Linda

My beloved friend and ex-wife, Linda Pakri, passed away on August 10, 2003 after suffering injuries in a fire in her apartment. She was just 49 years old.

My original weblog about this is here. A year later I created a long, detailed anniversary weblog entry here.

Here on this page I’ve posted some pictures and remembrances - my own and others’ - devoted to this very dear woman. If you knew Linda, I hope they help you remember and celebrate her. She was a wonderful person.

And unique. I place these here with still-shaking hand and broken heart. I miss her very, very much.

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Linda and I first met in the early spring of 1980 in Toronto, Ontario. At the time, I was living in this rooming house at 125 Lyndhurst Street.

We met because a mutual friend, Sky Gilbert, wrote a play that Linda was directing called “Phone Calls to J.D. Salinger.” Sky knew me from a previous show. Originally Linda had cast Alar Aedma in the role of J.D., but he had to back out; so Sky called & asked if I’d do it. I happily said yes.

Linda took this picture of me in the old Theatre Center on Broadhurst Street in Toronto sometime about April, 1980.

We started going out that summer. Our first date was a trip to see Jean Anouilh’s The Lark starring Lynne Griffin at the St. Lawrence Centre.

That fall we started living together, and I began taking pictures of her more often.

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Like this one. We went to the O’Keefe Centre and saw the live, stage version of The Rocky Horror Show. I bought Linda the shirt she’s wearing as a souvenir.

Turned out Linda was a natural ham and loved to mug for the camera. I also may be partial, but I think her face photographed extremely well.

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Here she is making popcorn in our little newly-mutual kitchen, sometime in the fall of 1980.

We decided that Christmas to take a ‘family portrait’ and ended up with this silly-looking thing. Yes, I’m wearing a CCCP hockey sweater, and we’re trying to do something symbolic with an ornament that isn’t working to brilliantly either. Oh, well.

On a better note: I asked Linda to marry me that November. She said no. Then, in December, she said yes. So right around this time we began making plans. We were very, very happy.

Linda had a cat named Liisu, who (obviously) had kittens. This is now in the spring of 1981. Linda’s had her hair curled for our upcoming wedding in March.

We gave all the kittens away but one, a little fellow we named “Trulla Lulla,” or just Trulla for short. (For you non-Estonian speakers, that’s pronounced TROO-lah LOO-lah.) When Linda and I moved to Queen Street in Toronto later in ‘81, Liisu ran away, so Trulla was our only cat. Then, in 1983 or so, he followed mama’s wondering ways and ran away too, in New York City.

Linda and I were wed in March of 1981 in a lovely ceremony in Toronto. I recently re-discovered the photos in a box in the basement of my parents’ house. I’ll post them here someday soon.

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That summer of 1981 we went to the Canadian National Exhibition for a day of fun. Here’s Linda preceding me down the midway.

I can’t remember where this was, but I’m pretty sure it was in Toronto, and taken that same summer.

On a visit to Galt, Ontario, my hometown, that same summer. This was in the back yard of my best man & good friend, Graeme MacLachlan, and his wife Cathy.

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Back in Toronto, in a park near Summerhill.

Again, taken in the summer of 1981. This is Linda sitting on the stone dock that Linda’s father built (single-handedly) at the front of their cottage. (The photo looks particularly dreamy because I made the shutter speed ver-r-ry slow.)

In 1982 Linda and I moved to New York City, which is a story I tell in my Acting Scrapbook. A few months after landing precariously in Brooklyn we took up more permanent residence at 80 East 3rd Street in Manhattan. Here we are sitting on our old couch there, sometime in early 1983 (both of us looking a bit bleary, I must say).

At first our life in New York couldn’t have been more vagabondish. We were illegal aliens and had no jobs and no real friends. Our dream of doing theatre seemed as remote as the moon. But we dug in our heels and grit our teeth - and within a very few years had founded Arts Club Theatre, had begun producing plays at a steady clip, got our green cards, and ended up surrounded by a family of talented people who made our life simply wonderful.

Linda and I frequently talked about this in years afterward. It’s something she was particularly proud of.

To survive in New York Linda and I both held various jobs. One of mine, lasting nearly five years, was as a clerk/typist/computer guy at a small midtown law firm by the name of Harley & Browne.

Here’s Linda in the vestibule of same during the winter of ‘83-’84, chatting with my co-worker Josseth Bennett ... and noticing too late that I have the camera with me.

Linda “posing nice” for me in our kitchen...

...and another day, on vacuum patrol.

In Linda and my marriage it was always a matter of curiosity who had the more work cut out for them in-law-wise.

You might think I had it easy. Linda was an only child - so there was just a mom and dad for me to keep straight. But to make up for no siblings Linda had the whole Estonian mafia thing going on - and with so many friends and friends-of-friends all over the world, plus assaying a new language, it was sometimes quite daunting for me.

But in return she had her own challenges. My mother, for instance, was one of four sisters, and that made for a significant number of cousins at family gatherings and holidays. Here we all are, at Christmas of 1985, proving the point.

But you know ... Linda positively shone at these times. All my aunts and uncles and cousins fell completely in love with her, and long after our divorce they always asked fondly how she was doing.

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In 1986 we took a trip to the West Coast. Here’s Linda on the pier at Redondo Beach, California.

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And here she is nestled under the wing of the Spruce Goose, which was then parked in Long Beach.

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At the close of our trip we visited the Jerry Lewis Telethon in Las Vegas as guests of our friend Bruce Charash. In the top photo, Linda’s sitting in the seats just before the general audience was admitted, about 1/2 hour before broadcast time. If you look closely at her smile, you can tell she’s a bit nervous. I think this is one of the dearest photos of her that I have.

In the second photo it’s many hours later; the blue light of dawn outside Caesar’s Palace, about 5am. We had to leave the show early to catch our plane, so we bid our farewells to Bruce and emerged, a bit shell-shocked, into the morning light.

Similar lighting, but in fact, a picture taken many months and miles later.

Linda and I made a trip - with Kathy and Marshall Hambro - to Boston for the Northeastern Theatre Conference general auditions in early 1987. This is in the parking lot of Boston College (I think), where the auditions were being held.

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Linda with our very good friend, Arunas Ciuberkis, at Bruce Charash’s 30th birthday party on Long Island in, I think, 1987 or 1988. This is another of my favorite pictures of her (and Arunas too).

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People have been sending me thoughts and memories of Linda via email for some time now. It occurred to me the other day it would be nice to share them, so you can find them here. Want to contribute a memory, or just a few thoughts? Send me an email. I’ll be happy to add your words.

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One last thing.

I think most poems about death, loss, etc., are sentimental junk, but this one is different.

 

by Christina Rossetti

    Remember me when I am gone away,
    Gone far away into the silent land;
    When you can no more hold me by the hand,
    Nor I half turned to go, yet turning stay.

    Remember me when no more day by day
    You tell me of our future that you planned:
    Only remember me; you understand
    It will be late to counsel then or pray.

    Yet if you should forget me for a while
    And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
    For if the darkness and corruption leave
    A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

    Better by far you should forget and smile
    Than that you should remember and be sad.