This post was written by one of my best childhood friends, Karen Monnett Dick (who will always be Kari to me). I happened to have this picture of her with her first son on my computer – I hope she doesn’t mind me using it – I thought it was the perfect picture of Kari.
Linda is the life of the party.
Growing up, the Jeppsons were kind of a sister family to ours. Like us, they were a big, noisy, happy Latter-Day Saint family. I’m not sure if Katie and I were close because our moms were close, or the other way around—but we spent a lot of time at each others’ houses. And that means that I spent almost as much time with Linda as I did Katie.
There was always something going on at the Jeppson house, and Linda was the ringleader. There were art projects ranging from tree ornaments to—when my brother was born—a cute little infant tuxedo sleeper. That one Linda “supervised” me making, which meant she never let on that she had done 99% of the sewing, and passed it off as a gift from me.
As we grew to be teens, Linda opened her home to friends of her kids and not only tolerated our antics, but was usually the ring-leader. She led countless toilet-papering raids (all in good fun, of course) on fellow ward members’ front lawns. She thought up and carried out hilarious practical jokes, whether it was April Fools Day or not.
She was a clever mom: if there wasn’t a way for her to be officially involved in her kids’ activities—as she often was—she would find another way to work herself in. She would drive us hundreds of miles to stake dances, temple trips, and youth conferences. That woman must have chaperoned activities her kids attended every weekend for thirty years straight. When I remember my youth activities I remember her presence just as much as that of any one of my friends. She was always right in the middle of things, her quick sense of humor and ready smile lighting up the room. I wonder what was more annoying to her teens: the fact that she was always there, or the fact that all of their friends so clearly loved having her around?
I can’t remember a single year she didn’t participate in girls’ camp, to my recollection generally providing and packing up her family’s whole arsenal of outdoor equipment for the use of the girls in our ward. Once there, already exhausted from her preparations, she partied with the best of them. She good-naturedly jibed grumpy young women around the morning campfire, pulled pranks when things got dull, and laughed the loudest at whatever joke was told. Her energy and enthusiasm were viral—there was never a dull moment in the Blythe campsite.
Don’t get me wrong—she had her grumpy mornings just as we all do, and when her kids deserved it, she could bring them back in line with a few choice words. But she had a talent for making things fun, and for seeing the humor in everyday life.
It’s hard for me to imagine Linda without a steady stream of words tumbling out of her mouth. She was always busting with great ideas, funny stories, witty comebacks and good news--all delivered with her trademark grin. She told long and involved stories about mundane happenings, somehow making even a trip to the grocery store interesting. I’m sad that the world doesn’t get to hear her voice as often as it used to. But there are many of us lucky enough to know what goes on behind that smile of hers. And if I know her, she’ll never quit finding ways to make the people around her smile.
Happy Birthday, Linda!