Talk by Denise Haslam at Lin Walker funeral services, May 14, 2011

This thought keeps bugging me: that I need to post the talk that was given at Lin’s funeral. Given at Lin’s request by her friend Denise Haslam. Given a few guidelines by Lin, Denise proceeded. I am posting it so the bugging will stop. Almost certainly the last post on this Blog, “one of the best funeral talks I’ve ever heard”, as another friend said. You will find it immensely inspiring.

Talk by Denise Haslam at Lin Walker funeral services, May 14, 2011

On behalf of the Walker family I extend my heartfelt thanks for everyone who is in attendance today. I know that so very many have done so very much since Lin became ill. A multitude of friends and family too numerous to mention have given countless hours of Christ like service. I feel it appropriate to express gratitude yet again for literally thousands of kind deeds which were given in abundance. Lin and her family are so grateful for all the caring support which strengthened each of them profoundly.  While it may be that you do not receive a written thank you note, please know that your acts of service are recorded in heaven and forever written in their hearts.  Thank you for all that you have done.

I realize that many of you don’t know me so I’d like to take just a moment to acquaint you with how I came to know Lin, Lorin and their family.

In January 1996 Lorin, Lin and their last 5 boys moved to Sioux City, Iowa.  Our family would move there just six months later with our 6, nearly seven children. Lin and I shared many commonalities and we became fast friends.  She had seven children as did I, we both were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as young adults, and our husband’s employment had taken us here, there and nearly everywhere.  We each had lived in, admired and deeply missed that amazing place called Texas.   We both loved good books, writing, sewing, creating, and art; however she was much better at creating than I.  Sioux City was not one of the favorite places we’d lived and we commiserated about the beastly cold, the limitations of a small town, and the lack of good fabric stores, or any kind of store for that matter.  We would share an Iowa zip code for nearly 10 years.

Our friendship deepened thorough the trials and tribulations of that decade and the succeeding years. We helped each other through job crisis’s, totally wild and crazy teenage boys, our tears and fears for then unmarried daughters, loneliness, losing our moms, fire, flood, pestilence and no decent barbecue to be had.  Her job was to listen to me whine and vent which she was very good at. My job was to make her laugh which I managed to do most of the time.  The only thing we did not share was her particular love of animals.  I considered it a singular honor when she once told me, “Denise, I must really like you; you’re the only friend I’ve ever had who doesn’t like animals as much as me”.  In true Lin style she considered my weakness, which was significant in her eyes, and loved me just the same.  Her capacity to love is unparalleled in my experience.  My parenting style was tough love, with an emphasis on the tough; her emphasis was always on the love part.  Lin gave me little advice concerning this talk; but she wanted most of all for her children to know how much she loved them. So to you; Austin, Kadra, Micah, Nathan, Spencer, Luke and Seth I tell you what I’m sure you already know that she loved you deeply, profoundly, completely. She expressed often her joy for the wonderful people you are.  She told me often how lucky she was to have the son and daughter in laws that she had and how much she loved each one of you. She felt especially blessed to have you in her circle of family.  While she was never a giddy grandma, she adored having grandchildren and spoke often of how delightful they were.   And last but not least, her love for Lorin, her husband, was expressed in a thousand concerns and worries, for his physical well being and emotional comfort.  She was a caregiver and nurturer through and through and she cherished her family.  Her nurturing spirit came back to her tenfold through her family and friends all during her illness.  She felt deeply blessed with a loving and attentive family.  Lin’s gratitude for you, her family, is matched by our collective admiration. I know I am not alone in expressing heartfelt praise for the part you have played. We pay tribute to Lorin, who was her constant guardian, involved nurse, and deepest confidant; to Austin head resident nurse, fierce protector, and tender oldest son, to Kadra, loving daughter, and female lifeline in a sea of males, to Micah, Nathan, Spencer, Luke and Seth for your  tenderness, late night watches, and gentle hugs. To March and Betty her two sisters, who visited whenever time and  circumstances allowed as well as increasing Panera bread stock with all the goodies they brought.  To Charlotte, devoted caregiver, loving sister in law, as well as chief cook and bottle washer lo these many weeks. I’m sure you know how much it meant to her to have each of you close by, deeply involved, and here for “the duration.”  We thank you for your example.

To know Lin was to know one of God’s gentlest daughters. Her compassion, good humor and unconditional love were her hallmark qualities. She was and forever will be a true southern lady in the very best sense of the word.  I rarely heard her speak ill of anyone, which put me to shame for my own judgmental comments.  I learned much from her and count her one of my dearest friends.  She will be sorely missed.

One can’t help but wonder why she had to get sick, why she had to leave her husband, her children, and her very little grandchildren.  In our finite minds, it may seem unwarranted, unfair even unkind. We could easily get depressed, unhappy, confused or bitter at the incongruence of this life.  Wicked people live, even prosper while good people suffer, even die.

We make a grave mistake however, if we judge this life by what we see. It would be like picking up a book with only the middle chapters left in the binding. We can read the middle part of the story but we don’t know how it began and we can only imagine how it might end.  Our lives are like that book, with no memory of our first chapter and no clear view of the ending. When we understand all that happened in the beginning we can better understand what comes next.

