This post was written by Kenneth Witham. I have known Ken since he was this big:
Linda was my second mom.
It was Linda who finally convinced me, after much trial and tribulation, that I should pee standing up. I am not sure whether my parents or Linda funded the plan, but my learning was done in the Jeppson family home on B Street in Blythe. Cheerios were placed in the bowl and target practice was begun. Truthfully, as I remember it, the target practice was fun, but not fun enough to entice me to make this regular practice. The solution was to use pennies. I would receive a penny each time I used the bathroom correctly. To me, this was sheer genius! I was paid to use the bathroom correctly!! While I am no longer paid for my efforts, I’ve kept up the habits learned in that little house in Blythe, California.
Fast forward a few years to seminary. My parents divorced the month before I started high school. Linda and her husband, Bob, made every effort to include me in their seminary classes. They left early, dragging along at least two teenagers of their own, to my house a few blocks away just to be sure that I had a ride to seminary. As a freshman in high school, my attendance in seminary was abysmal at best. The following year, having moved in with my father instead of my mother, my attendance improved drastically. I can’t say that it was always enjoyable, but it was worth it. I spent my junior year in Sacramento, but I did attend my senior year in Blythe and Linda was my seminary teacher. How anyone can display such exuberance each morning is impossible for me to understand, yet Linda seemed to have an innate ability to be lively and to physically show her love for the scriptures. Whether it was doughnuts on Fridays, Linda acting as “Alexis Trebek,” the female host of Scripture Jeopardy, or any of the other countless ways she had for sharing that love of scripture with us, Linda did her best at all times to ignite our own love for the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was saddened to hear that Linda was suffering from any illness or disorder. Having had some physical issues myself in my lifetime, I can somewhat sympathize with what she is going through. I’ve understood that this specific malady affecting Linda affects language skills; that would be almost too much for me to deal with. I imagine that Linda is dealing with this as best as anyone could be expected to deal with this illness. When I was sent home from my mission, after about a year of service, to deal with paralysis brought on by Guillan-Barré Syndrome (GBS), Linda made sure that I was included in the various ward activities. She’d invite me over for dinner on Sundays and urged the missionaries to include me in their proselytizing efforts. While I was home for that three or four months, I helped the missionaries baptize four individuals (a divorced man, as well as a single mother family with two boys.) It was a great experience to be included in that missionary effort and I don’t doubt that I was meant to be home to assist those elders with those baptisms (even if they may not be active currently.)
Whenever I would visit Blythe for a weekend, it was usually Linda who would be the first to spot me and offer me a welcoming embrace. I began to suspect she really did have eyes in the back of her head on some of those occasions. It was nice to feel her love for me as a person in such moments. I will forever be linked with Linda and her family and my life is better for each experience I have had with Linda and the family she raised.