Brother feels loss of tornado victim, but also finds peace

Brother feels loss of tornado victim, but also finds peace

By Mark Thornhill
Posted by Dana Franks - email

MOULTON, AL (WAFF) - In a photograph of Linda Tinker, she holds a smile that just dares you not to smile back.

"I sure do miss her," said Tinker's brother Ronnie Shelton. "She was the greatest sister ever."

Shelton and the rest of Linda's family still feel the pain of losing her. But he said that he can still smile because, like his sister, he said his faith sustains him.

Shelton and Tinker were close, literally and figuratively. She lived just up the road from her brother, and the two talked every day. Shelton said his sister would often talk about Wendall, her husband of 40 years.

Sixteen months before the storm, Linda encountered another storm, when Wendall died of cancer.

"She never did get over losing him," Shelton said.

Shelton said Tinker repeatedly said she wanted to go "home" to see Wendall. So on Feb. 6, 2008, while others were huddled praying for safety, he said she might have been praying for something different.

"I just feel like the Lord answered her prayer," Shelton said.

Before the monster storm reached her doorstep, Tinker had the chance to call her son in Florence and her daughter in Rainsville to tell them she was okay. Perhaps she meant she was okay no matter what happened.

There really was nothing more Linda could have done. Her home was in a fight it couldn't win, against 180 mph winds.

"It cleaned her house off like you'd swept it with a broom," Shelton said.

The storm took 30 seconds. Tinker's body was found in a field 350 yards from her house. Her Bible was on the ground beside her.

For her brother Ronnie, there is much sadness. But again, he has found peace.

"I think God has a plan for all of us," he said. "What we do, when we'll leave here."

A makeshift memorial now stands where a house once stood. Shelton said he still stops at the site now and again to talk to his sister. But he knows she doesn't live there anymore. The storm is over, and arm-in-arm with Wendall, she's smiling that glowing smile. She's home.

"Now I know they're the happiest couple in heaven," Shelton said.

Shelton said he's also drawn strength from the community. The day after Tinker's funeral, Shelton said 150 people showed up to help clean up around her home and her brother's home.