|Linda, Fred & Mary Doris|
You can see she was a happy baby. She is laughing in almost every photo, a precursor to her later ability to chat up and charm anyone. If you walked with her through her family's neighborhood in Topeka it was immediately clear she knew everyone who walked by.
Linda was a cheerleader at Hayden High school and Kansas State. She used to laugh as she said that her K State cheerleading was the achievement her mom was most proud of. We acknowledged that it represented a life our mothers, who did most of their growing up during the Depression, could not have dreamed of. Yes, she earned some of her own spending money and did volunteer work, but she had time to have fun and she had dozens of friends. Friends she maintained throughout her life.
She was on a teen advisory board at a Topeka department store, something my mother (who sent me to the Wendy Ward School of Charm because I was a cross between a klutz and a tomboy) noted often. When her family visited mine in the mid-1960s, I was nervous. How did an awkward thirteen-year old even stand next to a polished sixteen-year old? No worries. Though the many outfits she and her mom had on hangers in the back seat of the car (complete with hats) mystified me, Linda was her same friendly self. As we walked through my Maryland neighborhood she'd pound on the door of the city bus to wave at the driver, and she was as interested in the White House or the cannons at Gettysburg as my brothers and sister and I. Or was polite enough to say she was.
|Tom, Mary Doris & Linda|
Linda had a busy career as an investment adviser and spent a lot of time visiting Sante Fe to collect Native American pottery, which is displayed throughout her house. Some of it is on the very knick-knack stand she long ago knocked over in our grandmother's house, breaking everything on it but one item.
|In rural New Mexico with Dick and Mary Doris.|
We had a memorable trip to Disneyland with her brother and assorted kids, including recording some songs at Universal Studios theme park. We would likely all pay to have that tape destroyed.
Colon cancer sneaks up on you. For months Linda thought she had a gall bladder problem and she carried Milk of Magnesia with her. Her mom, who had Alzheimer's, was dying and Linda traveled between Denver and Lake Havesu City often. I bugged her about it when we were at her mom's funeral. Yes, she would get it looked at, she had been too busy to have a silly stomach problem checked. If she had had colonoscopies she would not have had to worry about that seemingly innocuous problem. When she did get it checked the month after her mom died in 2010, she had stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to her liver. The doctor said she had likely had it for ten years. You can wage a good fight, but you can't beat that kind of cancer.
|Kansas friends for life. Linda 2nd from L. July 2011|
She worked on the Nellie Chronicles. And then she lost her battle with the cancer she didn't need to die of.
Life is about a lot more than finishing a book. You know what your passions are -- family, friends, writing, fitness, your church, traveling, a career. Get on with them. Before you know it, time's up. Don't let your life end before it should because you didn't have time for a cancer screening.
Do it. Now.