An Arbor of Memories
Kenneth Van Auken's job as a bond broker bought him the house with the yard in East Brunswick, N.J. But his passions for carpentry and gardening built the cedar-wood arbor in the yard where his widow, Lorie Van Auken, now goes to grieve.
Mr. Van Auken, 47, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and left two children, finished the arbor a week before he died. Last week, the clematis plants that the Van Aukens picked out together for the arbor came in the mail. Mrs. Van Auken planted them with a friend at hand to keep her from crying too hard.
Not far from where the pink flowers will crawl up the arbor, a big old maple stands dying, its leaves brown for months. But it is being allowed to stay for now. "My husband loved this tree," Mrs. Van Auken said. "We had decided to wait till spring to cut it down. Give it one more chance to go green again."
While Mrs. Van Auken is gardening to confront her loss, their 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, has written and recorded a song, "Daddy's Little Girl," that has been played on pop radio stations.
"Daddy, are you there?" the song goes. "Cause I've, I've looked everywhere."
"Maybe you'll appear, somehow whisper in my ear."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 24, 2001.