First Chapters

Lin’s beginning chapter began as ours did. We lived before this earth life with a Heavenly Father and Mother.  We were nurtured, taught and cherished by them. They would prepare her as well as all of us for the day when we would leave that Heavenly Home.  As loving parents they knew we needed to test our abilities, to learn to make right choices. We knew we needed the chance to prove ourselves without their constant and watchful care.  We loved our Heavenly Father and Mother but we wanted to grow and develop, which meant leaving home.  We could only progress if we were to try our wings; our test would be finding our way back to their presence. We would come to this earth with little remembrance of our pre mortal existence.  “That loss of memory gives us a clean start. It is ideal for the test; it secures our individual agency, and leaves us free to make choices. Many of them must be made on faith alone. Even so, we carry with us some whispered knowledge of our pre-mortal life and our status as offspring of immortal parents.”  Boyd K Packer

Middle Chapters

Lin’s middle chapter begins with entry to this world. She came here wanting to prove herself. We all came here desiring the chance to gain in wisdom and knowledge then return home again.  We all would gain a physical body from our earthly parents.  Our physical body is like a book jacket which surrounds a book. Our body protects and houses our spirit like a book jacket protects a book.   One of the challenges of this middle chapter is to master our mind and body.   As babies we master the art of walking and talking. As adults we can continue to use our minds and bodies to serve and help others. Our middle chapters can take many paths as we endeavor to navigate a story line which is often unscripted.  “If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during these middle chapters, you surely will be frustrated, you will understand little of what is going on and why things are permitted to be as they are. “Remember this! The phrase ‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the ‘middle part of a book’. That line belongs at the end (of the story), when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.” Boyd K Packer.

The lives we live in our middle chapter determine how our ending chapter will be. Our purpose here is to find our way back to Heavenly Father’s home, and to help others find their way as well. We are accountable for what we do with our story; accountable for the knowledge that we have been taught.  If we choose to forget, or ignore that knowledge we may find ourselves lost and unhappy.   Just like the characters in a book each decision made will determine the final outcome, how the story will end.  We are like those characters, each choice plots our course, and each act navigates us to our final conclusion.  Whether that conclusion is delightful, warm and satisfying or fraught with regrets and misery depends almost entirely on how we choose to live in this our middle chapters.  Lin lived her life walking according to the light and knowledge that she had gained.  She made promises, covenants with her Father in Heaven, through baptism and the ordinances of the temple. She chose to live according to those covenants. When those days came that she had regrets, which we all do, she sought her Elder Brother Jesus Christ. He is the proviso to remedy our mistakes. Jesus Christ gives us the ability to edit our chapters, to re write our poor choices.  We can rectify our mistakes; we can erase our thoughtless words and deeds. His redeeming love coupled with our willingness to change will guide us through the middle chapters of our life’s book. Through Him we will find the means to finish our story with our heads held high and return home to our Heavenly Parents with honor.  Lin’s life was a repetitive litany of well written pages; her story line always brought her closer and closer to her Heavenly Home.  She gave so freely of her time and talents to all who knew her that I feel certain her conclusion will be delightful, warm and satisfying.

Final Chapters

Lin’s ending chapter, the final act of her book begins with her death.  Death is part of her story; it is a pivotal chapter in her book. It is as necessary and needed as her birth. She could not; we could not continue to write our books without it. Recently Lin and the Walker’s anticipated the arrival of a new granddaughter Sarah Lin.  She was planned for, welcomed and cherished.  Similarly, Lin’s loved ones beyond this life have also anticipated her arrival.  She will be welcomed and cherished.

When we leave this life we lay down our body and our spirit returns home. We take off our book jacket and leave it here for now, but the day will come through the power of our Savior Jesus Christ when He will join our body and our spirit together forever.  Our bodies become worn and tattered in this life, much like a book cover on a book. The priceless gift of resurrection brings our book and its cover back together.  When that day comes there will be no illness, no pain, no grey hair or wrinkles but a perfect, glorious and eternal body.

Once we have left this earth life we return to our Heavenly Father. We will give him an accounting of our lives and choices.  Lin endeavored to keep her promises and by so doing Heavenly Father will keep His promises to her. Lin’s place and standing in her final chapter is mandated by the choices she made. She paid the price, walked the road, and never lost sight of the home she wished to return to. Our final destination is also mandated by spiritual laws which govern the entire universe.  We, who are still in our middle chapters, writing our story day by day, can we likewise live according to the light and knowledge we have, faithfully keep the promises we have made, and retain the vision of our final destination firmly in our minds and hearts.

