Tuesday, June 08, 2004

About Tilda and Sally

Tilda was the mother of my friend Sally. Her maiden name was Matilda Katarina Hogdin.

She was born in Hogdal, I don’t know if it was Över- or Ytterhogdal, on the 15th of May, 1877. Her mother was unmarried and had three children. Tilda was the youngest. She had a brother and a sister. Her mother was blind but the children lived with her. They lived in a single room or rather in a kitchen. Tilda slept in the same bed as her mother. One morning when Tilda woke up, her mother was dead. The home was broken up. The kommun dealt with the three children by means of auction. They went to whoever would take them for the least possible remuneration. The elder children, who could work and earn their keep, were a more attractive proposition than little Tilda, so the kommun had to pay more for her. She was six years old. There was an auction each year, and the price changed as they grew older. Tilda talked about the different places she was sent to. At one of them she felt so happy, and the people were so kind, that she prayed to God that she might be able to remain there, but they got such a little grant that they hadn’t the means to keep her, and she had to be moved on again. When she was eight years old she sat for one whole winter in front of a warm stove, and carded wool. She felt so pleased when a massive wodge of wool was nearly done, but the mistress would come along at once with another one. She did not set foot outdoors for that whole winter, just sat inside and carded wool. The older she grew the greater the demand for her. When she had finished her schooling, “read for the minister” and been confirmed, she was ready to look out for a maid’s situation and to support herself.

Anyway, Tilda was fortunate. She met a lad from Märviken whose name was Ola Olsson. He was twelve years older than she was. They got married in the same year Tilda turned 18. Then she had her first real home. Ola was very kind and clever. Tilda had her first child, a son, on Christmas Eve, 1895. He was christened Olov after his father. Tilda was overjoyed to have her own home, even if it was a small one, and a kind and understanding man, and her own little son, whom she loved more than anything. She cherished dreams of what he might become. She hoped he would be educated and learn a real trade. Time went by, and when Olov was twelve years old she gave birth to a daughter who was christened Sally. She was a welcome addition, especially being a girl. Ola was very fond of Sally and would sit her on his knee while he told stories for her, until she had grown so big that her feet touched the ground while she sat on his knee. When Sally was three or four, they bought a plot of land on the Ö (an island on the river), and Ola built a cottage. It was made of timber and divided into two parts: in the one half was a large kitchen, which was furnished with a settee with a seat-lid, a made-up pull-out bed, a table and chairs, a side-board and a sink fixed to the wall. In this room the family lived, four people. In the other were stalls for two cows. There was a thick wall between the rooms, and a little porch from which one door led into the kitchen and one into the cow-house. There was enough land for the two cows and for a potato-patch. A huge barn and a granary-loft stood there from before, since the plot was a portion of what had once been a larger farm.

Ola worked on joinery and building sometimes. Any spare hour from early morning to late at night you would hear his hammerblows coming from the large barn which was a good spot for timber and that sort of thing. In time he built a separate cow-house adjoined by a workshop with a stove where he could work in the warm. When this cow-house was finished, he started work on the old cottage. The space where the cows had been was made into a fine room known as the parlour. In due course there were also two rooms on the upper floor, and Sally got her own room.

Ola made everything with his own two hands. He never hired on any account. He financed everything by working in the woods each winter, floating the timber in spring, and assisting with various kinds of forestry work.

Tilda had found the best man there ever could be, and for the first time she had a home of her own where she could feel secure. Both Tilda and Ola had dreams of Sally learning a skill by which she could keep herself, so that she wouldn’t have to drudge as a maidservant. But it didn’t turn out the way they hoped. Sally was not healthy and with the years she became blind. They were very sorry about her lot.

Nevertheless Sally lived until she was 80. She lived in an old people’s home and later in a nursing home. She was completely blind and confined to a wheelchair. She had in her earliest youth acquired a boy-friend, Johan Nyström. He never abandoned her even though she was so handicapped. He came round to see her and was a support to her in her loneliness. He died just a few months after she did.

(Translated from a memoir by Berna Eriksson written around 1990. These memoirs are about life in a remote rural district of northern Sweden, due west of Sundsvall. MP)



Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger