A Sad Day . . .

I haven’t posted much recently; just getting ready for the Great Adventure and all that.

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Taken at lunch during my visit in August, 2017

But this morning I had a phone call from my RN sister to let me know that our last Auntie passed away today at 6.35 am, in the hospital. One of her daughters and one of her sons were with her and it was peaceful, which is good. She went into hospital last Thursday with a bit of pneumonia in the bottom of one lung as well as feeling very tired. She has had a bit of a heart condition for some time. She would have been 93 next month and we are all lucky to have had her in our lives for so long. I spoke with her on the phone nearly every night since I went to Tacoma and the calls were always different. We shared such a variety of interests and life experiences. Plus she had so many stories to tell about her youth, growing up with my Mum and the rest of her family.

All the women in our family did some sort of handcraft; the doily was made by this Auntie, the bit of blue is a detail from a small afghan made for her by my Aunty in Edmonton and the runner on her dresser was woven by my Mum. The wee wooden sign is typical of the humour enjoyed by all our family and especially the women . . .

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This is a photo of a photo. I took the original when she was visiting Mum and me at Mum’s house in Edmonton, so back before 2006. The china cabinet belonged to Mum and Dad and held a few of Mum’s keepsakes. The wooden plant stand to the right was made by my Dad, who could make pretty much anything. The rocking chair is the one that belonged to my Great-Grandmother, mother of my maternal Grandmother who died in her early 40s. My Great-Grandmother, my Mum’s Aunts, my Mum and myself have all rocked in this chair, holding our babies. It was located in one of Mum’s Uncle’s basement in pieces and my Dad lovingly restored it. The tooled leather seat is the original; the only new bit is one arm spindle, which was missing. Dad made a new one that matches so well it’s hard to identify which it is.

IMG_1918This pitcher belonged to that same Great-Grandmother, who helped to raise the younger kids after their mother died. I heard so many stories about her as I was growing up. The girls, especially, would stay with her for a week or so in the summer and if they were very good during the day, the big treat was being allowed to brush Grandma’s hair before she braided it and got ready for bed. It’s hard for me to imagine a child finding that to be a treat these days.

One of my favourite stories from the days when mum and her siblings were growing up was of the time Mum’s next older sister (Mother to the cousin I’m currently living with and married to my Dad’s next older brother), Mum and this Auntie were up on the roof of what was called the bunkhouse. In the summer, the boys slept there and all the kids played there at times. The main house had one bedroom, which was the parents’, a kitchen off the main living room, where the six girls (one had died at age 10) shared two double beds and the three boys slept on a pull-out bed in winter, when the bunkhouse was too cold. Anyway, the three girls were up on the roof hammering some shingles back on (they had blown off in one of the frequent storms of the ’30s). This Auntie was a few years younger and not so obedient as her sisters might have wished. She was sitting there and reading a book, deaf to all entreaties that she help with the job. So the other two worked right up to her, hammered a nail or two through the leg of her shorts and went on to finish the job. Then they climbed down and took away the ladder, with this Auntie seeming oblivious to everything and immersed in her book. Of course, it wasn’t long before she went to get up and discovered her predicament. I gather she raised quite a fuss before they relented, brought back the ladder and set her free again. This was a cross-stitch kit that Mum had. You will see on the roof of the wooden bridge (meant to represent the bunkhouse, of course) that there are two ‘M’s, actually Scorpio signs, I think. Anyway, they were what Mum had to hand and she stitched them on as symbols for herself and this Auntie, as both their names began with ‘M’. This story still makes me smile.

 

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Also taken during my visit in August

This Auntie and one of her brothers went to Norway almost exactly 20 years from when I am going to the UK. They were there for the big 17 May celebration, Constitution Day. They went to Lillehammer and saw the house where their father was born and lived, I think until he and two brothers emigrated when he was nineteen. I have been told that we still have family living in that house, although the cousins my Aunt and Uncle visited are now gone.

They also went to Trondheim. Their Mother was born there or near to there and the family lived in the area until they emigrated in 1900. My Grandmother was only nine at the time. While in Trondheim, my Auntie and Uncle met the minister of the Nidaros Cathedral and got to walk down the aisles and sit in one of the pews. We think the family may have attended church there.