’’Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience positive, wonderful, purposeful experience that will lead to life, eternal life.”  Gordon B Hinckley- April 2001


I have spent some time today speaking metaphorically about our Father in Heaven’s plan of Happiness.  May I summarize simply that plan? We all lived with our Father in Heaven before we came to this earth. We accepted the challenge to come to this earth, to gain a mortal body, traverse the difficulties of this life and endeavor to return home. This plan was presented before this earth life and all of us accepted it with great joy.  Jesus Christ was appointed to be our Savior and Redeemer. Mortal death would be overcome by him; mistakes could be erased by him. We have the means through our Heavenly Father’s plan to never lose those we love. Our families can be eternal. Death will have no victory and the grave will have no sting because we can continue to hug, laugh and love beyond this grave.  The reality is that there is no end to our book. There are countless stories to write with those we love for all eternity. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible, our choices make it happen.

There is comfort today in knowing where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. There is comfort in knowing that the Savior has indeed burst the prison of death and opens the door for Lin and for each of us. There is comfort in knowing where Lin is, that she will be treasured and cherished. Death is indeed conquered and we are free because Christ has won that victory.  Hymns #199

When we consider these things we can face our losses with a measure of peace in our hearts. On a personal level my heart will long for the day when I will see her again and laugh and chat as we always have; but until that day my heart will rest in the knowledge of a Savior who cares for her and for me and for each one of you.  I will trust as I know Lin does in His plan that allows us to be together forever.

I bear solemn testimony of that plan and the reality of Jesus Christ who broke the bands of death and sin. I know that He stands ever ready to listen, to love and to sustain us.  I know that he can heal our aching hearts, calm our fears, and strengthen us through this day and every one that follows. I know He yearns for each of us and longs to welcome us back home.  However far we wander He seeks us still. He is our shepherd and our friend. He wants nothing more than to join us together in eternal families to live forever with him…. I know that an eternal family is promised and available to Lin and her family and for every family on earth.  Lin was so grateful for that truth.  I am deeply grateful as well for a Savior whose truths can make life sweet for each and every one of us.  I so testify of Him, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

Copyright Denise Haslam 2011

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lin Walker Life Sketch

Written and Read by her Friend Janet Lovelady


In Proverbs King Lemuel wrote, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. Strength and honor are her clothing; She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

Our friend Lin Walker was born Linda Hinson on February 5, 1949 in Washington, D.C. She was the second of three daughters in the family of Mary Stuart Wamsley and Stanley Austin Hinson. During Lin’s childhood Great Falls, VA, was a backwater of a town near Washington. Life in Great Falls included camping by the Cowpasture River, trips to the beach, the delights of Uncle Raymond’s steamed crabs, and the formation of life long friendships at school. I can still remember Lin giggling as Lorin teased her about the latest gossip from old high school friends and “who was up to what” from Herndon High.

In 1966 Lin made the decision to convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. Then after graduation she enrolled at BYU. Lorin Walker was attending Columbia University in New York City at the time, but they managed to meet over Christmas break at BYU in 1967, and love blossomed. Lin and Lorin were sealed for time and eternity at the Idaho Falls Temple on June 2, 1971. Then they headed to Columbia University and the excitement of New York City where Lorin was to complete his Bachelor’s degree in political science and Lin was to work in the administrative office. She would earn extra money, meet Lorin for lunch, and they would explore the city in their spare time.

Within a short time Lin was expecting her first baby. So very nauseated from morning sickness, she was forced to quit her job and shelve her plans for exploring the city. Lin and Lorin moved into an old synagogue which the Mormon church now owned and where they lived as caretakers in exchange for an apartment. Lin said, “It was near Central Park on West 81st Street in Manhattan which at that time was not the best section of town. It was in my last month of pregnancy. I was asleep in our apartment during church on Sunday morning. Lorin was downstairs in the chapel portion of the building, attending to his duties. Suddenly I became aware of a strong tobacco smell. I knew it was not Lorin, unless he had taken up smoking that morning, which was unlikely. I slowly opened my eyes, and saw a burglar in my bedroom. Just the previous week, one of the older sisters in our church had given me a pamphlet on ‘What to do in the event of a burglary’. I remembered one phrase from the book—a cat burglar (one who comes into your room while sleeping) is the most dangerous kind. Do not surprise them or they may become violent’. With this admonition racing through my brain, I cooly pretended to still be sleeping, then when he left (with our television) I followed him downstairs, found Lorin, and sent him on the chase. Ralph Mabee, a 3rd year law student at Columbia, joined Lorin, and together they ran him down. Ralph performed a citizen’s arrest, and they hauled him back to the church. The police came shortly thereafter, and interrogated the thief in the bishop’s office. The whole episode was resolved that night when I testified against him at the infamous Manhattan downtown night court, and put him away for a goodly number of years. He really didn’t have a chance, with an 8 months’ pregnant woman describing his nefarious actions of the morning.”

There were further protective blessings in the City, even after they moved from the “bad” neighborhood on the West Side into a much nicer area at the northern tip of Manhattan. During this period of time, Lorin was often away until the early morning hours— putting in long hours with school and work.

Lin relates the experience— “One night the Spirit prompted me to get out of bed and check and make sure the front door to our apartment had been locked. I was sleepy and wanted to ignore it but just couldn’t. I stumbled out of bed, walked down the hallway and sure enough the deadbolt  was unlocked so I latched it and went back to bed. I had barely tucked myself back in, when I heard someone at the door and heard them trying the doorknob. Lying there, I realized we are watched over every minute of our lives. We could have been victims of a serious crime but living close to the Spirit and following it’s promptings offered us great protection.”

