Posted by: chlost | January 26, 2011

I think she would be as proud as a Norwegian would allow herself to be

Today would have been my grandmother’s birthday. I have lost track of how old she would have been. I just have the date of her birthday in my mind. She was born somewhere around the turn of the 20th century.

She was my father’s mother. She was Norwegian. A very Norwegian family name, they attended a Norwegian Lutheran Church (where services are still spoken in Norwegian); there were 9 brothers and sisters. She married the brother of the woman her brother married. Got that? The brother and sister married a sister and brother. There were many, many cousins from both sides of the family-double cousins.

My grandmother lost her husband at a very early age. No social security then, no death benefits, no insurance to the best of my knowledge. They were dirt poor after his death.  My father was the oldest of three boys. He was around 9 years old when his father died. “The man of the family”. My father was deeply affected by this for the rest of his life.

At a time when there were very few jobs available for women, she became a nurse in order to support the family. She moved closer to her brother and his wife so they could help out. She worked nights for many years. The boys were on their own a lot. She was a single working mom before there were many single moms. No daycare-that was handled within the family.

In my memory, she was never particularly happy, but she was stalwart. She lost her youngest (and probably favorite) son to MS at age 37.  I am sure that in her mind, that is just what happens in life. She had no real expectation of happiness. You worked hard, raised a family, hoped that they had a better life than you, and then you died.

My father had four children, each of his brothers had two. There are now 12 great-grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. She was a strong woman.  All of the females in the family have been strong women, almost all have college educations and all are doing well in life. We had a good role model for strength.

It won’t be many years before there won’t be anyone to remember that January 26th was  her birthday. That makes me sad.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! Thank you for all you did in your life.




  1. Bittersweet. No matter how we bemoan our lot, we have it so much better than our grandparents. I would recommend you write stories, memories, etc about all your family (including yourself) to pass on to those precious granddaughters of yours, who will likely become the historians. Can you imagine how avidly you would read a journal written by this woman who faced so much? Give that gift yourself.

    • I have been keeping a journal for my granddaughters. I agree that it is important to pass this on to them.

  2. Grandma’s are totally cool.

    • Agreed! Grandpas, too!

  3. You remember, and you have written it here and told your kids. Someone will remember this strong woman.

    • I hope you are right.

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