Today is a very special day in my family.
Exactly 100 years ago, Vita – my wonderful, strong and inspirational maternal grandmother – was born. Unfortunately she passed away four years ago – but we all still miss having her around. Our girls (and my husband and me, for that matter) take solace in our story that she is ‘up there’ with the Star Bears (Ursa major and minor) enjoying herself immensely.
My grandmother was the kind of woman who pursued her dreams, despite what other people thought she should do. Coming from a good academic family, she went ahead and became a farmer, because that was what she wanted. She married, had 5 kids and a farm, but divorced again when that felt right.
Most of my life she lived at a small farmstead, with all the fruit trees you could dream of, a big vegetable plot, a forest she planted herself, always a dog by her side, and always huge hugs for us grandchildren whenever we came to visit (the kind of soft, but strong hugs that made you feel safe, and that you felt you could disappear into).
She was always inquisitive and playful, read a ton of books, and was ever trying out new hobbies; She grew mulberry trees for her tiny silk worm farm, polished pebbles for homemade jewellery, made her own cheese at some point, and was a wizard at weaving. And (most marvellous for us kids when we were tiny) she was the first we knew to get a video recorder (followed a few years later by a SEGA game console… because she wanted to try playing Lemmings!).
Thus, vacations at her home were often spent alternating between exploring the grounds, picking fruit, laying huge puzzles, doing tricky crosswords, reading, watching cartoons, helping out in the kitchen, walking the dog (or staying very quiet and out of sight for her siesta).
She shared my passion for fairytales and fantasy, for decades always making sure to gift me a favourite book for my birthday. Some of my most treasured books to date are the little ‘Flower Fairies’ books by Cicely M. Barker, that I inherited from her quite late, with the strong admonition to guard and treasure them always.
Even late in her nineties she kept her high spirit, remembered the names of all her great grandchildren, and always showed genuine interest in the projects that we were engulfed in, despite the fact that we lived quite far away.
Since the day we moved into our farmhouse here on Ærø last summer, it has been crystal clear that this is a place she would have loved. The quirks that we fell for, she would have too. Our plans for an orchard, an orangery and a big vegetable garden is right up her alley. I would have been chuffed to show her our beach and the fairytale town of Ærøskøbing…
Today, we would have loved to be able to reveal the namesign we plan to hang at the roadside gable – but that will have to wait a few months. However, from today on, in our minds the house is “Vitasminde” (in memory of Vita).