Family Matters: Farewell, Dear Linda

It’s been a traumatic week for my family. My wife Laurie has three sisters. The oldest, Linda, collapsed while walking into work, completely out-of-the-blue. A blood clot traveled from her leg into her lung, depriving her brain of oxygen. By the time paramedics restored her pulse, too many minutes passed. Her brain activity went from 100 to zero and it was too late to bring her back. We lost our sister Linda this week.

My mind fills with so many lessons from Linda’s life. I’ll share a few.

  • Linda was a vibrant 78-years-young ball of energy. [I used to think 78 was old. I don’t anymore.] She was fully engaged with her work, family, travel, and multiple interests. Linda is a role model for my motto to “Never Retire,” literally running her husband’s ophthalmology practice till her last breath. That’s how she would’ve wanted it.
  • The pain of losing Linda is even more intense because we were so close to her, but that closeness generates memories that now help comfort us. As my law school “Canoe Brother” John Peper so wisely told me: “Experience has taught me that the intensity of the pain is in direct proportion to the depth of the relationship each of you has had with her. And the pain is unavoidable, as it is inextricably intertwined with the memories.” It again confirms what is most valuable in my life – my relationships with family and friends and the need to continually cultivate them. May we all live each day fully.
  • I ended last week’s post quoting my longtime client Jane, whose 7-year-old grandson Jack said the best part of their annual family trip was “being with family,” to which Jane responded “Amen” and “Bingo, we hit the jackpot!” The four Kriger sisters and their families live dispersed, but we gather regularly for valuable family time. Our greatest comfort now comes from all of us being with each other only a few weeks ago at a family Bar Mitzvah in St. Louis. We had no idea that would be our last time to all be together. We will forever cherish that time together and the attached photo. Bingo, we hit the jackpot!
  • I was fortunate to marry into the Kriger family over 45 years ago. The family welcomed all four of us husbands and treated us as part of the family from day one. Some families adhere to a “no in-laws” policy as a means of excluding in-laws. This family has a different kind of “no in-laws” policy – we treat each spouse as a full-blown relative, and no one is an “in-law.”
  • So many treasured thoughts fill my mind, but I’ll close with a Kriger family motto decreed by the sisters’ plain-spoken and wise father, Abe Kriger: “No matter what, you all need to get along.” There’s no shortage of strong personalities in this family, but everyone respected Abe’s decree – we all got along. Losing Linda is hard, but we’re grateful that our sorrow isn’t mixed with guilt.

Life is unpredictable. We lost Linda with no warning. I’ll sum up my message by urging us all to live each day to the fullest, love deeply, spend time with family, create meaningful memories, and “no matter what, we all need to get along.”

(To learn a bit more about our dear sister Linda, click on this LINK to read the eulogy I gave at her funeral.)

Rest in peace, precious sister Linda.

(L to R): Marvin & Laurie Blum, Peggy & William Adler, Diane & Barry Wilen, Linda & David Usdan. We lost dear Linda (oldest of the four Kriger sisters) this week, but cling to this memory of our last time together a few weeks ago.