Finally on March 22, 1972. Austin Wilson Walker was born and thus began Lin’s greatest adventure, MOTHERHOOD. Lin relished her role as a mother in Zion and planned for more children. She and Lorin had talked about having a large family and eagerly awaited the coming of more children into their home. Unfortunately, complications ensued during a second pregnancy, and while Lorin graduated and took a job in Baltimore Lin did not get pregnant as she had hoped. After three years it seemed Austin would be an only child. Lin and Lorin discussed their plans for the future and decided it was time for Lorin to return to BYU and get his Ph.D. So they sold everything including all the baby furniture and moved back to Provo.

The doctor had said Lin would have difficulty getting pregnant so all these plans seemed realistic. However, Heavenly Father had a different plan. In the fertile atmosphere of Provo, Lin was pleasantly surprised to find herself pregnant again. On June 1, 1976, Kadra Kirsten Walker was born and two years later Micah John joined the family.

With three lively children and a full time student husband Lin found herself constantly busy. Like so many students before them they gleaned in the fields and orchards and Lin bottled the fruits and vegetables. She served in Relief Society and juggled her chores around Lorin’s tight schedule. Laundry was an exceptionally onerous chore because Lin had to go at night and take the kids so Lorin could study. She wanted a washer and dryer badly. So with her usual attention to detail she started shopping, comparing prices, and checking on the cost of using the Laundromat. To her surprise she discovered they could buy a washer and dryer on a time payment plan slightly cheaper than using the Laundromat.

When Lin started talking to Lorin about this wonderful discovery—saving money by purchasing on the time payment plan–she was confronted with that unacceptable word—DEBT. Lorin simply did not believe in going into debt for anything other than a house or maybe a car. He followed the counsel of the prophets to stay out of debt. You saved up for washers and dryers. With 10 or 12 months of night duty at the Laundromat looming ahead of her Lin began a campaign for a washer/dryer of her own. Like water dripping on a stone she was sure her reasoned argument would wear Lorin down. However, Lorin was a man of principle. They reached an impasse and tension over the washer/dryer issue was getting to both of them.

Finally it was decided that they would submit their case to the counseling service provided by BYU for married couples. The counselor suggested that Lorin do the laundry under exactly the same conditions that Lin did it and then they could make a final decision. At 8:00 at night Lorin set out with a car full of laundry and three small children. The 24-hour Laundromat proved to be his undoing. He got the kids in the Laundromat and the laundry in the Laundromat but never even loaded one machine. With three kids running around and many loads of laundry facing him Lorin gained immediate insight into one of the everyday frustrations of MOTHERHOOD—the never ending role of laundry in a mom’s life. He put the kids and the laundry back in the car and went home. The next day they bought the washer/dryer. I remembered this story because it was such a great example of young marrieds bringing their family values into the marriage and creating a new system to fit a new family’s needs.

Lin laughed softly when she told me about it some ten years later. As it is for everyone, it was fun to tell about the time she won the argument. But she warned, “ Don’t ever tell Lorin I told you about this or you’ll have to listen to his stories about the times he won. And he’s won his fair share of the arguments over the years. Don’t ever think I always get my way.”

A year later Lorin graduated and took a job in Texas where they became members of the Dallas Seventh Ward. On schedule Nathan Elias joined the family, the first of four boys born in Texas. Nathan was one of the youngest people to attend my baptism. Lin was second counselor in Relief Society and Lorin was a counselor in the bishopric that confirmed me. Lin and I formed a tentative friendship. We were so different we made an odd pair. She was tall and I am short, she was slender and I am fat, she was a happily married mother and I am a childless career woman. But we shared so many common interests that friendship was inevitable.

And so began a history of classes together. In the 80’s porcelain doll making was a popular hobby that we enjoyed. We took classes in doll painting, doll making, wig making for dolls, doll sculpting, and in class after class Lin had a baby at her feet. Her children were amazingly good. They would sit for hours on end in their carriers happily sleeping or playing. No one ever wailed loudly for more attention or whined about the constraints of the carrier. She would occasionally bend over and talk to the baby or hand him a small toy from her bag. Whenever we had a break Lin would nurse her baby and the other ladies would be surprised that a baby had been in the room all this time and they had not known he was there. Mothering seemed second nature to her and she glowed with the joy of young motherhood.

At the Walker house another boy, Spencer David, joined the family. He was Lin’s biggest baby and I remember how tired she was in the final days of her pregnancy. Spencer was keeping her awake at night. But when she said he was keeping Lorin awake I was puzzled. “I can understand the baby keeping you awake but how is he keeping Lorin from sleeping?” “He kicks so hard he shakes the whole bed and keeps waking Lorin up. Lorin has meetings with clients and has to be rested and alert so he gave up and slept on the couch last night.” By the time he was a year or so old Spencer was walking and beginning to get into things. One day I went by and Lin began with, ”It’s a good thing babies are so cute or they would not survive. Spencer found the newly opened box of birdseed. When I found him he was twirling around and had thrown it all over the family room. I’ve vacuumed this shag carpet four times and there’s still birdseed embedded in it.” Then she sighed the way all mothers sigh when they are thinking—some days you catch them in time and some days you just have to accept what happens.

