Memories of my grandmother: day 4

I remember my grandmother’s hands among the roses. She loved the white roses in her tiny garden. They were a gift from her mother. When she moved away from that house she brought clippings of the rose bush with her. Those hands did so many things. I see them flicking a pen while marking a script, brushing oil onto the lamb roast, holding surely around the steering wheel during one of out long drives and killing that potentially poisonous sprider in Spain that she always regretted afterwards. I see them grow curiously old, the skin getting softer, thinner and more transparent. My uncle, who was with her when she died said that at the end she couldn’t speak at all, except for the way she held his hand. “Imagine that”, he said “that the most important things you can say to someone, you can say just by holding their hand.”

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Fragment 6: Her kind of rose, it even smells right.

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A tiny house in a big world.

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Old road overgrown with moss.

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New road with thistles.

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Memories of my grandmother: day 3

Once my grandmother was alone with all the children on the pine covered island. Hers and her friends’ children were playing among the cliffs and twisted island pines. No new food would arrive until the next day so when the last pasta on the island fell into the dish-water she rinsed it off and served it anyway. She laughed guiltily remembering that dinner, one of the full children afterwards smilig up at her and happily stating “you always use the best spices!” It was a rainy summer that year and a lot of sea to the shore.

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Along the river Indalsälven by canoe.

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Roots by the shore.

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Fragment 5: bark shard from pine in the shape of an island.

Memories of my grandmother: day 2

I remember trying on my grandmother’s wedding dress in front of the mirror in the room I always slept in, in the house where my mother was born. It was impossibly long and had an impossibly slim waist. I could just close the zipper, and I was only 8. The white silk was woven in a flower pattern and the long sleeves had rows of covered buttons down by the hands. She didn’t stay married for long but she always kept the dress. It smelled like her, some kind of flower I have never been able to figure out mixed with something dry and old, like rose petals that’s been dry so long they mostly smell of dust.

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Fragment 4: a piece of a double sided mirror.

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Lichens, like embroidery on the rocks.

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Mum checking her phone during a break by the river.

Memories of my grandmother: day 1

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Walking alone the river

I remember a picture I saw of my grandmother from when she was young. She had wide linnen trousers, a brick-coloured shirt and was sitting on the back of a big brown horse. Her hair looked wild in a stylish way and her face was a big smile. I remember thinking that this was who she was before I knew her, before she moved to the city, before she was mortal. Safe and wild she took on the world. How could she end up with a broken mind in a lonely place so far away from us?

But in some ways she was never alone at the end. In her mind, where time and logic no longer mattered, she was visited by long dead relatives. Her uncles kept her up at night, dancing on the second floor, her mother came to stay some days and all the places and friends she loved the most was just around the corner.

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Where she was born and where the picture with the horse was taken. There used to be a full ally of birch trees all the way up.

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Fragment 2: birch bark from the new trees by her old house.

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Fragment 3: soil from her parents grave.

Memories of my grandmother: day 0

You are the same house, the same door. You are probably the same birch trees, all grown up. But you surround a meadow now, not a neatly cut lawn. In some places you can still hear the gravel creak beneeth the grass where we used to play mini golf. But you trees, you house and door with peeling paint, you saw her here. You saw me too. Maybe I look older now and these memories will die with me, but I remember you.

During two weeks my mom and I will follow in my grandmother’s footsteps as we walk from the village where she was born, to the village where she died. Along the way, in this landscape of hers, I will collect fragments that remind me of her and document it here. This is day 0, we are now in Stugun where she was born. Time to sleep, tomorrow we start walking.

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The way down to the river, overgrown by flowers.

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Nobody lives here now, but someone cared enough to fix the roof.

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One of these layers must have been painted by her.

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Peeking through the key hole.

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The first fragment collected.