to do, the day after she died).
Linda's kids were all dressed up in their own unique style (always inventive) and Micheal in his motorcycle gear, headband and hoodie even got up to speak and say that his mother and he looked to Jesus and God for direction in life and that his mother would want all of us to be loving, which brought cheers from the crowd. "Imagine" and a couple other Beatles tunes were played beautifully on a portable organ by Linda's musical guy friend Mr. Williams from the high school. A niece read writings from her brother Ron. A young girl spoke about Linda with such calm. Just before the end of the ceremony, another of Linda's three brothers, Dickie, got up to tell everyone about his last visit with Linda...not a dry eye in the house. Linda's sister sat with her Mom and her kids embraced all who talked or performed.
Linda was a class act. She showed everyone that you can leave life with dignity if you give more than you take. You can make yourself a friend to many and it doesn't take money to do it. You can raise five beautiful kids and leave a part of you to this world. You can care for your mother, brothers and sister.
And you can be a friend to someone who loved you ...more than she will ever know.
You were my gypsy friend and I will be lost without you. I will email your kids and be in touch with your mother daily. All I can do is try to be a friend to others and a remote Mom to your kids, the way you taught me.
I lost my mother and sister last year and now you. My first instinct was to forget friends and being hurt with loss...but then I decided my life is better for having known you, so I cannot give up friends.
I Love You Linda. We are together in dreams.