This is part two in the series Justice for Lynn. The story is a brief look at the life and the impact Lynn Kalmring had on others, as seen through the eyes of her only daughter and two of her sisters, as her killer, Kieth Wiens, is set to have his first escorted temporary absence from prison in just days.
Eight years after she was brutally murdered, memories of Lynn Kalmring still shine brightly in the hearts of family she left behind. Now some of those who were closest to her want people to know just a little of what she meant to them and others whose lives she touched.
The former Penticton nurse is remembered as a caring, compassionate person, someone quick to give love and healing to those in pain.
Her daughter Brandy Cummings of Penticton recalled growing up and at Christmas when her mom would open the doors of their simple family home to strangers in need of a hot meal or a little shelter.
“She just refused to believe that people should go without warmth or food and even though we didn’t have much she would give absolutely everything away, she was just a giver, always,” said Cummings who is now 40. “Seeing my own daughter (Ava) I see a lot of my mom in her. My mom and Ava would have got along so well, two peas in a pod.
“They’re both very magical people, they’ve both got that light, that positive drive, I really can see my mom in my daughter.”
|Lynn Kalmring during a happier time in her life. The Penticton nurse touched many lives in her all-too-brief time on earth. (Family photo)
Ava, who is now 14 in her first year of high school, was just six when her grandmother died at age 55 so her memories are not that strong but Cummings helps fill in the blanks wherever she can.
“Ava asks me a lot of questions about her grandma and that’s sad, but I just tell her mom was magic, she just had that way of making you feel better, if you were down she would pick you up,” said Cummings, who had been shopping for clothes for the grandkids with her mother just the week before she was killed by her common law spouse at their Penticton home.
Cummings admitted she and her mom didn’t see eye to eye during her high school years: “I was a jerk as a teenager but that changed the I grew out of that. We could talk about anything and I have a teenage daughter now, it’s funny when we were in the delivery room and we saw Ava was a girl, mom just laughed and said: ‘payback.’
“I guess that’s what makes it even harder and I feel like I lost half of who I am when she died.”
Shelley Pertelson of Salmon Arm was Kalmring’s older sister by just a year and the pair were close friends and along with their other sister went with their biological mother when the family separated.
The trio were very close, due in large part to their nomadic lifestyle, often moving a couple times a year.
Sharing a bed as kids with her late sister, Pertelson remembered the two of them one night getting up and making their favourite brown sugar sandwiches and having to toss them behind the fridge for fear of getting caught when they heard a noise coming from nearby.
They remained extremely close when they became adults and parents themselves, Pertelson being the last family member to speak to her sister, just minutes before she was shot.
“Lynn did amazing things with her life, she owned a hair dressing school in Penticton went on and did her nursing. She basically was the one who held our family together,” said Pertelson through her tears.
“When our other sister was passing away she looked after everything, she laid in the hospital bed with my sister while she passed, Lynn was just that kind of person.”
|Brandy Cummings with daughter Ava. Brandy’s mother Lynn Kalmring loved her grandkids immensely when she was still alive. (Mark Brett – Western News)|
She also remembered the many times her sister, who later worked in long term care homes, would talk about staying late at her job.
“Lynn was just a strong believer that no one ever deserves to die alone and she would stay with them if they had no family or friends, that’s who she was,” said Pertelson. “She had the biggest heart, the biggest soul, the biggest spirit.
“She always managed to find the good, because according to her, people always had some good in them.”
Talking to her sister in spirit shortly after Kalmring’s death, Pertelson promised she would take care of her children and grandchildren.
Kalmring also has a son, Joe, and lost another baby at six months of age from crib death, which her sister believes she never got over.
Pertelson still has a green sweater that belonged to her sister, one that she was wearing the last time they saw each other a few days before her death — and the last time they hugged, as they always did when saying goodbye.
“Every once in awhile I take the sweater out of my closet and it still has her perfumy smell on it and those are the things we hang onto,” said Pertelson.
“She never asked for anything from anybody except love, that’s what she was looking for.
“She had so much more to do, so much more to give, Lynn was such a big loss to this world.”
Pertelson still has a letter her sister wrote the last New Years Eve she was alive.
“As always, life has a way of throwing heartache and deep sorrow into the mix. Such has been the case for a few of us family members but amazingly we have endured it and even more amazing can still declare we wish to forgive, love and laugh.
“We fight for what we want… we stand by each other when the need is there and never falter. We are a strong family, let’s keep moving forward and truth and happiness will always be ours.” – Lynn Kalmring – 1956 – 2011.
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