Linda is an incredible warrior woman living in the middle of Siloam Springs. At 92 years old and visually impaired, she is filled with joy and so much gratitude for life. She lives with her little dog, Bella, who she calls her "doll baby." Taking care of her furry companion (who is completely deaf and mostly blind) is one of the things that keep her going every day. The other thing in her garden, a beautiful space that she works hard to maintain.
"I'm in the backyard all the time . . . it is my passion. It gets me up every morning. My little dog goes out with me and we spend a lot of time out there."
(Check out the pictures below of a Kind at Heart volunteer group helping with some garden cleanup and revitalization).
Linda's ambition and independence serves her well in this community. She has lived in Siloam Springs for about twenty-two years and has gotten by so well despite her limitations.
Even though she has a difficult time seeing clearly, Linda has found a way to get her needs met and be part of the community. “I love this town! It’s a beautiful town!” she says. “How lovely is the new library? And how lovely is the new Farmer’s Market?” She loves seeing the new work done at the park. “It’s fantastic what they’ve done!
Linda can often be found looking for honey or fresh produce at the local Farmer's Market.
Linda goes on to share how the members of the community of Siloam Springs have been so good to her when she visits the grocery store. “I’ve learned not to be bashful. I take my time with my magnifying glass, and if I can’t read something or find anything I just look for somebody and say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t mean to bother you, but could you tell me where the spaghetti sauce is?’ Nearly every time someone is willing to go out of their way to help me. We have very kind people in this town! If I am standing out in front of the store waiting for my taxi, it isn’t unusual to have three or four people stop and say ‘Can I help you?’, ‘Do you need something?’, ‘Do you need a ride?’ Very kind people”, says Linda.
I asked Linda what life was like when she was my age at 22, and she shared some incredible stories:
“I was living in Omaha, Nebraska in a third floor walk-up living with my best friend, Janie. She and I went to work together for several jobs. Any job we could get, we took. Up there in the winter, dances would take place at a community ballroom and Janie and I would make some money hanging up coats for people. We took odd jobs like that just to get food each week. I worked many full-time and part-time jobs and took night classes. In high school, I kept full-time jobs while going to school. Nowadays, kids wouldn’t be able to do that. I was in the band and orchestra, so I had to get up in the morning at 7:00 A.M. and go to school until one in the afternoon, then I worked until midnight. I studied for my classes on the way to and from work. That was my way of life back then. I had to work to survive.
A picture of 3-story apartments buildings in Omaha, NE in the 1930's.
“Back then, the man on the corner at the grocery store knew how hard we were working to get by and a lot of times he would say to us, “I’ve got a box of vegetables here that aren’t perfect. They’re not very good, so if you want ‘em you can have ‘em.” Linda recalled to me: “Did you ever eat spaghetti with nothin’ but tomatoes? That is the reason I am not crazy about spaghetti. Have you ever made pancakes with just flour and water? I don’t really like pancakes either,” says Linda.
“Even though I was poor and had to work hard, I don’t remember being unhappy. Janie (my best friend) and I had a great time and I would go back to those days in a heartbeat!
We did a lot of amazing things that didn’t cost anything and we did a lot of walking. Times are very different now. Kids these days think they need their own room, bathroom, and this and that, but no, no, no . . . back in my day, you only got what you worked for, and I’d do it again. Gosh sakes, it was fun!”
Linda swapping stories with a young volunteer on garden clean-up day. Oh the stories she has!
Throughout our time together, I could not help but think of Linda as being very alive! She has more stories than I can count that are just plain interesting and exciting! I didn’t even get to mention that she was an artist, owned several dress shops, and raised racehorses with her husband! The adventures in Linda's life are endless. Every minute of our sweet conversation was worth it.