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2003 Annastina Wikell - Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
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2003 Annastina Wikell - Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Words of Women 2003 Essay of the Year

Annastina Wikell

Pen

My mother, Dorothea Wikell, was a rare woman, indeed. She was the mother of nine children in a small Swedish village during WWII. As I was growing up in the late thirties, mama had a way of dealing with very little of many necessary things. It was hard to feed all those hungry mouths. My father, Karl, was a coal miner during he harsh winters and a tar roofer in summertime, which kept him from helping out at home. Mama turned the meager, money he earned into an amazing little nest egg at times. She sewed all of our clothes on an old manual Singer or, often by hand. As we had no electricity, she frequently sat up late at night sewing by kerosene lamp or gaslight (lots of socks to darn for twenty-two feet). My mother had a slight disability throughout her life, yet nothing kept her from managing our large family. She baked all our bread, coffee bread and sometimes, when we could afford or find ingredients, delicious cookies. During long Scandinavian winters, she stored up laundry for days. Her method of rinsing was quite an ordeal. She would start out very early, loading big buckets of washed clothes onto a sleigh, gliding across the snow to the nearest lake. Then, she would crush the ice with a big axe, making a hole large enough to dip our clothes in. My oldest brother was usually there to help her. Before all the laundry was draped over the clothes line, most of it was frozen stiff. The next day we would go out and try to remove the clothes without breaking them. Everything went inside to the kitchen, hung out on large lines, where we would hear the drip, drip, dripping for hours. Mama rarely complained. Her saying was “Just pull your socks up and keep going.” At the time mama’s endless sayings annoyed the heck out of us. Yet, her wisdom must be ageless, as my loving husband now quotes her, in this new century...daily. As all these years have passed, I admire my mother more and more. How could she have accomplished so much so smoothly? I find myself using her methods, and I often hear her, loud and clear, telling us the words which have been the keys to all of our successes as children and adults. As a child and teenager, I never appreciated her nagging. As I have matured and become a bit wiser, mama is the inspiring symbol of a very impressive person...and truly the most important woman in my life.

Annastina Wikell, WiseWoman - Lahaina, Maui