Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Aunt Esther

Esther Strand
My Aunt Esther, the last of my Norwegian aunts living in Norway, just passed away on Monday at the age of 89. Above you see a recent photo of Tante Esther taken  in Kragerø, Norway, where she had a summer home.

She was a talented lady.  She was a professional barber (herrefrisør) by trade, and worked at some of the most fashionable places in downtown Oslo.  I remember once having her cut my hair back in the late 60s.  I had a very fashionable Sassoon haircut, and it needed trimming.  A young teen at the time, I was rather leery of letting any relative touch my hairdo, much less a barber, but I finally succumbed to pressure. A cheerful and very kind Tante Esther ended up giving me one of the best haircuts I've ever had in my entire life right there in my grandmother's kitchen!

Esther was a capable woman in many ways.  She was a natural athlete, and she taught gymnastics in the evenings and on weekends for over 50 years.  She had a great influence on the Norwegian gymnastics movement, particularly in her region of Oslo, where she helped found a group called Nordstrand Turn (North Strand Gymnastics).  She literally taught generations of athletes in the Oslo area, from children to the elderly, throughout her career.  She also represented her country as part of a gymnastics team that performed at meets all over Europe.

She was married to my Uncle Per, my mother's brother.  They had one daughter, my very beautiful cousin Gro Lene.

Sadly, through the years, we in America had lost touch with this part of the family and only recently found them again (Facebook is a funny place!).  I'm sorry we had to lose Aunt Esther so soon after just having found her after all these years, but perhaps it was no coincidence for my cousin Gro's sake.

I understand Aunt Esther lived long enough to see her first great-grandchild, a little boy, born at the end of July.  I'm so glad she had that opportunity.

Rest in peace, Tante.

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