Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life on the Glomma River

Today I wanted to share a poem written by my great-grandmother. I LOVE this poem because it gives a good idea of life in the late 1800's, and because it tells me a lot about what she was like and what mattered to her. I actually knew her, but she died when I was quite young, so I don't remember her. But I am putting up a picture of her during her younger days. I think it might be her confirmation picture. At the end of her poem, she says to never forget your home or your loved ones. I take that to mean not to forget where I came from... not to forget her. So I gladly post this in her memory. Oh, and the house she says her father built up the hill... this is the house pointed to in yesterday's blog.

Childhood Memories
By Joergine Amalie Ludvigsdatter (Hvidsten), my great-grandmother
Born May 23, 1889, Borge, Oestfold, Norway
Written circa 1949 in Norwegian and in rhyme
Translated by Roger Emil Haugen

I will always remember my first childhood home, which was situated below the hill where the Glomma (river) rushes by. There, I, mother and father, and three siblings lived in peace at my grandparents’ place.

Yes, those were happy days, that I can assure you, as the timber float in the Glomma passed by. And there was a lot of timber, and a lot of men, and I stood there often, watching them from shore.

Yes, Glomma, that was the boy who carried on his back all the timber that the mills along the banks later cut. And the timber was floated through the Sarpfossen (waterfall), and it was impossible to avoid it suffering some damage.

And so it was floated through the Visten barrier, but it did not stay there long. They pulled it through the barriers and along the beach, as they were busy as summer came along.

During winter there was no timber in sight, but it was fun to watch grandfather anyway, because grandfather had a large boathouse, where he built boats, something he had learned.

And I was there so often, as there was much to see. But grandfather probably wanted to be left alone. But he was so kind; I could not understand why he wanted to be rid of me.

Then I want to say something about my grandmother. I thought there was nobody on earth like her. I can visualize her when she wanted to look good, wearing her cape and her black dress.

She was so kind to everyone who came and asked for food. She always seemed to have something in her bowl. And often there were some who asked for shelter too, and were never denied.

And grandfather and grandmother both loved God. They wanted to try to abide by his commandments. And their home was always open to those who wanted to honor God.

So, let me not forget my dear mother and father. I don’t think many had better parents. They loved their children and we loved them. I have such good memories of my dear childhood home.

And the time passed, and I was seven. And that our home was getting crowded cannot be denied. So, father built his own house, on top of the hill, and during winter we moved up there.

And during spring, in our new house, a little sister was born, and we were five. But grandmother and grandfather wanted me with them, so I remained there and thrived.

And the years passed happily for me at my grandparents, until a sad event, as grandmother died and left an empty space.

Grandfather was sad and still wanted me, but that was not possible without grandmother. It was not so bad, since I had my father and mother, and all my siblings.

Grandfather later moved in with us, and the family increased as time passed. The flock of siblings grew, as eventually we were ten.

And time passed, it did not stay still. I will always remember my dear father. He is no longer with us, but with God. I remember he loved God and his Bible.

All of this is long ago and I now have my own home. I was not old when I stood before the altar. We were both young when we promised our God to remain true to each other for the rest of our lives.

God, I want to thank you for the children you gave us. There is nothing we love more in this world. And thank you that they are kind and have a good life, which is what makes me very, very happy.

My mother still lives, reaching old age. She will soon be 84. She now is waiting to go home to God and there have a happy reunion with her loved ones.

Now I also am getting old. I am 60 and if I get still older I will get the strength from God. My strongest wish is to meet again all my loved ones in the presence of Jesus, when we are no longer here.

To my dear grandchildren I want to say a few words: Never forget your childhood home, nor father and mother. And don’t forget Jesus and that he will walk with you and give you peace and happiness.

Thank you dear Mailis for the years of happiness you have given us. Nobody could have had a better daughter.

I well remember the day in July when we were expecting a guest and wondered if it would be a boy or a girl. Because boys, we already had two.

But girl we had only one, and really wanted another. And time went and the clock showed five. Then, you had arrived just as we expected father to come home.

And the boys ran to meet him and saw the suitcase opened and said, now you will be happy, as a baby girl has arrived, so now let’s go in.

Now we will finally see the baby girl, and father was happy and had to laugh. And the baby was loved by everyone, especially by big sister.

Now she is grown and married, and has given her love to Harald. I hope she will be as dear to him as she has been to all of us.

Now I wish you both happiness in all things, large and small. When the baby girl arrives and you have become a mother, everyone will cheer. Harald might want a boy, but whatever it is it will be good. Boy or girl, we will cry hurray.

Yes, you must not forget the home you left and the loved ones who were close to you. And don’t forget Jesus, who loves you so much and wants to be near you in your home.

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