My great-grandmother, Olga, studied Fine Arts in Berlin when she met my great-grandfather, Hjalmar. A writer, journalist and critic, he was on a research-trip covering the conflict zones in Europe (which falls along more or less the same lines as today.) A classical - THE classical theme unfolds. They fell passionately in love. The second classical theme: He was already married. The third complication; And she was his sister-in law. Aouch., ... and also: they were both from very promonent families. Aiai.
I can not know their real feelings except that it seemed to have been a real passion. Possibly both were forced by his and her family, And he did what he had to do, divorced his first wife, an actress with whom he had a som, Thomas, and married her. And so my grandmother, Elen, was not born out of a wedlock.
Their marriage was turbulent and ended in divorce some years later. Why we can only guess; his writing about it suggest differece in character. He married a third time, with his best friends widow. That marriage lasted.
These two conflicting lovebirds continued to meet in a most modern fashion for rendevouz a long time after the divorce. The setting was extravagant: in the most fashionable hotels and places of the day they would meet for weekends of passionate indulgence. In true Bohemian fashion he drank Champagne out of her shoes and they had wild sex until dawn.
Later she married a priest – a single mother with a child! it is almost unheard of even today!
She must obviously been Quite a Lady. And rather complex. Which I find interesting.
My mother grew up with her and her steph-grandfather the priest. She always told stories about her grandmothers unbending love and affection for her. She could be very firm, but always fair. I like that. But she was not very happy. That is sad. She really loved Hjalmar and although her second husband was a good man he was not really a match for her strong personality.
I have been thinking of her today. Olga Helberg. She was a gifted artist but never came to take it up as a profession. Her daughter, Elen Elster Christensen, my grandmother, went on to be an acclaimed sculptor. There are quite a few monuments made by her in towns all around Norway. Unfortunately she died when I was only two years old, the same year as my maternal grandfather aslo passed away, so I never got to know her properly. Of course also she married repeatedly, but that is another story.
I own several pieces of Elens beautiful sculptures and would like to write more about her one day, to get to know her better. But today, as said, I am thinking of my great-grandmother, Olga.
Perhaps it is because I am trying to learn how to paint roses. As I was working I came to think of the delicate mocca-cups inherited from her, the ones with 24k gold in ornamented pattern on the edges and delicatelly rendered lush pink roses all around the cups. She painted them in 1956, and they always held place of pride in my mothers kitchen.
So, here I am. painting flowers. Thinking of the past, the present and the future.
This one is for you, Great-grandmother. You might have wished for something else for your life. But you did what you could,
Thank you for your legacy. For being You.