Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Amma



This is a picture of my Amma's mountain... I can't remember the name of it, and even if I could, none of you would be able to read it, hehehe! It is situated over a glacier, near where my Amma grew up on the farm with her parents and many siblings. My mum has a water colour painting of it on her wall at her house. The significance of this photo is that it is what one of my uncles put on his site on the day my Amma passed away (April 11th). The sun setting over Amma's mountain, isn't that lovely???

My Amma was one of 6 or 7 children, I think, and I know she was in the younger group, her and her brother were the children from her mum's second marriage. Her father won their farm in a card game, the bet being that if he could move his brood into the farm by the end of the weekend they could have it, and this meant travelling quite some distance, but they did and thereby won the farm...

My Amma came to work for my Langamma (my mum's dad's mum) as a scullery maid and to help care for her "sickly" son (my grandfather wasn't at all "sickly", but my Langamma was a rather over protective single mum of one child, hehehe - not that all single mum's of only children are over protective, but my Langamma certainly was, and my grandfather milked it)...

My Langamma was NOT impressed that my Afi (grandfather) wanted to marry the maid, and so she was never very nice to my Amma (my Langamma's family was one of Iceland's premier families, and well, Amma was just a farm girl)...

My Afi was very artistic, musical, and he worked in the theatre, he was also prone to alcohol addiction and drug use, and was bi-sexual, and so my Amma put up with a lot over the years... Afi would disappear on a bender fairly regularly, and Amma would have to send one of the kids (usually my mum) to go fetch him home from the pub. He was also Catholic, and so Amma had 11 pgs and 7 children in all...

One day in early 1969, Afi went out to lunch and came home with tickets for the family to move to Australia. My grandparents, Langamma, and 7 kids all moved to NSW in April of 1969 (26th) and Afi went to work for Qantas for a while. My Amma didn't speak a word of English and got work as a seamstress. She would sit at home all the time, with the older kids going out and doing all the shopping and taking care of the smaller kids, and she'd sew. She did this for 2 years until my Langamma decided she couldn't bare the Australian culture (or lack thereof) and longer and whole family was forced to move back to Iceland, except my mum, who had met my dad and had me by then...

with my mum in 1990

My Amma was extremely crafty. She used to be one of a dozen women in Iceland who knitted authentic Icelandic knits for export - there are people all over the world wearing her jumpers and cardigans!

She could sew, knit and crochet anything! I have many of her handycrafts here at home, and she is the one who has inspired me to try my hand a few crafts myself.



Amma was very much a homebody. She could almost always be found sitting at her kitchen table under the window, smoking, drinking black coffee, and playing cards, or sewing or knitting... If you didn't find her in the kitchen (she was also a great cook), then she was most likely in bed! One thing she was well known for was taking showers, and then hopping straight into bed naked and still just air dry, LOL!



Amma was a very sensual woman, and had a few lovers, especially after she and Afi seperated in the early 80s... She would get around the house in her long, flowing nighties with matching dressing gowns that she'd sew herself from all sorts of delicate fabrics...

When Afi died, the President of Iceland sent flowers and her condolences.. Amma didn't recieve anything so grand, and yet she had certainly lived a life as colourful and worthwhile as that of my Afi...

Things I'll always remember about my Amma:

~ The smell of cigarette smoke and coffee...
~ Big soft eiderdown doonas with crisp white covers...
~ Her Japanese umberella hanging over her bed...
~ Her hoarse smokey voice...
~ Her Konfekt Kake (chocolate mudcake)...
~ Her sparking amber-green eyes...
~ Her sharp tongue..
~ Her even shaper wit...

Ingibjorg Sigrun Janhannsdottir 20/11/1926 - 11/04/06 - My Amma Inga!!!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is very moving Sif. Sorry for your loss.

Rae said...

What a heartfelt tribute to what sounds like an extraordinary woman.

HipbubbyMama said...

Oh that's so moving, I actually have tears in my eyes! What an amazing woman :)

Leah said...

That's so beautiful Sif, I really enjoyed reading about your Amma. Her spirit lives in you for sure :)

_Dee_ said...

She sounds like an amazing woman.
I am so sorry for your loss.

Teenagers and the failing parent...