There are six Linn siblings including my dad. I'm going to try to put them in order, Sharen will need to tell me if I'm wrong. Gary is the oldest, followed by Greg. After that was John followed quickly by Dad. Cathy and Chris round out the kids of Grandma Linn.
When I was little I thought they all lived in 1 bedroom in my Grandmas house. I never understood until I was a teen that they actually used the upstairs of the house.
While I was growing up the siblings were scattered far and wide. Gary, his wife Margie and their kids Alex and Mindy lived in Florida. Gary's an engineer and when I was little I was pretty sure he was an actual rocket scientist. Greg lived in St Louis and then moved to New Jersey after he married a woman named Joyce. I remember his wedding and playing with his step-son Neil. John lived in St Louis too, he was married for a time to a woman whose name I can't even recall. He also had a dog whose name was Abby but who he called Black Dog. Cathy lived in St Louis too, she had an apartment and boyfriends and didn't marry until I was well into my teens when she was 40. Chris was the baby and lived in St Louis too. He lived in an apartment with barely any furniture and drove a car with only the driver seat and the back seat. In place of the passenger seat were piles and piles of empty Budweiser cans. When I was little, I was fairly certain I was going to marry Uncle Chris. I realize that's a little icky now, but as a little girl he was it. I used to lay on Grandma's floor and tickle his feet, tease him about how his feet smelled and just bug him for hours. When Chris started bringing around the woman that would become my Aunt Debbie I was pretty put out about it. He was MY guy, who did she think she was. But it all worked out.
I used to joke that I saw Gary every 8 years. I saw him when I was born, when we went to Florida when I was 8, when I was 16 and Grandma had bypass surgery, when I was 24 and they were just visiting Ohio. But we broke that streak a few years later when they came back because Grandma died. Gary is wicked smart. Almost to smart for his own good sometimes. He's who I know the least about because we just didn't spend that much time together. But in the last few years I've had a chance to talk to him about more grown up things.
Greg I remember traveling a lot. He would always be popping in and out and staying at Grandma's house. He is tricky though. He seems quiet and reserved until you get him loosened up, then watch out! Whenever I see a Nissan Ultima I think of Uncle Greg. I don't know why, I swear it was one of his rental cars that he had a few times, but he said he never drove one. Greg and Joyce stopped being married sometimes around the time I graduated high school. They lived in Wisconsin at the time. Greg had started traveling between Appleton and Shanghai for work and once he sold their house he moved into a residence inn for when he was in Wisconsin. A year or so after his break up he met Maggie in Shanghai. I'm pretty sure she worked for the same company and was showing him the sites. They became friends, then started dating, and ultimately married about two or three years ago. It's been nice getting to know him more and meeting Maggie was really great. They are cute together and seem to have a great relationship. He's been spending more and more time in China as they're beginning the rest of their lives together and it's been so lovely seeing him happier than I can remember seeing him before.
The thing I remember the most about Uncle John as a kid is White Castle. He would take us to a specific White Castle in St Louis where you could sit at a window bar and be within reaching distance of the street. Whenever the light was red we would bang and bang on the window and get the drivers attention. Then we would open our mouths wide and show all the people at the stop light our "See Food".
John I've gotten to know the best as an adult I think. After he and Sandy (Sandy! That was her name!) stopped being married he was restless. He's an OR nurse (Oh. Are you? Love that movie!) and ended up training to be a traveling nurse. Back around 2001 he packed up his things and moved to London to be a nurse in England. Right before he moved he and Chris got into a huge fight about something or another. I don't know what it was, but I remember that Grandma was so upset about it. Her sons were barely speaking and one was about to fly off and move to the other side of the ocean. I was at a loss, because to me these were grown men that were supposed to have it all together. I hollered at John and Chris about it because I was so fed up with how they were acting. I was upset about my friend that was killed still and was just over people trying to end relationships over dumb dumb dumb reasons.
I'm still not sure if or how they worked it out or if they just swept it under the carpet as our family is sometimes apt to do.
John went to London and was there for almost 2 years. When he came back he wanted to hang out in the US for awhile and then go to Australia. My parents lived in BG by then so he moved into the basement bedroom. It was a blast hanging out with him more. We would head out for a drink or two now and then and just chat about life. Before I moved to Cincinnati I moved in across the hall from him in my parents basement and we would just chat and laugh from our respective rooms. Shortly after I moved to Cincinnati his visa came through and me moved just outside Sydney. He's been there ever since and is working on immigrating to Australia full time.
Cathy I remember as being so exotic. She didn't have kids or ever really a steady boyfriend that she brought home to meet everyone. She was just fun Aunt Cathy. She used to walk out of rooms in the middle of my stories (because I was long winded even as a child) and when she walked back in I would pick right back up from where I'd left off. She tells this story about getting me ready to go swimming once when I was young, and we made it all the way out to the pool, I dipped my big tow in the water and shrieked like someone was stabbing me. She asked, "what what?!" I cried out, "I have to peeeeeee!" She was the originator of the "what slide" joke because I was with her at Cedar Point, and we climbed about a million steps to go down the Giant Slide the woman asked me, "Are you ready to go down the slide?" I replied, "What slide?"
When I was in 4th grade or so, whenever Chris and Debbie married, she had begun dating this fella named Ross who she would wind up marrying years later right around her 40th birthday, her college graduation, and my cousin Casey (her sons) birth. I found out later from Grandma that she had moved out west and back, to Chicago and back. Now she's hilarious and an amazing mom.
Chris as I mentioned before I was determined to marry when I was a little girl. I had no regard for the "law" and that it was "gross". I just knew that he was handsome and funny and he would play with me. I still think he's just around the corner whenever I smell a Budweiser. He and Debbie married and had twin girls eventually. They waited a long time for Sarah and Emily and I'm so excited they finally got their kiddos. The girls are so intelligent and creative.
There was the falling out with John and most recently a falling out with my parents. It makes me sad to see siblings that were so close falling apart after the death of Grandma. I would hate to think that the only thing connecting them was their mother.
When I was 11 I got to ride on a plane all by myself to see the uncles and aunt Cathy in St Louis all by myself. I had my teddy bear under one arm and Stephen King's IT under the other. When the stewardess asked me what I wanted to drink I said, "coke". Then she asked Ted E. Bear what he wanted, he was buckled in the seat beside me. I leaned over to his face and looked up, I told her he wanted a vodka on the rocks. She never brought his drink, shame shame Southwest Air!
We played and gallivanted, ate so much White Castle and went to the Arch (I LOVE the Arch!).
I've learned quite a bit from the Linn siblings. I've watched them all interact with each other through life and death, marriages and divorces, fighting and making up. I'm simultaneously happy and sad at the results. These are brothers and a sister that have known each other for over 60 years in some instances. They are the only brothers and sister they will ever have. But things seem so different since Grandma has died.
I've learned a wicked sense of humor from my Uncles and Aunt. Sarcasm, teasing and the holding onto of many many stories from years past. The time that Dad stepped on Cathy's baby bed and broke it, what slide, comforbor, Sharen getting into the Oreo cookie jar and tons more. I've learned the perfect delivery of such stories and how to laugh when they're told about me. They've taught me how to fight, and how not to fight. They've taught me the importance of seeing the best in people, believe the best about people.
They've modeled working hard and playing hard. They've show me resolve in the face of a crumbling marriage and bravery in the face of fertility problems. I've watched Cathy slug her way through getting Casey the best education in the way that he can learn the best and John re-start his life several times and find such happiness in Australia.
I love my Linn Uncles and Aunts. I miss them now that we don't hang out as much. Maybe this year I'll take the lead and be better about getting in touch and staying in touch.