This is not the earliest childhood memory, however, it is certainly one of the warmest memories of my youth.
“Kei, du!” My Estonian father-in-law used to call me.
“Du” means “you” in Swedish. When you add “du” after someone’s name it lends a warm and endearing tone. My father-in-law continued, “Knowledge is the lightest burden to bear!” He was a quiet man but he always told me so as he saw me studying without sleep even during the Christmas holidays.
Enno was an Estonian refugee during the second world war, the last person who boarded the boat for Sweden. He had left Estonia empty-handed at only three years of age. However, his mother was a very astute woman in a time of extreme danger. She did not just flee, she brought her sewing machine with her and a vision of a life in Sweden. Her husband was drafted by the Red Army and soon after she received an official notification that the entire regiment had been slaughtered. She realized that she had to fend for herself and Enno, alone in a country that she had never seen.
Enno inherited his mother's brilliant brain, but had to give up his high school education in order to help her and her new husband. Enno became a hard worker at a small fabrication workshop at the age of fifteen. Later he succeeded in sending his four children to university. His granddaughters were protected under his wing and made it to university too, despite inheriting severe physical impediments.
Enno succeeded in providing a higher education to eight children: his children, his granddaughters and myself. I realized that he left his legacy even to me.
I can still hear his heart-warming voice in my mind whilst sitting in the corner of my room, my perfect workplace.
“Kei, du! Knowledge is the lightest burden to bear!”