Saturday, April 3, 2010

Remembering Linette

Eleven years ago this Easter weekend Ralph and I traveled to Iowa to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday. It was a lovely spring weekend, with soft breezes and the perfume of flowers.

All five of Grandma Z's children and many of her grandchildren gathered to mark the occasion. Saturday night we had dinner at the small Chinese restaurant on Main Street. The evening was festive, with talk and laughter.

But Sunday morning our joy was dashed. Linette, the oldest grandchild, the daughter of Karen and Dave, had died the evening before in an automobile accident.

I remember Linette as a red-haired child with a winning smile and later as a lovely young woman with that same happy smile. She was a special person. After college she traveled the world, teaching English in Japan and later in Burundi, where she was evacuated by the State Department during the Hutu/Tutsi wars. She went from there to Florida, where she enrolled in the University of Florida's doctoral program in linguistics, with an emphasis on Swahili. She was writing her dissertation when she died.

But she wasn't just a student. She earned a black belt in karate and was on the way home from a karate tournament with her husband and other members of the college karate club when the collision happened and she was thrown beneath the car.

She was also a lovely young woman with an outgoing personality, strong opinions and an endearing sense of humor. I often imagine what she might have contributed to the world had she had the chance. She died too soon, leaving an emtpy space in her family. Those who loved her will always miss her.



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