Mormor is headed back to Minnesota.
They call ours the sandwich generation and we were a classic example. Only sometimes the bread crumbles and the sandwich falls apart.
In July 2012, my mom, Sigrun Hovland, moved from Minneapolis to Huntsville, AL. It would be perfect! She would share a home with my husband, our two daughters, and me. This would be happily ever after for all concerned.
While she would be close to us and vice versa, we didn’t consider the fact that we uprooted this amazing woman from a community in which she’d been deeply entrenched for nearly 50 years. She had developed a solid network of friends, mostly fellow Norwegian natives who shared her language, customs, Church, political views and coffee addiction.
This Mother’s Day will be her third with us here in Huntsville. It will also be her last. Mormor, as the children call her, heads back to Minnesota on Tuesday. We will miss her terribly, but respect her desire to return to the soil in which she’d so firmly planted her roots when she immigrated to the States in 1964.
It might sound like a great idea to have your mother move in with you. For us, it did, and it was for many reasons. For starters, she and our girls, Serina (freshly 10) and Sophia (just shy of 8), developed a bond that would never have been possible otherwise. She is their last surviving grandparent and they adore her. I know that they are better for having had Mormor here to shape, influence and love them unconditionally.
What we didn’t realize is how isolated she would be. Both David and I work full-time and the girls are in school. She was alone all day. Sure, we have great resources and an active senior community, but it isn’t easy for everyone to start over socially at 78.
The family dynamics can be challenging, as well. Mom struggled when David and I disagreed. As my mother, she would occasionally get mad at my husband on my behalf. (Yes, we all have our issues.) Mom and David also have strong, yet opposing political perspectives. They love each other very much, but just because you love someone doesn’t mean you can or should live with them.
Mom is also worried about her neuropathy, which continues to take an aggressive toll on her health.
She had lived alone since October 2002, when my dad passed away. She likes things certain ways. So do we. Those “ways” don’t always align, a potential source of tension in any living arrangement. Multi-generational living works in many other cultures. I’m sure it has also worked for other families in the U.S. It just didn’t work for us.
A few months ago, Mom told me she’d been reading the serenity prayer:
God grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It’s been my personal go-to prayer for years so I was happy to hear she’d been meditating on the message. Even so, I was surprised when she said God granted her the courage to change the things she could. She was moving back to Minnesota.
My immediate reaction was that I had failed her. I hadn’t made it work. Thanks to good friends and a loving God, however, I finally realized it wasn’t about me. It is about my mother.
At age 81, she has demonstrated the depth of her courage by embarking on this new journey. Next week, Mom will move into a senior living community, Augustana Care, in South Minneapolis. She will be near her friends, her Church, my brother, Larry, and her favorite stores, Ingebretsen’s and the Wedge.
The Minneapolis community is lucky to get this incredible woman back. We were beyond lucky to have her here for as long as we did. God blessed my children with a deep and special relationship with their maternal grandmother. Mom says God blessed her during this “season,” as well.
We are going to Minnesota in August for my niece, Rachel’s, wedding. We’ll see Mormor then in her new digs, which I know will fit her beautifully.
In the meantime, we will shed a few tears.
Mom, we love you and we will miss you more than you know, but wish you all the best in your next adventure. Happy Mother’s Day!