My grandparents

In September, a baby girl will be born. I will be her daddy. My parents will finally be grandparents, and my grandparents will be great grandparents. If they had lived.

I guess it comes to most people when a new generation is born. Suddenly you start to look back to where this baby girl comes from, this fresh new human being. I finally understand why old people when I was a child studied my face and told my mother how I looked like so and so relative. Or how I looked like my dad but had the heart of my mother. It comes from perspective. It comes from understanding that life is finite and suddenly it’s all over and a new generation will take their place. And in those 100 years or so since my grandparents were born, everything have changed and nothing have changed at the same time.

I don’t even know when my fathers father (my grandfather) passed away. I think my father was 15 at the time. For me, it’s always been like this and I never dwelled on the fact he wasn’t around. It is only during these last years and months I have come to realise that this kind man never got to experience growing old. He would never see his grandchildren being born. He would never experience that day when my father got his private flying license and roared over our house in a Cessna 172. He would never see how much my father have accomplished. From five year long boat and car restorations, playing blues rock or attending air shows with his son. The story of my grandfather is nothing but a sobering tale of «what if’s», but I guess – like my father most likely have concluded – you can’t dwell on it. A life ended halfways and there’s nothing you can do about it. I never got to meet him, and at times like these, with a baby girl coming, it creates a certain grief I have not experienced before.

While my father have been resilient about everything, my grandmother was not. Her life spiralled out of control after he died. She would never recover, and would spend decades struggling with un-treated anxiety, periods of severe alcoholism, chain smoking and simply living a horrible life alone in an apartment 60 minutes away from my family by car. I guess that with my grandfather life ending so abrubtly, so did hers. But she had a choice, and she made poor decisions. She would neve really be a functioning grandmother, but my father always sheltered his children from her behaviour. I remember once when she would visit us and we would pick her up at the bus station. She came as planned, but obviously drunk. My father caught on at once, and told her to get out of the car and take the bus back where she came from. And that she did. It happened so quickly I never really understood what happened until I was a grown up. She died about five years ago, having lived a very unfullfilling and lonely life. A failed life. But she’s still my grandmother, and I miss her. I can even understand her. Life is sometimes just too hard to handle. She was the one that gave me the Christmas present I remember the most; a CD stereo system. She must have saved for months and months for it.

While my grandparents on side ran into hardship and even death, the other side lived a different life. A countryside life with many children and a heap of grandchildren. My mother was the fifth and last in line of girls. I guess my grandpa, in his early 40s then, wanted one last go at having a boy, and subsequently failed in the attempt. He had no education to speak of, but worked different jobs through life. Often when I worked nursing homes in the beginning of the 2000’s, old men that knew him often remembered  his height. He was quite short. Family to my grandpa was everything. He never travelled, he settled. Like most people in his generation did. Because they had no other choice. It doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good life. Family is the most important thing, and grandpa had that in a large scale. I grew up next door to my grandpa and grandma, but they were already growing old quickly when I just started growing up. I wasn’t even a teenager when my grandma developed alzheimers and I’m the only one of my sibblings that developed some sort of relationship with them. My grandpa sort of gave up his physical state in the early 90s and ended up in a chair in his home for the last six or seven years of his life depended on home nursing. In 1998 he died, and the last thing he did was call out for my grandma.

There’s something strange about my grandma though. When I think of her, I get a sense of love and care I can’t figure out. It’s been coming to me the past years. I have developed some sort of new bond to her even if she’s been gone since 1994. My grandma was a lot like my mother. With deep care and commitment she took care of her family and her grandchildren. She knew little about the world and it’s complexity. The whole world to her was the surrounding peaceful countryside. She was a real a product of her time. Simpler times. It’s indeed a wonderful place most people in the world can only dream to live in. When I was very young, I often played outside and I could smell that distinctive smell of the dinner she was making. Potatoes, brown sauce, Norwegian meatballs. A smell that is not often to be found today. And I know she cared deeply for me. Alzheimer destroyed her last five years on this planet. I can’t even imagine what she went through, knowing she would drift away somewhere else.

