spruced by marlene


By Marlene | Published: 7. September 2011

Last weekend I travelled to Denmark for my great-grandmother’s funeral. It was a sad occasion for the family to gather, but in many ways also a joyous couple of days, as we all sat together, sharing memories and celebrating her life.
Emilie lived for 99 years. 99 years! It’s hard to fathom all that she saw in her lifetime and part of me wishes she had seen it to 100, so that Queen Margrethe could have congratulated her (which is what happens in Denmark when you fill the whole century). My great-grandmother certainly would’ve deserved it. I knew her not even for a third of her long life, but in that time she struck me as a woman who lived just the way she wanted to.
If there is a secret to her longevity, it wasn’t a healthy diet and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Fruit and exercise were not for her, coffee and cigarettes were. Black coffee and Look 120s, naturally. She was en fine dame, a fine lady, decked out in an astrakhan coat in the winter, her hair set just so and her jewellery in place. There was never a reason not to look your best, even when you were just preparing sandwiches in the kitchen. Or, in her case, canapés. She loved entertaining, and on the weekend my mother told me about a New Year’s Eve when Emilie opened the dance floor in the living room and how I joined her, only a few years old. I didn’t remember this, but just thinking about it, I can see her dancing there, partying and jolly. She wasn’t tall and still you would never have mistaken her for a little woman. Even as she seemed to sink further and further into herself in her later years, she would suddenly make one of her fabulously quick-witted remarks that let you know: I’m still here. She had, above all, an admirable composure. Something that she passed on to her daughter who passed it on to her daugther who hopefully passed some of it on to her daughter, me. Although Emilie’s skills at canasta were not bestowed on any of us – she merrily beat all of us at it time and time again.
The weekend was also the first time back “home” for me this year. I’ve never lived in Denmark and yet I feel so much at home there, even more so when spending time with my family, who I don’t get to see nearly as much as I would like. And maybe I would think differently if I went more often, but I miss it. I miss the beaches and the wind and the kind of milky sunlight that you don’t see anywhere else. So I snapped this picture to remind me of that.
What you don’t see is that about two seconds later a woman in a string bikini passed by behind me. You can perhaps guess from my hat that it wasn’t exactly sunbathing weather. And what cheered me up about it even more was the thought that my great-grandmother would have taken one look at this woman’s behind and said: When you get to a certain age, stop wearing string bikinis. That, as much as everything else, is the reason I will always miss her.

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  1. O.
    Posted 8. September 2011 at 00:00 | Permalink

    Das hier hätte sie sicher gern gelesen. En fine dame, das ist schön. Danke.

  2. Marlene
    Posted 8. September 2011 at 11:23 | Permalink

    Eine schöne Vorstellung. Danke!

  3. Steffie
    Posted 12. September 2011 at 17:35 | Permalink

    oh das ist so wunderschön geschrieben und hat mich gleich ganz nachdenklich gemacht!

  4. Marlene
    Posted 12. September 2011 at 20:04 | Permalink

    Danke, Steffie, für einen so lieben Kommentar.

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