The Walkers were house hunting. They had out grown the house in The Woods. They looked at house after house but couldn’t match house size to wallet size. I told her the Apples were selling their house and she should go by and take a look at it. She drove by and saw the unpromising front of a classic 1940’s two bedroom, one bath, with a one car garage. She didn’t even stop. After more fruitless searching she finally checked out the Apple’s house. It was exactly what you expected until you stepped out of the kitchen into a room 25 feet long and the width of the house with rough cedar walls and a cathedral ceiling. It gave the expression “play room” a whole new meaning. Boys could roll around the floor, run, wrestle, and yell without disturbing anyone. In less than a month they had bought it. The one car garage was deep enough for two cars so a remodeling process turned it into a small bedroom for Austin, a second bath, and a big dorm room for the little boys.

Baby number six was on the way and his name was going to be Lucas Clay. The only child to be given a nickname he would be called Luke. The children did not like their parents choice of a middle name and tried mightily to change their minds. They felt his middle name should be S-K-Y-E, Skye thus making his name Luke Skye Walker, like the latest movie hero. Although I thought the kids had a cool idea, mom and dad said a really big NO. Luke slipped into the rhythm of the family’s life as if he had always been there. Lin was now completely content as the mother of six. When Luke was about nine months old she told me she was finished with having babies. Six was just right. We may have one plan but Heavenly Father may have another.

A few months later she told me that she felt there was another child that was waiting to come to their family. Lin said, “ …The Spirit is very insistent and I can’t ignore it any longer.” She was hesitant because she was older and close to the age where there is a risk of Down Syndrome. But her doctor was reassuring. After the usual four months of being green with morning sickness she settled in to enjoy the remaining months of her last pregnancy. At one point we met for lunch near her favorite book store. She said, “I was glancing at this book on childbirth and there was a picture of a woman’s face all scrunched up with a labor pain and I asked myself. “How did you let yourself get talked into this again?” Then she sort of shrugged and smiled. She knew exactly why she was doing this one more time.

In the last month of her pregnancy Lin always bore her testimony at Fast and Testimony Meeting. I can see her as if it were yesterday. She was very tall and as always had gained a good bit of weight. She looked like a great clipper ship under full sail as she mounted the rostrum. She leaned over the pulpit and spoke in a quiet voice. I’ll paraphrase what I can remember. Lin said, “Today, I want to speak especially to the Young Women and Young Men about the importance of obedience to the Spirit. You should value the presence of the Spirit in your life and always live worthy of having the Spirit to be with you. Obedience to the voice of the Spirit is sometimes very difficult but it brings great blessings.” Her testimony continued a little longer ending with the statement that she hoped her children would always remember her strong belief in our Savior Jesus Christ. So many times during our friendship I recall her talking about obedience and the presence of the Spirit. The comfort and protection the presence of the Spirit brought into your life. I’ve heard thousands of testimonies over all the years but this is the one I remember so vividly. A couple of weeks later Seth Jacob was born.

When I stopped by for a visit after school one day it was obvious Lin was reeling from sleep deprivation. Unlike her other babies who nestled right into family life Seth had the colic. He cried for what seemed like hours on end and at least half the night. No medicine worked and he was miserable. Lin said, “If Seth had been my first baby he would have been an only child.” After about four months Seth got over the colic and turned into a family favorite. He laughed and squealed when his brothers and sister played with him. And no matter how hungry he got he never cried until he saw his mother. Then he let her know it was time to feed her little boy. One day as she held her sleeping baby she told me, “I’m sad that this part of my life is coming to an end. It has been so much fun creating a family. But I know every period of life has its special blessings. And I’ll enjoy whatever comes next.”


Lin loved her life. She was passionately in love with Lorin and they had great fun together. One year an ice storm had killed a big bush in my yard and Lorin was worried about how I would get rid of it. Since they had no special plans on his birthday weekend he volunteered to dig up the small tree and chop it up. While he got sweaty and dirty Lin was creating a surprise. She had already given me the sealed note to give Lorin when he finished. Lin had managed to farm out all the children to spend the night with their friends. Her note instructed Lorin to go take a shower and meet her at the Galleria for a romantic getaway. His face split into a big grin and he took off very fast. Their luxury getaway was a great success. Life was full of fun moments.

