The last week the world has lost four ladies that all ment something for me.
Elizabeth Taylor, (27 February 1932 – 23 March 2011) – The Diva.
Diana Wynne Jones, (16 August 1934 – 26 March 2011) – She was a marvellous writer of fantasy novels. I first discovered her when someone told me to read The Dark Lord of Derkholm, and has been hooked ever since. The Guardian has a good orbituary. For a more personal relationship, read what Neil Gaiman has to say about her.
Wenche Foss, (5 December 1917 – 28 March 2011) – The Norwegian Diva. A great acress and a lot of heart. Her first son was born with Down’s Syndrome. In 1953 children like that were hidden away, but Wenche Foss was open about her son and helped in abolishing some of the myths about children with Down’s syndrome. She was also a strong supporter of gay rights, something I’ll always be grateful for.
Sofia Olufina Haugsdal, (10 march 1914 – 26 March 2011)
My grandmother was no diva. She was no.2 of 12 siblings and a hard working daughter of a farmer. She married Fredrik Haugsdal, a farmer/taxi driver from a nearby farm in 1939. Her first child, my mother, was born in May 1940, shortly after the nazis invaded Norway.
She was widowed 57 years old when my grandfather drowned on a fishing trip. She never remarried but continued working as a cook at the nearby hydroelectric power plant and helping out on the farm after her youngest son took over.
As the years went by she aquired 4 children-in-law, 13 grandchildren (+ 1 honorary grandchild) and 20+ great-grandchildren.
She loved travelling. She went on bus trips all over Europe and visited relatived in the England, the US, Australia, Hong-Kong and China. She only had seven years of school, but could understand some English and was good at getting her grandchildren to translate her letters into English when she was updating our relatives abroad. But, while she knew quite a few English words, her pronounciation was horrible, she had no ear for it whatsoever.
I’m too young to remember this, but I know she was a redhead when she was young. Still, if she ever had the temper to match the hair, she never displayed it in my presence.
She was an avid reader, but not a very adventurous one. She liked biographies about missionaries and politicians, novels about things that could actually happen and the news. Needless to say her oldest granddaughters love of science fiction, fantasy, screwball comedy and books on information science and natural sciences were a complete mystery to her (and the other way around).
This christmas she was still well enough to spend Christmas Eve at my brother’s house, fondly watching the antics of his children.
She was no diva, but she deserved to be.
Kvil i fred, Mormor.