Karin Katharina Kahnt Boyle

 

Karin (pronounced KAA-reen) was the third child of Dr. Karl Kahnt and his wife Margarete whose families had been Berliners for hundreds of years. She lived a life with her parents and siblings (Wolfgang, Barbara, Margarete (Grittli) and Elke) of privilege in a beautiful home that had maids and governesses. That was until  1941 when the bombing in Berlin got too bad and her family had to move to the Black Forest in Southern Germany.

They lived in the small home of her mother’s two friends from nursing school. Her Father was conscripted to serve as a doctor and was stationed in France where he was a POW for two years after the war ended. The life of privilege ended for my mother and her family and now they were living in cramped quarters, learning to work on the farms and in the fields so they could eat. We always thought it was strange when she told us about eating dandelions and thistles but now those are considered parts of a fine salad. As the war came to an end she recalled stories of trying to outrun the planes as they strafed the railroad tracks. Thankfully, she always did!

Mom was only 10 when the war ended. Even though times could be hard after the war, she had many fond memories of working on the farm, playing in the woods, walks in the snow, riding a bike (with no brakes), and so much more. When she was 18, she left for Hamburg to go to nursing school and when she graduated she went to Iceland for two years (before it was a popular layover destination) and worked in a home for the elderly.  She was almost drowned by one of her “frail” patients who suddenly regained enough strength to hold her head under the water while she was giving him a bath. Thankfully, one of her fellow nurses came to the rescue.

Mom had some wonderful times while in Iceland. She rode horses, hiked the beautiful landscape, went out on fishing boats and much more. She also had a great adventure taking a tanker ship for a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. She and her friends camped on the deck of the ship.

Mom loved adventure. In 1959 she and her best friend Ellen, got a sponsorship to come to the US. They had nursing jobs in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Ellen met her future husband, Tom right away and they introduced Mom to Tom’s best friend, Charles Boyle. Mom didn’t work long as a nurse here in the USA because Mom and Dad fell in love and got married in 1960. Andrea came along just like clock work and was born in Illinois. Mom had 4 children in 4 ½ years and everyone was born in a different state. (Mom’s life was going to be one of hard work and periodic tough times for the rest of her days.)

When Andrea was 6 months old Mom had to take her back to Germany to live with her parents because the financial situation at home was very difficult. Our parents saved the letters they wrote to each other during those months and it gives a great history for us on how much they loved each other but how difficult things were. They were so blessed to have her parents to help and although Mom missed Dad greatly, the months spent in Germany with her family was a joyful time for her.

She was very close to her siblings. All have preceded Mom in death, except our Tante (Aunt) Elke who is left to preserve these memories.

While Mom was in Germany she realized she was pregnant again and a few months after she and Andrea returned to the US, she had Christine (in a different state than she had lived in when she left the US a few months earlier).

Mom became an expert packer and mover even while caring for babies and toddlers. Patrick and Curt soon followed as did a couple more homes.

In the mid 60’s Dad got a good job in St. Louis and we lived in a brand new house and the girls went to Catholic school. That was a great 4 years which included a visit from her sister Elke and her husband. Mom drove a wood-sided station wagon (Woody) with Elke, Rolf and the 4 kids (aged 4 to 8) all the way to the Grand Canyon on Route 66! Mom had never driven on freeway before.

In 1969, her parents came to visit (she hadn’t seen them since she went back in 1961). Shortly after her parents went back to Europe, her mother was killed in a car accident. A year after that we moved to a suburb outside of Portland, Oregon.

The house we had in Lake Oswego and the neighborhood we lived in was the one Mom loved the most. She was able to put up a 12 foot Christmas tree (a live noble fir) and had candles on it just like they do in Germany. It was such a big deal that the local newspaper did a story on it. To see that tree all lit up, with the tinsel sparkling (she put that on one piece at a time) was something magical.

Unfortunately, we only lived there for a year and then we moved to Bellevue, Washington. Although we never left the area, Mom still had to pack up and move from townhouses to bigger houses to apartments at least 7 times. Not long after we moved here, Mom started cleaning houses to help make ends meet. Mom’s clients became her dear friends and she even cleaned for some of the children of her original clients. She worked until she was 85, until COVID hit. She didn’t want to stop but the timing was good as her vision and strength were weakening. When we let her client friends know that she was ill they all expressed how much they loved her and considered her family (some had known her for well over 40 years!) Mom was that way though. If you knew her, you loved her.

Mom’s passion was tennis. She loved to play and did so well into her 70’s. Mom was an excellent player and an avid fan. While other people’s parents would plan their weekend around football, our parents watched every game of every tournament around the world. She even won a trophy at Robinswood in a tennis tournament.

More importantly, she made some wonderful friends whom she continued to meet for coffee every Friday, even after moving to Redmond. In order not to miss her time with Johanna and Sandy and the rest, she even learned how to ride the bus.

The last time Mom went to Germany was in 2006. That was also the last time she saw her sister, Barbara. Mom, Barbara and Elke spent hours talking and reading old journals and taking walks. It was a wonderful time. Elke gave Mom the  happiest surprise of her life when she came to visit for Mom’s 80th birthday (mom had no idea until Elke walked in the door). Another wonderful time.

Mom was a  strong and often stubborn woman. But she did have a weakness and for a small part of her life she struggled with alcoholism. When she decided to quit, however, her stubbornness and strength came to good use and she put her heart and soul into it attending AA meetings regularly and never touching anything stronger than her much needed Vanquish for pain. Mom was sober for over 41 years and we are all so proud of her.

Mom had 4 children, 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren (with another on the way). She loved us all and showed it in so many ways. She went to plays, choir concerts, drill team competitions, dance recitals, and sporting events. She took care of us when we were sick (even as adults). She cooked our favorite foods or made sure to have our favorite ice cream or drink in the house for when we came to visit. She made sure the only boy of her many grands and greats never ran out of Legos. She was like a mother to her first grandchild. She always made her amazing jelly cookies for the family even though that got more difficult as her arthritis kicked in. She sacrificed for her family her whole life.

After our father died, Mom made her final move under much stress. It was a much smaller place in a town she wasn’t familiar with. But once she settled into Providence John Gabriel (PJG) Senior Apartments in Redmond she made a whole new group of friends whom she loved and who loved her back. In precovid times Mom would not miss a party or event. She loved to dance and to sing and to have ice cream. Mom was even in charge of organizing the bread donations from Panera. She could usually be found in the lobby socializing and was always warmly greeted by her favorite dog, Brandy. Those last 4 years at PJG were probably some of the best times of her life.

We want to thank everyone who showed our mother love and kindness. We, as her children, know how blessed we are to have had her for a mother. We hope you know how blessed she felt to have you as friends and family. Now we all have an angel named Karin in heaven. She is no longer in pain, she can see clearly and she is looking down on us with great love.

Rest in Peace, Mom, until we meet again… We love you!

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We are especially grateful to Evergreen Hospice for their kind & loving assistance in caring for Mom.
We would be honored if you would like to make a donation in her memory.
Link to: Evergreen Hospice

 

One Response to “Karin Katharina Kahnt Boyle”

  • Joan Foster says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful person, your mother Karin. She was such a warm, kind and loving lady, and I’m so glad I had a chance to meet her. I’m sincerely sorry for your loss.

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