I need to credit my parents more. Most of the time I claim that I am my own, which I am of course, but that my parents didn’t influence me much. Which is stupid and childlish. There are three things I consider my own, singing, writing and reading. And my parents can definitely be credited in how I have developed.
Reading? Well, that’s easy. They didn’t force me and were patient. Why do I say that? When you talk to people who are involved with writing, or reading or blogging or anything like that they usually tell you that they’ve been reading since they were four, or five or three. That they taught themselves and they’ve loved it since they were little. Well, I am ashamed to say that that wasn’t me. I didn’t learn to read and write properly until I was about eight. If you had wanted to teach me before that you would have had to catch me first since I spent my first years in school being busy wrestling and fighting with the boys, falling off trees and getting into trouble. Then puberty hit, everybody outgrew me and I discovered reading. And I promise, I have done my best to catch up with everyone else since then. 😉 I discovered Enid Blyton’s books and later Harry Potter (oops, did I just out myself as being under 30? 😛 )
Singing? Well, that’s a whole other story. So to not make a big deal out it, please, I just used to sing opera. My parents paid for lessons. Okay, now let’s just ignore that part.
Writing? Well, I was late with that too. I remember struggling to learn to write my name in Kindergarten. I was frustrated, felt stupid and was surrounded by Emmas, Annas and Elsas and Saras. My name, my real name and not the pen name I use here, have 9 letters. My most trouble was with the G which is planted in almost the middle of my name. I spent years writing it as a 6.
Either way, despite these… challenges I had with reading and writing I have always loved stories. Making them, hearing them etc. After spending my early years only wanting to hear two stories over and over (a story about the little train from my dad, and the story of the cricket that sung all summer from mum) I turned five and craved to hear other stories. In the same time I also decided that I was going to write a book.
My mum took me to the bookstore and we looked for an empty notebook (not with lines because of course I wouldn’t write). I chose one that had a picture of a lady in a 1920s style dress that was green. I still remember picking it out and holding it in my hands. I remember the feel of the cover under my hands, it was so shiny. And I couldn’t wait to start.
My dad helped me. I would draw pictures and make speech bubbles and he would write in the speech bubbles exactly what I told him.
… well, I don’t know what the fuck was wrong with five year old me. I have read my book as an adult and I just have no comments. I had clearly been inspired by the beautiful lady on the front because it was about her. And how she is kidnapped by demons and pulled through several layers of hell. In the book I have drawn ghosts, demons, cages with humans inside them and torture machines that the poor woman was put through. There is the demon king, and all the things he even put the ghosts through. There are ghosts crying. And laughing. It ends with the woman getting free and running back home.
And my dad wrote everything. It’s his handwriting through the whole thing except the final pages where I’m writing random words badly misspelled. I don’t know what he thought, or if he questioned. But he did as I asked. And for that I’m grateful.
He would continue reading my stories and giving me comments on language up until adulthood. Then I switched to English and it was harder for him. Then I started writing lesbian romance and I stopped asking. I wish I could show him “hej pappa, look how good I got” but I’m also self conscious about what I’m writing about now, so I don’t ask anymore. He has promised to read my novels though.
But this is about his stories. We didn’t always have a television as I grew up. When I still couldn’t read my mum would loan audio books from the library so my taste for stories could be satisfied. However, nothing was as good as when I would sit on my dad’s lap after food and ask “pappa, tell me about that time….?”
My dad has a lot of funny stories from his own life. I carry them inside me like pieces of treasure, memories to bring out and tell my own children in the future. I asked him if I was allowed to share my favourites with you, and he said okay. So here you go, a selection of my father’s stories.
- My dad is a medical doctor and while still studying he tried a lot of different things and travelled a lot through out Sweden. He was in a new town and looked at the map very carefully, he needed to get to a local hotel. He grabbed his bag and walked all the way, entered what he thought was the hotel. He went up to the reception and said “I have a room waiting for me” – it turned out it was a prison.
- Once when my dad was working in a clinic or hospital, they had a code word that they would say when it was time for a coffee break. For some reason (doctors have a sense of humour too, I suppose, their code was “the police is here”. So they would say that over the intercome, dad would excuse himself and then go and have a coffee break as soon as the patient was done. Either way, one day he was examining the eyes of a man, the voice of the intercom said “the police is here”. Dad’s patient flew up from the chair and jumped out of the window.
- My dad has also been in sailing competitions since he was a teenager. One of my favourite stories is of one specific competition. All the boats where waiting in the middle, waiting for the start signal. Dad and his mate had looked at the map carefully. Then the start signal sounded… and every boat set off in one direction. Dad and his mate just looked at each other and then the map, they were so certain that they were supposed to sail the other way. So alone they set off. They were the only ones who made it into the goal, everyone else had followed one or two others who had been wrong.