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.