I've been asked to tell the story of my adoption into your chapter, so here goes. Please pull up a chair, get comfy. This spans over FIFTEEN years.
Once upon a time in Chicago...Sweden and Amsterdam, Cambridge too!
Approximately sixteen years ago, I had the brilliant idea to take Swedish language lessons.
Not for the faint of heart, especially over the age of FIFTY! Old school, no CDs, tapes, no one to practice with. We met once a week at Chicago's Swedish American Museum. My progress was minimal. A few months later I was driving to visit family in another state. En route, I stayed at a Scandanavian inn. A young woman from Sweden was working there for the summer, and I took her to dinner. She helped me with my homework, other diners thought we were quite amusing. Fast forward, months later. A small envelope from Sweden arrived in February. A Valentine, I wondered? But NO, this sweet young thing was getting married, invited me to her wedding! I took it as a sign. A challenge! I was meant to go? Fear not, I rose to the occasion. I had joined RHS three years previously, decided to hunt online for Swedish RHS sisters. Who popped up? A queen with a floral name. Or so I thought. Later that May I arrived in Sweden. Queen Carina and some of her lovely ladies met me in Goteborg. We shopped and dined in Haga, they taught me about public transportation. German schoolchildren on a bus marvelled at our attire, and serenaded us. I cried. In between, I attended the wedding in another town. Then I returned to Goteborg, travelled to Carina's home for a lovely tea. And a trip to a doll museum, and a meeting with a visiting Danish sister. Everyone was so welcoming, so gracious.
Carina and I maintained our friendship, mostly online. Eight years later, I became aware of RHS European Hoots! Now, THIS sounded most wondrous. One was coming up in September of 2015 in Amsterdam. Carina and some pals (with hundreds of others) would be there. Again I took the plunge, after first journeying to Stockholm. I was able to secure lodging in the same hotel as Carina and Company. Be sure to ask her about our Amsterdam adventure. I later flew to Goteborg again, and was invited to your chapter's anniversary party. I was honored to read the Red Hat poem ( When I am an old woman...)to one and all. I STILL dream about that delicious salmon, the BEST I ever tasted.
A few years passed, a UK Hoot in Cambridge was planned. I've always wanted to visit England, for once I could speak the language. Or so I thought...Mind the gap? Again, I was warmly embraced by RHS sisters. From England, Sweden, and The Netherlands too. I only wish that there had been MORE time to spend with each group. I traveled alone, but my RHS sisters made certain I was never lonely!
A plan was afoot... Carina happily announced a future Hoot in Sweden. Would I come?
I certainly planned to! Unbeknownst to all of us, a virus was lurking. And it had other plans... All our lives were disrupted, and continue to be. The Hoot (that your chapter put so much love and hard work into planning) had to be cancelled. We were all heartbroken.
I'm praying for better days, and that someday I'll see you again. Somewhere. I thank you for my honorary membership. Tusen tack. I'll cherish the sweet, Swedish memories forever!
Så här skriver Nanne i sin bok ”Konsten att bli äldre”, sid 91 :
En sommardag hör jag ett motorljud från en traktor. Jag tittar upp ser och ett helt flak fyllt med härliga kvinnor i diverse röda hattar och lila kläder. De är de röda hattarnas sällskap och de är på väg till min trädgård där jag ska berätta om konsten att bli äldre.
Ja, det är vi i Rhapsody in Red and Purple som kommer på besök. Detta är en dag som vi för alltid kommer att minnas.
Så klart att vi utser Nanne Hessel till Hedersmedlem i vårt chapter. Välkommen att vara med i vår gemenskap!