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Never to Be Left Alone

Freda Isaksen

I was born into a large and devoted family, there were grandparents, uncles and aunts and several cousins. I did not need many friends as my cousins were my constant companions. As fate would have it I met and married a man from another country and I became part of another large and closely attached family. There were eleven brothers and sisters living in the same small city with their spouses and children, so I was never lonely as I was greeted to join them and live with them in their home city.

Then came the tragedy of war. War destroys countries, loved ones and tears apart an accustomed way of life. However during the first months of occupation of Norway and our city the family refused to be separated and when we had to leave our own homes twenty-one of us lived together under desperate circumstances. At that time each individual family had to plan their own future so eventually it became necessary for us to part. I wanted to return to my former home and family in England even though that country was at war also, at least I would not be persecuted by the enemy, but travel during war time made that journey impossible.

So my husband and baby boy and I were left alone and as the occupation of our country continued we emigrated to the United States, then I became completely alone whilst he fought the enemy in the Philippines. But we survived it all and then started our own family and adapted to our new life as American citizens. But always alone and away from the people with whom we had such close relationships.

Inevitably the time comes when a couple must be separated by death and as the living spouse I endured the pain of loneliness and memories, alone again.

With my son I returned to the old countries and visited the cemeteries and graves of two families in two different countries and saw that even in death in most cases they were not separated. Spouses, sisters and brothers, parents and their offspring were laid to rest together and their names on their gravesites indicated that.

The names of those who have no burial sites because of atrocities of war and hatred are remembered on a granite monument with individual names engraved side by side, never to be forgotten or left alone.

But my husband, one of eleven children, is alone in a faraway resting place. I believe his spirit lives on in his home where I live with his former possessions and attachments, but his name stands alone at his burial place.

Evidently my son had the same thoughts as we stood together reading the familiar family names on the headstones for he said, “Dad should still be with his family.” He suggested that we make arrangements to place a commemorative stone on the graves of his parents. This has been completed and reads, “Micael Isaksen, their son. Born in Trondheim, died in Los Angeles.” And includes the appropriate dates.

Two years ago I traveled to the cemetery and dedicated the stone. So the memory of my husband remains in the country of his birth although his final resting place is six thousand miles away. So part of his spirit will always be side by side with his family and his name will never stand alone.


Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at math.wayne.edu.

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