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Twenty-nine years had passed since my summer in Norway as an exchange student. My former host mom, Anne-Lisé, invited us to stay with her for two weeks in July. With a new job in Columbus, Ben missed our biggest family trip. The other four of us boarded a plane.
The rugged beauty of Norway’s fjords had not diminished since my first trip.
We stayed several days at Anne-Lisé’s rustic summer cottage in Tjome. There was no road that reached her land, so she drove the car on grass and a dirt path. Huge boulders dotted the view, the landscape untouched except for a small home now and then. The cottage had been built next to a massive rock that extended from the main entrance and served as a deck. For breakfast, Anne-Lisé served tubes of caviar and chunks of cheese with heavy thin bread and wide crackers. Delicious, except for the caviar.
Maria and Beth decided to swim in the Oslo fjord, a short distance from the cottage through woods.
It was a difficult trek with a wheelchair and one of the few times Beth didn’t complain about being pushed. Massive rocks met the water, with no beach. I positioned Beth’s chair the best I could and lowered her to the rocks. The cold water (64ºF, 18ºC) nixed her plans to swim. Instead, I shot a photo of the girls in shallow water and complied with Beth’s request to return to her wheelchair. I should say, I tried to comply.
Maria and I slipped on the wet rocks. Beth laughed. Then all three of us couldn’t stop laughing. When we tried again, we fell again. And a third time. Laughing and lifting never worked. Finally, Maria and I accomplished the task after catching our breath and planting our feet in a less slippery spot.
We teased Beth, blaming her for our new bruises.
In Oslo, the new Nobel Peace Center made a lasting impression, as well as Vigelandsparken, a beautiful sculpture park built on a stunning scale and depicting every stage of life. In 1976 at the same park, I sat next to the U.S. Ambassador at a formal ceremony to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial on July 4. After he spoke, it was my turn. I stood at the microphone in a stars and stripes top and skirt. I read my prepared speech, and Anne-Lisé gave me flowers.
Twenty-nine years later, we toured the Edvard Munch art museum with my second mom, Anne-Lisé, and her lovely granddaughter, Christina. At an Oslo pub with fresh flowers on our table, my teenage daughters ordered long island iced teas, their first legal drinks.
Next: The World’s End and Denmark!
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