Today is a happy day because I get to travel to Stockholm. But today is also a sad day, marking ten years since my grandmother died in the middle of her sixties.

My grandma was a real grand-mother for me. I spent all the holidays with her and she gave me, a city child at the time, the opportunity to live a countryside childhood during school holidays. She and grandpa would drive 500 kilometres at short notice if my mom really needed help. Grandma helped raise me.

At grandma’s house, things were clear: at 8 you eat breakfast, then you can go out to play with the neighbours’ kids, at 12 sharp everyone in the street eats lunch and then you sit in the armchair while your grandma puts up her feet for a nap and you get to watch “the children’s hour” on tv. At two you get coffee and cake and are released to play again until six when the whole street ate dinner. At dinner, grandma cut the bread into small pieces for me and put Leberwurst (liver paté) on them and poured hot chocolate.

Grandma and I shared the same name and she instilled in me a desire to see other places. “Don’t get married early, you need to get out and see the world”, she preached. When she died it was in my absence because I was doing exactly that – being out and seeing the world, in this case as an exchange student at a high school in the U.S.. It is weird how we never got to properly say goodbye. It was reported to me that she, even though being very sick and confused, remembered we had a huge dog  named Murphy in my American host family, and her last words about me were something along the lines, “Helen and Murphy, ah, she’s doing the right thing, there, overseas”.

Grandma's picture as a young women has a special place in my living room.

Grandma’s picture as a young women has a special place in my living room.

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