One-word inspiration: Home

My illustrated life story and what did I learn?

I was born two months too early together with my twin brother in 1951. The attitude among the staff was to keep the parents away as much as possible. My mother was allowed to bring milk after she had to left the hospital. In spite of this, she was able to breastfeed us when we were released from the children’s hospital. A post on that called “A Flash Back on to Bonding to Babies”

I survived but was deprived of the first important bonding giving me a sense of insecurity that has been a lifelong battle for me to come over.

My first home 1951-54

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The first home was a three room flat in a working-class area of Copenhagen called Bispebjerg or 2400 North West. I have a memory of the steps to the cellar. I thought it was a slide and was disappointed to be stuck on my trouser seat.

My mother walking in Bispebjerg 1951

 

My parents at our one year birthday

My parents at our one year birthday

I lived there my first three years and I have good memories of a loving mother and a father who worked in a factory not far from there. We waved him goodbye from a window and he drove away on his motorbike.

From Copenhagen in the 1950s

From Copenhagen in the 1950s

 

My second home  from 1954- 1970

 

 

 

The next home was a huge step forward to a new house in Herlev the suburbs of Copenhagen. My father had done a lot of the drawing and building and the house was put on the ground where we had a modest summer-house 8 km from the flat.

 

 

From Herlev my second home town

From Herlev my second hometown

We grew up there with my mother as “a stay at home mom” and my father who worked a lot, tired and distant even when at home. My first years seemed very good and secure, we did not see many other children, our mother had a great fear of polio that had claimed many victims, leaving children lame different places in the body. Some died from suffocation and it was a horrible illness. I wrote a post on my childhood called “Remembering my father”. This fear brought restrictions on our behaviour and even physical symptoms.

 

A thing like sleeping in a tent with friends was out of the question.  I learnt to be creative my self, sewing, knitting, painting and reading. I didn’t know the word to be bored.

Maria at home 1966

Maria at home 1966

The difficult thing was, of course, to interact with a group of children. That was not really practised and to this day I still think it is a difficult thing. I had my twin brother and we played a lot together. We were typical twins who understood each other without words. So to use the spoken language to plan things with others has been stressful. For many years children have gone to kindergarten where these things are practised before school. In 1970 I had finished school, what we call gymnasium. It’s the kind of school that gives you entrance to the university. I longed to try to fly on my own wings and went to England to stay in the home of good friends in Manchester and to work in a Danish restaurant.

My Home in Manchester U.K. 1970

My “home” was now in Eccles Manchester. I learnt that I was not ready to manage homesickness, so the stay ended after only 6 months. I loved the family and they have had a lifelong influence on me. I have written about it earlier. One post is “Show Your World” Event. To be abroad is challenging as you don’t know the language too well to express your self in detail and you don’t know the customs. I remember how I felt about Christmas traditions.  At home, the Christmas tree (a real fir-tree) was taken into the sitting room on Christmas eve and tastefully decorated. Where I stayed the plastic Christmas tree was put in the hall first of December and decorated with pang coloured electric lights.

Worsley and the Canal

Afterwards, I am so glad I tried something different and for years I have had both a small tree in the hall and a bigger tree in the sitting room.

My “homes” in Copenhagen during my nursing education 1971-1975 and afterwards to 1979

In 1971 I moved to Copenhagen Bispebjerg to a collegium for student nurses at a huge hospital. I don’t have pictures from the place, but I remember the joy of learning the exciting and difficult things about the human body and later about diseases. I also remember the extreme loneliness trying to cope with the spare time. To manage without my mother was very difficult. Children who have been taken away from their mothers from birth battle with this feeling of being abandoned. I compensated in a very unhealthy way starting to drink alcohol and searching for someone to love or to love me. I loved to learn and making the tests but had an awful time at the wards as I didn’t like to be judged by the teachers and staff nurses. I wanted to know and do everything without having to be corrected or watched.  I always liked the patients though and somehow I managed to make it through to the end. I had to move around during the education and unfortunately, I hated the time I wasn’t working. The days off were very lonely in the capital of Copenhagen without friends. The turning point came when some Christian so-called “Navigators” an American Christian student organization came to my door and talked to me about their faith in Christ. I was drunk and been listening to “Deep Purple” or “Black Sabbath”. I had difficulties in getting up in the mornings in time for work at the ward and everything about life was difficult and I hated myself.

The “Navigator girls” seemed to like me and we got in touch. Later a girl in their flock saved my life as she started to arrange meetings with me. During that time I tried to commit suicide, as I had become even more frustrated with my life. I was unconscious for three days but was found in time by my twin brother and brought to a hospital. (I am really sorry that he had to go through this). When I was released from the hospital I soon received a letter from her. Our appointments had been interrupted, but this letter sparked a light in me.

