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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In Memory of Linda Whiting


About two years ago, a friend and fellow LDStorymaker announced to our group that she had breast cancer. Linda Shelly Whiting was an amazing woman. She had stuttered all her life, a problem that made communication difficult. But rather than stay on the sidelines she took public speaking courses, she forced herself to become a wonderful presenter, despite the stumbling of her words. She never made apologies or accepted sympathy for what was a burden, it simply was what it was and she persevered. She was a devoted wife, mother of six children, a passionate family historian, and a voracious reader and writer. She wrote a book about the life of David W. Patton, the first martyr of the early church. She always said she knew it wouldn't sell thousands of copies, but felt driven to make it available to history buffs like herself because Patton did not have any posterity to chronicle his accomplishments for him. I admired her zeal and tried to take her example to heart with my own writing--it's not about the money.

When she was first diagnosed she did all the chemo, all the treatments, even though she was told it would likely only give her five years. She wanted those five years very much. She was working on a book about Arizona History, a book she'd been researching for ten years. She was anxious to see her children all settled and doing well, she was heartbroken at the idea of leaving her husband as their retirement years had just begun. She fought hard, and her cancer went into remission. We were all relieved, if anyone deserved those five years, it was Linda.
Sadly it was a few months later that the cancer returned, this time with a vengeance. when she announced to our group that she would not be seeking treatments, knowing it would only extend her life by months and unwilling to spend her final time sick and miserable, she shared the sentiment that she was excited for death, to meet all the people she had done genealogy for, to be reunited with loved ones gone. She said she had no fear of it at all, she was at peace with herself, with the life she'd lived and the legacy she left behind. Her regret, was leaving her sweetheart and children, she was mindful of the role she played in their lives and knew that her death would make things so difficult for them. As her body failed her, this was what caused her the greatest pain. I had never known someone well enough to 'see' the preparation and it was an awesome experience in every sense of the word. When she died it was a sad occasion, and yet I couldn't help imagining the scene as thousands of souls waited to thank her for the life she lived in their behalf. Though she left a legacy in this life, she ventured into a different kind of legacy when she crossed the veil and started a new leg of her journey.

Today, her son--Roger Whiting, a talented illustrator--sent out an e-mail to many of her friends informing them that he had fulfilled a promise he'd made to his mother to publish a book of her poetry. I was thrilled to have such an opportunity and bought my copy immediately. I've never read her poems, but I knew Linda and I have no doubt this will be a book I will treasure. The book is titled My Wilderness and other Poems and is available through Amazon.com.

Linda was bold, fearless, and remarkably strong woman. More than once she stunned me with her blunt statements of right and wrong, accepting no middle ground when it came to accepting the words of the prophet or living a righteous life. There was no tip toeing and though it stung at times, I admired her so much for being who she was and not making any apologies for it. I was glad to be reminded of some of the lessons today and hope that one day I can have that kind of dignity and excitement for the next phase of life. I'm so glad that her words live on.

5 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

I'm looking forward to reading her book of poems. She was an outstanding woman and always ready with words of wisdom.

melissa c said...

This is such a sad thing. My mother died from Breast cancer. I know the pain that accompanies cancer.

What a blessing that she left so much of herself behind to be remembered.

I will look for her books.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this touching tribute. We miss our mother so much.

Wendy Whiting Cassity

laurapalmer11 said...

I was just surfing the web about my mom, thanks for the comment about my mom. She was a very brave, sweet woman.
shelley whiting

Leslianne Byington said...

Linda became my friend through the LDS faith where even after I had been removed from her roster as a visiting sister she continued to visit me. I loved her so very much and there just isn't enough room here to say the ways she touched my life. We shared much laughter and serious discussions about life, love and eternity in my tiny apartment livingroom. She had such a unique way of looking at life. She stood up for me as a bridesmaid saying she was "always a bride never a bridesmaid". Every Sunday, no matter what was in the wind one could find Linda sitting in "the Whiting pew" (her large family took up the entire row in the middle section of chapel and they always sat in the same row). Shortly after her Patton book was published she brought me a signed copy and the contents of that work increased my faith. You mentioned that she stuttered yet did you know Linda sang like an angel, her voice strong, true and beautiful or that a life long sorrow she carried was that during her mission for The Church because of her stuttering she was unable to bare her testimony even once to an investigator?I smile as I write this because everything Linda did was a testimony to her great faith of Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ and the love she had for her family and humankind. I miss my girl very much and am very sad she was called back home just when she was facing temporal success. Linda never told me she was sick, I don't know why that is. I was struggling with my testimony at that time, perhaps that is why. One day her belly laugh filled my livingroom and the next my house no longer rang with her joy and her wisdom. I'm thrilled her poetry has been published and am excited to read her poems. Linda and I shared the love of reading books and writing, she seemed to very much enjoy reading the historical romance I was penning before her passing saying she had briefly tried writing romance and was told she "was too dry" and should stick with non-fiction and fact finding. I hear her laughter as she confided in me that she enjoyed my writing yet she was the last person I needed to critique me. Linda "dry"? Hardly, Linda had more love and zest for life in her little pinky then a LDS chapel during fast and testimony. I miss you, Lin, your life's echo is forever stamped upon mine. Leslianne Byington