Monday, October 27, 2008

The Last Laugh

Linda was a well-loved woman. Not only did she deeply touch her family and friends, but an entire community. This was evident in every aspect of her funeral services. From the standing room only attendance, the vast array of floral and plant arrangements, the beautiful slide show and photo displays ... to the long trail of children along the path to the cemetery. Everyone loved her and felt a sincere sense of loss at her passing.
But the thing I loved most about Linda was her laughter! She was a funny person and more than willing to laugh at herself, which is a truly great quality in a person, I believe.
We all have our stories that we love to tell about her. My favorite is the time she said, “You know how the Pentagon is kinda shaped like an octagon?”
“Kind of like a pentagon?” my husband, one of her eight brothers, asked.
“Yeah!” she said, pleased that he knew what she was talking about!
And her “big” sister, Mary Kay (picture an extremely nice and less soap opera-y version of Erica Kane), liked to tell the story of Linda talking about the new condoms being built outside of town ... while sporting two different shoes at a wedding reception! (Linda laughed at that, too!)
Linda made us all laugh, and that’s something I will dearly miss.
Her services were extremely moving, to say the least. Linda loved watching her boys play football, so when the high school team walked into the church wearing their green and gold jerseys, I felt a deep pang in my heart. When the school choir sang Amazing Grace, I sobbed openly. The priest’s touching words captured Linda perfectly and all of us who loved her held each other closely while he spoke.
After the service, I walked outside with my sisters-in-law, while we watched our husbands lift their dear, dear sister into the hearse. Exactly when I thought I couldn’t take any more, my heart was breaking and I didn’t think I could hold myself up any longer, Linda whispered in my ear, “Look at Mary Kay....”
I did.
She was - in spite of her unbearable grief - beautiful in the bright October sun. She was wearing a crisp white blouse with a pretty red scarf around her neck, a black pencil skirt, one long, sleek black boot, and one long, sleek .... brown boot?!?!
Oh Linda!!!
So it was with laughter through tears that we said our final, sad farewell to our sweet sister and funny friend. Perhaps she didn’t always “get” the joke, perhaps she mixed up her words ... and her shoes ...
but on that day, her comic timing was pure genius! As always, she knew what I needed exactly when I needed it!
I love you, Linda!

The long trail home is lined with people who love you....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Lindy, Our Angel

But all that we pray for is peace on this earth
and a love for each other and all that that’s worth
A time to reflect on the seasons of past
We smile for our loved ones and raise up a glass:

To all that is magic
and all that is tragic
and all that we want life to be
To all that we pray for
and all that we stay for
belief in the things we can’t see

So we hold each other as we sit by the fire
and lift up our hearts to something much higher
And believe...
... just believe

To Linda, with love, forever in our hearts...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Such a Perfect Day

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The #1 National Bestseller and winner of the John Newbery Medal.

Now, I clearly do not fall in the suggested age group of 7-12 for this book, but if you read the reports on The Tale of Despereaux, you will hear that it is the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea.
Really? No, it’s about a pathetic little mouse who is hated by his family because he is different! He is small and has bizarrely large ears! His mother vows never to have another baby mouse ever again because this one was such a disappointment! He is sent to the dungeon (essentially the death penalty) by his own father and escorted down death row by his brother simply because he broke the rules! He is in love with a princess who - obviously - could never love him back.
It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. Yeah, and when he works his way out of the dungeon to enjoy the light, his mere appearance at the King’s dinner party causes such a commotion, he ends up in the Queen’s soup, the sight of which kills her!
So the mouse’s beloved little princess sees her mom die right before her eyes from a rat sighting! And the rat who loves light feels so guilty, he resorts to a life of disgusting ratness. He was good and actually turned bad!
And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. Yeah, a slow-witted serving girl who’s father sold her to an abusive “uncle” for a tablecloth and some cigarettes (and a chicken, I think). “Uncle” beats Miggery Sow, who was named after her father’s favorite pig, until she forms cauliflower ears and loses her hearing! When she finds her way to the castle to work as a serving girl, she is beaten there, too, and it is announced regularly that nobody cares about her or her wishes!
So she teams up with the good-gone-bad rat and kidnaps the princess, cuts off the little mouse’s tail with a kitchen knife and steals the princess’s crown which is too large for her abnormally shrunken head and sinks down to land, with an OUCH, on her painfully deformed ears.
These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: "Reader, it is your destiny to find out."
No, I’ll just tell you, the Happily Ever After is anticlimactic to say the least. The Sow girl reunites with her father - the one who sold her to Mr. Abusive - and he treats her like a princess from now on. Whoop de freakin’ do!
The princess, who couldn’t fall in love with the mouse who risked his life, lost his tail, and faced horrible obstacles to save her, gave him the ol’ “just friends” routine.
So, apparently, a children’s author can do every nasty, cruel thing she wants to her characters, as long as she wraps it up in the end with a half-ass happy ending!
I don’t get it.
Well, it’s now a major motion picture, so I guess you can just go watch it, if you are still curious, and don’t mind the inevitable nightmares.

Down will come baby, cradle and all....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Linda on My Mind

Your smile brings us pleasure
Your laughter makes us
laugh too ....
And laughter through tears
is is a raw blend of emotions
we share only with those
nearest our hearts ....