“If I should stay, I would only be in your way…” starts the song that just about anyone in any genre of music knows. Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” has always held a special place in my heart. Even more so, it was the song that she dedicated in the memory of my sister in law live on national television last fall. Today marks 10 months since my best friend passed away and the sting of pain still hits as strong as it did when I first got the news. I know eventually it will be 1 year, then 10 years since that time. However, our family is blessed with two beautiful twin babies and my nephews, all who will carry on her loving legacy.
My sister in law, Karin, was perhaps one of the biggest Dolly Parton fans you would meet. No, she didn’t have photos all over her house or anything like that. In fact, she never got to meet Dolly. She did get to clog down at Dollywood while growing up. Going to Dollywood has been tradition with our family over the years.
Karin actually reminded me a lot of Dolly with her angelic singing voice, sense of humor, and the love of butterflies and the color pink. In fact, when Karin wore pink, whether it was a shirt or her lipstick, it wasn’t just any pink, it was “Dolly Parton Pink.” Karin was a nurse, and like Dolly, both cared for others.
Last fall my family got to meet Dolly on the Nate Berkus Show. Needless to say, I was shocked and honored to hear that she drove up to New York City to meet our family. She said that she was touched beyond words upon hearing the story of Karin. She ended up singing Jolene and then breaking into I Will Always Love You. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about what would Karin say if she knew the one person she looked up to was right in front of us singing in her memory.
To this day, I cannot listen to that song without thinking of that moment. The emotion felt sitting right there in front of Dolly Parton is one I could never describe fully. You had to be there to completely understand.
How will you leave your legacy when you say goodbye? My sister in law had a quote that stuck with me for a while: “”Try to always remember to treat others as God would like. Remember there will come a day when He will ask you about it.”
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.