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Linda リンダ

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Sky and ocean have the same transparency here at Texada Island, soothing to my eyes. Pleasant breezes stroke my hair and cheeks gently. I am taking in this summer beauty into all my body cells and soul, and…. thinking of Linda.

It’s been two years… for me it was a short time that just whisked by, but it was a hard time, struggle after struggle, for Linda. August 2018, on the first day of our camping trip, Neil and I visited Linda in Kamloops. Linda had just recovered from her first stroke. It was a sunny, hot, dry, typical summer day in Canada’s west…. just like today. She was telling us about her imperfect vision. Her vision had narrowed and made her not possible to drive. What we didn’t know at the time was that it was merely a beginning… In two years, she suffered two more strokes, and…. she was gone…. when we were just talking about going to see her again in early September this year.

I met Linda in a very unusual way. She was married to and divorced from Neil’s divorced wife’s brother. It’s rather a complicating relationship that if it was in Japan, I would have never had the chance to meet her. I am divorced too. I have my beloved ex-sister-in-law and her children whom I would love to see. Since my marriage had broken down, they can’t see me…… let alone, meet Neil. However, Neil and Linda kept in touch, and I had a privilege of getting to know her.

Flipping through my recipe cards, I find a few recipes passed down from Linda. She grew her own vegetables and fruits. Her cooking/baking was simple, humble, and delicious. One of them is brown rice shortbread cookies. Years ago, when she visited us around Christmas time, she brought these cookies for us. I loved the curious texture of the cookies, and ever since, it became my favorite recipe for the season.

Linda had a hard life. After her divorce, she made her living by social work, taking care of physically/mentally challenged persons at her own home 24/7. She was passionate about gardening, always surrounded by beautiful flowers and vegetables, loved cooking for others, loved her children and grandchildren. Her life was all about taking care of people, making people happy… nothing about luxurious possessions or trips or anything like that.

I wonder. Did she pass over thinking she had a happy life? Well….what is happy life anyway? You cannot buy happy life with money. Staying in a super expensive hotel, dining at a famous restaurant, having all the power to control other people, none of them can make you really happy. I have read somewhere that Happiness is something you give to others, not something you take from or receive from others. Your action contributing to other being’s wellness becomes your own happiness. The key word is your ACTION. Your “steps forward” bring happiness. Not just sitting around and thinking.

Linda was a person of action. I’m sure she departed thinking she had a happy life.

I’m sad….but happy for her.

すき通るように真っ青な空と海、タクセーダ島のデッキに座っていると頬を撫でるそよ風が心地良い。美しい夏を噛みしめながらリンダを想う。もうあれから2年…あっという間に過ぎた短い月日、でもリンダには苦難苦行の2年だった。ニールと私がキャンプ旅行の初めの日に脳梗塞から立ち直ったばかりのリンダをカムループスに訪れたのは2年前の8月、今日のようにかんかん照りで乾燥しきったカナダ西部の真夏日だった。「視力がいまいち回復しきらなくて運転できないのよ」と話していたリンダ、その後、2回もさらに脳梗塞を繰り返して、彼女は逝ってしまった。今年もキャンプの途中でリンダに会いに行こうと話していた矢先だった。

思えばリンダと私は珍しい出会い方をした。ニールの別れた奥さんの弟さんの別れた連れ合いだったリンダ、そんな複雑な関係だったら日本にいたらなかなか出会うチャンスないよね。私も離婚してるからわかるけど別れた夫側の親戚とは離婚以来全くと言っていいほど会うチャンスない。中には懐かしい大好きな義妹や元甥や姪がいるけど残念ながら会えない。ラッキーなことに離婚後もニールとリンダは交流を続けていたおかげで私もリンダと出会えたんだよね。よかった〜。

私の料理カードをめくっていくといくつかのリンダのレシピに出会う。リンダは野菜や果物を自分で育てて、素朴で飾らない、でも最高に美味しいお料理やお菓子をよく作ってくれた。玄米ショートブレッドクッキーもそのひとつ。何年か前にクリスマスの時期に遊びに来てくれて自作のクッキーを持ってきてくれた。玄米の食感が面白くてそれ以来私も毎年作るようになった。

苦労の連続だったリンダの人生。離婚してからは社会福祉の仕事で障害のある人たちを自宅に引き取って面倒を見ながら生計を立てていた。贅沢からは程遠い人生、彼女のささやかな楽しみは庭仕事と料理と子供達や孫たちに会うことくらいだったんじゃないかな。いつも美しい花や果物や野菜に囲まれてたリンダ。人の世話ばかりしながら、贅沢をするでもなく旅行するでもなく…

リンダ、幸せな人生だったと思って旅立っていけたかな?そもそもそれって何だろう。幸せな人生ってお金では買えないものだから、最高級なホテルに泊まって贅沢な食事をしても、他人を意のままに動かせる力があっても幸せだったとは思えないかもしれないよね。どこかで読んだけど、幸せとは他者に与えることだ、他者から与えられることでも受け取ることでもない。自分の行動でいかに人を、または他の生き物を大切にして、助けて、幸せにするか…それが自分の幸せになるんだという。キーは「行動」。行動することが幸せに通じる。座って考えているだけじゃなくて、実際に動いて行動すること、最初の一歩を踏み出すことから幸せが始まる。

リンダは行動力のある人だったなあと思う。きっと幸せな人生だったと思って旅立ってくれたと思う。

でも寂しい… 😞

Author: Haruyo Abramson

I'm a musician, mom, and grandma, living in BC, Canada with my husband and three dogs.

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