Torn between lands

This picture was taken in 1963, the woman in the picture is my grandmother, Gerd. She was living in America at the time, but at home in Norway for a visit. I’m not sure what she was up to with clothes slung all over the open car, suitcases in the trunk and a bucket? Whatever it was, I can see she was certainly dressed for the occasion.

Life didn’t start easy for Gerd, she lost her father when she was quite young. She was married at nineteen, had three children and lost one to pneumonia. At twenty-five, her husband died and three weeks later she gave birth to her fourth child (who she would later loose in a boating accident). She was also left with a small-run-down farm to manage (which I can now see from my kitchen window).

Five years later, in 1949, she gave the locals something to really talk about when the widow up and married a man eleven years her junior. They sold the farm in 1955, packed up the children and moved to America. They stayed for thirteen years before moving back to Norway, but Gerd had a restless soul and lived the rest of her life with a foot in each country. Bouncing between her devotion to Norway and her love affair with America, she never could decide where she was happiest.

At ninety-two, Gerd passed away yesterday. She died quietly in her sleep, of old age.

Not many people are lucky enough to have their grandmother for over fifty years, like I was, but that doesn’t make it any easier to let her go. I have plenty of memories, like when I was little and we would visit her on a Sunday afternoon. She would always spread a blanket on the floor and there my sister and I would sit eating ice cream, looking through photo albums of people in Norway, we didn’t know. When I was eleven and visited her in Norway, I remember asking if she could make me a tuna salad sandwich for lunch one day. After she explained and I saw that Norwegian tuna was pink, I was a bit skeptical but it turned out to be the best I ever tasted. She later confessed that when she couldn’t find canned tuna in Norway, she used salmon instead.

With her in America and me now in Norway, I’d ring her every other week and she’d always answer the phone saying, “Is it really you Margaret?” and then when it was time to hang up she’d say, “I’m so happy you called, its always nice to talk to you Margaret.” She was sharp and clear to the very end. I’ll miss those calls.

The one thing I’m most grateful for is that she was able to hold my book in her hands and see her picture inside it. She couldn’t read it, but she lived it and now she will live on forever…

About maggiemyklebust

I grew up on the Jersey Shore and now live in Norway. I have also lived in Houston and the Netherlands. I have written a memoir called Fly Away Home.

Posted on June 7, 2012, in all things American, all things Norsk, Family stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Maggie, I am so very sorry to hear this news. It is very upsetting. I remember telling you that I think that photograph of her in your book is gorgeous, what an attractive woman. You can tell from the photograph above that she must have been a sassy character.

    I’ll bet she was incredibly proud of you. Hold on to your wonderful memories. She sounds like a marvellous woman. *Big hugs*

  2. I do remember you saying that in your first e-mail. 🙂
    And you’re right she was a beautiful and sassy character… Thanks for the hug!

  3. Sorry to hear this. I love her outfit. Sounds like she was an exceptional woman!

  4. What a lovely tribute to her. You are very fortunate to have had her for so long. May she rest in peace.
    Hugs. Louann

  5. Maggie, I’m so sorry for your loss. She was certainly a beautiful woman and you have many fond memories of her. I remember when my grandmother passed several years ago and how hard it was. {hugs} from across the ocean.


  6. Oh Maggie, I am so sorry for your loss, and you know that I understand, completely.
    Your grandmother was beautiful inside and out, and her beauty and joy live on through you. So wonderful that she celebrated your book with you! My condolences to you and your family. I will make a tuna salmon sandwich, in honour of you and your grandmother. ~ Lily

  7. You made me cry. How lucky she was to have you as a granddaughter. I am sending a hug your way. Can you feel it?

  8. Maggie, your grandmother sounded like a really fascinating person. It doesn’t matter how long you have had them–it is hard to say goodbye to someone you love. But what a beautiful tribute you have given her, and one that will live forever.

  9. So very sorry to hear your news – feel like I knew her from reading your book. She’ll always be with you.

  10. I am so sad for your loss, Maggie ~ I was fortunate to have my grandmothers until just a few years ago, yet I miss them everyday. My heart did a leap when you shared that she had held your book in her hands. Do you know how much that had to mean to her? How proud she was of you? Hugs to you….but you will see her in everything you do….and she will live on in your heart ♥ paula

  11. You’re so kind… Thank you!

  12. Oh, this post made me cry. I was raised by my grandmother who died just before her 100th. birthday. She will always be my hero and I miss her so. But I console myself that I was gifted to have her as my mentor and mother! thank you for writing this post!

  1. Pingback: Maggie Myklebust writes a tribute to her Norwegian grandmother | Expat Bookshop

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