My mormor (mother’s mother)

My mormor (Swedish for mother’s mother) came to Sweden in a rucksack.

Her grandparents skied across the frozen river between Sweden and Finland in the middle of the night having sold everything to get to Sweden at the most dangerous of times, the beginning of peace after WW2. My mormor is Finnish Karelian.

My mormor got pneumonia and were taken to Haparanda hospital while her parents started to work in the forest.

Later, they were moved to the south of Sweden, to Sikfors, a small place in Bergslagen in central Sweden and got a loan to set up home and start their lives as Swedes properly.

My mormor’s name is Lumia which means snow or light.

When Lumia started school at age 7 she didn’t have a word of Swedish and she struggled in first and second year, but not only because of the language, she needed glasses but no one figured it out until she was 13. My mormor attended a small school in Sikfors. She was bullied for being fat, her mother overfed her because she had suffered starvation and didn’t want my mormor to go through the same hardship. My mormor was also bullied for not speaking Swedish properly.

I love that when she came back to her school reunion 40 years later, she was the only one who was slim and still working. Because she was overweight she wasn’t allowed to take part in PE, mad isn’t it?

They thought she could injure herself and she was also put on a diet in school so when the other children had pea soup and pancakes my mormor got carrots and eggs, every day!

Mormor’s best friend, Rosmari, was from Austria and the most mischievous thing they ever did was to climb other people’s apple trees and sit dangling from a branch each while eating apples until they could eat no more.

They went fishing in Svartälven, or the Black River, and mormor’s cat always got the first fish. She carried it home between her teeth to show off before chowing down.

My mormor was a very kind, gentle and shy person. Some people thought she was stupid because she was different. When she listened to Elvis Presley, Little Richards and Chubby Checker on her Grammophon, an ancient machine for playing music, she boogied all the badness away, but if she played too loud her dad used to turn off the electricity.

Lumia’s favourite food was pancakes and meatballs but today she eats neither because they are not healthy for a woman who has survived a heart attack.

My mormor’s favourite season was and still is summer. Rosmari and Lumia used to swim all day and every day in the lake Sången, the Song. They floated and dived even if it rained, but never when it thundered.

My mormor used to help her parents to pick berries and mushroom in the forest which they both ate themselves and also sold. She loved helping to stretch their low-income this way but she sometimes got fed up translating for her parents.

They never went on holiday, but my mormor got to go to Finland a few times to meet all the relatives, mostly in Joensuu and Lieksa which is in the east of Finland, bordering the Karelia they once came from which now belongs to Russia.

My mormor read all Enid Blyton books and this was also her collection. She is still an avid reader but now she reads mysteries.

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