I was first introduced to Linda on the day she was born. I think my parents must have mentioned something about a new baby but my memory is of being shown the baby and being told that she was called Linda Joy and that she was my sister. Now I do recall thinking that the name didn’t fit but with hindsight some fifty-nine years later I realise that Linda’s middle name was entirely appropriate.
The three-and-a-half year age gap between us was enough to ensure a fairly rocky relationship as children. As the eldest I generally got the blame. But sometimes, she did start it! And sometimes our crimes were a joint effort, including breaking into the locked kitchen to get to the biscuit tin when we arrived home from school to an empty house. Mum, being Scottish, knew how many crumbs were in the biscuit tin, never mind how many biscuits. We didn’t stand a chance.
Linda was born in Plymouth in 1960 but her first memories would have been of Guernsey and were probably of the row we got into over the biscuit incident(s). Our family moved back to the UK in 1968. In 1973 I joined the Merchant Navy and my parents and the three girls (two more were born in Guernsey) moved to Surrey. It was at about this time that Mum started to notice a problem with Linda’s back. Scoliosis was diagnosed and Linda underwent two years of unpleasant treatment, which included major surgery to attach a steel rod to her spine. I remember visiting Linda in hospital while I was on leave. She was encased in plaster from neck to hips and unable to move. Yet she never complained and she never stopped smiling. Linda Joy!
Having been a patient Linda became a nurse, training at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Carshalton and at St Helier Hospital in Sutton. Linda never married but took great delight in her family, an ever increasing circle of friends, and her church. Linda was a nurse for thirty-eight years. Unfortunately, her scoliosis never went away. At some point it became necessary to remove the steelwork from Linda’s back, but with nothing to support her damaged spine her back became increasingly deformed. This affected Linda’s ability to meet the demands of her position as a ward sister at St Helier Hospital and Linda had no choice but to take medical retirement.
The back problems continued and began to affect Linda’s lung capacity. Low oxygen levels and high CO2 levels resulted in a trip by ambulance back to St Helier Hospital on Sunday 24 May 2020 where Linda was treated in the intensive care unit. She stopped breathing with her two younger sisters at her bedside on Tuesday 26 May, less than three months after our mother passed away.
Would you understand if I said I was sad but glad? Sad to lose my sister at such a young age, but glad that her pain and suffering is over and that she is now home with her Heavenly Father. You see, Linda’s human body was no longer capable of sustaining her earthly life. The constant pain she suffered necessitated a diet of strong pain killers, and Linda had become extremely thin and only able to eat very small meals. Her organs were being crushed by her body and breathing was becoming difficult.
I’m blessed by all the comments on Facebook from Linda’s friends, former colleagues and former patients. Linda’s joy radiated out from her. She was unbelievably kind, and compassionate without ever being judgemental. She worked hard, encouraged and supported her colleagues, and was part of the healing process for so many patients over so many years. Where did it all come from? I think the example set by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago just might have something to do with it. Her faith in God allowed His light to shine through Linda. If we all had just a fraction of what she displayed come rain or shine the world would be a better place. On Tuesday evening Linda Joy received her reward for a life of Christian service, a life surrendered to God, a life that brought glory to Him. Today she is with Him in Paradise. Linda’s joy is complete.
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 NLT)