I’m the daughter of a native Icelander. My mom was born in Iceland, adopted by an Icelandic sea captain and his wife as a baby and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland. She met my American-born dad when he was stationed at NAS Keflavik, Iceland; he had a band and hired my 18-year-old mom as a singer. She thought he looked like Elvis. That’s the family legend in a nutshell. This picture was obviously taken when they returned to America, I assume, as my dad’s two brothers are part of the band and they were not in Iceland with my parents. Music is part of the family legacy as well.
My mom wasn’t your typical Nordic beauty with blonde hair and blue eyes, rather, she was an exotically beautiful brown-eyed brunette. I was born just nine months after they married, here in northern California where my dad was stationed following his tour in Iceland.
My mom died the day after Mother’s Day in 2003 at the young age of 62 after a brief but brutal battle with lung cancer that had metastasized to her bones and brain.
This is one of my favorite images of my mom, in our swimming pool probably just about two years before she died. In Iceland, she’d told me when I was little girl, children had to learn to swim by the time they were six years old–they couldn’t move up a grade if they didn’t (not sure this is really true). My childhood brain understood this to be necessary since Iceland was an island and who knew when you might just fall off the edge into the frigid, icy waters. She also convinced me that because I had her viking blood I never had to worry about seasickness because I was made for the water. More family legacy.
People say I look like her; I knew this was true when I was a little girl, there was enough photographic evidence of it. Now, when I look at this picture of my mom at just about 60 years old and look at my 57-year-old self in the mirror, I see that it’s still true. I don’t have her vibrant, extroverted personality however. I think I got my introversion from my dad.
As a kid, no one I knew ever heard of far-away, mysterious Iceland. Now, a visit to Iceland is on many a bucket list, and lots of movies have shot on location there. In the early 80’s Iceland elected the world’s first female president who served for 16 years. I am even Iceland’s “friend” on Facebook, and you can be too.
So, all things Iceland are now cool. Iceland to me always makes me think of my mom, and she would love Iceland’s popularity. Yesterday in the grocery store I found Icelandic-style yogurt (called “skyr”) so of course, I bought some. This stuff is SO GOOD. Have you tried it? This was my breakfast today.
Now, if I could just find a local source for Hangikjöt I’d be all set.
Have a healthy day, and make it a point to learn something new. Iceland is interesting!