I have developed a new relationship with my grandma these past years. I have almost gotten to know her again. It is one of the most strange spiritual experiences I’ve had. I can’t figure out what it all means. It doesn’t matter what it is really. I just accept that it is. And if she’s somewhere around looking after her family still, I know she will be very excited and very proud that another generation will step into the world this September. Like all of them would be.

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Transit Time is About to End

I sold my house yesterday. That is, it’s been sold for a few days now but we signed the contract yesterday. It happened on the exact day when I first met my girlfriend a year ago. Funny that. I guess thats what you call symbolic? It’s almost a bit scary.

I bought my house almost six months after my marriage fell apart. I wanted to wait until the right moment came to buy the right house. Turns out – in the end – it was a really good idea even if I have been living on an extremely tight budget for two years considering the expense of living in, and maintaining a house of that size all alone. Back in 2016, I had actually won the bidding round for another house, and if that deal hadn’t fallen through at the last minute I would have been much worse off and in much more trouble. Take my word for it.

Come to think of it, that happened twice actually, almost the same way. Thankfully those fell through and this deal happened.

I never really intended on selling my house. My plan was to live there for the forseeable future, meet someone marginally younger with no house commitments herself and create something together in this house. It was perfect for families with one or two children. Perfect area for children with a kindergarten and a school very close by in the neighbourhood. My backgarden was lovely and both sides of the property was covered up by trees and bushes so it didn’t feel like living in a suburb at all. It felt like living rather isolated  – as I wanted too. I honestly don’t like neighbours that much. I loved the property even if the house needed some upgrades. Now, I’m not extremely handy – I am first and foremost an academic. But I did what I could with it and boy it paid off.

The first night in my house in the fall of 2016 was a somber, depressing experience. I felt like I was breaking in, and living in a house that didn’t belong to me. All my stuff was packed in boxes. Nothing was in order. I didn’t even have a bed. Just a tiny, single one meant for guests or children or whaetever. I went to sleep that night listening to the complete silence. It engulfed me. There were no dogs around me either. Suddenly  the days with my dog beside me and another on the floor were gone.  It was just me all alone in a big house. It felt horribly wrong for a 35 year old. After a week or so, at least it didn’t feel like I was making a criminal offence going to sleep, but the loneliness and silence never let go. Coming home to an empty house, watching TV alone – feeling like I was wasting time. It felt like that at least until the spring of 2017 when I spent more time in my house.

I painted the entire first floor within weeks of living there. I also painted the stairs in a proper and modern blue-gray colour. It took me like nine hours work those stairs. In February 2017 I re-did the kitchen with new colours. At least my house did not look all 1997 any longer. It honestly looked alright. In the spring of 2017 I even had two parties full of people coming in and giving me compliments about the look of the place. In the summer of 2017 I did some work outdoors. I removed some bushes and trees, made things look a bit better. My mother helped me all the way. So did my father and sister.

During the first six months or so I struggled badly. The silence and emptiness of being there alone was overwhelming. Mostly because of my age. I felt so old. Some neighbours around me were my age and had families. I felt completely out of tune with the world. It was like I had been flown off to a foreign country and left there with no way of coming home. I felt society had somewhat left me behind. Chewed well and spat out like a piece of meat. A very serious and real feeling of failure did not leave me for months and months. I was severely depressed. It took me almost a year to feel right again. Like the person I once was. I think that time came for real on June 30 2017, and I knew it. I even wrote about it.

I leave that house now with mixed feelings. The fact is, I managed to get out of the deal in a good way. So even if my longterm plan for the house is canceled, it served its purpose. Was it ever really my home? No, not really. I haven’t really slept there for months now. I have no personal connection to it. I have no sense of loss from it. I feel slightly bad for my parents to invest so much time with it, and then I get rid of it all of a sudden, but they know I’ve made a good deal and as payment they get to be grandparents. Not a bad deal I’d say.

In ten years time, the house will just be a reminder of a transit stop between my past life and my next life. Like an airport. Like my seven hour transits in Prague ten years ago. I was neither here nor there. And I got out of it in a good way. In all ways possible. From feeling like I completely failed in life to a complete victory in two years time. A proper comeback. Am I lucky or just a good planner? Did I loose something between 2016 and now? Yes I did, but gained more. I will gain the most important thing in the world, and screw it if I can’t gather enough time to write books any longer. My two year transit is about to end. I can finally start a new life.