You might also like

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A good person


Perhaps you’ve met a person who radiates goodness, but has no idea that is the persona the world sees. I’ve known one such.

Eventually our weaving business needed two sewers to make enough stuff to sell, but  the people we interviewed were not a good fit for our laid back little studio. Eventually I went around to fabric stores and dress shops and asked if they could recommend a sewer. I came up with one name, and called her.

Linda lived barely a mile from us and was very interested, but was just about to begin her last round of chemo for breast cancer.  A sweet voice said she just couldn’t take on a job now, but if it were available after the new year, she would like to know.

And so we left it, and she was still the only person I knew of come the next year, so I called again. “Oh,” the sweet voice exclaimed; “I didn’t think you would call me again.”

She came to the studio, and had my standard interview of let’s chat while you sew this shirt. We chatted about her family as I watched her put together a shirt after asking if it had side vents and knowing the sleeve front from back without a word from me. I had mentioned the starting pay before she began, and raised it by the time she was sewing down the facing.

“Wait until I tell my mother I got a raise before I even started!”

Linda was an artist. In her more healthy days she sewed fabulous costumes for a children’s theater, putting together mad hatters and Cap’n Hooks from a scrap of this, a swatch of that. When I saw her costumes displayed I was awestruck, and wondered how she ever came to work in our little studio.

She came in with a smile, she left with a smile, she worked with a smile. She paid little attention to her machines, they performed light and floaty just like Linda. Others cleaned them when Linda was gone, and grumbled, but I couldn’t reprimand her. Everyone was paid by the hour; what difference did it really make.

We had liberals and conservatives, old people and young in the studio. Linda was sweet and kind, ethereal. Her views were liberal, on the sunshine side. The only people she ever judged were those who sent Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba.

Linda must have been a wonderful mother; she lived for her boys and her husband and chatted about them endlessly. The rest of us felt they undervalued her, but knew that thought never crossed her mind. She saved every paycheck, and every bonus to buy something for her boys. One secret purchase was a computer, for Christmas, complete with AOL internet.

This computer purchase was in 2000 or 2001. She came in one day and said she felt so silly. “A man in California was helping me install the internet. He told me several times to click on ‘My Computer,’ and I was so confused I couldn’t answer. Finally he asked if I was still there, and I blurted out ‘But your computer is in California!’”

Linda worked for us for four years. In the middle of that time she said her cancer was recurring, but she was going to go through another round of chemo. We now knew the round before she came to us was the second. She was staying around for her boys, one in college and the youngest, an artist like herself, still in high school.

The jackets became too heavy for Linda to lift, so we hired another sewer, and kept the very light jobs for her, when she came in, for work she would. I cannot recall how she compensated when her legs hurt badly, but compensate she did, lightly saying “My doctor says if I would just stop sitting on my legs, like a school girl….”

Linda missed a few days and called to say she was in the hospital. I went to see her, sporting a big, unwieldy neck brace, for I had just had vertebrae fused. I went into her room, and she shooed everyone away from her bed so she could sympathize with my surgery. She was so tiny, and so gracious about my coming unannounced, with all her family visiting. She was tired, and I stayed just a few minutes, to tell her I loved her and would see her soon.

Linda died that night. A bright full moon lit my room and woke me, and Linda stopped over my bed and said goodbye.

I knew Linda’s sewing. When I hung up the last jacket Linda made, I thought how I would feel selling it. When the time came, I felt compelled to tell the woman of the Linda who made it.  She hugged the jacket to herself and told me her name was Linda, too.

A silly anecdote I read tonight reminded me of Linda and the computer in California, and so you have it. Several years ago I asked the mayor of her small village for news of her boys and her husband. “Quite the bachelor pad over there, now, without Linda,” he replied, and I finally drove by her house, and wondered if the bachelors knew the gift she was.



John Campbell, piper in NSW.
At her memorial service, we were piped out with
The Campbell's are Coming.
Linda loved it, I know.

30 comments:

  1. What a bittersweet story... you know (and have known) the best folks... and you have a certain way of telling the rest of us about them. What a gift you are... and a gift you have.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think there is something in my eye, so I am unable to comment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tears here too.
    Thank you for sharing some of Linda's magic.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Joanne, for sharing Linda with us. A blessing for the both of you that your paths crossed. And, I must say, I am mighty glad my path crossed yours a few years ago. "Knowing" you makes my life better. Just as knowing Linda made yours better. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm having trouble seeing also. This is a beautiful story and you told it so well. I imagine Linda's family understood the gift they had, after her death if not before. She must have left a huge hole in their lives. At least I hope so.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The hardest thing we ever face in life is saying goodbye to someone who touched our hearts. It is good to remember them and smile looking back at the gift they shared with us by simply being around us and sharing our journey.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm sure the bachelors knew what they had in Linda and probably miss her as much as you do.
    It's sad when the sunny cheerful ones get taken. I'm glad you had that time with her.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a sad poignant story; I'm sure the bachelors did know what a wonderful gift she was; I just hope they had a chance to really tell her that before she passed. Thank you for sharing her with us; she sounded like such a wonderful lady.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a poignant story you have shared and what a wonderful woman Linda was.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You gave a beautiful tribute to a lovely soul. I would have liked to know Linda. I am glad that you quietly asked after her family. You were not intrusive or nosy. You just wanted to make sure for Linda that they are doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  11. So sad to lose a friend! Her memory will be cherished by you, and so one lives on, a while.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I like the way she came to say goodbye.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hari Om
    These are the small miracles of life; memories softened by the smiles within, a moon's message, a connection of threads as a 'Linda' became a Linda's... and the ability to convey that memory to others. YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. Like attracts like; two good people creating beauty and a beautiful friendship. Can't continue, my heart is leaking from my eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You wrote a beautiful post about a beautiful soul. I wish, somehow, that her sons and husband could read this.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lovely story. It is so important to remember these special friends.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are a good freind Joanne.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a special lady, they are so rare and leave too soon.

    ReplyDelete
  19. why is it always the good ones that get taken so soon?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Such a beautiful tribute Joanne! I wonder if Linda knew how lucky she was to have met you!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. She was a special person, and you are too.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Why is it that some good, kind people die so young Joanne? Sometimes life seems so unfair.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for telling us about Linda.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I knew your Linda only a little. Please remember how important YOU were to her. You created another reason for her to fight. That is why she came to say goodbye to you. I do believe that she has seen this posting and is smiling. Thank God that people mean so much to us they make our hearts hurt for a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Your story is very touching. Very glad that Joe Biden is pushing for a cancer cure. -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  26. You told this story beautifully. You painted a real life picture of Linda for Linda. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm so glad that you were able to see her before the end. I'm sure she was glad too. And, how special for the woman buying the coat...
    Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete