Friday, July 24, 2009

Linda's miracles

During my working career I was lucky to work with education professionals, including counselors and social workers. I don't think there are people who show more love of fellow humans than the social workers who work with school children and their families.

Such is the case with social worker, Linda R., a work friend of mine for years. She has a French last name and the first time I met her I pronounced her name correctly. That got us off on the right foot for a friendship, but knowing Linda I'm sure we would have been friends anyway even if I'd botched her name beyond recognition.

Because she is so positive you wouldn't know Linda has had her share of tragedy. Her 18-year-old daughter, Yvette, and Yvette's friend, Zach, were photographing the moon from a nearby reservoir when they were approached by a young man who, without any provocation, shot both of them. The boy died, Yvette survived, even shot in the abdomen and head, by playing dead. She crawled to the road for help. You can read about the 1996 incident in the newspaper digital archives.

The shooter was arrested later and went to prison for murder. Yvette has had a hard road after the incident, but she has had great family support, including her mother. Linda is a person who listens, and then helps. I can't imagine a better person to turn to.

Linda had her own personal tragedy in 1999 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only that, Linda's sister had breast cancer at the same time and died. After her chemo treatments Linda often would show up at work so she could help other people, even when too sick to help herself.

I strongly considered calling Linda when I found out this past January I had cancer, but didn't. I wanted to wait until I was well, then I could speak to her without her feeling I was asking for help or support. I remember one time telling Linda a lady at another school had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Linda asked for her name and said, "I'll call her." That's just the kind of person she is.

In an area which is becoming more Spanish-speaking all the time, Linda is a godsend. She speaks Spanish. So she often helps parents and children who don't speak much English, if any. One day I walked into her school and saw the secretary trying to explain to some parents that they needed to talk to Linda. "Linda will be here tomorrow. Linda will help you. Come back then and talk to Linda." I saw the puzzlement on the parents' faces, but they left and I told the secretary, "You might have really confused them. In Spanish 'Linda' means beautiful."

"Well," said the secretary, "Linda is beautiful."

Some time ago Linda became a grandma. She told me Yvette had been told because of her gunshot wounds she'd never have children. That sounds like a miracle to me. I think Yvette surviving the random and deadly attack, then having a baby probably qualifies as a double miracle.

I believe people earn miracles. Whatever cosmic or karmic forces are at work dispensing them, when miracles get handed out the people receiving them are considered, and they deserve them.

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