Yesterday on the train back home from work, I didn’t feel right. I felt uneasy, low, not in the mood. Maybe because work was tough this weekend, or that I didn’t sleep well during the night. But in the evening my aunt rang to let me know that my grandma passed away during the afternoon. Did my body know that already?
My family situation is rather complicated. I’ve had two grandmas on my father’s side. Grandma E, who was my biological grandma, and grandma V. They were sisters. I learned in my later teens that my dad had been in foster care, from age 2, with his aunt (grandma V), and at grandma E’s funeral in 2007 I finally got to know grandma V and her daughter, my aunt G, who grew up as a sister to my dad. I learned that aunt G plays the fiddle and that there’s a fiddler group up in the village where my dad’s family is from, and that they play for the Midsummer celebrations every year.
My father died too early, in 1993, very suddenly because of myocarditis, and about a year after, my grandpa died from lung cancer. Sometimes I think of it that he died from grief.
Grandpa was a fiddler, and he also made some own tunes. I heard of this after grandma E died, and it was then I also was given two of grandpa’s fiddles. One was a Chinese not-so-good fiddle, the other one was very nice to play, had a lovely mellow tone, but was super ugly. My grandpa, just as my dad, was a DIY person, but he obviously wasn’t the right person to revarnish this fiddle. Later I started removing the varnish (because no professional wanted to do it, they said it would take too long time and be too expensive for me) to have it fixed up later, but I still haven’t come very far. The fiddle is lovely to play though, and, well, it does have personality.
I’m the only one of the grandchildren who has an interest in music, and especially after I learned about grandpa’s own tunes, I feel as if it’s my duty to play the fiddle and to keep grandpa’s tunes alive. That’s nothing bad though, since I love fiddle music. When i got to know grandma V and aunt G, I was invited to play with the fiddlers at the Midsummer celebrations. Several members of this group, including aunt G, are people that grandpa used to play music with.
Grandma V loved fiddle music. She lived in this village where the traditional music is very strong and very alive. For all special events, there is fiddle music. There are particular tunes that are always played at Midsummer, and for her those tunes ARE midsummer. They mean and breathe midsummer. (FYI, Midsummer is a big holiday event in Sweden)
I remember when we talked about myself playing the fiddle, one of the first years I was up there for the Midsummer celebrations. I said that I think grandpa would have been happy if he knew I play the fiddle. And grandma V said that “yes, he would be so incredibly proud”.
And now both grandpa and grandma V are gone. I’m more inspired than ever to take up fiddling again, really learn to play that thing, play grandpa’s tunes, whatever other tunes, just simply play the fiddle, to celebrate their lives and what they were. When grandma V celebrated her 95th birthday in 2012, my husband and myself made her a tune, a schottische that is HERS. My aunt wants it to be played at grandma’s funeral. I recently took it down from Vimeo, because I wanted to make a better recording. Now my playing is really bad, but my fiddle class is supposed to start on Wednesday, so that’s a good thing. Still, I need to make a recording as soon as possible.
This week is a tough one. I’m filled with mixed emotions and I suddenly cry (work will be interesting) and then laugh when I think of grandma and how cool and energetic she was before she had her stroke. At age 92 she was up with us until 2 am for a Midsummer party with music sessions. I hope I will be like that when I’m 92.