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A short reflection on living and learning

Last night my father-in-law invited EPI and I, and EPI’s brother and his wife, out to a lavish dinner at Við Tjörnina*. Just … because.

I’m such a fan of my father-in-law. When I’m 82 I want to be just like him. Well, maybe not just like him, but similar. He’s completely unstoppable. After EPI’s mother died a couple of years ago, he could easily have withdrawn and given up, robbed of his raison d’etre [she had Alzheimer’s for many years and he took care of her] – but no. A few [difficult] months after her death he announced one day that he was moving out of his condo and into a hotel for a few days so he could have some work done on the place. That burst of energy was just a small sign of things to come. Next he decided to fly to London to buy some material for a bespoke suit, because in his opinion the quality of the stuff they had here wasn’t good enough. On his return, he announced that he was throwing a grand party to celebrate his 80th birthday. He rented a hall at one of the better hotels in town, invited about 200 people, and after everyone had eaten and drank and generally had a lovely time, he sent everyone home with a book he’d published – of limericks that he had composed over the years [he’s an accomplished writer of poetry and his work has appeared in many publications].

His next undertaking was to start ‘collecting islands’. He travelled to Cuba, then Svalbard in Norway, then Greenland. Up next are the Hebrides, this May. When he’s not off gallivanting abroad, he’s on the go here in Iceland, visiting friends or family, particularly in Akureyri, which was his constituency for many years [he was in politics for almost all of his career]. He follows social and current events with great dedication, and takes part in the discourse by writing articles and sending them to the papers. In short, he engages with life. And while I’m sure his days are not always peachy he never complains or tries to manipulate others into being responsible for his wellbeing. On the contrary, he makes a point of being proactive and staying in touch, even if it’s just calling up to say hello for a minute or two. He shows up at any birthday party thrown – children’s, grandchildren’s, even great-grandchildren’s – and does surprising and unexpected things like invite us out for dinner at an expensive restaurant, just … because.

Truly, I feel so blessed to have EPI’s family around me. I have learned so much from them. They are so very different from my own family, with its extensive dysfunction and lack of communication. With EPI’s family I get to see how a normal family operates, all the things that are given so freely, that I have never experienced on my own skin. Things that lots of people consider normal, that for me have been such a revelation. No need to cite examples; suffice it to say that in my family everything is just much more … difficult. Or perhaps just a lot more … absent.

Because it hasn’t stopped raining for the last three days. It’s great, though – mild temps for the first time in weeks and almost all the snow has melted, which most importantly means that all the ice is gone. In fact, I could very well have been mistaken, but I could have sworn I felt the first whiff of spring in the air today. Temps are currently 5°C [40F] and our sun came up at 9.22 this morning and set at 6.03 this afternoon.

* whose website seems to be out of commission right now.