(Linda is in the fore ground and I am hugging her, the one with the cap. I don’t know who the little boy with the wagon is. Didn’t we have horrible hair cuts?)
Just this past week my aunt Geraldine, who I call aunt Gerry, sent me a photograph of me with my cousin Linda taken in April of 1960. I was four years old at the time, or as I probably would have said four and a half, almost 5, because those few months seem really important back then. She was a few months older than me and she would have already been five. I don’t remember her birth date.
Back then we were really close-almost inseparable, as Forrest Gump would have said “two peas in a pod”, but with time and distance, with her living in Northern Virginia and me moving off to North Texas we didn’t see much of each other growing up. As young adults we became concerned with our own lives and pretty much lost contact.
Linda had a wonderful imagination. She could just sit down and make up fascinating and intricate stories that she would tell even at that early age. Looking back I wonder what she could have become if her life hadn’t taken a turn for the worse. In my mind’s eye she could have been another J. K. Rowling. As an adolescent, she had all the typical adolescent problems, maybe worse than most but not nearly as bad as many.
What did her in was a chronic debilitating disease, multiple sclerosis. I really don’t know in full what happened to her since we were so far apart by that time. I know she lost muscle strength and control of her body and she was going blind. She looked much much older than her age. Her husband, whom I’m never met, sounded like a saint but even saints have their moments. What I’ve learned of her later life was all second or third hand from her mother, my mother or cousins. It sounds like he was devoted to her, but that she felt overwhelmingly guilty that she could not be a wife to him and was depriving him of having a family. A disease like multiple sclerosis not only eats away at one’s body but tears one soul. I am sure she thought she was doing the right thing when that one morning after her husband went to work; she went into the garage, closed the doors and started the car. I don’t feel I can judge her. I wasn’t going through her pain and I certainly wasn’t there to help.
Addendum: Check out the play ground set up, metal pips and dirt. Now look at a modern play ground. Now there is plastic padding and no sharp or hard edges. I wonder what lesson is taught, if any, to the children of today. I should write another post about that.