Munich Nights Chapter 54: “The Book of Sorrows, And Some Last Farewells Said”
On the night Carin died Karen had been sitting in her usual but rather uncomfortable position by her friend’s bedside.
She had earlier kicked off her shoes and placed her tired feet onto the chair that she had carried around to her side of the bed. The same chair in fact that Hermann had been seated in just recently, before his delayed departure to Berlin for important political talks in forming hopefully a new government.
Karen had placed her stockinged feet onto the soft cushion and then dozed off. For some odd reason, she had dreamed about when she had first been introduced to Carin many years ago. In fact, this had been at a private sanatorium in Sweden. Both women were happily admitted as voluntary patients and enjoyed the relaxing amenities. Both suffered apparently a form of nervous anxiety according to the medical staff.
There one warm day Carin had tried to teach the younger women the complex rules of tennis. And as much as Carin persisted, she could never fathom the difficult rules saying in frustration to her new Swedish friend.
“There are too many loves for my liking Carin,” she had exclaimed laughing and deliberately dropping her racquet in mock frustration on the court and sighing with exasperation.
As they sat by the courtside Carin remembered a special tennis tournament she had seen some years ago being played in Paris.
It concerned a very popular French player of the day named Simonne Mathieu. “She was brilliant” remembered Carin “and moved around that court with the skill of a Russian ballerina. You know she once told a radio reporter who interviewed her that ‘on the court, my opponent is my enemy, my strong stuff.'” Then both women decided to leave the tennis lesson for the time being and enjoy a gentle stroll in the nearby countryside where it seemed the local deer were very friendly even to approaching strangers.
Then Karen was abruptly awakened from her light sleep with a gentle touch on her hand that had settled on the bedspread next to Carin. Karen stood up and searched for a beating pulse on the now cooling hand. But there was nothing.
Her dear friend of so many loyal years was now free from all her illness and pain. She paused and said a silent prayer in memory of Carin. She then summoned a nurse who agreed that after searching for the pulse that nothing could be detected.
Then a young doctor from England was called in by the nurse and then after a cursory examination, he declared that Carin had expired.
Then later the official death certificate was signed by the same doctor who offered it to Karen, he then offered his professional condolences and departed the still-sick room
The older nurse who had so kindly cared for Carin for several days had then offered her own condolences with moist eyes.
Karen then offered her as a gift, an unopened bottle of Parisian perfume and an unopened delicate monogrammed lace Belgian handkerchief. Simply, said Karen, to the surprised nurse, as a special thank you for all she had kindly performed so professionally for her, for Carin in her final days.
The nurse looked closely at the fancy box and then exclaimed with a smile declaring: “I know this town believe it or not. It’s where my mother’s younger sister lives. We go and visit her every Easter if possible,” she declared with a beaming smile.
Karen smiled as well at this unexpected disclosure and remarked: ”It really is a small world, isn’t it?”
Once outside the hospital, the same young nurse walked quickly with a smile on her face towards her waiting bus to take her home. She was delighted with the unexpected gifts. She had always liked and admired Carin Goering. But her political leanings – as were most of her family – were towards the communist persuasion. And she also had an important branch meeting that very night. She recalled what her old father a lifelong communist party member himself had often said to her if by rote.
“A race that spoils itself, destroys itself. Why just look at ancient Rome.”
Yes, she thought. Not understanding then what he meant. She certainly would now have something to inform her comrades about this night. But she would certainly not mention the gifts, just in case, it started an argument.
Then soon after and now still in the hospital, Karen collected her own belongings and some of Carin’s as well, after the nurse had departed. And then retired from the hospital to now hopefully search for a passing taxicab. But not before as a final gesture of love she had performed a farewell gesture on her departed friend.
She had slowly brushed Carin’s hair, then placed a smear of lipstick carefully onto her departed friend’s parched cracked lips with her little finger. Then she dabbed Carin’s face with a light dusting of L’oreal face powder. Then she leaned over the now still serene body and kissed Carin’s forehead saying softly, “Hejda tills vi traffas Igen kara vanner” (goodbye until we meet again ever a dear friend).
She had earlier considered removing Carin’s rings for safety. But decided she would talk to Hermann later about that. Then using the requested hospital manager’s personal telephone, she dialled her own home number in Munich and informed Walter of the sad news.
She knew it was probably what he and others had always expected for some time. And strangely enough, Walter was now at a loss for words as to what to say to her. Offering a weak “I’m so sorry darling.”‘
He would later inform Heinrich and Adolf of the sorrowful news.
Heinrich had suggested that Joseph (Dr Goebbels) inform the press by suggesting they prepare a suitable obituary for this sad occasion. Joseph did indeed compose the personal obituary himself. One of his finest he thought preparing for the party’s own daily newspaper “The “Volkischer Beobacher.” He also requested a black border to enclose the newspaper’s front masthead to highlight the announcement.
This also showed on the front page a delightful unpublished studio photograph of Carin being carefully posed against a garden background somewhere in Bavaria. It was to be placed he insisted above the newspaper masthead simply reading: “Death of Countess Carin Goering, the beloved First Lady of our Party.”
Interestingly enough, the largest and most popular Swedish church was then located in the “Mitte” Berlin district.
The church authorities and elders had quickly decided after her death was announced to open up for display a “Book of Condolence.” And had placed it next to a simple black and white studio portrait of a seated Carinonto wooden easel. Looking quite sombre as she looked somewhere into the distance thoughtfully.
This had been set next to a china vase of freshly cut Swedish flowers placed on a polished walnut antique desk. A heavy thick nibbed fountain pen lay next to the heavy “Book of Sorrows” as well as two unlit tall candles in a pair of heavy brass antique candlesticks on either side of the open book.
The embossed book of personal memories was indeed quickly filled with loving personal remembrances and recognitions by so many people who barely knew her it seemed, both Karen and Hermann had been later informed by the pastor. When they later read with much emotion some of the sincere moving written moving tributes to Carin.
Surprisingly Karen had noticed that none of the cut flowers had faded or wilted at all.
How unusual she had thought. Then deciding she would later acquire just one of the flowers if possible. To keep as a lasting souvenir of Carin’s life. And to be enclosed inside the old Familly Bible.
To be continued……
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell