Linda’s mom taught her about abundance–to be grateful rather than looking at what others had and wishing it were hers. When she was about 13, her girlfriends got a treasure trove of clothes and wonderful gifts and she complained a bit to her mom. “I wish I had …” BRAKES ON! Before she finished the sentence, her mom stopped the car, looked her in the eye and said, “Linda Sue, don’t you ever, ever be jealous of what others have. Be happy that they have it.” It was a lesson she never forgot.
Of her mother Linda said, “Abundance and gratitude is what my mom taught me and what she lived. She and my dad are goodly parents.” When I told her that everyone loves to be around her because she makes us feel loved, worthy, with untold potential, she tearfully replied, “My mom would be happy to hear that. She always told me to be someone others like to be around.” She certainly is! Her wit, wisdom, kindness, and generous love draw friends of all ages and circumstances to her.
She credits the Lord with blessing her “like nobody’s business.” She is sure He gave her a pre-mortal blessing before she came to earth, promising she would never be hungry, thirsty, lonely, and would always have a home and food to share, as well as many friends. That promise was kept, at least in part, because she chose to see what she had rather than what she may have lacked.
She did her part in making the Lord’s promises come to fruition in her employment. She married young, had her children, and was divorced all in a few short years. She was not one to complain or doubt the Lord; she just pleaded for His help and He responded, supplemented by her hard work and determination to provide for her family.
Her employment history is laced with abundance and gratitude. She worked for only two companies, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Zion’s Bank. Starting at the bottom at age 16, she rose to the manager of the take-out department at KFC. From there, a friend who “was happy because she loved her job,” helped her get part-time employment in the bank’s cafeteria. Over time, this opportunity led to her managing the “small but very busy cafeteria.” Did I mention she is one of the world’s best cooks?
She was happy at the bank and continued a steady climb from a clerk to the manager of the checking account services department. From there she moved to data services and telecommunications, eventually coordinating installation of data equipment in new locations. She discovered for herself that this was the best rung of the ladder for her to complete her career at the bank.
She endured five years under a difficult manager, making it nearly impossible to continue. However, she immersed herself in a particular scripture volume that filled her life with abundance despite her desperate situation. Eventually, the manager was publicly reprimanded and fired. She then continued to work and love her job until her retirement, making many life-long friends, loving and lifting people all along the way.
The choice to take an abundant view of her circumstances became critical the last several months. Last summer Linda was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of leukemia. She chose to be grateful rather than bitter. Even though the doctors concluded she would never get well, she decided to undergo all available treatments in order to have more time to make memories with her family–especially her son, daughter, and four grandchildren all of whom she adores. Linda always sees their strength and potential, never criticizing them publicly or privately. One day I talked to her and she was simply giddy because those young adult grandchildren (ages 18-21) were coming for a cookie-baking fest.
People may offer sympathy because she lives alone, is dying of leukemia, and has never had much of this world’s wealth. She’s having none of that. Even before her latest diagnosis, she suffered from debilitating pain. So the Lord helped her sell her split-entry home and move to a new place with just one step that came stocked with new friends and admirers. Instead of complaining, she spends the time she has left expressing love and gratitude for others and leaving them with final gifts to cherish.
She has been hosting lunches at her lovely new home to share her love and gratitude. Three of us were invited there recently. She wouldn’t hear of us furnishing any part of the meal. It was delicious and beautifully served. She hasn’t lost her touch in the kitchen. She smiled, but we could see the great sacrifice of time, strength, and means she poured into this gift of self. The best part of the day was not the meal, but sharing our love and appreciation for each other and the comfort we felt in her complete acceptance of this unexpected turn of events.
Here are some parting thoughts she shared: “I’m grateful to have a timeline for the rest of this life. It’s a chance to share my faith with others and connect with those who have loved and influenced me. I can’t deny the truth. I was blessed to find the gospel in my teens and came back to it later. I look forward to seeing my parents, my brothers, and dear friends who are waiting on the other side.”
Ever recognizing blessings and opportunities, she said her highest goal is to heal any cracks in her family’s unity and to “give them each other to hold onto” when she is gone. Like any family there are a few of those cracks to mend. But she says, “The power of prayer is amazing. The power of a mother’s prayer is undeniable. Misunderstandings and pain are being replaced with love and forgiveness. The family is healing. Pure love and family unity are being restored. The process is continuing and will do so beyond the grave.” The doctors are scratching their heads. Some of her numbers are rising. There’s a very slight possibility her body is starting to fight the cancer. It’s not much, but for a woman of abundance, she’ll take it gratefully.