Life is full of stories, and Linda puts these stories into songs. Love and inspiration shine through her lyrics. I particularly loved the idea of making snow angels as a message to loved ones in Heaven. Human Diaries brings you the words of Linda Greseth so that you, too, can be inspired. Her story reminds us how wonderful life can be, and how precious and important our loved ones really are. A positive attitude can literally improve your life.
Linda was taught by her mother, from an early age, to look for the silver lining in everything. That positive mindset is a wonderful gift that has allowed her to weather all of the things that life has thrown at her. There were other beautiful values from her mother that she learned and has lived by which have shaped her personality. The examples she has shared with us are all about working hard and appreciating what we have. It’s helpful to hear about the life experiences of those who are generous and kind enough to allow us get the inside story of what made them the people they are today!
Sometimes there are moments in our everyday lives that have such an impact that they live with us forever. That’s how memories are born – a moment or two is so special, so meaningful – that it becomes a lasting memory. Not all meaningful moments are good ones, of course, but my Mother would always say, “Look for the silver lining”. So for me, the memories that I hold the most dear are those special ones, even my “silver-lined” memories.
When tragedy hits a family, silver linings are truly a blessing. The depths of despair, anger and pain are so great that we can’t imagine how we’ll survive the moment, much less live on to recall the memories of such a heartbreaking time. But we do live on, one moment at a time, and even in the midst of our grief, “silver-lined” moments occur.
I was 30 when my younger sister, Mary, died in a car crash. As a sibling, I was devastated to lose a little sister, but as a daughter and mother, I was extremely worried how my parents would ever survive the death of a child.
For several days leading up to the funeral, I stayed at my parents’ home. Along with my other adult siblings, we cared for and comforted each other and our parents. The days were filled with final preparations and loving visits from relatives, friends and neighbors. But the nights were agonizing for all of us. We could only hope for the sweet reprieve of sleep to temporarily escape our pain.
One night as I struggled for that escape, I heard my Dad shuffle down the hallway. I got up to check on him and found him at the kitchen table staring mindlessly at the buffet of food that seemed to magically appear at our house each day. Sensing my concern, he looked up and said, “I’m fine.” I knew better.
Dad was known for his nightly refrigerator raids so I thought a snack of milk and cookies might be a good diversion for both of us. Before I could uncover the nearest plate of home-baked cookies, however, Dad’s head fell to his chest and his body shook with sorrow. I was trying desperately to hold back my own tears when Dad reached out to me and pulled me onto his lap.
There we sat, in silence, our sadness pouring out on each other’s shoulder. And for that moment – that beautiful “silver-lined” moment – I was a little girl again, sitting on Daddy’s lap, wanting him to fix the biggest hurt of my life.
But in the next moment – that very next moment of reality – I instinctively knew that the parent/child roles had just reversed. I knew that I now needed to be the strong one, the caretaker, and help my Dad through the most painful experience a parent could ever endure.
I don’t remember how long my Dad and I sat and cried at the kitchen table that night. I don’t remember how long we snacked on milk and cookies and shared stories about my sister, Mary. And I don’t remember how long it was before I realized what a wonderful gift my Mom had given me by encouraging me to try to find the good in everything. It’s that gift that has allowed me to remember and treasure so much in my life – even the “silver-lined” memories.
Written by: Linda Greseth
Q – Linda, thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. Can you tell us a little more about your childhood and the years leading up to and following the loss of your sister?
A – I grew up with my 4 sisters and 1 brother on a farm near Dawson, MN. I didn’t realize until I was older what a great childhood I had. By today’s standards, we didn’t have a lot, but we never felt deprived of anything.
My Mom had sayings for everything! Besides “Look for the silver lining”, she would tell us, “If there’s a will, there’s a way”, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” or one of my favorites, “Can’t is not a word.” I was really surprised when I started school and discovered it really was a word! My siblings and I didn’t know it at the time, but Mom was teaching us values that would shape our lives forever.
My Dad would discipline us (yes, even spank us), but he was really soft hearted. There was always one of us on his lap or riding along with him into town to the hardware store or implement dealer. My Dad was a great storyteller. I guess I inherited my ability to tell a story in my songs from him.
I married my high school sweetheart when I was 18 and we just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. My husband is my rock! We have 3 married children whom I’m so proud of and they have blessed us with 9 beautiful grandchildren and 1 precious little great grandchild.
I also still work full time as a Human Resources Manager.
Q – Did you start writing after the death of your sister?
A – I’ve always loved to write and dabbled in it for years, but really didn’t become passionate about writing until one Christmas when my husband encouraged me to write a Christmas song. I thought, “I’m in my sixties. If I’m going to do this, it’s about time that I get serious!” I’ve been writing lyrics ever since.
Q – What was the Christmas song you wrote and what was your inspiration?
