Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Week: My Beloved Grandmother!

Thanksgiving, one of my favorite American holidays are now right around the corner. I've told you guys before how much I appreciate and love this holiday. It is pressure free, at least for me. I don't have to cook. My sister-in-law Melinda cooks with some help from the rest of us, and a lot of help from her parents (my in-laws).
We always have such a great time over at Melinda's and Sam's house every year. I am looking forward to Thursday!

Thanksgiving is also a time when you can reflect upon the past year, think about your loved ones. As always my thoughts go to Scandinavia and my family there. The oldest member of our close-knit family is my BELOVED Grandmother, Signhild. She owns a place in my heart that is maybe deeper than anyone can ever understand. My Mormor is the most fabulous Mormor you can imagine. She is the sort of Mormor that you might dream of if you never had one. My Mormor used to sing a song for us, and still does for that matter, that goes something like this "ingen mormor finns som min, hon kan virka, sticka, sy, Har du ingen? det var skada, oj vad det var skada"...Roughly translated it goes something like this-" there is no other grandma in the world like mine, she can knit, she can crochet, she can sew. You don't have one? What a pity, oh dear what a pity".
So anyway, my Mormor lives in Närpes, Österbotten ,Finland. She has ALWAYS lived there, and she loves living there! This is in the Swedish speaking part of Finland. Born in 1918 on Stenö in Norrnäs on the family farm. She lived on that farm until she turned 86 back in 2004, she then moved into the city of Näsby to an apartment. We were all worried for her the last years when she lived on Stenö. Especially, in the winter time. The whole front yard is then covered with ice and snow and my Mormor had to go out to the barn and get fire wood. Her house did not have heating. She herself had to go out and fetch the fire wood from the barn, and she did! Every day, in every kind of weather. Was she ever scared? No, no she was only afraid when it turned in to slick ice on the ground, then she was scared. My Mormor never had a drivers license, and I doubt that she will get one now when she's 88. She went grocery shopping with her bike, or her moped or with her "spark" in the wintertime. I'll try to post a "spark" here for you Americans so you can see this nifty little practical thing that people in the country side in Scandinavia depend on in the winter. When she had to get into Näsby for some reasons, like the bank, doctors appointment, seeing her accountant etc she took the bus.
Stenö, the farm in Norrnäs, has this special place in my heart as well. I can honestly say that Närpes in Finland, and Particularly Stenö and our summer house in the archipelago of Norrnäs are number one in my world. IF I was to choose a place on earth I'd pick those places without a doubt.
I've spent all my summers, and a lot of sportlov (winter breaks) and a few Christmas breaks on Stenö. Oh the JOY when I saw my Mormors red house thru the trees from the road when we came in the car all the way from Åbo (Turku) in the southern part of Finland. We always take the ferry boat from Stockholm to Åbo. Närpes is located 300 km north of Åbo.
Mormor always waited for us with tea, coffee and sandwishes no matter how late we drove in. Morfar, my dear grandpa died in 1986, and after he died my Mormor was all alone on Stenö. Stenö is also quite isolated from the rest of the village of Norrnäs, she could see the lights and some of the houses from her own house. BUT she had no neighbors nearby.
In October of 2004 she said good-bye to her childhood home and moved into a one bedroom apartment in Näsby. We were all worried that she wouldn't like it there...BUT being my awsome Mormor she loves living the "city" life. I swear, the woman has thousand and one things going on ALL the time. Once a week she joins a group of "pole" walkers, you walk with skiing poles in your hands in a fast pace. She loves it! She has so many friends that she sees constantly, either at her place or at their places. It is a constant whirl of "fika" (coffee visits), shopping, dinners with friends, she has the church and the church yard within walking distance and you can bet on that she goes to church to sing with her still beautiful and STRONG voice now come Christmas season.
Sometimes she and her friends travel to Vasa to shop or see a play, they also go to the nearby towns of Kaskö and Kristinestad for a day out shopping and lunching.
It is amazing! Every time I call her she's always in the greatest of moods! She doesn't have a computer, she does not speak any English so she cannot read this post. BUT I'll make damn sure that it will be translated to her in my next letter to her.
I wish you all had a Mormor like mine! I love her so much!

My Mormor with her daughters, my aunt Lisbeth and my mom Ann-Mari.

Mormor and great-grand daughter!

Doing what she loves best! Crocheting!

Stenö, this is where she was born in 1918!


A Sparkstötting comes in handy during the cold and snowy winter months.

