In August of 1985, Carl and I visited Norway with Mor (Borghild Paulsen). We traveled in a rental car through Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The major part of our time was spent in Norway. Mor sat in the front seat with Carl as we traveled. This gave me a perfect opportunity to observe and write about this great lady who has touched so many lives in a special way.
This year our Christmas gift to Mor's posterity will be these observations. We feel focusing on the life of one of Jesus Christ's true followers, Borghild Paulsen, will foster a greater love for Him and inspire them to live His teachings. Our family feels a deep gratitude to Heavenly Father for preserving Mor's life (now in her 92nd year) and giving us this great example of gospel living.
Carl and I did not realize that Mor had a blood clot on her foot when we left for Norway. As Carl and I talked with Mor, we learned that she had been having clots in different parts of her body. She said that if Kristine or Berg (her daughters) had seen the clot on her foot, they would have put her in the hospital. Mor did not want to go to the hospital. She wanted to go to Norway.
We had been in the plane 12 hours when Mor's foot became very swollen. As we were getting off the plane, I asked Mor how her foot was. She said, "It hurts a lot. I can be glad they both are not sore like this one, or it would hurt more."
At the airport in Germany, we were changing air terminals. An airline guide led us and others very fast to our flight terminal. Mor was not aware of the situation, because she had turned her hearing aid down. She was having difficulty keeping up with Carl, because of her sore, swollen foot. I knew Carl had to keep going so we would know where to go. I stayed behind with Mor. It never occurred to Mor to scold or complain to Carl about the pace he went, and later, when she learned the reason, her comment was, "I just thought that was the way you walked and remembered it wasn't too long ago that I was able to walk like that too." I was impressed. It is not a part of Mor's nature to chastise or be critical, even with very sore feet. Mor has CHARITY; the greatest of all gifts by Paul's definition (1 Cor. 13:4) and Moroni's (Moroni 7:43-48).
Mor left the beautiful raincoat she had borrowed from Kristine in an airport lavatory in Hamburg, Germany. Ten minutes later, when she realized this, she went to see if it was there. To her dismay it was gone. We checked the lost-and-found but with no success. The raincoat had not been turned in; it was obvious Mor was disturbed. We commented together about the person who had the coat and their motive being either dishonest or lack of interest in trying to return it to the owner. Mor's final comment, as we ceased to talk about it, was, "We can't judge the person."
Our sleeping accommodation in Denmark that night was a room on the third floor of a Bed-and-Breakfast hotel. Carl and I were concerned about Mor making the three-flight climb with her sore foot. When Mor reached the top landing, I asked her if it was hard for her. She said, "It was a climb, but I just kept repeating, en to, en to, en stovel og en sko. The grand children will remember saying this with Mor when there was a need to generate effort and momentum in walking. Translated in English, it means one two, one two, one boot and one shoe.
Mor was confident that after a night of rest, and heavy treatment of Deep Heating Mentholatum, her foot would be better. Her closing statement for the evening was, "I don't worry about that." In the morning she said her foot was much better. Carl and I felt any organic problems we had in our own bodies were also healed, as we shared the same bedroom and fragrant mentholatum air.
Many people, when they can't sleep, count sheep. I know of only one person that goes to sleep by counting names. Mor often wakes up in the night and may be awake for 2-3 hours. When this happens, she does not worry about not being able to sleep. She just goes through the family and rehearses the names of 31 grandchildren and their spouses and 65 great grandchildren.
Mor's enthusiasm and awareness of everything was so apparent when we visited Trivoli in Denmark (an amusement park, with cultural programs and beautiful gardens). She was unrestrained in reaching out and touching and talking to people of all ages.
We arrived in Oslo on a Friday at 3 p.m. When Carl went to exchange some of our money, he learned the banks had just closed and would be closed until Monday. When he returned to the car and reported this to us, Mor said, "What do we need money for?" Carl told her that we needed to buy a little fruit and possibly find a place to sleep for the night. We were planning on visiting Mor's niece, Eli Frougner, but did not know of her living situation. Mor said, "I'm not worrying about that. We can sleep in the car. Carl can let his seat down. Carl can sleep in the back seat, and I can sit up. We can fast. We have gas in the car. We've got no worries." It is good we didn't worry. When we visited Eli, she prepared a nice meal for us and offered her single bed for Carl and me to sleep in, and she and Mor each slept on a couch in the living room. Eli loaned Carl $50, in Norwegian money, to take with us to use the next few days if we needed it.
I have heard Mor say many times, "I don't worry about that." I asked her once, "Mor, what do you worry about?" She said, "I don't worry about anything."
