Memories of a Schoolgirl – Afterward

❦ Afterward (2001) ❧

Henry Liz

Elisabeth and Henry,
Christmas, 1989

Henry had suffered a 10-year decline before his death in 1990, which robbed him of motor activity while leaving his intellect intact. Elisabeth took care of him at home with the aid of a home health care agency. Their children remember well how she would single-handedly hoist his large frame from bed to wheelchair and back each day. He died at home in the presence of both Elisabeth and Rosy.

Rosy had followed her sister to the US in 1952. She joined the US Women’s Army Corps, with Henry presiding over her swearing-in ceremony. Following her discharge, she worked for many years as a medical transcriber in Ohio, California, and North Carolina. She never married but had many suitors and at least one proposal of marriage.

Rosy WAC

Rosy joins the WACs, with
Henry administering the oath

In the summer of 1996, Rosy began to have peculiar symptoms of forgetfulness and depression. She could not tell us that Bill Clinton was president. Her preliminary diagnosis was severe depression, and an appointment was made for a brain scan to rule out anything more serious.

Her scan showed a grapefruit-sized glioblastoma, the worst possible diagnosis in the realm of brain cancer. The cancer is known to be aggressive, unrelenting, and, effectively inoperable. By October 22, Rosie was dead, at age 67.

As I write this five years after Rosie’s death, Elisabeth, at 76, still walks three miles a day, gardens, and her only complaint is a very frustrating word-finding problem which causes much of her German language to come to the fore as she forms thoughts and sentences. She alternately cries and laughs at herself, while busily keeping a tidy household.

— Katherine Louise Katz Register
Elisabeth’s youngest child

Die Drei Final

Rosy, Hans Jürgen, and
Elisabeth, in Durham, NC, 1990

HJ Adri Harp

Hans Jürgen with daughter Adriana
in Argentina, 1987