Johs

Forty years ago, when AB and I became best friends we also adopted each other's families on her side, that meant her dad Johs, mom Ebba and younger sister KL (who I may have mentioned we harassed mercilessly - forgot the link, sorry). They became a sort of second family to me, an extended safety net of people who felt like home.

My family and they both lived in an area with tiny, one-story rowhouses and I was ever fascinated by their version on another street, because it had two stories on the back, being built on a hill. They had a bathtub where we had a shower, although the tub was the type you sit in, a tiny enclosed chair of sorts squeezed into the end of an equally tiny bathroom. Their house was arraigned slightly differently than ours and Ebba and Johs had redecorated, putting up a wall where previously none was to allow for AB and KL to have their own rooms, which left their parents with a rather small room to themselves and very little privacy and even as a child, I was aware of the sacrifices they were willing to make for their beloved daughters.

J
ohs and Ebba were wonderful, gentle people who raised equally wonderful, gentle daughters. In all the years I've known them, I've never heard them raise their voice to each other, which was an interesting contrast to my house where things were passionate, in-your-face opinionated and debate often a bit loud. At AB’s house, things were done differently, quietly, subtly and gently. And just as gently, they opened their home and hearts to me, including me in their afternoon meal after we came home from school, comforting me when I was upset over some childhood problem, teaching me about houseplants, making lace - Ebba did beautiful work - it's older than tatting, involves a board and is very complicated (the link’s in Danish, I have no idea what it's called in English, click on Billeder to see photos) and brought me to their cottage by Roskilde Fjord. It was tiny, too, and when I was there, AB and I slept in the attic room with the view of the fjord. Some of my favorite memories of childhood took place in that cottage and on the water and always, Johs and Ebba were there, a safe and solid buffer between us and the hard edges of the world. And when we grew up in my family moved to Canada, that connection continued. We always saw them when we went home to visit and danced with them at AB and Bjarke’s wedding, which was also the christening of their first adored grandchild Camilla. The second, Christoffer, arrived two years after that and just last year, KL and Jens had a daughter, Sophie, and Johs was, as ever, over the moon in love - a love that also extended to the four-legged grandchildren.

Johs has been sick for several years, deteriorating along the same path as my father's before him and last year, Ebba could no longer take care of him at home and he moved into a nursing home. 2008 was an important year with the birth of Sophie, Camilla’s confirmation and the traditional Christmas at AB’s. He was there for all of the big occasions, at times had to leave early, but he was there and that was the important thing. As the new year came, he got worse and we have been preparing to see him go. And this Sunday afternoon, a little after 2 o’clock Danish time, he did, surrounded by the voices and touch of Ebba, AB and KL, sending him into the hereafter with words of love. It is a blessing for he was clearly ready and is now at peace, but he will be greatly missed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Photo by AB

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