At times I’ve been asked what lead up to this point; how and why I ended up here in Iceland. I commence my response by explaining my Icelandic heritage, and how I’ve always wanted to move here. Then, depending on how detailed response the listener seem to expect, I continue with the story of how I moved here and studied for half a year back in 2009, and then during my somewhat regular summer visit last year decided it was time to make my stay more permanent. Sometimes I’ve intended to even go so far as to mention what truly triggered me to understand it was time to fulfill my childhood dream of moving here, but as going there also trigger the tragic memory of his passing the words tend to never cross my lips.
One of my biggest inspirations and role models in life is my grandfather. The “J.” in his name seen in the picture stand for Jóhannes, so as you might figure I was the lucky one in my family to be named after him. He was a builder and a fixer, to me a true legend. He wasn’t one to have heart-to-heart-talks, but rather expressed himself through his work – it was always obvious he put a lot of love and effort into his creations, and the perfection and detail of them is something that never stop to amaze me. He built the house my mother grew up in – one of the two houses in that block that have required the least maintenance through the years. He built a swingset for his grandchildren to have something to enjoy when we came to visit, and a stairway down to “hraunið” we played in. He turned an old summer cabin into a in our eyes castle, for all generations to enjoy. When he got the news his daughter fell ill in MS, he instantly built a bannister to make it easier for her to walk in and out of their house. What others left unfixed for years, he would fix the same moment he discovered it. He’d even notice I had a buckle in my clothing that I would keep buckling because it kept unbuckling, and although I would roll my eyes and explain to him it had been that way from when I bought it and that he shouldn’t bother to try and fix it because it just won’t be able to fix, he took it and made it work perfectly. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, say when school would feel too much, or when facing difficult challenges at work, I often think of him and how we share the same blood. If he could build that “castle”, I sure as hell can overcome whatever I am doing.
In the beginning of last year he fell ill. Cancer. Although he told us not to worry and we were instructed to not make any hesitated plans, me and my older sister decided to make a surprise trip to Iceland – so at the end of February we showed up on our grandparents doorstep. I’m really thankful we made that decision today, as it was the last days we got to spend together with our grandfather. He then past away a week before our actually planned trip to Iceland the same year, during the night after my younger sister had left to go back to Sweden.
In one of our last conversations he asked me if he’d understood it right, that I’m now working with what I always strived to work with. I looked at the floor when I answered him, explaining that while I might be working as a programmer, I might not exactly work in the industry I had in mind. “But you’re actually now working as a programmer though, like you always wanted?” he continued. Now I lifted my head and smiled, “Yes”, I replied. “Sweet glory” (or whatever is an appropriate English translation), he continued sounding all proud. I guess you can say that this is where I started to feel it was time to steer my boat in the right direction again, to where my dreams are. Towards an industry more aligned with what I want to do, in Iceland. And here I am now.
Today would’ve been his 81th birthday. Thought it was a good time to share this story today; the truth about what inspired me to go and how I really waited a little too long..