Lin also created special memories for her children. The first day of school ended with everyone putting on their swim suits and receiving a can of whipped cream. A giant whipped cream fight ensued, then everyone got washed off with the hose. While the kids played in the sprinkler mom and dad grilled burgers and hot dogs. On Thanksgiving there was the traditional feast but Christmas was the most fun of all. The stockings were hung by Dec. 1 with red and green yarn coming out of them. There was a treat at the end of each piece of yarn to be pulled out and eaten one a night. A golden thread was attached to a box that held their personal Christmas ornament to be taken out on Christmas Eve. On Dec. 1 everyone painted their nose red and mom read “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” There were different traditions each week. Special cookies were baked with mom. Some were served that night and the rest were frozen to be served on Christmas Day. Christmas Day a giant platter of cold cuts was served with the specially baked cookies and ice cream. Lin and Lorin spent the day playing with the kids and their new toys. My all time favorite was Ground Hog Day when Lin cooked patty sausage (ground hog) for dinner and served it with applesauce. Afterwards they watched the movie Ground Hog Day which teaches the primary lesson that if you don’t learn to do things right the first time you will get to repeat the lesson over and over again until you get it right.

But things were about to change. Not only were Austin and Kadra now in their teens but Lorin responded to a great job opportunity in Virginia. I would miss out on the tales of teenage angst because they moved far away. First to Virginia, then Atlanta, and finally Sioux City. Soon Austin was married and a dad, Kadra finished college and served a mission. All the boys began their lives on their own. Lin had a perfect understanding of the truly important things in life. Tragedy struck in the form of a flood while they lived in Sioux City. All the boys were upstairs on the main floor when a wall of water washed away their bedrooms on the ground floor. It also washed away thirty years of family pictures and documents. Lin’s attitude toward this loss was wonderful. She said that all the family was safe and all the things didn’t matter. She found the strength to let go of all the possessions without any bitterness.

Lin had always served in callings with major responsibilities and she would continue to do so. Serving in Relief Society at both ward and stake levels while Lorin did the same in the bishopric and at the stake level. Lin continued to take classes but this time her interest turned to sewing. She took countless classes, went to Bernina Club and Sewing Guild. We continued to take classes together in the summer. Finally she told Lorin she was having trouble finding classes she hadn’t taken. He suggested she might consider teaching if she had taken all the classes. So she began a new career as a Bernina Club instructor. It proved to be a calling for her. Lots of new friends and lots of fun ensued. Lifetime friendships were formed. When she became ill countless people that she had come to know during her second career wrote and called. Last October Charlotte, her sister-in-law, commented that she never realized the breadth of Lin’s influence as an amazing number of people called.

This past summer I asked her if she wanted to come to Red River, NM, and visit me for a week high in the mountains. She answered with a resounding, “Yes!” Followed by a tentative question, “Are you bringing your sewing machine?” “Oh, yes.” “Then I’ll bring mine and my serger.” “I’ll bring my iron and I already have an ironing board up there.” So big plans began. Within a few hours of her arrival we had the living room set up as a sewing center and were both sewing like mad. We were like teenage girls who talk of nothing but clothes and boys—only we were limited to clothes. We sewed, drove down to Taos and went snoop shopping in the exclusive stores with one of a kind garments, then roared back up the mountain and figured out how to copy them. When we grew tired we watched DVD’s of new sewing techniques and then started the process all over again. It was glorious fun. At the end of the week we hugged and promised to do this every year until we were too old to drive up the mountain.

Three weeks later I received an email entitled “ News” and the sentence began “This is going to be bad”. All of you know the rest of the story. Lin felt okay for a while and enjoyed the moments with friends and family and especially her last trip to Texas to see Austin, Becky and the grandchildren. Spending time with Lorin and the children and grandchildren was precious beyond words. Austin became her nurse and scribe of her blog. Kadra moved here to be close and have her second baby. The family rallied around to look after her. Lorin was the rock of the family. In Lin’s words the ward was “incredible” providing for everything you could think of. One of the most tender moments came in her Family History class, which she wrote about. On the Sunday she told them about her cancer there were some tears and then she began the lesson. Then she wrote: “Most of my class is made up of young mothers or mothers of teenagers.  Finally one of them said “We can read this old lesson manual anytime.  Tell us about what you’ve learned; tell us about motherhood.”  So we spent the hour discussing those things, remembering back.  I told them about our traditions, and things I’d do differently.  And things I did right.  And things that may not seem important now but really are.” This was one of the tender mercies that blessed the end of her life.

Cancer is a vicious disease but it offers one mercy and that is the time to say goodbye. Lin’s last months were filled with quiet times reviewing her life with Lorin and the children. Leaving memories for her grandchildren. Taking time to stay in contact with old and new friends. As always her concern was more for others than for herself. She told me she knew it was irrational but she felt guilty because she was causing her children so much pain. Lorin wrote in the blog that “Lin continues to display class, dignity and concern for others above self.” And I think that sums up Lin. Each of us became our best selves in Lin’s presence. A feeling of constant love and acceptance emanated from her. Through her eyes Heavenly Father smiled upon us. She passed through the veil on May 6, 2011, and back into the presence of the Lord. A precious daughter of our Heavenly Father returned and as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” and so we rejoice for a life well lived.  And we rejoice that is was our privilege to have known her.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Letter To My Children From Lin Walker

I thought not to have written more in this Blog, and am sure some have already erased the link, but a few more entries to bring closure for some who wanted to be but couldn’t be at the funeral, exactly 2 weeks ago today. Lin asked that a good friend read it at her funeral. Lin wrote this as an entry in 2010 in her Family Food Blog, The picture at the top of the Blog is what you see when you look out our kitchen window.



