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....


Scot said...

My dear Rebecca,

I am so sorry for your loss and your greiving. How did you ever finish typing this post? I would have been a mess. Thank you for sharing Linda with us in that magical way that you have with words. God bless you and your husband during this time.


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite "Linda Moments" was at Dale and Lise's Beach Party. I was a little tipsy and Linda needed to lean on me to walk up to the garage. She asked me if I was sure I could handle her...that I wouldn't drop her... I told her she could always lean on me no matter what. The next year at the ALS walk, she asked me to stand behind her at the Andersen Dance Pavillion in case she fell. She probably felt much safer as I hadn't had the better part of a bottle of orange vodka and wasn't sporting vintage swimwear!!


Anonymous said...

Bec, thank you for sharing your thoughts on Linda with us. Today has been a very teary day for me. I can't believe how much I miss her. Thank you for helping me to laugh through the tears.


julie said...

Hi Becca

That was so nice to read. Dean and I have had a hard time lately too. The line of Gehlan students stretching from the church to the cemetary is something that I will never forget, and only one of the many beautiful and touching moments of the wake and funeral.
How lucky she was to have a big loving family and many wonderful friends, and how lucky we all are to have the memories of smiling, laughing Linda! Julie

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said Rebecca!!!!

This isn't my most memorable Linda moment -- many of those are not really my memories, but instances that have been told by others and which have only become my memories through the vivid stories that have been told (i.e., the condom story, the different color boots, the banging poor Payton's baby skull into the back of her driver's seat, or the yelling at her boys that the sound from the TV better be “below the V”).

However, I do remember Linda vividly, sitting at our kitchen table when we were growing up. She would constantly be harping on us boys to "eat with our mouths closed!" We thought we were, but never quietly enough. To please her, we took extra pains to make sure she couldn't hear us. In some cases, we moved our mouths ever so slowly and barely chewed our food to avoid the ridiculing she would level upon us. No matter what we did, she would still hear us with those rabbit ears.

I asked her about those times during the last few days before she passed. I told her how I can no longer stand it when I hear someone chewing and that I have been yelling at my kids, just as she shrieked at us. I told her that I mentioned this memory to my kids a couple of months earlier and if they wondered where this sensitivity to chewing came from, it was from their aunt Linda. They laughed and all began chewing very noisily.

Angie has an even better story about eating M&M’s at Linda’s bedside, which demonstrated that she still maintained her sensitive hearing to her last days. In the end, it seemed like the most appropriate thing to do – toasting her with everyone chewing a peanut M&M in salute of her. (The funny thing is that I never knew she loved peanut M&M’s as much as I do. I will never eat another one without thinking of her.)


Anonymous said...

Dear Rebecca,

What a great reflection! Linda was a woman of character,intergrity and love for others. I have been so blessed to know the Frekings. I have never met such accepting people like the Frekings and Linda was such a perfect example of hospitality and kindness. I dont have a lot of memories to share about Linda. However, I fondly remember the times she asked me to pick the boys from school or drop them off to a game or simply just visiting with them. One thing I will always remember was what Linda said to me about a week before she passed on to God. She was obviously weak but managed to say "Thank you for Coming". Those were her last words to me. Simply put, Linda taught me even to the last days of her life-the value of gratitude!

Linda will be remembered here at Gehlen by both teachers, staff, and the students. She loved this school. It is such a blessing to have her boys in class. They always present themselves with dignity and a sense of purpose. This is purely Linda's personality and her sweet disposition.

Linda, we miss you and always will. However, we will always see a reflection of you in your boys. I know Angels in heaven, all the Holy Ones of God, including your Dad Herman Jr and Mary received you in a solemn honor guard as you made your way to the eternal banquet of God the Father. Linda,
until we meet again, enjoy the fulness of life in Christ. May the glory of God shine on you.

Willie Massay

Anonymous said...

I ask myself everyday, when will I be ok? When will the pain go away?I am having a very difficult time getting back to everyday life. I went back to work yesterday and am home today. I find myself crying thinking about the good times Linda and I had together. I feel so fortunate to have spent her last week by her bedside. It's amazing the inner strength you get with very few hours of sleep. I will always rememeber these times with her. Her and I have always been fans of the soap Opera Days Of Our Lives. Even on her last few days her and I together watched Days and she could still tell me everything that was happeneing. M&M's were her favorite!!! I was kicked out of the sunroom not once but, twice for "SMACKING" M&M's. Linda was a sister of perserverance, integrity and dedication. She had a heart of gold. She always put herself second. I can't even count all the trips she made to Tulsa, and with every trip she made she made sure she was back in LeMars for her kids ball games. Her boys were her life.
Linda would always tell me don't worry about the little things in life. Don't let these problems bother you. Look at me, you wouldn't want to be this way would you? I would stop that second and say to myself, I have no problems. She had to carry a cross that I don't think I would of had the strength to carry. She is an inspiration to me and a sister I will hold in my heart forever. I love you Linda.

Becca said...

This is a comment from my friend, Jill:
Jill Makepeace at 3:26pm October 27
Okay, I shouldn't have read your blog while at work. I have tears smearing my makeup, but I do have two black shoes on! What touching words, Becca! A very nice tribute.

Lisa said...

Becca, What an absolutely beautiful tribute to Linda.She was a gift to anyone that ever met her,so loving and excepting. She had a huge heart of gold !!! She was the driving force that kept all of us informed and aware of ALL that was going on. She was always someone that EVERYONE of us could count on. She will be sooo deeply missed!!! I was so very blest to have been able to be there for Linda. It was an absolute honor to help take care of her those last few weeks. She made me laugh and smile so many times, even at her most difficult and trying times. We all have so much to learn from her. It is so hard to understand why God takes the Best so young. I LOVE YOU LINDA AND THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME. YOU WILL FOREVER HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART. Lisa

bev said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss of such an integral member. She will live on in all of you, as she is doing now, with your wonderful and moving post.
Hugs and love to you and your family.

Becca said...

From Tom Taylor:
I read your story right away and as usual had goose bumps running all over me. I found myself smiling and crying at the same time. Again you out did yourself with your ability to express life at its fullest (even in the worst of times) through your words. Don’t ever stop writing. You have a lot of people all over this big old world enjoying your talent.