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Aunt Bonnie

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S: Sweet Reflections - The Gifts of Lori

FC: Sweet Reflections The Gifts of Lori

1: Dedication These Sweet Reflections are dedicated to my daughter Lori’s children, my dear grandchildren.* The Gifts of Lori which I have expressed on these pages represent only my thoughts and my own journey through memories that I consider to be her gifts . . . to me and to all of us. *And with deepest gratitude to Leon, Lori's loving Dad, and Sue Dvora, my treasured friend since childhood, who helped me every step of the way. by Bonnie Lindenbaum

3: SWEET REFLECTIONS The Gifts of Lori Lori’s Arrival - Our Miracle Loving a little girl is a splendid thing There’s so much happiness that she can bring She fills your heart with limitless pleasure A little girl is a priceless treasure . . . She can be dazzling, feisty or coy But whatever she is, she’s sure to bring joy Loving a little girl is a worthwhile endeavor That you and she will delight in forever! Lori Iris Lindenbaum was born on Labor Day, a most appropriate day for me to give birth. She was the older of two daughters, 2-1/2 years later her sister, Diane Joy arriving on Mother’s Day, another appropriate day for giving birth. Lori brought much happiness to our family for nearly five decades which was not, however, nearly long enough. She was a wonderful, giving, loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, wife, mother, cousin, sister-in-law and friend. But let’s not get ahead of my story . . . my story of Lori . . my Sweet Reflections. She arrived in this world at 9:58 on September 3, 1962, at 6 lbs. 7-1/2 ozs., 19 inches tall, and her father and I were ecstatic! She was named for her great grandfather, Isidor Steiner and was a healthy, perfectly formed baby with a head full of black hair. 1

4: She was a slow walker, waiting until she was 20 months old before taking her first steps alone and she did not actually walk until she was 21 months old. The orthopedist said she was hyper-flexible in her ligaments and double jointed, and predicted she would not walk until about 22 months (he was very close). He suggested exercises to be done with her legs and prescribed special shoes for her and the following year, when he saw her again, he was very pleased with her walking. Lori was a very early talker, making her first sounds at 7 months, which included “da-da,” “ma-ma,” “daw” (for dog) and from 17 months she was speaking in sentences, amazing everyone with her large vocabulary! Her words included, “Mommy, I want you;” “here it is;” “orange juice for Lori;” “Daddy’s coming;” and “pardon me” (after a burp)! She could easily repeat words like “dictionary, expedition, commercial and constitution” and her cousins loved to ask her to say those words. One of our family’s favorite recollections is when Lori was less than 2 years old, sitting in a high chair at an Italian restaurant where she said, “Please pass the Parmesan Cheese!” Another favorite memory was when she answered the phone one day when she was a little girl and Grandma Lillie asked where her daddy was. She responded, “He’s mowing the lawn.” Grandma Lillie said, “What did you say?” And she answered, “He’s cutting the grass!” 2

5: Incredible School Years My child took a crayon In her little hand And started to draw As if by command. I looked on with pleasure But couldn’t foresee What the few simple lines Were going to be What are you drawing? I asked, by and by, I’m making a picture Of God in the sky. But nobody knows What God looks like, I sighed. They will when I’m finished She calmly replied. School was where Lori excelled. As far back as first grade her teacher, Mrs. Kopke, said she was “an outstanding student.” Lori loved her teachers, as well as everything she learned. She excelled at reading and math and did very well throughout elementary and high school, earning many honors through the years. She had a lead role in the 7th grade musical “Anything Goes” where she sang “Heaven Hop,” a song her family loved to hear. The following year she was chosen for the lead role of Maria in “The Sound of Music,” where she wore Aunt Gerry’s bridal dress in the wedding scene. 3

6: Music was Lori’s passion and she was the only freshman at Glenbrook South High School chosen to perform in the annual Variety Show. She was also a member of Master Singers, the top singing group at the school. Her beautiful soprano voice was admired and requested often by the family at all of our “show-times” almost every Sunday night. The song she was asked to sing most often was “You Light up My Life” (an appropriate title because that’s exactly what she did!). She excelled in academics and graduated in the upper 5% of her class of approximately 2,500 students, which earned her the honor of being a Glenbrook Scholar. 4

7: We did not plan for her to attend Hebrew School but she begged us to do so and so she enrolled, learned Hebrew both quickly and proficiently and on February 28, 1976 became a Bat Mitzvah. Although she did not receive a Hebrew name as a baby, years later at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim she received her Hebrew name of Leah I-rit. 5

8: Lori made many friends at Robert Frost School in Prospect Heights and at Willowbrook School in Glenview. In her teen years she made new friends at Glenbrook South. She also made many lasting friendships at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, the camp she attended and loved for five years. How prophetic that it became the camp her daughter, Ciara, also went to and loved for five years. 6

