Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beth, and forgiveness

When Beth mentioned forgiveness, I flashed back on something I wrote years ago and how it made me feel that I could forgive my mother. I will try to synops what I wrote then, I was trying to write my mother's life and decided to begin with the day she brought me home from the hospital. It was around the first of February 1920. While she was gone being delivered of me, she had hired a neice, Greta, who was about 16 or 17 years old, to take care of the two children she loved. Often she would say her life was perfect and her two children were perfect. Birgit the eldest was 4 and Gunne was 2. She had no husband to help her, for he and his ship were in Calcutta, India at that moment.

When she arrived at the house with me squirming and crying, and having waited for hours for the doctor to come to release her from the hospital, she became irritated when she found the house in a messy state and found that Greta had not followed her directions. Mother told her to go home, which was a hasty order which she came to regret very quickly.

The two older children were down for naps and tis new baby was loud enough to wake them, so she put her into the baby carriage, covered her with all the blankets she could find and pushed her out into the farthest corner of the garden. She could think of only one thing, and it was about the coffee she would make herself as soon as she could get this heavy overcoat off. She draped her coat over the newel post in the hall.

She drew a deep breath and went out in the kitchen to start the cofffee. cofffee.SheShe reached the dipper into the one of the two pails with water and found them both empty. She sat down at the kitchen table, put her head down on her folded arms and cried. The doctor had told her to carry nothing that weighed more than the new baby for the first week home. Getting the water out of the well would cause her to lift more than she should. But there was no way the family could function without water.

She went out into the foyer, put her coat on and walked out into the furiously windy, cold afternoon. She told herself to take a trip to check on the baby. As she approached the carriage she heard she was still crying. She put her hand under the blankets and assured herself that the shrieking baby was warm enough. And then the problem of the water. She walked over to the well and there was no protection from the ice old wind. She tightened the coat and let the first pail down and half filled it, and then got it up over the rim and repeated the same moves with the second one. Replaced the cover on the well and picked up the pales of water, and with that she could tell she had over guessed her strength for she felt that she had hemmoraged. She got up the stairs to the veranda with the two pails but reflecting on the strengthening of the wind and rain she decided to use this time to bring the baby in, and for herself to use the out-house. She walked out into the garden to retrieve the baby, pulled the carriage up the five stairs to the veranda, went out again and headed toward the outhouse. This was in a Northern direction with nothing to protect her from the wind and that wind chilled her to the bones. She returned as quickly as possible and when she got back to the veranda she was met with more crying.

She had to change her protection and she had to check available diapers. With the water shortage she had to handle these things with care. she used some of the water to start washing some of the diapers that were dirtied while she was gone. She rinsed out half a dozen and put them to boil.

And then the coffee was put on to perk. As soon as the aroma became strong enough to seep under the kitchen door, there was a timid knock. Elina, Blenda's mother-in-law, who lived in the addition came to get her share of coffee. Her first question was Where is the baby. "I have her out on the veranda. I dont want her to wake up the two who are napping." It is much too cold out there. And so the story continued about getting the boiling diapers rinsed and up in the attic where they could be hunng up to dry. Getting the two children who were napping dressed and with their afternoon treat.
Elina was in her late 80ies and very weak. She had a severe case of scholiosis, probably caused by having too many children and not enough money for milk when she was young. She was a sweet lady and when I was six years old she died and we all missed her. When I was eight years old my maternal grandfather died and he was stern and looked like Santa Clause with a huge white beard.


Haphazardkat said...

The pain leaks from your pages and touches tears at my heart.

The loneliness and overwhelming drudgery your mother faced

and the innocent baby who bore the consequences of it all.

Vancouver, WA

weecyn said...

You are right, right, right, Grandma Svensto. The path to forgiveness and healing is paved with stones of understanding, each one placed by the hands of the injured. It's a lot of work.

My mother's mother was horrible to both her daughters. She would berate them for hours on end, sometimes so long that they would fall asleep on their feet. They'd then be beaten back to attention. My mother was sent to an orphanage at age fifteen for getting pregnant, all her possessions and clothes taken away because those were for children and she was not a member of the family anymore, having shamed it. She could wear what the children with no families wore, castoffs. No contact from her parents for two years.

My mother's life was littered with failures, largely because her mother had convinced her she'd do nothing but fail. At times she seemed out to get herself, unable to let herself succeed. She was an alcoholic and a serial wife of violent men. But amongst all this wreckage lies the glowing success of her overcoming the abuse done to her in her role as a loving parent. We never doubted her love for us, her belief in our worth as people.

Like you were, she learned that her mother had been a less-wanted child. She would often tell me stories of her mother's childhood, and in them her mother was the victim of a Swedish family feud and economic hardship. She tried so hard to understand, and forgive, and in the end she could respect her mother as a survivor and an accomplished woman. She surmised that because her mother had not been loved, she just didn't know how to do it properly. It helped her cope until her mother passed away, when she was shocked to find that she felt only relief.

Thank you so much for your stories, your painful memories, your insight. It is a continuing pleasure to get to know you through your writing.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that I love your blog and even worry about you when you don't post for several days. Thank you for sharing your personal history with us, both the fond memories and the painful ones.

Ter-o-fla said...

I want to add my thanks.

Your memories, written down like this, explain so much of so many.