February 26, 2021, 98, Goldsboro –
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8)
Norma Lee Blackburn Kriger, 98, after a mercifully brief battle with Covid and pneumonia, cradled by the hearts of the family she adored, went peacefully to be with her Lord on February 26, 2021. Her family owes a debt of gratitude to all the “angels” who cared for her so tenderly on the Covid floor and through Hospice at Wayne Memorial Hospital, and to Sally, her precious home health worker, all who were beyond compassionate and loving, so our “Mema” surely reaped what she has sown all her life.
Norma was born in Duplin County on April 28, 1922 to David James and Katie Elizabeth Blackwell Blackburn. She shared a wonderful childhood with siblings Lonnie, Moseley, Sissy, Buddy, Merle, Dudley, Bessie, Eva, Noel and Julia. She completed high school and then graduated from Carter College. She was employed by Sears in the business office and later by Montgomery Ward in sales. But her favorite “job” was the volunteer work she did at Wayne Memorial Hospital for over 18 years. She loved helping families in crisis, and became an angel to many.
She was surely an angel to Edmond Kriger, the love of her life, whom she met at the USO in Goldsboro. They married and created a happy life together, which included three beloved sons. Their family fished and bowled and played cards and hosted the merriest of Christmases, and were faithful charter members of Brogden United Methodist Church.
In addition to her husband, parents and all siblings, Norma was also recently preceded in death by son Ray Kriger. She leaves behind to cherish her memory son Bobby Kriger, son Rev. David Kriger and wife Louise, daughter-in-law Mahala Kriger, grandchildren Steve Kriger, Bryan Kriger, Sherri K. Cox and husband Randy, Tracy K. Braddy and husband Greg, Joshua Kriger, Adam Kriger and wife Renee, Noah Kriger and wife Leslie, Carson Kriger and wife Adrienne, twenty-seven great grandchildren, and eight great, great grandchildren.
Due to Covid, her Celebration of Life service will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, in support of Norma’s three grandchildren who have Type I diabetes, will be welcome and appreciated.
Although Mema will be deeply missed by the family who loves her, she will be sweetly remembered for many things, foremost that she never met a stranger. Her heart opened to ALL. And everyone who was blessed to know her knew she loved to cook, and loved best by wanting to feed everyone. When husband Ed was in the hospital with heart problems and cancer, anyone who was nice to them got homemade goodies from her. Among many, family favorites are her cabbage rolls, chicken muddle, kielbasa, baklava, beans with tomatoes, corned beef, pineapple cake and peanut butter fudge; but she might leave out some of the ingredients when passing on her recipes, lol!
Mema was an attractive woman, gifted most of her life with thick auburn hair. She took great pride in having it styled just right, and in dressing “nice”: most often in a pretty button down blouse, vest and slacks, or an elegant suit, complete with well chosen jewelry. And if you dressed to her taste, she always let you know you looked “sharp”.
In addition to her trademark “big hair”, Mema was equally known for her big sense of humor; she was a hoot, and up until recently, always had a spark of mischief in her eyes. Maybe that’s what helped her be so enduring and brave. She even lived by herself up until her death, (with the aid of her faithful, loving sons and devoted health care worker.) Once, she simultaneously had a broken hip and arm on opposite sides of her body, and admirably modeled great resolve even in pain and many tough weeks in a nursing home.
Everyone knew they were welcome in her home, at any time, and she especially loved for her grandkids to visit. Every single one was for sure “the most beautiful’ little boy or girl “she had ever seen!” And even those now grown still believe she thought that.
Mema was also a yard saler for many years, leaving behind much costume jewelry and closets full of clothes for the granddaughters to remember her by. She also loved her yard, a gorgeous one tucked inside the extraordinary fence her husband built. Her roses could have won contests; and her vegetable garden at the back steps was always spilling with cucumbers, tomatoes and squash, awaiting her culinary magic.
Having to stop driving at 94, and having lost all of her many friends, the last few years have found Mema sitting in her comfy recliner watching tv, or the cats that came to her storm door, or the birds in her countless birdhouses; reading Helen Steiner Rice or devotionals; enjoying the meals son David cooked for her, or sons Ray or Bobby picked up for her, and talking non stop. And she might not could hear a lick, but could see from across the room if a hair on your head was out of place. And would tell you so!
Last but not least, Norma Kriger was a woman of great testimony for her Lord. So no matter who you were, when you left her warm home, you never parted with just a goody in your hand or tummy, you left with a lighter step, and because of her spiritual heart, “way more God” than you came in with.
Mema, you were the best wife, mother, grandmother and friend a person could have. We know many must have been delighted to see you dance through those pearly gates. Thank you for everything. We will try with all our hearts to continue your great legacy of faith, joy, compassion, hospitality, dignity, strength, and most of all unconditional love.