I met her first when I was about fourteen, and a gawky mess of braces and braids and nervous energy. I was applying to join "Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ" and she was volunteering with the organization and doing interviews with each teen applicant.
I was also sweet on her youngest son, Ted. Perhaps that added to my nerves.
I remember how calm, warm, and strong she was. How safe she made me feel as we talked about some tough theological questions. She approved my application, and in all the years since, I've treasured her approval, because my respect for her was so deep.
Once in college, Ted and I fled to his home to talk with his mom and dad about some upsetting things happening on campus. She made cocoa - with real milk - and listened, and cared, and reassured.
She had a gift for reassuring, because her own assurance was so strong. Assured of her Savior's love. Assured of where she was heading.
Yesterday, Mom Hinck finally got to meet the Savior she served all her life - for 92 years - face to face. What a glorious meeting that must have been.
She touched so many lives - as a Lutheran school teacher, as a church organist, as the co-manager of a Christian bookstore, as a member of many boards and organizations, as a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She has been one of my dearest role-models of what a Christian woman can be.
In recent years, her memory became confused. Yet, her spirit was so firmly cast in a path of sweetness, that the sweetness still showed through. If there were times she was a little fuzzy on who I was, it didn't matter - she still opened her arms and welcomed me with a delighted smile.
I hope that my spirit can learn to be as firmly entrenched in a place of faith, trust, joy, and love as hers was, as I walk out my remaining years.
What a beautiful celebration she is enjoying today - in the presence of our Lord.