"In Sweden we call it a "kick"----My Grandma had plenty of "kicks" in her barn. She has one in Näsby now as well, naturally!


Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful post. I love your grandmother too! You are such a lucky girl to have such a wonderful family and to be so close to them. It's a special thing..

Anonymous said...

PS: I know I have never met your grandmother but I kind of feel like I do after reading this. You're right, she's exactly what everyone might want for a gramma. Sounds a little bit like "Elner" but not as whacky! Very independent and active. I know that's what keeps her so young!

Annika said...

Sara: She is the most wonderful person. The warmest heart, full of humor and wit. Interests:
Books (goes to the library all the time)
Reading the same magazine, Hemmets Journal, that she now has prescribed to since the 1930's.
Knitting, crocheting BIG with her!
Crossword puzzles.
Gardening...She still works hard in the summer time on Stenö with the yard.

I wish she could come to the US. But, that will never happen, I think. Luckily I see her every summer!

Annika said...

Duh...My BAD...SUBSCRIBED to the magazine, NOT prescribed to....One of my English language BUMPS...to tell subscribe and prescribe APART---SORRY!

Keith said...

Lovely post. I can see why you always look forward to seeing your grandmother. She's an amazing woman and an inspiration remaining active as she is. She's definitely not the one to let life just pass her by and makes the best out of whatever the situation.

Anonymous said...

Hey Annika! I can't speak, much less read or write ANY other language so..FAR be it from ME think ANYTHING if you make a boo-boo every once in a rare while!

Annika said...

Yes, she is a lovely person. And yes, she does live life! An inspiration is a true word.

Well, you know how it goes...
subscription, prescribtion...:-)

JaCal said...

What a wonderful post! Your grandmother is beautiful!! I lost my beloved grandmother a couple of weeks ago, so this one touched me a lot! I spent every summer with her, in red house up in the northern parts of Sweden... She was also a the greatest grandmother and so much of who I am comes from her and I miss her so much.

Annika said...

SO sorry to hear it! I feel for you! I really do!
Now you have her beautiful memories to cherish forever.

Monika said...

A beautiful post indeed!!! I agree with Sara, you are truly lucky to be part of such a big, loving and closeknit family. AND to have such a grandmother. I think it's great that she has adapted so well to her new life. She is also my hero for having lived in her house by herself for so long, doing everything by herself the way she did. AND for going shopping with the "spark" :-) More power to her!!

Annika said...

And you have met her!!! That is a good thing!
Yes, we are truly blessed having her! We really are.
As far as the "Spark" goes...Yes, she uses it when she can!

Anonymous said...

Linda - Want to go to Kasko - my grandmother was born there - she was the nicest person - sounds like your grandmother - I used to have relatives that lived there - my grandmother could speak/write Swedish and used to keep in touch - not sure if they still live there - maybe your grandmother knows them - they owned a store years ago - Hollfasts - Lovely comments about your family & Finland!

Anonymous said...

Linda - again - hey, if you know any of the Hollfasts let me know - also related to Virens(Warrens in US) & Walstroms! Would love to find out more about that area in Finland! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello - Linda sending out another post ! I would really like to know more about Finland, Kasko in particular. I have very fond memories of my beloved grandmother who would talk about living in Kasko Finland as a little girl and was so impressed with her ability to speak/write Swedish - she sounds so much like your grandmother! She has been gone many years now - and I would love to visit Finland - she was a Swede as well - living in Finland. She moved to NYC then to New Jersey and finally she and my grandfather and family moved to a beautiful area in upstate NY - a farm - and your pictures of Finland so remind me of where I grew up - no wonder she loved it there so much - it probably reminded her of Finland! She never drove as well and what a work ethic! She crocheted - beautiful intricate little lace doilies, etc!! Oh - and the best Spritz sugar cookies at Christmas - I have Swedish style furniture in my dining room - turn of the century and love Carl Larsson paintings - have several prints! As you can see, she made quite an impresssion on me! So, please, I would loved to find out a little bit more about that area and if you have heard of any of my relatives in that area - Sadie Viren was my beloved Swedish grandmother! I will never forget her . . .

Annika said...

Linda! I just happened to see this thanks to my sitemeter...Old posts like this one I rarely go into, and I don¨t have the "Send me an e-mail when i get a comment" on my blogger account.
Linda, send me an e-mail on kankaglen@hotmail.com
Looking forward to answer some of your questions!! Not that I know all that much about Kaskö, but I will absolultely tell you what I know.