Mor has great faith in God and identifies His daily direction in our lives. She verbally acknowledged the hand of the Lord in our travels. One day we were driving to the airport in Germany. there is a great challenge to find the way around in a country when you don't understand the language or the road signs. A person had given us directions, and Carl was trying to follow them on the map as we were driving. We drove through an intersection, and Carl said, "I'm going to turn around. I don't think this is the way." He made a quick turn back and then turned right on the next street going the other direction. We saw an individual riding a bike and stopped to ask for help. The man told us we were on the right road and to go straight ahead. Mor said, "See Carl, you were inspired. You knew the way you were going wasn't right."
Whenever we visited relatives, Mor wrote down the names of all the people she met. She not only made notes of the adults but also the children and in-laws. She asked how to spell their names. She didn't record them in an obvious way, just when the appropriate time was provided. Frequently she would seek out a young person in the home to make sure she heard the name right and spelled it right. Occasionally she would get up in the morning and say, "What was the name of 'so and so'?" (asking about some one we had met the evening before). One evening, after we had been in a social situation of about 15 family and friends, I commented to Carl about Mor's fastidiousness in writing these names down. He said, "Yes, it seems unusual because she will probably never see them again, but then, she writes to these people and is able to ask about different family members." I could see the value of the recorded information after Carl explained this, but more than that, I could see a person that is interested in people and in learning names and what transpires in their lives.
Mor chose to stay in the car while Carl and I did some shopping one day. I knew Mor was an avid reader and told her she could read my book. Her response was, "I want to watch the people and the cars and the houses. I'll read when I haven't anything else to do."
One day, while waiting for Carl to check out a hotel for the evening, four young boys passed. They looked at us and smiled, and Mor said, "I could cry because those children are so beautiful."
Another day we were sitting in the car when two girls passed. Mor said, "Look, that girl has a pink stocking on her left foot and a green one on the fight." She paused, and in a most non judgmental voice said, "But that's possibly the latest thing." I thought it cute that a 90-year old women would so speak.
Mor was keeping score on the day we left Stockholm on our way to Denmark. She would write down the time it took for us to go 2 kilometers. I asked her why she was doing it. She said, "For fun!" That morning she was first to notice Carl had inadvertently turned around when we stopped to fill up for gas and headed back to Stockholm. Her game had made her plenty aware of the signs and saved us time in retracing our steps.
Mor's compassion and charity was so apparent as we traveled. Today Carl went and picked up a girl laying on the side of the street. The girl looked as if she had passed out; she muttered garbled words as Carl moved the limp body and leaned her on the sidewalk against the wall. Someone came by who knew her and told us she was drunk. We all felt sad. Seldom have I seen Mor cry, but that day tears came to her eyes as she shook her head in sadness.
One night, while at an intersection waiting for the light to change, a blind man passed carrying a white cane and dog leading him. Mor breathed in a sigh when she saw him, and I expected to see tears come down her cheeks as she said, "a blind man", and sighed again. Her compassion filled the air.
Mor made a comment that interested me. She said, "I can eat well but I can also go without if I have too. Sometimes I work until 2 o'clock if I have something interesting to do like mending. Then my stomach tells me I should have something to eat. It's when you start eating that you feel you need it." Mor made this statement after we had been doing visiting for about 5 hours and Carl asked her if she was hungry.
Eli Frougner, the 87 year-old niece with whom we stayed with in Oslo, has never married. During our visit Eli gave Mor a gold pin with a pearl on it and an engraved gold watch of her mothers'. Eli and Mor had been together for about 2 hours while Carl and I had gone to the bank. When we left Eli's, Mor showed us the jewelry. Mor said that Eli had told her some things that she had never shared with anyone before. She then paused and said, "I don't think I better tell you." I said, "Mor, if you want to tell Carl in Norwegian it is all right with me." Mor said, "No, I don't think Eli would want me to." This impressed me. The possibility of either Carl and I seeing her again was remote. Eli has no closer relatives. One might think it would not matter if something personal was shared. Eli was old and living in Norway far away from any of the family, and yet Mor honored a confidence.
I have become keenly aware of the great love Mor's children have for her. Finn left the earth scene early at age 59. Sara (his sweetheart) has a "Ruth and Naomi" relationship with Mor. Bergliot has been Mor's chauffeur and shopping guide for years. Even though Kristine was recuperating from a recent cancer operation, she saw that Mor had a new wig for the trip. We learned that Abel had slipped Mor a generous amount of spending money as he said good-by to her.
