It is July and I am standing in the arrivals hall with my Mother at Union Station in New Haven. We are waiting for Linda. But this time it is different. We are actually waiting for Linda and Gabby to arrive from New York. More specifically, they began the day in Chicago and flew to Newark then took a train to NYC and then continued on to New Haven.
It was an exhausting day. And yet an exhilerating day as well as it was Gabby's first day East. And our first time meeting the girl who we had heard so much about. We knew she thought the world of Linda. Our Linda. And now she was coming home with Linda. Home to the Connecticut she had heard so much about. Home to us. Our Linda. Who was now Their Linda. It was all so strange.
Linda is one of my two sisters. I usually refer to her as my younger sister. And people always look at me puzzled. What I actually mean is she is the younger of my two older sisters.
Linda was always the glamorous one. Linda was always the independent one. Linda was always the non-conformist. The one who charted her own path and lived by her own rules. And managed to carve out a life for herself wherever she was living at the time. And she has lived all over the country. And she has traveled the world. Linda is, quite simply, a remarkable woman. I always tell people that my two sisters are formidable women and not for the faint of heart. Linda exemplifies all of these qualities.
I think we all thought Linda would settle for good out in California. (She did live in San Diego for a number of years.) But life, as John Lennon said, is what happens while you are busy making other plans. So my sun-worshipping glamorous older sister has made suburban Chicago her home for decades now.
I say that Linda is a remarkable woman and what makes her most remarkable and admirable in my eyes is that though she has never had a biological child of her own, she has turned out to be quite motherly to her partner, Arnoldo's children. He has two adult children and four grandchildren, Gabby being one of them. It is so odd to hear Linda talk of her grandchildren when I call her. My glamorous sister a grandmother - yes, life is very strange indeed.
Linda. The one who couldn't cook. (Remember the cake you baked that you could fill a pot hole with?) Even Shannon the Red Golden Retriever wouldn't eat it. How we laughed and laughed about that one. And Mom STILL talks about how you would "cook" baked beans. Or rather, stir them until they were "mush" as she calls it.
Linda. The one who was so free-spirited. Way too cool to be considered a grandmother. Remember the time you went to the Fiddle Festival in Hartford back in the day with the guy on the motorcycle? (Mom was LIVID about that...how Eddy and I laughed and laughed about her reaction when you took off, never so much as giving her a backwards glance.) I still laugh about that to this day. How she was mortified that one of HER daughters "went all the way to Hartford on the back of a motorcycle." I don't think you will ever live that one down. I think in her eyes it was akin to selling your soul to the devil.
Linda. Who always had so many friends and was always such fun.
Linda. Who would be giving me a bath with no less than four of your friends hanging out with you in our bathroom as you did. Me in the bath, never once realizing that most people do not take a bath with others milling around. (And that has stuck with me to some degree to this day as I often answer the phone while I am in the bath and think nothing of it to have an entire conversation that way.) I guess I can thank you for a lack of self-consciousness.
Linda. Who would make me - literally force me - to give her back and foot rubs for hours on end. (People do not realize how strong my hands are as a result of your "training" at a tender age.)
Linda. Who spent her girlhood here with us in Connecticut. But matured into the woman you are today by finding your happiness in another part of the country. You were Our Linda. But in many ways you are now Their Linda. And I am so proud to call you my sister. My glamorous sister who has such a wonderful heart that she is now considered a grandmother to children who think the world of her.
Your biggest fan,
P.S. I chose this song just for you. I hope you like it. Whenever I hear it I am transported back to a time before you left Connecticut and are still the carefree sister I so looked up to.