The Matriarch

On January 5th my grandma, my mormor, turned 80 years old. She lives far away down south, and we all went down for her birthday; mom, me, my sister, brother (+ his girlfriend), my stepdad, and my uncle. We brought coffee, cake and flowers. She didn’t know what was happening, she probably didn’t recognise us when we arrived, only in moments. Dementia. My auntie and one of my cousins joined us as we celebrated this matriarch, who will never fully know the impact she’s had on all of us.  

Growing up, my family was very female centred. My brother is really the only boy in the family. Otherwise we’re all-female, looking very similar with our long blonde hair. Strong, opinionated women. Loud. Grandpa was there of course, and different boyfriends to mom and my auntie (including all our fathers haha) from time to time. Different males that helped with the house. But we all worshipped one person, and that was mormor. 

We are all mini versions of mormor. We all love big dinners with family above all, the more the merrier. We set an extra plate on the table in case someone swings by. Mismatched everything. Things we find in garage sales, second hand shops. We love things hand made, just like she did. She hung onto everything, every little craft we did at school. She couldn’t let go. Growing up with nothing, it was her goal to treasure it all. Screws, clothes, paper bags and bicycles. Her treasures, her kingdom. 

Mormor wasn’t into negativity. She never showed signs of being sad or angry. She celebrated every moment, she saw the good in it all. She believed the best in people. She took care of them, the vulnerable. She lived to please others, to spread joy. She gave up her own space so other people could fit it, could be seen. She found it hard to sit down, relax. There was always something you could do, for someone else, to be of service. 

She despised gossip. People connecting over hating others, looking down on others. That’s not connection, that’s evil spreading like a virus in our hearts. She loved peace and quiet, except when it came to her family. Again, the more the merrier. The messier, the better. 

I write this in past tense even though she’s still here, with us. I wish I could repay her in some way. I guess me living my best life, me helping others and living out her values is repaying her. Ever since grandpa, morfar, left us she’s been disappearing more and more. Into herself. I guess life caught up to her, all those years of focusing on others instead of herself. Now she’s left very much with only herself, not remembering us too well. Not knowing how much she shaped all of us, how we’re the image of her.  

It pains me that I don’t live closer to her, that I can’t regurlary visit her for coffee and chats.  My biggest fear is that she feels alone, after having such a rich life filled with a big family of mostly women just adoring her. For her to think that it’s all forgotten now, that it meant nothing cause she’s there alone. At the home. Far away from most of her family members.

Tell your elders you love them. Tell them everything they’ve done for you, how important they’ve been. Send pictures that they can hold, words they can read over and over again in case they forget. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, to do more of just that. 

Mormor, you’re the most beautiful woman I know. Your beauty isn’t just in your glorious face, but in your soul. Thank you for teaching me to be kind, to pray; feel the blessings of life even though you’re not religious, to share with others, to walk around in old, beloved robes all day with bare legs and slippers. Thank you for showing me that with family and friends, you are personal and free. You pee with the door open, while conversating with your loved ones. You invite them in. Thank you for salty, yellow potatoes and the best sauces known to mankind. You matter. So much.  

love, family, throwbackEmma Carlsson