She was born in 1917 in a little village called Västerljung, about 70 kilometres from Stockholm, and although I never had the opportunity to ask her in person I'm pretty sure granddad was the love of her life!
As always, I'm sure others have different opinions on who she was, but this entry and my descriptions are how I knew her. This is my personal portrayal of who she was to me.
Most people would describe her as an extremely skilled baker and cook, and she was! For sure! People payed money for her services, baking and cooking for other peoples different festivities. She was also very good at knitting and taking care of their home and children (and grandchildren), but for some reasons these are not the traits I want to use to describe her. I'm sure she wouldn't mind, she loved doing it, but it feels like it's not nearly enough! She was so much more than that! She was a very strong and wise woman, so loving and caring. Her arms and heart were always open for loving or comforting hugs. She was a good listener and she always had an answer or a solution to your troubles. And strangely she always knew more than you told her, even if you were trying to keep some of it hidden when asking for her guidance.
I spent my summers at their house at Tullgarn when growing up, and I can still remember waking up to the sounds and the amazing smells of her cooking us breakfast. Hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. And boiling hot coffee for her and granddad. Boiled eggs from their chickens and bread with cheese and sausages. After breakfast she baked, almost every day, making her kitchen constantly smell of butter, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom. Absolutely divine!
We had a second morning coffee, or "fika" as we say in Swedish, outside at 10:00 each morning. She served us home maid (of course!) cardamom buns, sponge cake and cookies, and we talked about what was to happen in the day ahead. Always accompanied by a yard full of chirping birds of all sorts, as she and granddad always fed them some cake while sitting there. They actually had a one legged wagtail returning year after year to keep them company while having their coffee, and they talked warmly about it and anxiously awaited its return each spring. And besides their own cat Tusse, they fed three strays that came to visit each day; Pelle, Ettöringen och Ludendolf. I can see all of this in my mind, all the animals, the divine smell of the cookies mixing with coffe and the sunshine falling on my skin like a glittering rain through the branches of the big tree on the yard.
Grandad often went back inside getting his latest poem and then giving it to grandma to read out loud to all of us when enjoying our coffee. He wanted us to tell him if it was a good one or not, but mostly I think he wanted grandmas opinion. Sitting on edge while she read, looking out over the pastures and meeting her eyes only after she had finished. She was always honest. Always! And it made him a better writer, giving him perspectives he hadn't considered, I'm sure of it. I never saw or heard him be upset when she wasn't completely in awe or happy with the words he'd put together. He just went back inside, did some changes and then returned for her second read. And when they got published in the newspaper she proudly read them out loud to all of us again.
You know how they say that "behind every successful man stands an overwrought woman"? I think it was a bit like that for my grandparents, except my grandma really didn't mind. She was very proud of granddad, and she followed him when he went to different happenings to read his poems. I guess granddad was more at ease being in the centre of every ones attention, and grandma more content standing by his side. At least I hope that that was the case. I spent years getting to know my granddad better when I became an adult, but as my grandma died when I was only 18, I really didn't have the same opportunity with her.
All I know is that she was a truly remarkable lady, who loved us all unconditionally. She and granddad gave me the happiest days of my life, making me feel safe and loved no matter what. She wasn't just kind, she was also good at setting up ground rules and boundaries for us to relate to, and she was hard (but fair) when we disobeyed them. She expected us to be at our best behaviour, well manored, when having guests or being away on a luncheon or visit at their friends house. And when we did, she was almost bursting with pride! ❤️
I still think of the last time we met. Her last summer in life. She was very ill and knew that she was going to die. That our meeting probably would be our last. I was upset, because she couldn't stop looking at me. Her eyes filled with love and sadness. It frightened me because I wasn't at all ready to say goodbye. To even comprehend that she wasn't going to live forever. She went through her wardrobes trying to give me their towels, bed linen, curtains and tablecloths. I was about to move away from home, and she said I would have better use of all of that then her and granddad as she would soon be gone. Granddad was angry telling her to stop giving everything away, and grandma was upset with him for making her stop. I was there with my mother and we both ended up taking home a pouch each with towels and bed linen. It was a difficult good bye, but in my wildest dreams I never would have thought it was to be our last.
She died later that fall, and I never got to see her again. I remember granddad calling to ask me to write her a letter, and sending some pictures of me with it, because she had started to forget things. And I did. I wrote her a long letter telling her how much I loved her and how blessed I was to have had her in my life. Thankful for how happy and safe she had made me feel and what an amazing lady she was. She never received my letter, she died before it ever got to her. For years after she died I had nightmares of seeing her walk away from me, hurt that I had not said my goodbyes. In the dream I was always crying hard and calling for her, asking for her forgiveness, but she was always out of reach.
I'm sure she and granddad still enjoys their morning coffee while eating her amazing cakes and cookies, and looking at that one legged wagtail chirping by their feet while doing so. And I'm sure granddad still writes his poem and sits on edge while grandma gives him her feedback. And when they look at each other, their eyes are still full of love for each other and for us.
I know mine are! And pride, for being their granddaughter. ❤️
Over and out