'We Become Birds' By: Michael Smith
by performed by: Eric Kinkel and dedicated to my late sister Linda
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This page was written originally, in
2004. Linda passed away October 16th, 2006. I
thought I would keep this story here as a
reminder of the struggle's my sister
endured along with our family.
This is the true story of my sister, Dr. Linda
Kinkel, as only I can relate it. Revealing the
nature of how Multiple Sclerosis crept into what
should have been a normal life consisting of a
lively career in environmentalism, ecology, and
ornithology. How it ripped into the fabric
of a my sister's life and the life of our
family, friends and even destroyed a marriage.
How it continued to keep a stranglehold on an
intelligent mind, the mind of my beautiful
sister Linda with whom I had always understood
and continued to love and strive help in
what ever way I could. E.K.
the fall of 1993, my mother called to tell me that the
left side of my sister Linda's body had gone numb, and
that she was scared; What could it be? A stroke? Could
my sister become paralyzed? What was the worst to come?
At that time Linda was 41 years old, young by most
She was married with no children, but had a vibrant
career as a writer, poet, and ornithologist; she was a
champion in environmental affairs, she studied birds all
over the world, she loved to travel and write, she had
many friends who shared her passions. Now what? One year
later, and after many tests, Linda was diagnosed with
Multiple Sclerosis (MS). What next we asked ourselves?
Linda had always been a stubborn individual, opting to
go it alone when things got rough,
so it made sense when she started to seek her own
natural treatments to fight this disease. Mean while, my
Mother and Father, Chris and Arlene and my other sister
Nancy Gamss and her husband Brad, our cousins The
Schawks and I,
helped out where we could, Linda sought out treatment
after treatment, everything from bee sting therapy to
different diets, oxygen therapy, vitamins, a variety of
drugs, and physical therapies. and finally a treatment
that could hopefully reverse her MS, stem cell
replacement. SCR is primarily used to reverse auto
immune and blood cancers such as leukemia.
Hopeful and brave, Linda went ahead with the gamble that
this procedure would work on her already advanced form
of MS. The doctors still were not sure of this procedure
and its effectiveness until they could see how it worked
in more than the one other test subject, who received
the same procedure rather successfully a few months
earlier. After enduring a long hospital stay and many
painful tests and trials, the procedure seemed mildly
successful, and then tapered off to becoming almost
completely ineffective. Linda did, however, receive a
new immune system from the stem cell procedure.
Several years have gone by now, and Linda's condition
has progressed to the point that she is completely
bedridden and in need of constant 24/7 care. Linda lives
with her two care givers in a house in Maple Park,
Illinois, about 50 miles west of Chicago. Growing up the
youngest with two older sisters, I was often pampered as
a kid, I was frequently looked after by my older
sisters, that is until the sixties came along. We all changed a bit as we got older, but that
never made me stop remembering my sister as the
ever-boisterous rebel and political antagonist, yet
always understanding her little brother so well, sister.
I think she knew that I had been on the sidelines for so
long as the youngest sibling, that I could see the big
picture just as she did...in the most intelligible way
beyond that of most.
Linda always admired my musical abilities,
I admired her creative talents, and in that way
I share my life with her; as I try to help her now as an
adult with her trials and tribulations. I visit her when
I can, and I try to balance life's pleasures and
heartaches with the best memories of my childhood
growing up with my both my sister's.
I love her very much and I am very proud of how she she
made her particle being, and existence matter in a large
way. I will try to give her back what I
Through the years Linda remained in the throws of MS, a
disease which has consumed her, she has managed her self
through treacherous times that have taken their toll on
her such as; divorce and a myriad of health
complications. Linda has suffered from depression,
loneliness, feelings of complete helplessness, and
thoughts of suicide are only complicated by her
increasing inability to talk. Our family has
struggled with Linda's illness along with her. It numbs
your heart as the years go on. Not, that we don't love
her, but that our in ability to really heal her out side
of the reach of medicine, complicates what we can truly
do for her.
summer of 1997 I performed the first of 3 benefit
concerts raising money to help Linda out with the
enormous costs of her in home healthcare. All 3 Concerts
were produced by myself, while all of the Musicians who
fronted my Band volunteered their time and talents. Many
family, friends and fans donated to our cause, in turn
we were able to help Linda out in an extended way. The
Schawk family helped out in ways
only my mother knew. I was grateful at all times for any
assistance, as was my sister.
Alongside help from of my Mother and
Father, my other sister and brother in law Nancy and Brad Gamss, our many extended Midwest family cousins,
the Schawks, we all came together to
help keep Linda comfortable in her own home for 10 of
the 14 years in which she was completely bedridden and
in need of constant 24/7 care.
June 8th - Oct. 16, 2006
fall of 2005, we were forced to sell Linda's house and
move her to a nursing home where she passed away nearly
a year later.
Since Linda's passing in October 2006 I have begun
to feel at ease with her untimely demise. I continue
to look back with a spirit of reverence, keeping her in
mind at all times.
Her ashes were
respectfully laid to rest in the fox river in Illinois,
where I find solace and a true north particle
existence - bond with her ever evolving life.
life-story is that of
hardship and heart ache. One which begs to be recognized
with a respectful gesture of love and regard for a life
filled with purpose, one which endured and ended in far to much pain
and suffering. As difficult as they may have been, I
will always remember those treacherous years. She knows
where she is, as do I.
71 days later out mother Arlene Kinkel passed away
December 26th, the day after Christmas.
01/10/2016 02:58 PM
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