Carl was so tender and solicitous with Mor when she needed it on the trip. He has respected the independence when she wanted to climb stairs, carry her own overnight bag, and look after herself.
The last day of our trip, Mor awakened with a pain in her foot. It was the foot she had the blood clot in when we left for Norway. The foot that permitted her to strenuous, full, active days in Scandinavia. Carl asked Mor if she would like him to give her a blessing. She responded with a quick "Yes." Carl gave her a beautiful, inclusive blessing not only for the remainder of the trip but for a restoration of health and vitality at home. When he finished, she looked up at him and in a quiet voice that rang with gratitude and hope said, "Thank you Carl. Thank you."
One day I asked Mor about Far and their relationship. Mor said, "There never was a minute that I wasn't satisfied with Far." I asked her, "What made him so special?" Her response was, "He was special in many ways. There was plenty to admire about him. He was good looking and stayed that way all of his life. He never got fat--you know what I mean. He was particular in his dress. He was neat as a pin. His sample case was always orderly. He always had the sample cases packed neatly in the trunk. He took out the back seat of the car to get more in. That was before they had station wagons."
"Far was not afraid to go ahead and do things. He tried farming. In 1919, he even headed for Alaska with his brother-in-law, Walt Simon Christiansen. They heard they could get land to homestead and thought they would try it. They arrived at Seattle and found the last boat had left for the winter."
"Far never gave up."
"Far was very religious. He recognized the Church when he first heard about it. He had never been to a meeting. He only had a few missionary tracts and a Book of Mormon he purchased from a missionary passing through. When he read the material, he knew it was true."
"He was as honest as they come in every way."
"He was willing to give even if he didn't have it." One year we just did not have any money for Christmas. There would be no Christmas gifts for the children, but we decided to invite Waldemar's family (Mor's brother) and have dinner and just have a good time together. Just before Christmas, Stayner Richards, our Stake President (Sugar House Stake), came and asked for $50. They needed $5,000 to pay off the mortgage on the Stake Center. They were asking 100 men for $50. Far told them he would do it. When Pres. Richards left the home, I asked Far how we were going to do it. We never went into debt for anything. That is why I asked the question."
"Far answered, "There will be a way."
"A few days later, Far received a check in the mail. It was from Montana. It was from someone who had owed him money and Far had given up ever receiving it. We were not only able to pay the $50 for the Stake house, but we were able to buy some Christmas for the children."
"Even though Far was traveling in his work, it seemed like he was not gone because he wrote a letter every day. Sometimes he wrote three times a day. He would write while he was waiting for his breakfast, and he would write while he was waiting for lunch. I couldn't write every day because he didn't stay long enough in one place. But, when I knew where he was going to be, I wrote. He always wanted me to go with him on the short trips, and when the children were older, I did."
"Far loved the children. One time when we were at a ward activity (Far was a counselor in the Bishopric), Bergliot ran out in the center of the floor. Berg was 1 1/2 years old. I used to dress her in cute clothes I made. I started to get her, but Far stopped me. He wanted her to be there a minute so everyone could see her; then he went to get her and danced a little with her on the way back. He loved the children. He would have loved to have had a dozen children.
I am grateful to have witnessed the beautiful relationship of Mor and Far. In their marriage, Mor always retained her great individual identity, and yet solicitously met Far's needs. For example, as Mor grew older, Far was fearful she might break her leg if she went skiing and tried to discourage her from going. Mor was not ready to give up the skis and felt confident she could manage the hill, so continued to go. However, Mor knew Far loved her presence and was always available to go with him on errands or watch him perform home repair jobs. Mor laughing said one day, "Far likes me to hold the nail as he drives it in." If Far was cutting a tree trunk into pieces, it was not unusual to see Mor out watching him, because he loved to have her near. I recall Bergliot commenting when Far left for the Spirit World, "We probably won't have Mor with us very long because Far will want her near him."
We know our loved ones who are in the Spirit world are mindful of our activities. In this attitude of faith, we say to you, Far, "All of Mor's posterity are grateful that you did not prevail on Heavenly Father to take Mor early from mortality. We have needed her example to remind us how we want to live so we can have her and your company eternally."
Today a year plus a few months since our visit to Norway, Mor is more frail, but her vision and appreciation for others continues to be free from cataracts. She welcomes and responds to the daily invitations she receives from children and grandchildren to join them in their family activities.
Mor's message is her life! The greatest legacy that can be left to one's posterity is a living and written testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and has been restored once again on the earth. Borghild Marie Paulsen has done this for us. Her name will forever be blessed!
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