Woman fueled by optimistic view of life
South Tahoe resident Linda Daigle has what can only be described as a “uniquely positive” outlook on life, and a mission to bestow optimism on those around her – the type of person who’ll leave you with a smile when you’re having a bad day.
Daigle, 68, lives in a nondescript apartment complex near the Stateline casino corridor on a fixed income provided by Social Security. The retired casino worker (one of her many careers) struggles with the rising cost of living. Rent for her has gone up steadily for three years. And as if that’s not enough, she has also been challenged by a weak heart – over the years she has had two angioplasty procedures and an emergency double bypass.
But in a situation where many would feel dejected, Daigle still lives life full speed ahead and always strives for a better tomorrow.
Speaking over coffee Friday at the Applebees restaurant near her home, Daigle told of her spirituality and ambition to help others. An active Catholic at St. Theresa’s, Daigle believes she is entering the most important phase of her life and wants to be a mentor to people who may have lost their way.
At 5 feet (on a tall day), this tiny woman comes across as a spark plug, dominating the conversation as she recalls a difficult childhood as an orphan in her native India, and the path that brought her to Europe and the United States, where she met and married a French Canadian man and had four children who have all grown up to be successes (Tanya, 25, was raised mostly in South Tahoe, and is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, studying neuroscience. Her other children, Donna, 38, Luke, 36, and Mark, 30, stayed with their father in Milpitas when the couple divorced).
The proud mother remembers her own childhood and the last time she saw her mother (her father died when she was young). “Mom came to see me when I was 10. She said ‘I’m going to get a better apartment…you can come on the weekends and visit.’ I never saw her again,” Daigle recalled.
But such disappointment, even the mysterious loss of her mother – her only parent – at 10 years old, wasn’t enough to break Daigle’s spirit. She bounced back in a big way, and became a professional woman, working for the United States embassy in New Delhi.
Her next aspiration, to see her country, drove her in the 1950s to apply to be a stewardess for India Airlines. She had never been on an airplane, and her chances seemed slim. Luckily, she had the last interview out of hundreds and landed the job. She spent the next few years in the Indian skies, flying with heads of state and international dignitaries. Her horizon was broadened by the experience.
“I did it myself because I was so poor, and I wanted to see the world,” she said. Eventually, her travels would take to her England and then California, a place she had fantasized about since she was 6 years old (“because oranges grew there,” she said), before she even knew where it was on a map.
Daigle parted ways with her husband, and a few years later in 1984, came up to Tahoe, a place she had previously only seen as a tourist.
“I’ve been all over the world – it’s been like a dream,” she said. “And it’s the people of Tahoe who helped me so much. They helped me with Tanya, and my life.
“The people of this community, they are the best. When something goes wrong, they come through.”
And Daigle has helped back.
In addition to her involvement in the healing ministries and the Ladies’ Guild at St. Theresa, she said she sat on the board of the Cancer League, worked with Volunteer Action and worked the crisis line with the Women’s Center.
So, as Daigle crafts her next plan to help mentor people in their lives, those of us who know her, and her optimistic charm, should give her a call and let her know: She has already been a mentor to many.
– Jim Scripps, managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, can be reached at email@example.com. To contact Linda Daigle, call Scripps at 542-8047.