Best Friends, Role Models And A World Without Lindy Boggs

Most people probably aren’t aware that one of the strongest women, one of the greatest of role models, passed away this weekend.

The world is now without Lindy Boggs, who died at 97, peacefully at her home, on Saturday. You can read her obit here.

Many probably don’t even know of the former Louisianna Congresswoman, who won her husbands seat after he disappeared in an Alaska plane crash while campaigning in 1973.The world has now lost a champion of civil rights- a woman born and raised on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and gained the respect of her black constituents, beating her (black) opponent with a 1/3 of the black vote. She retired from Congress in 1990 and was chosen as ambassador to the Vatican under the Clinton administration. She was on the short list for the Vice President during Mondale’s campaign. This was one powerful woman. Worthy of “role model” stature.

I was two, and clearly don’t remember, when her husband went down in that plane. But I was 9 when my best friend, Rebecca, Lindy’s granddaughter, was pulled from class in 6th grade to go to his funeral. His body was never found so 7 years is the typical time frame in which they wait to pronounce someone officially dead.

Seeing on the news that my BEST childhood friend’s grandmother had died brought back a lot of memories. We grew apart in High School- I ran track, she was big into drama (though I did loyally go to each and every one of the plays she was in)- and lost touch completely after graduation. But still. She used to be my best friend.

I spent a good majority of my time during the elementary school years through most of middle school at Rebecca’s house. Or she was at my house. Or we were at someone elses house together, probably ignoring the other person because groups of 3 girls do that- 2 ignore the other one.

My friendship with Rebecca really defined me- made me who I am today. She was the kind of person that was just crazy enough to keep things interesting, yet not so crazy as to land us in jail. The cops may have been involved a couple times, but really, we didn’t do anything wrong.

There were sleepovers most weekends and making the world’s BEST grilled cheese sandwiches that were so cheesy and melty that it would stretch across the kitchen when the 2 sides were pulled apart. Her housekeeper Rosie made them and they were awesome and I’ve yet to be able to replicate them.

I loved going to Rebecca’s house because it was so….cool. First, it looked like a small plantation right out of Gone With The Wind. It is where her grandmother used to live. Her parents still live there and every time I drive by I get a craving for grilled cheese.

They had a den where we’d watch TV that was filled with awesome stuff from all over the world, particularly Greece, where she had lived for a while. There were also really scratchy pillows on the couch that were not very comfortable, but I never said anything because I thought they were so cool because they were from Greece.

Rebecca came from a strong family. Her mother, Cokie Roberts, was a news anchor and NPR reporter. I thought she was the smartest woman I knew because she knew….everything. Her dad, Steven Roberts, wrote a book. I knew someone that wrote a book!! It was something I’ve never seen in bookstores, but it was on their bookshelf and his picture was on it and he mentioned Rebecca in the acknowledgements. So. Cool!

All I remember about her brother, Lee, is that he was shorter than her and he used to get mad at her for standing next to him “on purpose” because she was much taller than him. And he was a huge Beatles fan and locked himself in his bedroom all day listening to Beatles music the day John Lennon died.

Her Aunt Barbara had ocular cancer and lost an eye. We would sit around the kitchen table making her fancy eye patches with feathers and sequins. Not sure if she ever wore those, but it was SO.Cool. to be making them for her in the first place.

And then there was Lindy. I only met her a couple of times and it’s really a hazey memory of loud, continuous, people all talking at the same time dinner conversation at Pines of Rome in Bethesda, and I thought it was So. Cool. to be invited.

Rebecca’s family encouraged opinions, encouraged discussions, encouraged thinking for yourself, encouraged questions. Rebecca’s family encouraged her to be a strong woman and she had the role model to look up to.

Being at her house made me part of who I am today and Lindy, the matriarch of that family, was a huge influence in Rebecca’s life.

Without Lindy, my best friend would have been a very different person. Or actually, not a person at all, if you want to get all “a butterfly flapping it’s wings in the rainforest affects the weather in the desert” kind of existential about it.

Lindy Boggs- talk about a role model. They certainly “don’t make ’em like they used to!”

So I’m thinking of my childhood best friend today….

Have a great crazy day.


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