Born the middle daughter of three, into a military family, and the child of a divorce, Linda Griffin was moved around a good amount, eventually settling in southern Illinois, near her grandparents’ farm. Pregnant by 16, and again by 20. Divorced by 21 with two little ones to take care of.
Putting her sewing factory wages into a secretarial degree from the community college 20 minutes over east, she turned that into part-time work at the church, full-time work in the superintendent’s office and eventually getting one of them ‘good city jobs’ seven miles over west as a secretary at the police department and eventually dispatching. She did it through work ethic. I get my cleverness and sense of humor from my father, but my work ethic, my independent nature and my pride in both are all from my mother.
She eventually remarried. Looking back with a little more understanding, I’m pretty sure that was entirely, at minimum subcounsciously, an attempt at giving her babies a better life. I don’t know if she would admit it to us, but I don’t think it was about her or him. It was about us. That marriage lasted seven years. It led to bitterness then, but understanding came later. It also taught me we don’t call them mistakes, we call them learning opportunities. She taught me that.
We moved often, even if within the same small towns, and even the same damn street three different times in a town with 900 people (Washington Street, represent!). Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-some houses/apartments/trailers/campers by the time I was 25. It was almost always her trying to give us better. I call my training log Kaizen–the concept of continuous improvement. Guess where I learned that from?
Her baby boy took that work ethic he learned from her, joined the military to pay for school and become one of just a few in the family to get a bachelor’s degree. His little sister followed him to college four years later. He turned that into a career pretending to work for a living doing something he loved. He could because of what he was given by her, not in money, but in example of how to do it.
Linda eventually “retired” from that city job, and retired is in quotation marks because retire is not in her vocabulary. She moved, restarted life and got another job. That job just recently disappeared with the coronavirus layoffs, but I have zero doubt that will be just a temporary setback because of who and what she is. She is Linda Griffin, afterall.
She runs, she hikes, she works out, she enjoys life. She will probably outlive me. She has my burial instructions. I don’t have hers.
It took me a while, but I eventually found a strong, independent woman to call my wife. Because strong and independent are qualities to strive for. I was shown that my whole life.
Her middle name is Ruth, but I spell it Linda F’n Griffin. I am Weez, but only because she is she.
And what would be an IaW post without some country music as tribute?
Happy Mother’s Day.