A – I wrote a song called “Snow Angels”. I came up with the idea of making angels in the snow as Christmas cards that our loved ones who’d died could see from heaven. My inspirations were my sister, Mary, my Dad who had passed, as well as other loved ones whom I’d lost over the years. I found the whole process so rewarding and healing! I loved telling a story in a creative way. Once the song was recorded (Kayla Hawkins from Nashville recorded the song) and people would tell me how the song had touched them, I was hooked. I wanted to write more songs that would be an inspiration to others.
Q – So up until this time, you’d never tried to publish anything you’d written?
A – Not really. Maybe I subconsciously knew when I was younger, that I didn’t have enough life experiences under my belt, to be able to touch and inspire others with my writing. Once a good friend of mine even told me to just write 50 words every day and the words would turn into pages, and the pages into chapters and so on. So that night I went home and wrote a poem called “50 Words” which, of course, was 50 words long:
If I’d but 50 words to write, before passing into the night
What words shelved deep inside, would cry for life before I died?
With scores of words unscribed till then,
What final requiem would I pen?
If I’d but 50 words to write,
What sweet memories would I recite?
I was inspired by what I wrote, but didn’t write another 50 words until years later!
Q – How do you use those life experiences now in your writing?
A – Sometimes they become the topic of a song. I recently co-wrote a song called “Sisters Forever” with a dear friend of mine, Rose Duffy (roseduffymusic.com). The song deals with the bond that exists between sisters from childhood though adulthood. I’d started writing the song awhile back and then about a year ago, my sister, Nancy, was diagnosed with ALS and I called Rose and said, “I really need to finish this song.” Now I owe my brother a song! He’s such a great guy. That won’t be hard to do.
Other times, I’m just inspired by something I’ve read or heard or seen. Rose and I have also written a song called, “Today I Get a Name”. This song is about losing a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. Fortunately, I’ve never personally experienced this, but as a parent, I can empathize and feel the pain of a parent who has gone through this tragedy.
And sometimes the experience is so personal, I can’t bring myself to write about it. A couple weeks after my sister was diagnosed with ALS, I was diagnosed with GIST which is a rare form of cancer (Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumors – which were discovered on my liver and intestines). I have since had surgery and am doing fine, but I haven’t been able to write about my cancer or that experience. Someday maybe I will but for now, the words aren’t there.
Q – You’ve spoken about the rewards and satisfaction you get from writing. What are the challenges?
A – I am strictly a lyricist. I’m not a singer, a musician or a composer so I have to be able to tell a compelling story, share a life lesson or develop plays on words that are creative and catchy and do it within the confines of 2 or 3 verses, a chorus and sometimes, a bridge. I’m very blessed to have met and been able to work with talented musicians, singers and composers like Rose Duffy. Rose is a singer/songwriter/musician/composer who plays a “mean” saxophone in a rhythm and blues band, “Armadillo Jump” as well as a dance band, ”Big Bob and the High Rollers”. I’ve also worked with Will Kruger (humandiaries.com). Will composed the music for “Snow Angels” and we co-wrote a song called “English Prairie.” Will is also a singer/songwriter/musician/composer who tours the country with a group called Peter, Paul and Mary Alive and also performs John Denver tributes. These are the people who breathe life into my words!
The other big challenge is getting songs to recording artists. I can write something and think, “This would be a perfect song for Martina McBride or Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert” but getting a song presented to an artist of that caliber is extremely difficult.
Q – What are you working on now and what goals do you have for the future?
A – Rose and I are working on a couple songs that she hasn’t recorded yet. One is an inspirational gospel song and the other is a fun Christmas song (it even includes yodeling). Will also has a couple of my lyrics that we will finish co-writing together. I’ve also recently started co-writing with a couple of talented singers/musicians who live in the same town where I live. I have more lyrics and ideas in notebooks just waiting for a singer/composer to bring to life.
Ultimately, I want to write a song with or for each of my children and grandchildren. So far, I’ve written a song with my 17-year old grandson, Garrett, called “Don’t Mean I Have a Problem.” It has such an inspiring, “eye-opening” message for young people. I really need to find a young artist who will record it. I sincerely think this song has the potential to save lives!
Q – How would our readers be able to listen to your songs?
A – I don’t have my own web site but “Snow Angels” and “Today I Get a Name” can be accessed on YouTube. I also have a few CDs left of “Snow Angels”. Readers can contact me for a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Sisters Forever” and “Today I Get a Name” are also available on iTunes. Will Kruger has “English Prairie” posted on his web site. He has also recorded “Snow Angels” and has that on his web site as well (humandiaries.com). Human Diaries has been kind enough to set up an author profile for me on their website so please continue to check my profile for access to new music and links.
Q – If anything was possible, what would you wish for?
A – I guess it would be the things I pray for: Health, happiness and God’s guidance and protection for my family; a cure for ALS; and that I may continue to inspire and entertain others with my words and songs.
Q – What do you think of Human Diaries?
A – I only recently discovered this web site but love it! I could read inspiring stories all day long. I feel very honored to have been asked to share my story. Thank You Very, Very Much!!!