Although I have been a mother for going on 39 years now, I still question my credentials.  I just don’t feel like I’m quite up to Hallmark card standards.  I guess I’m still waiting for the “real mother” to show up and reveal me as an imposter.  I cringe when I remember some of the things I did in my capacity as mother – either from ignorance, poor judgment or sheer exhaustion.  I comfort myself with the fact that I raised seven truly wonderful human beings so I must not have done anything too egregious.

I did bring one trait  to motherhood that served me very well, and that is – I’m not afraid of snakes, spiders or rats.  You would be surprised how handy this particular trait comes in when you’re raising six sons and one adventurous daughter.  Snakes are not in the least bit slimy and are actually quite beautiful to behold.  Tarantulas, unlike their hyped up movie persona, are not vicious eight legged demons, lying in wait for an unsuspecting Two Legs to walk by so they can attack.  They are quite gentle, shy even, and would prefer to just be left alone to their spiderly ways.  And rats are probably one of the best pets you can let your children have.  They are intelligent, clean and altogether better natured than the nasty little hamsters that dominate the rodent pet market.

One of my defining moments in life came as a result of one of my children, Austin, and his pet boa constrictor, Grendyl.  The uninitiated among you may not realize that when it comes time to shed their skin, snakes go through a lot of  stress.  This has something to do with their eyesight being compromised in the process – I never did quite understand the mechanics of the situation – and they can get a little testy.  The dutiful adoptive snake parent may at times have to assist in the skin shedding process by bathing the snake so that the skin will shed more rapidly.  One time Grendyl, who was rather large, was having a particularly difficult time shedding and Austin asked me late one Saturday night to help him.  So we ran a tub full of water and plopped six feet of grumpy boa constrictor in.  Austin went off to get something and as I sat there tending Grendyl I had an epiphany of sorts:  It is midnight and I am bathing a boa constrictor.  In my bathtub.  How. Did. I. Get. Here?

When you contemplate motherhood as a sweet young thing, that just isn’t the kind of future you envision – bathing a boa constrictor at midnight.  But in the end, it is those moments – unanticipated, unplanned and sometimes even unwanted – that bring the sweetness and immeasurable joy to family life.

So, to my children, thank you for the chance to bathe boa constrictors, to spend sleepless nights rocking your feverish little bodies, to see you dressed up for dances – looking so grown up that my heart broke, and also to see you dressed up in a gorilla suit jumping out at unsuspecting motorists when they stopped at the corner.   And everything else, the everyday mundanities of motherhood that add up to a life that I have enjoyed living and look back on with pleasure.

Nothing much that I planned on but everything that I needed.  I love each of you with my whole heart.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

May 11, 2011

You will notice a new theme. Thanks to my son Micah.

She has been walking a long road. Now she is just over the horizon. But close.

Thank you all for your kind comments on this Blog. I read all the comments, but respond to few, for time lack.

The notice below comes out in the Kansas City Star today. My son Spencer and I wrote it. He did the heavy lifting. Thank you Spencer.

My brother also recently posted angelic photos—

And another brother, like thoughts–

I notice my last 3 Blog posts are of a similar nature–

That should be complete for now.

Linda Lee Walker, age 62, passed away last Friday afternoon, May 6th 2011 at her home in Kansas City, Missouri, of pancreatic cancer. She was watched over by loving family members and friends; as well as the hospice workers who cared for her during her final moments.

Services will be held this Saturday morning, May 14th at 10am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 13025 Wornall Road in Kansas City, Missouri 64145 (at the corner of Wornall and Blue Ridge). Her burial will be held at Longview Cemetery, 12700 Raytown Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64149 later that day.

Linda Lee Hinson was born in Washington, DC on February 5th, 1949 to Stanley Austin Hinson and his wife Mary Stuart. She lived in Falls Church, VA until 1952 , then Springfield, VA until 1956, when the family moved to Great Falls, VA.

She was affectionately known as Linnie the Poo by her family. Photos from that era reveal a dark-haired, bright-eyed girl whose joy and creative spirit were boundless. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Psychology.

Linda fell in love twice — first with a handsome young man from Idaho called Lorin and later on with a wild and unruly state called Texas. She married Lorin on June 2, 1971 in the LDS Temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They are in their 40th year of marriage. She gave birth to 6 boys and 1 girl and raised them throughout 8 different states during her 39 years of child-wrangling. The fact that they all have life and limbs intact today is a powerful testament to her consummate skill and vigilance. Lin is survived by her husband, Lorin Rosel Walker; 7 children: Austin Wilson Walker, Kadra Kirsten Walker Pixton, Micah John Walker, Nathan Elias Walker, Spencer David Walker, Lucas Clay Walker and Seth Jacob Walker; 6 grandchildren (adding 2 more in coming months); and her 2 sisters: Margaret Anne Hinson Mehle and Bettie Smith. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, with whom she is now joined once again.

