Grandma Maja was one of the finest teachers I have ever met. Her three children , Delores, Peter, and Linnea without a father learned the meaning of a lifestyle philosophy: “a stitch in time saves 9”.
The incredibly hard times of America’s Great Depression tested the character of widow Maja and her three Swedish American protégés.
Maja’s three children sum up in an often stated tribute to their beloved mother:
Maja, mom, “we are sure glad you came to this country“
Although Maja was born and raised in a wealthy aristocratic home with hard working highly successful parents she learned that, “idle hands become the work of the devil.”
Industriousness was trained and ingrained in her genes, her culture, her schooling, life experiences organized by her parents in Sollefteå Sweden.
Maja learned many genealogy lessons and the value of hard work and taking no shortcuts was ingrained in her character. Those same lessons Maja taught and modeled for her children.
Necessity forced them to be frugal. Necessity forced them to do without. Necessity forced them to share jobs and duties. The children shoveled coal to heat their house. The children spent most evenings without their mother who left to spend the night traveling to and caring as a nurse for the wealthy.
The children were proud of their ability to work together to bring happiness and joy to their mother. They pitched in to save every way the family could imagine. The children worked to keep the house and serve the “tenants” in the boarding house upstairs. No short cuts was a family model.
Maja was a seamstress. She taught the children to sew. The American concept of rugged individualism meant taking care of matters, the right way. Maja taught problem solving and good decision making was the only way. To take care of small matters and not procrastinate was the meaning of a stitch in time saves nine. Sew up a small hole because if it gets bigger later, the consequences are bad.
Maja taught them saving. She had a ball of string made by taking small strands to make larger to use in the garden for tying up tomatoes to eat. Nothing wasted. Living thoughtfully.
Maja taught lessons about the logjams she witnessed in Sweden. Her children heard the lessons loud and clear. Her grandchildren learned that bravery and courage means breaking up large tasks into smaller ones is a basic life strategy.
Maja proved over and over that attacking all that went with depression, homesickness could be cured with faith and love among her family unit. This was a well known principle of Maja and the children lived this philosophy and passed it along to us.
The pride of achievement in honoring their mother and the teamwork that carried them though extraordinary tough times was often expressed in reminiscing.
God is mentioned by all of them as never abandoning them. Love is said to be a strong force that can empower survival. Love of Maja, subscribing to ideals and teaching were key elements that helped them through some mighty stormy times explained in my book.