I think of my Grandpa often now I am in Sweden. He was half-Swedish and passed away on 17 October last year. It was his inheritance that enabled my husband and I to buy our beautiful hotel, which we are moving to next Monday. As well as being a shrewd financial manager, Grandpa was also a warm, dignified, funny, artistic man who was fiercely intelligent. A much loved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, who was a genuine inspiration to his family.
My half-Swedish grandpa (in black glasses and hat) with us all on his 90th birthday
The Swedish side of my family has long been a subject of fascination for me and I have often felt an affinity to the country. For example, my Swedish great-grandmother’s name was Anna Christina and mine is Anna Christine. Also, I have often been told I look Swedish as I am tall and was very blonde as a child. Last but not least, my husband is Swedish!
Here are some of my fondest memories of my amazing half-Swedish Grandpa:
Every time one of his 5 grand-children had a birthday, Grandpa would paint – yes, actually hand-paint – a greetings card. I remember one that had a big fat robin on the front and I loved it. I was always very proud that my Grandpa was an artist!
When I was very little, my grandparents lived in the seaside town of Bournemouth and I would get so excited about visiting them that I couldn’t eat breakfast on the day of the trip! When we arrived, Grandpa would meet us at the train station and I would run up to him for a hug – it was all so exciting! Then, when we all went to the beach at Bournemouth my Grandpa would swim in the sea with us. I loved that he was so active and got involved with our beach games and seaside antics.
Fast-forward a few years to 2014 and I introduced my future husband to Grandpa, in the process reaslising how fiercely protective he was of the women in his family. He fired questions at my boyfriend like an expert interrogator (well, he did used to work in the police!) and left my boyfriend in no doubt about the consequences, if he should misbehave! I took this to be an example of how much he loved and cared for me, his grand-daughter.
My final memory of Grandpa was a few days before he died when I visited him at the nursing home in which he passed the last week of his life. He had asked to see each of his children and grand-children in person. He spoke to each of us with dignity and love and during my time with him told me he had never worried about me, always been proud of me and gave me his blessing in my marriage and my life.
Those words have stayed with me and I hope that I can continue to make Grandpa proud by building a really good business here in Sweden.