One word best describes the ghost of my mother, her people, and her land:
Those long cold dark winters.
The earth, mostly mountains.
The heavy arctic sea.
The dazzling but brief summer light.
All of these elements are climate conditions that created “bone in the nose” of its inhabitants.
My mother is gone. But she has left us “this strength…this example of grit” to return to.
You feel her presence at her cabin. The presence of my grandparents whispers in the wind. You don’t have to duck your head in shame at loss–as with my father–because though my mother’s heritage is chipped and beaten, there it still stands… rugged and, in some places, quite tall.
That’s Mom as a young woman at the front of the line of skiers, waving her ski pole in the air.
Two days later, my sister Randi arrived with her family–husband David, adult children, Christopher and Katharine. My cousins Lillebeth and Grace went to pick her up at the airport about ten a.m. while Paul and I prepared a shrimp, smoked salmon, and cheese luncheon with a pot of tea–Randi’s favorite beverage–to welcome them.
We had already cleaned the cabin and packed, with only twenty-four hours to be together as two families in the small cabin. Not much time to be with a beloved sister!
But, we made the most of it…the best part was the swim we sisters took together the morning before our flight out on July 25th. We donned Randi’s wetsuits, climbed down the rocks in front of the cabin and–just like when we were kids–treaded water vigorously until we had built up enough body heat to swim around that part of the peninsula in the icy Skarggerak to what used to be Grandfather and Mormor’s house. Grace spotted us, came out on the lawn and waved…just like our wonderfully warm Mormor used to do.
Paul followed us down the rocks and reappeared when we returned from our swim to snap photos.
Here are two that I like: