After my plans to head up the coast from Göteborg had to be scrapped, I decided to tick off a really old checkbox today by traveling by train to Mellerud and then beyond to the ancient village of Järn where the farmstead my mother and two of her three sisters grew up at during the 1930s.
I’d actually been to my grandparent’s old farm “Moderud” once before. It was sometime in the mid-1970s when the place was in total shambles.
The farm had been abandoned from the time when my grandfather Eskil and grandmother Agnes Andersson had left it and moved south to start a new life in Trollhättan sometime in 1944.
That first visit was with my youngest aunt Lillemor (the only one not to have lived there). We found a pair of tiny children’s shoes among the debris inside the house and I clearly remember thinking that those cute little shoes just might have belonged to my mother (whom at the time, at least in my mind, was anything but cute).
It was Pia and her husband David, the kind folks that own Lindens, the B&B I’m staying at in Mellerud, that offered to take me to the old farm this evening. And just as we arrived, a friendly neighbor showed up and provided some historic context.
I haven’t spent much time on any of my literary projects recently. And while I certainly didn’t jack-up my expectations, that today’s experience was going to be super revelatory, the visit to Moderud did (somewhat surprisingly) have a humbling effect on me. I mean, as picturesque and idyllic as the farm looked today, at some point, I just stood there and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live there in the 1930s and early 1940s. It was definitely no bed of roses, that’s for sure.
Perhaps my mother’s desire to flee Moderud, Mellerud and Sweden was not just innocent post-war wanderlust. Maybe it was life-threatening desperation. Something or someone she urgently needed to distance herself to but could never quite get free from, regardless of how far or deep she fled…