Who Has Inspired You The Most?

I'm asking this question as I think it is important to reflect back on life and what has shaped you into becoming who you are today. This week was the international women's day and therefore I want to share with you photos and a story of one woman who has meant more to me growing up than anyone else. My grandmother. She was such a strong character who had a tough life but still kept fighting for what she believed in and stayed such a level headed and caring persona until the very end.

I grew up with my grandmother far up north in Norway. She was always there. I have vivid memories of coming home from school and she was always sitting on her chair in front of the window looking for me. It never failed! Waiting for me with a warm hug or a pair of newly knitted woollen socks I could wear the next day so I stayed warm and cosy. She was the rock in the household consisting of me, my mum, my dad and her. We were a little family, but we shared a lot of love and we were a very caring family.

Me and my grandma when I was about 2. <3 And yes, I prefered to play with cars than dolls!!! 

Already as a child, she had challenges in life as she was born in a place far away from neighbours, shops and even roads. She was born in 1905 so she grew up in a poor and newly independent country where women played a central role in running the country as most of the men along the coast were fishermen and the women were left to run the farms when the men were out at sea. My grandmother was no different. She was the youngest of 12 children, but several of them died due to the Spanish flu that killed more than 40 million people worldwide. My grandmother survived, but had to take on work as a maid at the age of 15 to help the family survive.

When she was 21 she gave birth to a son outside of marriage and as you can imagine this was all other than easy with a lot of stigma surrounding her and her situation. It wasn't made any easier that the baby's father was not allowed by his family to marry my grandmother as she came from a lower class than him. So she had no choice than to give the boy away to a foster family. One of my grandmother's big brother's, Haakon, helped her get work where her son lived so she could stay in touch with him which I know made her so happy.

In 1930 she met my grandad and they built a house and settled not far from where her brother and his family lived and also where her son lived with his foster family. In 1932 she gave birth to my dad, who became her only child with her new husband. My grandad was a fisherman and away for parts of the year to work. My grandmother then looked after the small farm they had so it was a lot of hard work because there were no or very few machines to help out. They didn't have horses either, so everything had to be by manual labour. I have memories both from my grandmother telling me stories and my dad telling me stories about how life was back then and it was all other than easy and convenient.

In 1940 my grandmother went through a loss that had a huge impact on her life. Her brother, Haakon, who she had been very close to, were killed during an air raid during the WWII. He was a seaman on a freight ship. This loss to her was devastating and she starting to develop mental health issues that she would struggle with until she died. During the occupational years in Norway they had to house German soldiers in their house for some time but compared to many people during the war,  I think my grandparents were lucky as they were self-sufficient with food and fuel for heating (made of peat bog and wood).

My grandma, me(10) and my mother in Lofoten where I grew up. 

My grandmother had some good years until 1963 when her husband died at the age of 69. She was devastated as he was the love of her life. She was a widow at the age of 58. She never remarried.My dad still lived on the farm as he was helping out with the farm work, but he also took on work as a fisherman in between.  In the years that followed, she got three different cancer diagnosis which she all survived from. She had cancer in her ear, in her womb and in her colon. She had several operations and several courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But she fought! Cause she loved life. It was right after this I was born and we all continued to live on the same farm as my dad had grown up on. They had stopped the farming itself when my grandmother was sick, so I never grew up with farm animals around me.
After her cancer illness periods, she became increasingly more and more anxious. This resulted in my mum and dad always had to be there with my grandmother as she was scared to be on her own. I know she felt awful about this as she had always been so independent. But they didn't see it as a sacrifice as she had done so much good for both of them and she was such a resource in my life.

I remember she always used to say "there are no problems in life, there are only challenges" and I think that is such a positive way to see things. I wish I could see things as positively as she did. I try to take on board all the things she taught me in life. Sometimes I managed to live by her advice, but it's not easy. She died when I was 15 years old and I never got the chance to tell her how much I admired her bravery and her strength. It's first as you get older you start realising how hard a life like that must have been and she never gave up. That is a quality I hope I've inherited some of as I would love to grow old as gracefully and strong as my grandmother did!


  1. Nice article, thank you for the sharing

  2. Hi Mookie, I've been a fan since 2008 and am only getting in touch now to declare that this site is possibly the best of its kind that I've seen anywhere online. You are truly a fantastic writer and your grandmother would be very proud.