My sister Linda is perhaps the hardest sibling for me to write about. She stands on a distant shore, and my telescope isn’t quite powerful enough for me to see her face clearly. Linda has always lived in that beautiful world full of love and light. No disappointments, betrayals, lies, anger, pain, sorrow, or sickness. That is the beautiful world of Linda’s soul. Elvis’ song Memories is playing as I type this. Quite a coincidence! She is an Elvis fan, and Memories captures exactly what I’m saying. Memories is about a wonderful world of our memories, forever elusive, slipping away as we reach for them. Memories not of what actually happened but our enchanted perception of what happened. The past almost takes on a fairy tale quality. Linda loved this kind of memory, all of the stories told and retold, of the farms where we all grew up, the dogs we had, the ghost in the upstairs of the Allen house, and the snapping turtle down by the pond. (oops! that last one is my memory!). She transforms these stories and memories, into something unspeakably poignant, beautiful, and heart breaking. Her ability to enchant the funky, dirty, disappointing world around us is why I call her the Lady in the Lake. The mysterious woman who rose from a lake and handed King Arthur, the sword Excalibur. I can’t really articulate any better than I already have why I make that comparison, but my intuition tells me it perfectly describes my sister, Linda.
The “real” world hasn’t been kind to Linda. The scars were apparent in her voice when I last talked to her. Perhaps hearing from me brought back a lot of painful memories. Maybe I caught her at a bad time. But everyone tells me she is happier than at any time in her life. She has many friends. She loves the little church she attends. She is living a life of her own choosing, for a change. I am so happy for her! However I can remember Linda when she was very happy. She and I were very close when we were both kids. We had a little club all our own. Linda would confide little things that only a little brother could be trusted with. Of course, I can’t recall any of those secrets now, I’m not sure I understood them then, just that my big sister was whispering to me, her beautiful brown eyes wide. I felt so special! She is whispering to me! her little snot-nosed brother! A warm glow surrounds those memories, of summers at Keith’s, Linda and I sitting on the steps, just enjoying the sun. As I grew older, I became a huge embarrassment to Linda. I was so uncool. If Lawrence was Elvis, I was Jerry Lewis. In fact, for many years my name was ‘Stoop’, as far as Linda was concerned. (you know, short for stupid?) It just made me want to act even more like a doofus. I suspect her friends were confused. “Does she have a little brother or not? The other day, she claimed that dopey kid wasn’t her brother.”) I have no defense. It seems I have never been terribly concerned about what other people think. (as this blog proves) But Linda had an image to uphold, just in case Elvis Presley should visit Warrensburg. You gotta be prepared! Ditch the goofy little brother! Elvis never came, but a succession of other guys did. I was the thorn in the side for almost all of Linda’s suitors. I’d tease them, ask them dumb questions to throw them off guard, and Linda hated it. She always banned me from the premises, but I’d still manage to slip in. One guy, Paul, (I think that was his name), wasn’t fazed at all by my antics. He thought I was funny, I liked him, so did Lawrence and David. I guess that was all the more reason for Linda to dump him. She doesn’t want to get hooked up with someone like her brothers!! God forbid! Give me someone who doesn’t have his head in the clouds! I also remember one poor unfortunate soul, (I think his last name was Otten.) who had the habit of saying “we’ll see ya'” when leaving Linda at the end of the date. I would always say “Is there someone else out there?”. I think Linda might have asked him that, too. Poor Guy.
I might not have become such a fan of Elvis Presley had it not been for Linda. Our love of Elvis was probably our strongest bond. Otherwise, as the years went by, and I became an adult, my relationship with Linda drifted, until she ended up on that very distant shore. Much like myself, Linda has always had one foot in another universe. I have a feeling it is a universe I wouldn’t mind living in. There is something so pure and fragile about Linda. And yet I can hear her saying, “Fragile? Are you kidding me? Only a really tough broad could have endured what I have endured.” Fair enough. I recall the younger Linda, with the delicate face, and eyes that could break your heart. I remember one of the last times I saw Linda. I was visiting Lawrence and everybody, and it was a beautiful day. I felt sad that I couldn’t just live with Lawrence Debbie, and Shannon, and not return to no man’s land. I saw Linda walking up the sidewalk, her bright smile filled her face. I felt so much love! I suspect I looked the same, because I loved her so much just then. We chatted for a bit and she told me she hoped we would get a chance to go out to the ‘farm’, where we once lived. I regret to this day that we didn’t take that trip. Linda and I could have taken a stroll through Avalon, and sat by the lake from which she sprang.