Linda left us February 02, 2015. We had over 300 people for her Celebration service on the following Sunday, Feb 08, 2015. It was held at our place in Cancun, Mexico.
What follows is the testimony that I shared with everyone about Linda. I did it in English out of respect for her family. Violet translated for me to Spanish.
“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, [and] the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us...” (Isa 63:7)
Her whole life, Linda suffered much physically, but she never gave up. She expressed in recent months that she was ready to go. The last few weeks, she felt even more that her time was short.
I was always afraid that I would come home and find her gone, that she would die alone. I am so thankful that in her final days and hours in the hospital, she was surrounded by people she loved and recognized. She was made as comfortable as possible. In the end, she went peacefully.
Everything about today is just as Linda wanted it. What I am going to say is what she wanted me to say. How do you describe a lifetime in just a few minutes? Impossible. Today, it is time to say something about Linda that will also say something about the grace of God.
Linda saw me before I saw her. I was dancing by myself in front of a stereo while the Beatles’ album, "Abbey Road" was playing. That would have been in the Fall of 1969. We were married on March 21, 1970 in River Falls, Wisconsin. Next month, we would have celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary.
A lot happened before Jeremy was two years old and before Rebekah was born: Linda gave her heart to Jesus, Greg followed about six weeks later, and four months after that, Linda’s Mom committed suicide.
I still remember when the pastor of the Lutheran church came to our farm house to baptize little Jeremy. He convinced her with, “but what if the child dies before he is baptized? He will go to Hell.” I was not impressed, but Linda took it seriously. Little Jeremy was baptized right there in the kitchen.
But as all true Christians know, baptizing a baby is absolutely meaningless. And Linda’s heart was as empty and fearful as before. The man that we bought our goats from was a believer and pastor of a mission church in a town about 15 miles (25 km) from us. One day, while I was at work, Linda asked the pastor and his wife to please come to the house. They talked to her about the salvation that God the Son came to offer us by His death on the cross, how that the blessing of forgiveness and eternal security do not come through rituals or sacraments, that if she would be willing to repent of her sin and give her heart to Jesus by faith, He would save her, be with her, and take her home to heaven when she died. No good works necessary.
Linda did that.
We moved from Wisconsin to attend a Bible College. While there, during a Missions Conference, a plea was made for a helper in the Lord’s work in El Salvador, Central America. From the very first, when I approached Linda about the possibility of it, her response was, “I think the Lord wants us to do it.” We are here today in Mexico serving the Lord, 41 years later, partly because Linda never said no.
It would not be correct to talk about Linda without talking about the health issues that she dealt with. Linda was born with scoliosis and spina bifida occulta. Without surgery, she was destined to life in a wheel chair. Before she was in kindergarten, she knew what physical pain was about. When she was 14 years old she had major surgery. She was in a body cast for six months.
Five years prior to her passing, Linda suffered major heart failure. She was in the coronary ICU for 11 days and was not expected to live. When they unplugged everything, she woke up. We considered ourselves blessed to have her with us a little longer.
You are going to think that I am making this up, but it happened just like this:
On our very last trip to the Mall together, the Christmas decorations were still up. We stopped by the big beautiful tree in the hallway by the new Liverpool store. She had to take my picture by the tree. I asked her, “why? Christmas is over”. She said with that big sweet smile of her last years, “because you make me so happy.”