9: Lori decided to attend the University of Miami in Coral Cables, Florida where she was awarded a partial scholarship in Music Merchandising. She formed many new relationships at college, including her first “true love.” She continued to get outstanding grades and added to our pride when she gave her Senior Recital, to which many friends and family were invited, and when she graduated Magna Cum Laude. 6 7

10: Her Illness Grab onto my hand, daughter, and let me lighten your load Grab onto my hand so together we can travel this road Let my being fill you with the added strength you’ll need I shall be supportive with my every word and deed Encouragement and love are what I’ll offer you right now And you’ll get through this, daughter, I promise yousomehow Grab onto my hand, daughter, and let me lighten your load Grab onto my hand so together we can travel this road. At age 15, after a wonderful Variety Show performance, we discovered a thickening on her neck which frightened all of us, especially when a biopsy confirmed it was Hodgkin’s Disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Even then, Lori was so strong and so brave. She had two surgeries and many weeks of radiation, as well as chemotherapy, and never missed a day of school. She begged us to keep her “secret” so that she would not be treated any differently from her classmates. She never wanted to be known as “the girl with cancer” . . . and so she wasn’t. She did everything her peers did--even more--and, as she hoped, no one ever knew she had been diagnosed with cancer. Although her illness may not have been considered a gift, it did make all of us much more aware of how precious life is and how we must appreciate every good day. Perhaps the gift was that she was cured (yes, that was the word that was used; it went far beyond “remission”) and that she was grateful for each day. 8

11: Her Amazing Personality “You light up my life You give me hope to carry on You light up my days And fill my nights with song . . .” Lori had the most upbeat personality! People used to say when she walked into a room it would light up! Her smile and her spirit were contagious. She was a very positive person who always used to say the glass was half-full, never half-empty. She loved life and believed we should cherish each moment. She truly exuded happiness. 9

12: Love of Family Sisters, sisters, There were never such devoted sisters . . . All kinds of weather, we stick together The same in the rain and sun Two diff’rent faces, but in tight places We think and we act as one . . .” Those were the words to the song Lori and Diane often sang together for the family’s “Showtime” (and for their parents’ 50th Anniversary Party). They did it so well! 10

13: Lori always enjoyed being with her Chicago grandparents, Grandma Lillie and Grandpa Brank, and often would spend a night sleeping over at their apartment in the city. Grandma Lillie used to take her downtown and they loved shopping for books. One of their favorite stores was the Stuart Brent Book Store and when Lori was almost 10 years old, Grandma Lillie bought her A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and wrote a transcription inside that said, “To Lori Iris Lindenbaum, the little girl who would rather have a new book than a new dress.” 11

14: Lori also loved being with her Wisconsin grandparents. We would travel to Sturgeon Bay a few times a year where she loved sleeping under her favorite thick comforter. The summer Lori turned 3, her Grandma Jennie and Grandpa Ben made a birthday party for her in their garage and her Wisconsin cousins attended. Grandma Jennie baked a chocolate birthday cake that was enjoyed by all. 12

15: Lori also enjoyed being with her Illinois cousins, aunts and uncles. We celebrated all the holidays together and she was always asked to sing for “Showtime.” Music was “in her blood,” 13

16: Her Extraordinary Gratitude “There is no way I could ever write a card to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for EVERYTHING you did for me . . . I love you thall my heart.” [Note: The phrase “’thall my heart” is one her Grandpa Brank used to say that was passed down to our own children and now to their children.] Lori never received anything from us without sending a thank-you note, like the one above and these words that follow: Then there was her email in April of 2007: “I know I tell you all the time but I wanted you to have something in writing you could keep. (I know how it feels to get great love notes because I get tons from Ciara!!) . . . I am very lucky to have you as my mother . . . Love you ‘thall my heart, Lori Iris” The last note we received from her was dated August 2010 after our fantastic family vacation with all 10 of us at Cherokee Park Ranch, a trip she wished for and helped plan: “What can I say? Thank you sooooo much for taking our family on the trip of a lifetime. I know these memories will remain in our hearts and minds forever (I can still remember our trip to Beavers 35 years later!!). This was really a chance for my children to experience something they’ve never experienced before. The scenery was amazing!! The food was fantastic. The activities were excellent. The people were great. Nothing could have been better (ok maybe no mice in our room!!) You are so amazingly generous always and we thank you so much for taking us on such a fabulous trip and sparing no expense. I feel so lucky and blessed to have two such amazing parents. I loved spending time with you and with our whole family. You are THE BEST. ‘thall my heart, Lori Iris” 14

17: Love of Work You loved your work so much - you did it with a flare To each and every challenge, you brought your special care You always did your best with anything they’d ask You were a perfectionist when it came to any task Lori had an exceptional work ethic and always wanted to do her best at any task she undertook. Her first job after college was with MCA Record Company; then came a company called Caribiner; and after that was Leo Burnett. Next was a promotional marketing firm she started with Ciara’s dad. She brought enthusiasm, energy and entrepreneurship to that successful venture. Some time later she was hired by Jacobs Agency and also loved the work she did there. But the role she cherished most was that of a stay-at-home mom. She loved being able to spend more time with her kids and was so glad she could cook for them, drive them, help with homework, etc. She was a fantastic cook and prepared delicious foods for her family as well as for company (mostly her parents!). Tyler often says no one’s chili is as good as his mom’s! 15

