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Linda Kinkel's Journey By: Jeffrey Pears
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Linda Kinkel Ph.D June 8th,1952 - October 16th, 2006

Tributes to Linda Kinkel & Arlene Kinkel
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Linda's amazing life

'We Become Birds'  By: Michael Smith

Rendition 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.

n 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 standards.
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 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 can.  

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.

In the 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.

Dr. Linda Kinkel
June 8th - Oct. 16, 2006

In the 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.

Linda's 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.


Copyright 2018 Updated: 12/09/2018 08:30 PM
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