I've spent the weekend with my daughter and granddaughter in the north of Sweden. I told them I'd like us all to live in a big house so I could have them close by, all the time. This would be possible if could agree where to live. I'm not leaving Stockholm and they're happy where they are. That means we have to make long trips. We don't mind because we like traveling. It's a family trait.
My grandparents, on my fathers side, went to Northern China to be missionaries. This is now Xingkiang. They had three children of which the first died. He got sick when they were visiting friends in the dessert. My grandfather rode as fast as he could but the baby died.
Their second child is my father. He was six when they left in 1938.
This is in our family history. Xingkiang, or Xingjiang means new territory but it's not. The people are Uyghur, related to the Turks. Xingjiang used to be called East Turkey. Before he was six and came back to Sweden my dad refused to speak Swedish. On the trip over the Himalaya's he rode and ate with the Uyghur guides. His younger brother, my uncle, sat in a box strapped to a mule, my dad told me. He said: "When you're six you ride a horse". Some trip, eh?
So, you see, I come from a family where you're supposed to ride a horse when you're six. I wish I'd known.
I raced sledge dogs instead.
My dad is old now and he's sorting through his life. That's how I get to learn these things. Things I wish I'd known when I was younger. I would have shown him more respect instead of thinking he had weird ideas about self-reliance.
We're doing a lot of catching up and having fun doing it. There are no hard feelings between us. Sometimes, we find it difficult to understand each other but now I know more about why. Someday, before I'm to old, I'm going to learn to ride a horse.