Astrid och Karin läser bok, 1940-tal

Our mother

Our mother’s love for her family, her parents and her siblings, her husband, children and grandchildren was strong and enduring.

She said the blend of freedom and security that she enjoyed in the home where she grew up had given her strength for life. The security consisted of the comfortable sense of belonging to a big family where, as she put it in one interview, she “was floating around in an atmosphere of” her parents’ love for their children, without anyone talking so much about it.

She had barely reached adulthood when she had her first child, my brother Lasse, and was starting to build her own, even more important family. Now, the conditions were totally different. She was a single parent, which meant that she alone would shoulder the responsibility and without any other security than what she herself could provide. As time would show, she managed this very well. She got married and had another child, but she continued to be the one who would take responsibility for the family. Our mum knew how to do this better than any other mum we knew. She made whatever decisions had to be made. She took action when necessary, and to us she was the unfailing guarantor that life would somehow turn out alright.

Whilst we were sure of that, our mum had a surprising tendency to worry about us, unnecessarily in our opinion, should we be out somewhere or get home a bit late. Her vivid imagination would always paint pictures for her of the dreadful accidents that were sure to have happened to us.

There could of course be real reason for concern sometimes. But more reason for joy.

The grandchildren knew that she considered it sheer joy to spend time with them and to be totally present, playing with them and telling them stories. They also knew that she missed them when they were away. She had her grown-up children and her grandchildren for dinner once a week, was happy to bring us food when we were sick, minded the grandchildren and took them on trips with her. We could trust that “love in action” which she showed us.

She had two sources of joy in her life that were stronger than any other – her family and her writing, and she also seems to have been blessed with the ability to balance the two. One did not take over from the other.

Karin Nyman, her daughter