My Auntie was only one year older than I am when she made that trip, which encourages me. She spoke so often of wishing she could make one more trip back and even though we both knew it was not possible, we would pretend it was and talk of where we would go and what we would do. I told her she would have to be prepared to camp out at the rock concert but that there would be a Ceilidh the night before and she could dance at that and then again during the concert (my ticket is for standing, not for a seat). She loved to dance so much and would have had a wonderful time. I told her that I would take her with me in spirit and would visit on my return so she could see my photos and hear my stories. I wish with all my heart that was still possible. We talked sometimes of the fact that she might die while I was away or even before and had an agreement that if so, she would accompany me even though I would not see her. I truly hope that is possible.

I am so glad that the last words we exchanged before she went to hospital and again while she was there (during a short conversation on my cousin’s mobile) were “I love you so much.”

She ‘kidnapped’ me once when I was new and I shall share that story another time. In spite of the inevitability of this day, I still feel sad. But she was ready to go and I am also content. It was the passing she wanted and what more can any of us ask for?

Only a little music for today:

Sissel Kirkjebo of Norway singing Going Home

and Runrig of Scotland singing their own Going Home

Take care of yourselves, my friends. You are in my heart today especially.

13 thoughts on “A Sad Day . . .

  1. Your post is a beautiful tribute to her and her amazing life. You were indeed lucky to have had her in yours for so long. The braid story reminded me of something personal – when I was little, I used to love brushing my gran’s hair (although it wasn’t long like your aunt’s). It was so soft and silvery, like fairy candyfloss. Apparently I once said, “Nanna, when you die, I’m going to cut your head off and keep it so I can brush your hair every day.” That still makes me laugh. She went very peacefully and painlessly, like your lovely aunt. xxx

    • Jill, that’s such a lovely story; you made me laugh, too. It was my Mum’s grandmother who let them brush her hair, all the girls in that family had long hair once they grew up, but the Auntie in Edmonton occasionally had long hair in her late 80s and 90s because it was hard for her to get to a hairdresser. She let me cut it for her in the later years and I used to tease her that she should just let me braid it in the old-fashioned ‘crown’ that was popular back when her own grandmother was young. But she was very fashionable for most of her life and wasn’t having an old-fashioned hairdo. I would have loved it, though. I wish mine was like my Mum’s family; thick and long. It’s long, but thin and if I braid it, it tends to look strange if I try to make a crown. I do sometimes braid it, fold the braid and use a clip to hold that. I have a lock of hair from some of them; another old-fashioned practise, but one I like. I’m odd that way . . .
      You were so lucky to have a grandmother; I missed that all my life and still do.
      Well, I have a post to write and plenty of crafting still to do, so off I go. Love and Light to you and hugs, too. Hope you are finding time to play in the garden as well as paint. ~ Linne

  2. So sorry to hear of your Aunt’s passing. You have such a rich history with your family. It’s quite incredible. My dad made it a point to cut himself and us off from his family as much as possible as he felt they had little to no ambition and cared not to educate themselves or broaden their views. We saw our cousins only a few times in our lives but I lived with my grandfather and great aunt for a year while trying to recover from a nervous breakdown at 14. The best year of my life and it saved me. They all live far away and rarely hear from the cousins on rare occasion through Facebook. Kind of sad. I’m getting a bit more time for myself now. So I can spend more time here visiting you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Marlene. In fact, I was quite isolated from my family for much of my life; I only began really re-connecting after moving to Edmonton when Dad was ill. I was just too different from the rest and my choices in life were not approved of. Everyone sort of relaxed, I think, as we got older and that was good. It didn’t help that I lived for about 30 years on Vancouver Island and even more than two years on South Pender. I loved the Islands, but it’s hard to visit anyone unless you have money. Also very time-consuming. It’s been the same with my sons; one moved to Vancouver in his early 20s (he’s now near Shawnigan Lake north of Victoria) and the other has been on Saltspring Island since shortly after I went to Edmonton and was in Vancouver for a few years before that. It’s a big deal to visit either of them.

