Many years ago, in a small village somewhere in north Sweden. My grandmother, still in her late teens, bumps into an acquaintance of hers who is waiting at the bus-stop. They start chatting. The neighbour is on her way to a nearby Folk High School.
My grandmother has just finished two years of practical studies for young women. She has worked for a wealthy family in a bigger town, but she is not ready with learning. She enrolls in the boarding school and who does she not meet there but her future husband, my grandfather….
After completion of their studies and a January wedding, they are off to their new temporary home. My grandfather is studying to become an engineer, my grandmother works at a nearby store. The small apartment that they share with my grandfather’s brother, also a sprouting engineer, soon becomes an obvious meeting place for the entire class. Despite their meager student budget, there is always enough for a treat.
And that is how I have always known them. Hospitable and warm. Ambitious yet down to earth. Ready to enjoy the good things in life from a delicious home-made meal to a skiing holiday or a trip to Morocco, Crete or the States…
They built their lives during a time when studies and work qualifications really had a value. My grandmother raised three children and then decided she was ready for a new challenge. After three years of evening classes, she got herself a high-school exam in finances and embarked on a career. She was able to retire from a responsible position at a big insurance company. A true later bloomer.
Parents represent comfort and acceptance, but grandparents give you perspective. They can lead by example at a different level because of that one generation time-buffer that makes the difference.
Although I am fully aware of my parents’ short-comings and the things I would do differently, I still feel that I will never be as good a person or parent as they are. So if I ever have children, wouldn’t I naturally want them to look up to my parents and love them as much as I have looked up to and loved my grandparents?
Paradoxes and truths of life.