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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Monday, June 6, 2011

eulogy for a role model

Sometimes in your life you are lucky enough to meet an angel.

Someone who teaches you about life, not by preaching, but through the sublime example of how they live their life.

For four blissful Danish summers, there was nothing Bedstemor and Bedstefar wouldn’t do for Nicholas and I. By living with Bedstemor, I learned the deepest life lessons that I still carry through life to this day. Determined to bond with her grandchildren, she worked to learn English in her late 50's, simply to become closer and understand us better. Her utter commitment to exercise, eating well, pride in a clean home, positivity and a marriage that was a partnership; equal souls, a team united in the pursuit of a good life.

Despite thousands of kilometers separating Denmark from Canada, there was barely a major event in my life that they missed.

After my father died, they did not hesitate to leave their family, their friends, their life; to live with us in Canada for six months and help rebuild our life. Bedstemor’s work ethic and constant positivity, was an omnipresent force throughout that time. Always listening, always giving, always working to make our lives better during the most difficult time of our lives.

In 1985, they came to watch my performance in my first professional play.  Perhaps understanding only 10 percent of the play, but honoring this was my passion and dream and all that mattered was supporting it. 

In 1988, after my first kidney transplant, they left their lives again, with hearts full of unconditional love; ready to help mum and I heal both emotionally and physically after major surgery. They held my hand, literally and figuratively, as my new life of medication, doctors and health challenges began.

In 1989, I went to Denmark for 5 weeks to live with them, to learn from them and grow with them as a healthy adult with a new lease on life. Together we went to England and were silly, crazy, and laughed and laughed and laughed in the way that one could only laugh with Bedstemor.

There were summers, christmases, birthdays, Toronto, Los Angeles. And she reveled in every experience..

And then came Kevin.

And they had their own love affair.

From the first day she met him, she told me in Kevin’s eyes, she saw the kindness and goodness of her Gunnar; and I knew I had chosen right.

Kevin loved everything about her. He loved to watch her eat, to drink, to dance. The way Bedstemor could find enjoyment in something, anything; everyday. She lived life like a child at heart, but with the wisdom the most powerful intellectuals couldn't touch. She understood more than anyone, that there are not that many “big” things in life. And it is the “little moments” that should be the most celebrated.

And she did.

The last time I spoke with her, I told her Kevin wanted to give her a kiss. Despite her agonizing pain, she laughed and said, “I would like to give him 2 kisses”. Then she giggled and said “listen”, and made loud, silly kissing noises on the phone, all the way to Los Angeles. And we laughed and laughed and laughed...and then i said goodbye...

Bedstemor poignantly spoke at our wedding; perfectly articulating that “I had won in life’s lottery when I met Kevin.” And Bedstemor, we feel the same way about you.

So now I have 3 angels.

My mother, who saved my life first. Kevin, who saved my life again. And my Bedstemor. Who every time I saw her or my daily thoughts of her that traveled far across the ocean, would overflow my heart with love and life.

We love you, Bedstemor.

Henriette and Kevin xo
first grandchild
proud grandmother
celebrating 65
party animal...
new year's angel...
wedding day
passionate athlete
eating life...yes, with a ladle...
"7th" grandchild
always flirting with hubby
"what? it's the year 2000!"
sing, sing, sing...never stop singing...

it's been over 32 years since taut fingers enwrapped my heart in this unrelenting clutch of grief. the omnipresent squeezing, internal ache and a head spinning with memories.

back then i was a girl of 10, and now i am a so-called woman. but i feel like a child; running lost throughout a super-sized walmart. running frantically up and down the aisles, blindly turning corners, crashing into overflowing carts, scanning the overstocked shelves; searching for something, anything, to fill this void.

but processed foods, sugar cereals and all the lip glosses one can smear are filler; temporary fixes that only deepen any canyon of pain. and so this wee, redheaded lass finds her way over to a stark and simple desk; free of clutter and distraction. and above this counter hangs the sign i now wear emblazoned across my chest, (like a scarlet "a")"lost and found". for the young child is lost; but when she eventually embraces, (perhaps always under protest) that a new angel watches over her, this so-called woman will be found again.

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