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.