In this business there may be a tendency to let tragedies fall into the routine. We hear of bad news everyday and while injury or loss of life always gives me reason to pause and think of those affected, we all tend to move on. At this point in life e-mails frequently arrive with updates related someone close to our family. When my mom sends an e-mail with a name in the subject line, odds are good that person has passed away.
Over the weekend Todd Carroll of KBTX sent an e-mail I found myself returning to over and over, just to let the reality of what I was reading sink in. Linda Lowe passed away in her sleep. Linda was once a copywriter for KBTX and frequently wrote news promotional copy and commercials for all the big Houston stations at one time or another. The position was in shared with KWTX and became a casualty of those dreaded “budget cuts,” an elimination of the position, a move that took away a very talented writer. She later went to work with Producers Cooperative, then to Texas A&M in Ag Communications. Linda wasn’t one of those “high impact, high profile” individuals, at least as far as day-to-day life goes. But to those who knew her, she was the definition of high impact as a friend.
Linda and I had quite a bit in common as conversations over time revealed; none as challenging to either of us, however, than returning to school at an old age. My history with higher education is no secret to most. I wasn’t a good student in college during my first go-around. My mother wasn’t as smart as I was at ages 18-22. The very idea she would tell me, “you can’t work fulltime and take a full load of classes.” What did she know? I proved to be right. After all, how can you argue with a whopping 2.0 on a good semester and academic probation more times than this area has had police chiefs? So, I left and decided to work fulltime with about 78 hours of coursework under my belt in four-years. It was my feeling that doing all I did during that four years, I was an overachiever. Mom told me, “you will never go back if you quit school.”
She was darn near right again, but this time, I had grown up, was a bit more mature (arguably I hit my peak at maturity back in the late 80’s as friends will tell you), and was determined to prove her wrong. So, in 1993 with the support my bosses at KBTX, Jim Baronet and Jon Boaz, I returned to school via Blinn College. Blinn worked with Baylor to make sure courses would transfer, and 47 hours later, the final 28 at Baylor, my college degree was completed. As an aside, it is amazing how paying for your own education raises your GPA. Remarkable. It was a miracle on the Brazos.
Linda Lowe had a dream. Her dream was to complete her degree from Texas A&M University before she turned 60. Whatever it took, however much time was needed, Linda was dedicated to walking to receive her degree. It didn’t matter how many times we ran into each other, here at KBTX while she worked to produce an ad for the Co-op, at the Pet Day at Producers, a chamber function, or a local fundraiser, the conversation always turned toward school and her progress. We shared stories about returning to the classroom later in life, how it seemed easier, both agreeing that our mindset and eyes on the prize took over the old temptation to sleep in or to focus what the evening plans might be instead of class work. We were both shocked that spiral notebooks were no longer the norm in the classroom for taking notes.
Linda’s face was one of happiness and determination anytime we talked about college. The prize was now in sight. In August of 2008, Linda Lowe received her degree from Texas A&M at the age of 59. It was only natural that her area of study then lead her to a position in communications at Texas A&M.
Saturday night, KBTX’s Jon Boaz visited at length with Linda near the music stage at Texas Reds. Linda was never short of words, always full of stories or thoughts including a tale or two about many of her four-legged friends at the ranch near Calvert. She loved the outdoors and the ranch lifestyle. Linda possessed that seasoned, sultry look, charming, welcoming, always smiling. For as long as I knew her, she always looked the same, frozen in time. She was a combination of who I imagined the book version of Francesca Johnson in Bridges of Madison County to be, Victoria Barkley and a seasoned ranch queen. Linda was talented, a great conversationalist, the spirit of determination.
I’ve always believed that the blessings of life we don’t see are those left in our wake. So it is with Linda. She leaves in her wake remembrances of friendship and inspiration. Somehow it is a blessing that she simply went to sleep, a gift of grace. I think God knew she would have made a horrible patient. Linda was a mover who respected animals and people too much not to always work to make life a little better for all creatures great and small.
Linda Lowe wrote a column for the Calvert Tribune. Her last column appeared Wednesday, June 17, 2009, posted at 12:51 p.m. to the newspaper’s website. This was about three and a half days or so before Linda would pass away. There is a link below to the full article. But as you read these two paragraphs lifted from her column, it is a little chilling, perhaps a foretaste of what was to come. You’ll get this after reading the excerpt, but Linda has long since told Mary Rogers Elford, “hey – I just wrote about you last week!” And together they are thinking, “the irony of it all.” As I read this I realized that in writing about Mary, Linda wrote a note to her own family including those precious grandchildren. Linda wrote from her heart, and with these words, it is evident she didn’t just up and leave as suddenly as it seemed. Rest well, my friend.
EXCERPT FROM “Lowe Profile” – Calvert Tribune, Wednesday, June 17, 2009
By Linda Lowe
Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 12:51 PM CDT
Saturday, I watched as other people went through all kinds of emotions and, although I managed to hold my own in check, I could not help being overwhelmed by the nature of life and death. My friend, Mary Rogers Elford died in her sleep last Thursday night. She was 59 years old. I never saw Mary with a frown on her face and I’ve known her since the late 80’s. She was one of those rare people who found joy in the little things in life, and took great pleasure in the successes and happiness of those around her. Little did she know that she played a huge part in the lives of everyone who knew Mary. She was a loving and very proud mother of two delightful daughters, and a grandmother. She was friend to everyone she met. She kept folks organized and moving and always encouraged us.
Mary’s sudden death reminded me that there are just no guarantees.
Wise men and women, great philosophers and poets, priests and prophets, have all delivered the same message since the beginning of time. They tell us to be aware and live each moment as if it were our last. It’s Sunday today, and I plan to slow down and try to do just that. I will admit I am somewhat obsessed today with my own mortality, fear of dying before I get to finish a lot of the things I have started—fear of leaving my beloved children and g-babes before I get to give them all the love I feel in my heart—fear of missing out on more of this abundant life that God has so generously given me these past years. But I cranked the music up and as it blares through my house, I have a pile of chores calling my name, some four-legged critters that would like a little of my attention, and life goes on, one day at a time. Actually, I think I may just take a nap.
For the full article, click on the link below: