Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My cousin Linda is a cypher. She is one of the great beauties of my family. She is also over 50 (but looks 35) and has lived with her mother her entire life. I can't remember her ever having a boyfriend. She has a very small group of friends who she's had forever. Her social circle is very small. Her days are spent working for the same boss that she's had for a quarter of a century. Her evenings are spent taking care of her mother and the other elderly members of my family.

I have always liked Linda, but I'm not really sure that she's always liked me. I'm extroverted and loud. Linda is neither. Our relationship has become more brittle in the last couple of years, and I don't feel like I see her often enough to know how to make it better.

My fabulous Uncle Ed, who just died, lived with Linda for most of her life. He helped raise her from childhood after Linda's father died. I think Linda was the one who discovered that Uncle Ed had died in his sleep when she went to wake him up and he didn't. I know that Linda blames herself for not insisting that our uncle go to the hospital sooner. She thinks that if she had done just a little bit more, he wouldn't have died so age 90. She is devasted by his death. Her social circle just got so much smaller.

Today I wrote a letter to Linda thanking her for being a good daughter and niece and cousin. She won't get this until I've come and gone from the memorial service. Even if she doesn't love being my relative, I'm really glad she's in my family.

Dear Linda,

Thank you for taking such good care of Auntie and the Uncles. I always talk about how lucky I am to have had my great aunts and uncles into adulthood. A lot of people I know don't even remember their grandparents, because they passed away when they were very young. I that this family is blessed with longevity, but I also know that happy people tend to live longer. This is where you come in--you're such a wonderful niece and daughter. I'm certain that your loving, 24 hour, care you give our relatives has helped extend their health and their lives. I know I'm not the only person who believes this to be true. I just wanted you to know. Thank you Linda.

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