      I allowed my sons to have more choices than I had growing up, or felt I had anyway. Like not cutting their hair until they asked for it. My family like the military cut for boys as a rule. (not that we were a military family; it was just similar to the cultures my parents grew up in), so I tried to insulate my boys from the inevitable criticism and pressure to conform. In the end they both have very short hair, which is rather funny now.

      For the first nineteen years of my life, until I left home for a short stint at Uni, we saw a lot of the Aunt and Uncle who were sister to my Mum and brother to my Dad, along with their son, who is the cousin I have been living with for the past year. And I had only seen him a few times in about 50 years, most of those when he brought his Mum to Edmonton to visit my Mum and Auntie. Moving to the Island changed things and dropping out of Uni and then the changing times, as well as the distance, made estrangement easier than I would have thought possible. I wish it were otherwise, but that’s the way of things . . .

      I wouldn’t wish a nervous breakdown on anyone, but I can understand it, I think. You were lucky to have that year. Distance certainly makes it harder to stay connected or to re-connect, I think. It’s too bad you live so far apart. I find it hard to feel distanced, even when it’d due to my own choices.

      I’m glad your time is freeing up. And that you have dropped by to visit. I still have a couple of emails from you to respond to, as well as a couple of drafts waiting for some attention. But you are not forgotten.

      Much love to you every day. And peace and creative time, too. See my response to Sue re: the email situation. I hope to be back writing soon.

      In the meantime, continue to take good care of yourself. I’m sending some extra big hugs your way. ~ Linne

    • Thanks, Kym. I appreciate that. And yes, lovely memories. I can hear her voice in my mind and I love that. She still had a touch of a Norwegian accent, as did all of them. I shall miss her very much. But I’m also grateful for all the long conversations; it was as good for me as it was for her. I hope things are well with you. I still haven’t begun actually sewing, although I have several items cut out and ready to go. That was scheduled for this afternoon and then I spent well over an hour on the phone setting up my absence with the cell phone provider. I can’t use a cell phone here as there’s big hill between the house and the tower, but I use it when we are shopping and want to go our separate ways. Very handy.

      I hope your cooler weather has arrived, or at least will do so soon. Temperature was up to plus 16C here today, but we had snow a couple of day in a row this past week. So hard to know what to expect! There is already flooding in some areas but not here yet. And one forest fire about an hour away, human-caused of course, and they got that out quickly. Still, we are hoping to skip the fire season this year.

      Love and big hugs to you. ~ Linne

    • Thanks so much, Jan. You are very right about that. There are more stories and I may share one or two of them as well. She was a joy to me and I miss picking up the phone in the evenings. I was thinking of you and the loss of your friend, too. I know that loss goes hand in hand with getting further along in life, but it’s still never easy, is it?

      By the way, I am over halfway through Batdig and still loving it! I shall be loaning both books to my RN sister once I’m done with them. I think she will like them, too.

      Warm hugs to you and much love. ~ Linne

  3. Not only the passing of your Auntie but the passing of her generation. Always a sad day when we lose someone, no matter how expected or how long they’ve blessed us by being with us.

    I am sorry she passed before you could share the stories of your adventures together but I know she will travel with you and watch over you now, enjoying your journey as she sees it through your eyes.

    Dypeste kondolanser til deg.

    • Yes, Jessie, it’s especially poignant because she’s the last and so also the last connection to my Mum and the rest. No one left to answer questions and all that. When my RN sister went up to see her the day before, she had a few minutes alone and was able to pass on my love and a reminder that my Auntie could accompany me in spirit if she wished and that her presence would be welcome. We have no way of knowing exactly what is possible on the other side of that door, but I have had dreams where the presence of my Dad and later my Mum were as real as their presence here was. I have no reason to believe those were ‘fake’, although not everyone believes contact is possible. My Dad actually spoke to me and reassured me that he was ‘all well now’ in a way that was most convincing. Later two dreams of my Mum felt the same to me. I was very lucky to have as much as I did, for I had been disconnected from my family for many years, with only occasional visits possible. So, in spite of sadness, I also feel immense gratitude.

      Thanks so much for your condolences and in Norwegian yet! That made me smile . . .

      Love and hugs to you and I hope you are doing well; you will be looking at autumn soon and less heat, which is good. ~ Linne

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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