When my mother became pregnant she was 18. I was not planned, and I did certainly not come in an appropriate time. She was in her last year in college, and hadn’t made any plans for the future. Now all her plans had to include a baby…Since she only had 6 monts left, she couldn’t quit school, that wouldn’t be right, so she had to finish the school year. But who was going to look after me, the baby? My great-grandfather and my great-grandmother, Edna and Olav.
Every day for six months they fed me, changed my diapers, talked to me, sang for me, and were my parents. When mom had finished college we moved to another place, Mom, Dad, and me. All of us missed Edna and Olav, and it was harder without their help. But every vacation we visited Pipe Bay (Rørvik), and I was always with my great-grandparents. My great-grandfather read stories for me, and I used to sit on his lap, and he would tell me about when he sailed to Africa. And I would always be ever so amazed each time he told me how huge the waves were. I would sit there and wonder where the rest of his thumb were, and look at his old transparent skin…
I used to sit on his lap every night and watch the news with them. And sometimes, just sometimes, I would be really lucky, and he said that I could sit at the back of his moped when he was going shopping. But one Christmas when I came to visit he became ill. Really ill. And on Boxing Day, he was sent to the local hospital. There he was for a couple of months, struggling to hold on to life, and my great-grandmother before he died in the Easter of 1993.
My great-grandmother was heartbroken, and cried a lot. I can remember her sobs and moans in the night, and how hard it was for me to keep MY tears away.
But my great-grandmother wasn’t just my great-grandmother, she was also my best friend, and my “extra” mother.
When I went to Pipe Bay to stay with my dad…I lived with her instead. I was spoilt! Can you imagine, a child, living with an old, too kind great-grandmother? Everyday she made me fried eggs before I went to school. For lunch she always made rolls for me to bring. And everyday I got money to buy sweeties on my way home from school. Sometimes in the evenings she would tell me about the second world war, and other exciting things that happened in the past. She said so much fascinating, it was worth writing down, but I never did…
In the Easter, the year I was twelve going on thirteen something happened to her foot. It swelled up. She could barely walk. She had to use crutches to move around the house with. I t would take a long, long time before she answered the phone when I called her. I would hear how happy that thin, old voice would become…
The summer before I started “high school I came to visit as usual. My great-grandmother was worse than ever, there would be days she wouldn’t come out of bed. It was hard for everybody around her to accept the fact that she was as ill as she was…and it was even harder when she said that she just wanted to go to heaven, that she just wanted to die.
In the middle of the summer my family and I went to the Sates to visit mom’s “exchange student”- family. I can remember the day we said good-bye as if it was two weeks ago. The sun was shining, and she had just made me the last portion of fried eggs. She was crying, but I hid my tears behind my sunglasses. When we drove off to the airport she stood out on the road and waved, trying to smile behind the tears.
When we’d been in Minneapolis for a week or so, we drove up to Alexandria to visit some relatives. We went to their cabin and stayed there for four days. I was having a lot of fun, but when I came back Bob (the “exchange-dad”), told me that my father had called and that my great-grandmother had had a major heart attack. I felt tears pushing through. I couldn’t breathe. I knew that she wasn’t necessarily dead, but I just had a bad feeling about it. When I called my dad, he told me. “She died yesterday, darling, it was probably the best”. I cried and cried, and no matter how many times they said that she looked like an angel, and that it was the best, and that this was what she wanted…she was still dead, and she was still my great-grandmother.
My pillow was wet for many months after that summer, I still shed a tear once in a while (like now for example). But no matter how hard I try to keep her in my memory, she’s slipping further and further away.
-HOW I LOVED HER-