Her progeny and influence sprout up like wild Texas bluebonnets everywhere, vivid blooms of life sprung from the seed of her unfailing charity. Each of us became our best selves in Lin’s presence. A feeling of constant love and acceptance emanated from her. Through her eyes our Heavenly Father smiled upon us.

Linda loved real Country & Western music, the kind made by God-fearing outlaws. She was an inspiring creative force who infused beauty into everything she touched – food, clay, cloth, thread, children and friends. Her talents and creations defy summary.

Memorial donations may be made to Wayside Waifs, Inc. or to the Crossroads Hospice in Kansas City.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

May 6, 2011

February 5, 1949 … May 6, 2011

Many good lives have passed through that space.

One of the kindest, most beautiful, most thoughtful and most lived-outside-of-self lives was Lin’s.

She passed away this afternoon. Moving on to a new field of action.

Services will be held next Saturday morning, May 14th at 10AM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, at 13025 Wornall Rd in Kansas City (corner of Wornall and Blue Ridge). Burial will be at Longview Cemetery, 12700 Raytown Road, Kansas City, MO 64149 that day.

The Circle of Life extends and expands. Lin learned a short time ago of another grandchild to be born, on January 3, 2011. There will then be 22 in the Lin and Lorin Walker Clan.

One of her Texas friends, Julia Pratt, recently wrote about Lin: “She was a true artist in every way and she had the MIDAS touch. She was amazing with everything she touched– food, clay, cloth, thread, children, friends. etc”

We all look forward to seeing Lin again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

April 29,2011

As the time draws near, our feelings are deep, immediate and tender.

Lin asked each child, individually, into her room 2 nights ago, for a personal conversation. Somehow she found the strength for a soulful goodbye with each.

She is no longer able to process food through the feeding tube, so that is gone. We are close.

Her two sisters, and our good friend Denise, are flying and driving in today. The circle of family and friends draws closer and warmer. Our cat Gobo Fango spends most of his time in the room, keeping vigil.

Sitting here at her side gives me a great view of our back property cliff/forest. I see things I have never before seen. I have seen a bluebird defending its new territory. I have seen a bluebird chase a squirrel up and down a tree and into its hole. I have seen a bluebird locked in aerial combat with a red male cardinal when it got too close to the nesting box, blood red and sky blue wrapping and dancing together up and down and up. The cardinal, tho the much larger bird, eventually fled.

I have seen the finish line, not far ahead, still running this almost 10 month marathon side by side with my eternal companion. She gives her love and thanks to all of you. Lean through the tape.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Friday, April 22, 2011

I apologize for being late with this. The days blur together, the hours do the same. I (we) marvel at how busy we are as we are in Lin’s and the family’s service. Austin thought it was Tuesday, but it was Thursday. I thought it was early evening, but it was almost 9PM. Time has taken on elastic dimension.

Very fitting that we are still engaged in this process as Easter comes into our lives. The season of new life, the season of extended hope and of renewal into new fields of action. The season of activity beyond the grave.

Lin sleeps now about 21 hours of every 24. She is a fighter; she fights to keep going in this life and among the family and friends she has come to love so very much.

The pattern one or two weeks ago was a day of energy and activity, a day of rest. The pattern now is rest. And she could rally. She has done it before. As I said, she is a fighter (as a former co-captain of a high school field hockey team should be).

The pattern is of great and non-grudging and loving service—from my eldest, Austin, who has been here for a long time, from my daughter Kadra, with her new one, Sarah Lin, who calms us, and reminds us that “a baby is God’s message that the world must go on”, from my sister Charlotte, who is a newcomer and the latest godsend, from our church, from each of you, though not usually physically, spiritually. From all my children and their spouses and friends. I have already described the Addicks, our friends from Baltimore. If there were a medal ceremony, there would be nearly two hundred people lined up to receive medals. And none wanting one.

Lin is at peace—much, much more than she has been at any earlier time throughout this process. Her pain is well managed. She is observant. She still makes sure that things are done right. She still makes sure we buy and fill out thank you cards. Her sterling and wonderfully generous character shines through daily.

Early in the week she noticed bluebirds in the back yard and pointed them out to me(not a yard really, but a steep hill/cliff loaded with rocks and trees and forest vegetation—my kind of yard!). And now graced with a pair of nesting bluebirds. I have tried for 6 years to entice bluebirds to nest back there, laying out birdhouses with care and according to instruction, shooing spiders and wasps out of the nesting boxes. And now this year we are blessed. They are truly beautiful.

It is mid-Spring in Missouri. Daffodils have just finished sending their wave of joy throughout our “yard”; next come stately iris, then cheerful daisies. We are in the season just before chiggers and ticks and mosquitoes and heavy lawn-mowing, so a good season.

Her heart beats more slowly; her blood pressure is much lower. We are all trying to be at peace with what is transpiring, and ask that same blessing to all who read this Blog.

I weep as I type this, sitting upright in the bed next to her bed, where I have been all night. Yes, tears of sadness, but certainly not without hope for a bright future.

The question that is always in the air is—“How long?”. Karen, our lead hospice nurse, always has the same answer—“We are in God country now.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments