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Frank and Karin.


As regular readers of this blog know, a few weeks ago my first grandchild was born. Bryce David is doing fine – gaining weight on mother’s milk. Life is new for him, and the long and winding road of life stretches out before him. I’m sure he will enjoy the ride. But as some sort of cosmic balance, on the very day that we gained a Terranella, we lost one.

You may recall last year that I visited by cousin in Copenhagen who shares the same name with me. While we were there, we got to spend some time with my cousin’s wife, Karin. Karin is the reason my American-born cousin has lived in Denmark for the past 40-odd years. Frank was seduced by the charms of a free-spirited Danish girl, and gave up a life in America to enjoy a long and happy marriage with her.

However, on the evening of the day (our time) that Bryce was born, Karin lost her battle with cancer. She was barely into her 60s. She was diagnosed just a few weeks before, and the end came rapidly. Perhaps that is a blessing. Frank was spared having to watch his mate for the better part of five decades suffer for months. She went quickly.

Frank and Karin’s story is full of memorable years together. And so it was more than appropriate that a memorable recording was played at her funeral. A Danish singer called Kira recorded a soulful version of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” in the style of Billie Holiday. That recording was played at Karin’s funeral. If you have never heard this recording I recommend that you download it immediately, particularly if you are a fan of jazz.

The words of the song are so poignant that I will never be able to listen to it again without thinking of Karin. And it seems to me that this song expresses universally the longing for a lost mate that is so much a part of life for many of us over 50.
The song by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal begins:

I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees, the wishing well

While the song became popular during World War II as GIs went off to war in Europe and the Pacific, what widow or widower cannot embrace these words? The lives of married folk are filled with little moments like this – a cappuccino at a small café, a picnic in the park. How could we not see our loved one after they are gone in all those old familiar places? The song continues:

I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way

I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you

Morning, noon and night we constantly remember a lost loved one, and live with the pain of separation. But the beautiful memories of a life together can bring us through. So, farewell Karin. You were taken from us much too early. But we’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places, and we’ll smile.