Feb 18, 2018

My aunt Inga-Märta

Three children born in the nineteen twenties grew up in my house. My mother Kerstin who was the oldest, my uncle Arne and the baby sister Inga-Märta. Inga-Märta is now the family matriarch, and today we celebrated her 90th birthday!

Stories have been a vital ingredient in my family on my mother’s side. Stories from the village and stories from the family. I grew up with them and even the next generation is quoting them although not always aquatinted with the origin of them. Inga-Märta is one of the storytellers. And her dream was to be an author.

But life has it’s ways. In 1950 Inga-Märta became a single mother. At that time it wasn’t only difficult - as it often is - but a disgrace. The baby boy she gave birth to was beautiful of course and adored by his mother and grandmother with whom he grew up. He was also intelligent, clever and sporty and Inga-Märta has had every reason to be very proud of him through her life.

As a little girl I often visited Inga-Märta and grandma during school breaks. My cousin, at that time a teenager, oftentimes came home late into the night. I remember him waking is mother up. Sitting at her bedside they talked about how the day had been before it was time for sleep. I recall it as an agreement between the two of them. I am guessing the reason I remember this so well is that I was touched by the warm and special connection I felt they had to each other. I think I was a bit envious. 

One other thing I remember from those visits is how when the morning newspaper was delivered at about 4AM Inga-Märta woke up, picked it up and read it before she went to sleep again. That’s of course when she didn’t have a really early start at the hotel where she worked. I think I found that odd, at the same time she gave me the message you can do what you want as long as it works and doesn’t harm anyone.

A couple of years ago I found this very special story. It was about Värner, my next door neighbor who was Alida’s husband and passed away 2008 at the age of 98. The story was about his childhood, a poor home with struggling grown ups and children. It was beautifully and giftedly written and it touched my heart in a profound way.

When I realized the writer was Inga-Märta I amazed called her to talk about the story and the writing. That’s when she told me. Yes, my plan was to be a writer. But then it all went downhill. She said.

Inga-Märta’s life has in many ways been challenging. And she has had a special place in her heart for single mothers. For children without fathers being present. But her existence has also been populated with friends friends friends! People she has been loyal to from early years as well as guests at the hotel for whom she was a warm and fun fix point at the front desk, always there. Her true life companion has been her bicycle on which she up in her late years swiftly navigated through Umeå for shopping and visiting friends.

Although Inga-Märta’s eyesight is very poor now she still reads the newspaper. It takes her hours. Word by word. Her son has been her pride and joy. And he has given her three much loved grandsons. And two adorable great grandchildren.

Today all of us celebrated our 90 year old matriarch. I read to her and us the story about Värner and also one about our grandmother. Many of us were moved to tears and unaware about Inga-Märta’s writing talent. We talked about her dream to become an author and how hard it is for anyone to pursue a profession as any kind of artist. But agreed on the fact that a young woman in rural northern Sweden in the forties listening to the voice of that dream was really special. As she is. 

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