18: Love of Temple "There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer. With it beats the spirit of service, generosity and compassion and the health and well-being of our community . . .” Lori loved Temple Chai and the people connected with it! She raved so much to us that we left our temple after 35 years as members and joined Temple Chai so we could be with her and all her family. How those people loved her! We heard that time and time again. She and Rabbi Hart had a very special bond for more reasons than because they shared the same birthday. She thought he was special and he thought the same of her. She took it upon herself to suggest changes to Temple Chai’s logo and her design was approved and admired by the membership. She volunteered to be in charge of planning an exciting new spiritual program called Mussar but, unfortunately, was too sick to attend the event. Nevertheless, she was recognized and thanked by the speaker as well as the rabbis. In 2010 the temple presented Lori with their Volunteer Award which read “Outstanding Contributions of Time and Expertise to Temple Chai.” What a wonderful honor to a wonderful and deserving woman! 16

19: Her Children – Her Most Lasting and Cherished Gift “God takes so much away from us, but He gives back.” On July 22, 1997 you, Ciara Jennifer Kriegler, were born, our first grandchild. Your parents were thrilled and so were your grandparents. It was love at first sight! On August 30, 1997 you, Allison Mai Phillips, were born and when you were three years old you became a part of our family. We were delighted to welcome you as another grandchild. It was love at first sight! 17

20: On October 4, 2001 you, Tyler Benjamin Phillips, were born, the first boy in our family. It was love at first sight! Each of you has added a special dimension to our lives and we love being your grandparents. We also love being the grandparents of your cousins, Chloe Rose Cohen and Ethan Garrett Cohen, who live in Las Vegas. You all bring us immeasurable joy and we hope we can be a part of your lives for many more years. 18 18

21: Creating a Family Lori was thrilled when she welcomed her first child, Ciara, and gave us the gift of our first grandchild. 19

22: That exuberance increased when she married Doug Phillips and an instant family was born. What a blessing to have Allison Mai Phillips and Ciara Jennifer Kriegler become “special sisters.” 20

23: The gift of family was complete when our first boy, Tyler Benjamin Phillips, entered the world. And now, speaking directly to you, dear children, here are some heartfelt reflections: Your mom adored all of you and delighted in whatever you accomplished: your dancing, Ciara; your sports, Tyler; and your singing, Allison. She always called us to report some new undertaking you had accomplished; she kept us informed about your schooling, including tests, report cards and special programs; she shared with us her joys about all of you (and sometimes her concerns) and we always felt connected to you because of our dear Lori. 21

24: Doug, Ciara, Allison and Tyler were the loves of her life! Her dream of a happy family was fulfilled. 22

25: Birthdays and Special Memories We celebrated what would have been Lori’s 49th birthday at the same place we had gone for her birthday the year before. It was a Mexican restaurant she loved. Doug, Ciara, Allison and Tyler were all with us, having just returned from a few days in Michigan. Tyler remembered his mom loved the appetizer so, of course, we ordered that. The memory of Lori will be kept alive on her birthday as well as every other day . . . forever. The photo album of my mind Holds treasured thoughts of you, And I can almost see again The things we used to do. I hear your voice; I see your smile; I feel you close to me The photo album of my mind Shows how we used to be. Time may have changed us through the years But I will always find You’re just as I remember in The album of my mind. And, as I turn page after page, Such precious scenes I see The photo album of my mind Is very dear to me. It holds the pictures of our past Like reels of film unwind I cherish those sweet reflections In the album of my mind. 23

26: The loss of Lori leaves a huge void inside us but the gifts she gave us continue to be treasured. I was very sad on my birthday last year because my dear daughter was not physically with me. I missed the “singing telegram” she would have called with that morning and I missed the wonderful dinner she would have prepared in my honor. Our lives will never be the same and we will miss Lori for the rest of our days. She was truly an amazing woman who left her mark but was here too short a time. “If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever.” 24

27: And so, I hope these Sweet Reflections will be a treasure for each of you to whom I have dedicated this legacy of our beloved Lori. It was written with adoration and devotion. I hope you will never forget her love for you . . . nor mine. I love all of you ‘thall my heart. “We can shed tears because she is gone, Or we can smile because she lived. We can close our eyes and pray that she'll come back, Or we can open our eyes and see all she left. Our hearts can be empty because we don’t see her Or full of the love we shared. We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday, Or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. We can remember her and only that she's gone, Or we can cherish her memory and let it live on. We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs, Or we can do what she'd want—smile, open our eyes, love and go on.” 25

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  • Title: Aunt Bonnie
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