The Heroines

Linda Wolfe Mickelson

is honored with a Brick from Carol Wolfe Konek.

All through my childhood, I believed a baby sister would make my life complete. When I laid me down to sleep, I asked for a baby sister. When I wished upon a star, I wished for a baby sister. The moment I discovered the dresses with rows of hooks at the expandable waistlines in the back of my mother's closet, I knew my mother, who was too shy and silent to share her wonderful secret, would give me what I most longed for. I recall the moments my mother left for, and returned from, the hospital as epiphanies, luminous moments when my life took on a new dimension.

Our precious baby Linda was perfectly beautiful. We were all enchanted by her perfection. Her sparkling blue eyes, her dazzling smile, her blond curls . . . images of her from babyhood to womanhood bring me close to tears of gratitude. I cannot imagine myself without a little sister, one who would both reflect and contradict my own identity. How do women without sisters learn to celebrate difference? When Linda became her own person, and no longer belonged to me, I did not gracefully relinquish my role as her other mother. I was at once relieved and bereft.

She intrigued and enlightened me, and she scared and infuriated me. When she went to Haight Ashbury as a flower child of the 60's, a rebel with her own world view, I espoused warnings and advice. As she became interested in psychic phenomenon, I kept my nose to the academic grindstone. As she broke free of constraints, I imposed structure. Yet, every time we talked, we were fully engaged. Every time I thought of her, I was flooded with both pride and protectiveness.

No one can more readily make me question my assumptions. No one can make me giggle more helplessly. No one can express perceptions I want to quote, or record, or remember. She is great material. I take notes when we talk on the phone. I mull over her problems. I wake up in the night with mandates, suggestions, demands for her to change her life to be safer, richer, better loved.

Because my transition into womanhood and big sisterhood coincided, being an adult and being a big sister are the same for me. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be little sister to me. Yet, Linda is generous in love and forgiveness. She endures my attention, my direction, my obsession with incredible tolerance. She is the essence of generosity. Wherever she goes, she is giving money or food or conversation to those she meets on the street. Sometimes I fear that her generosity announces her vulnerability to the world, and that her vulnerability makes her a moving target. She is sturdy and stubborn.

When she was jailed for demonstrating for the release of Mumia Abdul Jamal, I assured her that I would put up bail, and have her out in no time. She responded, "Oh, no, don't get me out of jail. I'm having a great time. I am meeting such interesting people." When the Oakland fires approached her apartment, she couldn't leave Venus and Aquarius to flee to safety. When I commiserate with her for working three jobs, she says, but there are times when I can't find work, so I must work with gratitude when I can.

She sends me e-mails alerting me to conspiracies I would ignore, injustices I would overlook, world affairs I would fail to question. While she works as a medical transcriptionist, her calling is to social justice, to acting on the compassion generated in her warm and open heart. She teaches me compassion, intuition, insight and love. My perfectly beautiful little sister, Linda.

Submitted by Carol Wolfe Konek

September 4, 1998 (for Linda Michelson Wolfe)