Our small town was one where "everybody knows everybody", so new kids maybe had it a little tougher than average. Add to Ingrid's status the fact that she had no brothers nor sisters to help absorb the scrutiny, and I didn't envy her. To make her stand out even further, she was tall, blonde, and fair-skinned in a town made up mostly of Hispanics and stocky Italians.
We ended up having several classes together, and I got to know and like her. She was intelligent and athletic and loved the outdoors. Plus, she lived just a short ways from me. She was easily and quickly welcomed into my circle of chums.
We were both on the basketball and track teams, and from that, made too many fun memories to recount here. We may not have been perennial state champions in either sport, but we held our own.
And we certainly always had fun, even when taking a team photo for the yearbook - short girls (me) in front, tall girls (Ingrid) in back
She was well-deserved Valedictorian of our high school class, then went on to study and serve at West Point Military Academy.
The summer before she left for West Point, we went on many a bike ride and hike, as she wanted to get in shape for basic training and I was an all-too-willing companion.
We also spent hours on the lake, paddling her canoe, enjoying the sun and each other's company. I started to realize how much I would miss her when she left.
We continued to keep in touch, with her letters (no email way back then!) telling of the adventures and rigors of West Point. After graduation, she served her time as an Army officer and was once involved in a plane crash that left some lasting physical damage. She was home for a while shortly after that, and I saw how she handled the troubles with strength and patience.
When I got married, she was a fast and first choice for my Maid of Honor, even though she was in Germany at the time. Nonetheless, she made it back for the wedding.
|Ingrid, with my mom and my niece|
This photo of Ingrid and her husband is from our 10th high school reunion.
She died after badly breaking her leg. After surgery, she developed an embolism that moved to her heart. She was 33 years old. She'd broken her leg while doing volunteer work at the zoo.
It was so sad and unexpected. Ingrid was always such a strong person - physically, mentally, and emotionally. I remember talking with her mom and her husband on the phone, everyone still in shock.
Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States. I'm thankful for all our veterans, including my dad, my brother Guano, and Magnum.
And I'm thinking of Ingrid.