My best friend, Linda Watkins, would have celebrated her 60th birthday this month. I believe on the 24th. But, she died of cancer close to her birthday in 1982 about the age 33. When we first met in 1974, I had just moved into a small house in El Monte, California. We hit it off right away. She was my neighbor. She had a darling little baby girl, named Andrea, who must be in her thirties now. Linda’s mother Millie/Tillie called on the phone every day, and asked, “how’s my baby?”. She didn’t mean Linda. She meant Andrea. It was funny at first, but then one day Linda, feeling a little possessive, responded with, “She’s not YOUR baby, she’s mine! I am your baby, and I am doing fine!” The reason I refer to Mrs. Duran as Millie/Tillie is because her name was Mildred and went by Millie at one time in her life. But, before Linda introduced us, she insisted that I call her Tillie. I never learned why.
I look back and see we wasted a lot of time worrying about our figures. She was of Mexican-American ancestry, though if anyone ever asked if she was Mexican, she firmly replied, “I’m American!” With the Watkins last name, and no accent, no one dared to ask further.
Linda had sparkling brown eyes that showed her inner attitude that life was fun. She had naturally tan skin, but every summer we laid out under the sun to get more tan. I always ended up with sunburn. Her complexion was clear and perfectly arched eyebrows. She had a lovely face with what most women would envy. She had what my mother called, “beauty marks”. Linda called them moles. But, they were not moles in my opinion. They were flat. They were beauty marks. Linda had naturally curly thick black hair. She always made an effort with her appearance. Where I would toss on a pair of jeans and t-shirt. She might do the same, but she accessorized. She took the time and trouble to put on her makeup and wear nice shoes. She carried herself better than I do. I’m somewhat of a slouch. Even when she was casual, she still appeared neat and fashionable.
She had a cheerful disposition and never allowed herself to be depressed or miserable for any length of time. Though, through the years, I understood, she just didn’t show it much. Linda was also a very strong minded individual, and never let anyone push her around. She had a very firm belief system and some of her values were immovable.
If ever too opposites attracted it was my friend, Linda, and I
I have never had such a good close friend since then.