I thought that after what I had done to myself I had no future. She showed me Luke 15 where Jesus goes out and finds the lost sheep and slowly I gained health emotionally and physically.  For once I had a group of people to relate to and I laid my background behind me.

I rented a room in a patrician villa in Charlottenlund 1973-1974 during that low point in my life

 

I moved around in Copenhagen quite a bit in the years before and after I finished my nursing education in 1975. One thing I learnt was that you can’t always trust those who rent out flats. Once my friend and I renovated a flat and as soon as this was done the landlady asked us to leave.

 

In the 1970s it was difficult to rent a room or flat, but somehow we got hold of something better where we thrived at least for the years we lived there very close to the historical buildings of Nyboder where my grandmother grew up.

The famous

My homes as married 1979-1988

I got married in 1979 when I was 28 years old. My ex-husband claimed to be Christian, but he acted differently by using my background against me or talking bad things about my friends or parents. I was not able to navigate in this kind of abuse. During the nine years, we were married and with four children

I thought that if only I could do more to support him then he would be satisfied. I helped him to take new educations, he had two or three before we met, but things got only worse, especially in the weekends and holidays.

We moved to Jutland where I took my education as a Health visitor and soon after our first-born arrived. We couldn’t use our educations in Jutland so that brought us back to Copenhagen to a modest flat in Vanlose Copenhagen. As a curiosity Henry, whom I married 23 years ago, an acquaintance of my first husband, renovated the flat from A-Z while we were still in Jutland. We only got the flat because nobody else would rent it.

I was pregnant and couldn’t cope with the look of it. The kitchen had no oven so I suffered the first Christmas not being able to do the Christmas dinner as I wanted it. Again I was homesick but had the dilemma that my ex-husband despised my parents, so I couldn’t just go home to them more than for a short visit. We searched for a better flat and found one that I treasured though it was old-fashioned with a very small kitchen and big sitting rooms, placed opposite a lovely park “Frederiksberg Have”.

After nine years of constant stress and anxiety on how he would treat the children if I had to go out or to work, it dawned on me that I had to leave him.

Fortunately, I got help from a very clever lawyer. He wrote in the divorce papers that I should have full custody of the children, and I got that. It showed up that my ex-husband seemed relieved and in secret had made preparations to go to California to study the next year. I then found a new flat and moved with the children in more modest surroundings in Vanlose Copenhagen.

What kept me up was my lovely small children and my work as a health visitor. When I went into a home to visit a new family with a baby I completely forgot my own worries. I was a single mom for four years.

1989 at my parents' home

From my parent’s home shortly before I immigrated to Sweden

 

 

My homes in Vanlose and Sweden as a single mother 1988-1992 moving back to Denmark 1995

The thought came to me to become stronger and to be built up after these hard years. The next move two years later became the biggest step ever as I immigrated to Sweden in 1990 to live in an area with a lot of families who belonged to a church and Bible school called “Word of Life”. We had five good years, though as I said earlier on my time in Manchester, you will always be a foreigner in another country. My children learnt the language very quickly and I did my best too as language is the key to any place. Henry helped me a lot with big bills and moving and it became very natural after some years that we got married. The children have always loved him. It is not an easy thing to help in bringing up children that aren’t your own though.

 

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     Henry showing my youngest son how to cut a flute

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Skiing outside our Swedish home

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A cold winter day at home in Storvreta Sweden

 

 

My home in Jutland Denmark 1995 to?

After five years we had to go home to Denmark again as Henry was working in Denmark and I and the children lived in Sweden 800 km away or more. For me and the children, the cultural chock became bigger this time going back to a new area of Denmark. Culture is so different from that in Copenhagen and Sweden as well as the language. Henry and I have lived here for twenty years now and the adult children are spread at two places in Denmark and one has moved back to Uppsala Sweden.

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My home today lit up for Christmas

 

I often visit Copenhagen and still feel very much at home there. The same counts for Sweden. I love to speak Swedish and listen to the language and get hold of their good quality food. I still have the friends I got when I lived there. But I have settled here in Jutland in my Swedish wooden house.

 

The streets are not so busy in the country.


 

I wrote this post to accept my past and share it with you.

17 Comments »

  1. Maria, this is such a powerful story, and deeply touching. Despite adversity and challenge, you’ve continued learning and giving to others with kindness and compassion. You have led such an interesting life and no doubt have been such a blessing to the families and children you’ve worked with during your career.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carol you really warmed heart this morning. I felt my writing this post that I should dig a bit deeper as usually and by putting my homes on a list look at some coherence of the things I have been through. I still have a job to support my adult children who have been mistreated in each their way during their childhood and youth

      Liked by 1 person

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