I have a lot of wild aunties in my life. One of them is a tall and generous woman named Gudrun. She sprinkles her speech and storytelling with Norwegian phrases that warm your soul and snaps her fingers when she forgets the next word. She gets tipsy at family weddings and teaches old people the electric slide, busting so many joyful moves that she needs a Cortizone shot in her knee the next day. When her life changed with the removal of her reproductive organs, she gave them ceremony and burial while rejoicing for the children they helped make. She lives out loud, naming things that are lovely or hard and, often, both.
Gudrun lives on Lake Superior. Her backyard unfolds into a sandy beach and you can find her there walking with her dog and handsome husband. She's the one with wind whipped hair and arms filled with trash she picks up along the way. She's the one you see and think yourself I'll bet she is worth knowing well. And she is.
I am blessed to be welcoming a new sister into my life this year. Gabe is getting married next summer and Cara is quite the family acquisition! I love this woman for her wisdom and words, thoughtfulness and humor. Cara is worth knowing well, too.
Gabe and Cara have decided to make kransekake for their wedding reception, a Norwegian wedding favorite. In order to learn (and to lap up a weekend of maternal love and care on the north shore) Cara and I spent last weekend at Gudrun's house baking and laughing. Gudrun's daughter Laura came over and the kitchen filled with estrogen, our conversations nourishing each other.
Gudrun is the first person who has asked to hold my growing belly and burst out in songful melody. When she was done with the ditty, I looked down at my unborn and sent a silent message: That was Gudrun - I'll explain her later. This kid doesn't know it yet, but soon its photograph will adorn her refrigerator that operates like a string of prayer beads, filled with images of people and places that Gudrun holds in her heart. It's a good place to be.
Cara and I drove home in agreement the next day. The simple visit filled us up. Sure, we were full of chili and vaffler and delicious tea and the extra kransekake dough. But we were also filled with the love of a wild woman who took time to shower us with celebration and wisdom. As we rounded a cloverleaf on the highway just south of Duluth, I felt the child within me do a complete 360.
There were lots of reasons to leap and flip for joy on Saturday. I have no doubt that our dose of Gudrun was one of them.