Linda Garner Van Winden 1961 - 2014

Linda Garner Van Winden 1961 – 2014

This post has nothing to do with education or technology or facilitation or instructional design. It has nothing to do with work. It has everything to do with life.

Earlier this month my family lost my aunt Linda from the world; she will be heartachingly missed.

One of my mom’s younger sisters, Linda was closer in age to me than my mom. Yet she was still very much “aunt-like” all through my years, and she revelled in being one. When I was a tween (we didn’t call it that back then) my family rented a houseboat on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario and Aunt Linda came with us. We gave her the name “Wilderness Woman” on that trip for reasons which I can’t quite fully remember but I think they included bravery akin to jumping onto tree-dense island “shores” in order to tie up our houseboat, and other feats reserved for 20-somethings and not kids or parents. (I think it also included making “Fuzzy Navels” and drinking them on top of the houseboat in the middle of the afternoon.)

Aunt Linda always rose to the front of her community, leading people into song and more. She was my singing teacher and choir director when I was young, encouraging my small yet tuneful voice into making beautiful music just like the rest of the family. Teaching music was a role she revelled in for hundreds of Woodstock-area youth and adults for many years. Even this year when she was thick with cancer, Linda attended as many of her students’ appearances at the Woodstock Festival that she could, and still went forward with organizing her singing camp that runs every summer (and in fact is still going on this month).

Of course, Linda was a gifted performer as well. I will always remember her Maria von Trapp next to my dad’s Captain in our family’s performance of Sound of Music when I was young. And my friend Christa still remembers seeing both my aunts Linda and Donna in a fantastic performance of Nunsense years ago. When my husband and I got married we asked Linda to sing at our wedding, and I requested that she sing her solo at the wedding rehearsal so I could get all my tears out at her performance; I knew her beautiful voice would make me cry. (It actually made us all cry, she was so good!)

Linda left a legacy in the world through her music and teaching but also through the marriage she built with her husband Steve and the three sons (my cousins) they had together. Linda always bursted with pride when talking about her boys; she revelled in being a mom. Linda loved children and the picture you see above is her holding my daughter a few years ago when Chelsea was small. Family was so important to Linda. (And luckily we have no shortage of them!)

It’s so hard to write about Linda in just this one brief blog post. There is so much more to tell and so much more that I didn’t know as well. Her as a friend, her as a wife, her as a mother, sister, daughter. 53 years is much too short a time to get to live on this earth but what years she had hold lots of stories. Lots of love.

And so these days as I continue to live my own life – teaching, convening, supporting, writing, creating and most of all, loving – I hold my important people close. Linda and the others whom I will always remember and the ones who are still here to continue on.