”TaKE IT LIKE A MAN, AS YOU SAY”
Christer Thagesson participated in the battalion 57C in Cyprus in the fall of 1975. He knew his mother had cancer, but not how quickly the end was approaching. His mother had expressed the wish that Christer would not know how seriously ill she was. His mother wished to keep Christer in the dark regarding this, in order to not worry him, now that he was so far away from home.
Solna, September 3-75
Hope you are well, we are.
The weather is pure summer weather, around 25 degrees Celsius, and the sun is shining.
I will keep it short as usual, but I'm not in a letter-writing mood, so it might be even shorter.
It went well when I got your amplifier, Jens got it out and took it home, so it is here. I am going to Jönköping one of these days, so I might take it on the train and leave it with mum, or maybe Helene takes care of it. She sends her regards, I have spoken to her recently and got your address. It is a sweet girl you have there, hold on to her.
Now, here is my real message, and unfortunately it is not an amusing one. I want you to know, and it is about mother. You know that she isn't well, but unfortunately, she’s probably on her last legs. I have known this for a while, since I have been in contact with her doctor, so I have gotten used to the idea.
She’s not the first, and not the last, and sooner or later it will befall us as well, so one must do the sensible thing. You don’t help anyone by dwelling on things, least of all yourself, so take it like a man, as they say.
She was up here with us for ten days, and it was nice to have her with us, when you know that it is probably, or surely, the last time she could make such a trip. Right now, it is in the stomach, liver and not least the large intestine, which is so badly affected that it even was too late to give her a bag on the stomach, which you might have heard about. Now, she cannot keep anything she eats or drinks, it comes up or runs out of her. So, today she went, with Helens help, of her own free will in to the hospital, and was admitted getting drip and being looked after. She is thin as a rake and in a lot of pain, which they give her narcotics for. She is very aware that her days are numbered.
She didn’t know that I was as familiar with the whole thing as I am, so she asked Helene to call me today and tell me everything. She is very strong, our mum, she has patiently carried this by herself, it is just us up here who know, Helen, and now you. But YOU MUST IGNORE THAT YOU KNOW, it is mum’s will that you and the others should know as little as possible.
Now you know, so it won’t become come as shocking, when it comes. Nobody knows when, it may be quick, or it could take months. It is not our intention to lure you back home, you can do as little as everyone else, but in the end it is for you to decide. But I know that mother appreciates your letters, so you can make her happy by keeping on writing.
Well, there isn’t much more to add. Life must go on, and we as well, it is nothing uncommon, I just wish mother got a couple of more years. 54 isn’t much, and that is the hardest. But these things aren’t for us to decide, unfortunately, and maybe thank God for that.
Hope you are well and take it easy. I am, and it is just what you’re supposed to do, I think.
Many regards from us.
Thanks to the fact that his brother Leif and Christer´s girlfriend Helene finally chose to tell Christer, he was at least prepared when the telegram arrived on 4 October 1975.
Mother died today on October 4th.
Christer's brother's idea of manliness is to take the message wisely, to not dwell on things and to push back the feelings towards his mother. Christer has later described how hard it was to receive the harsh telegram regarding his mother's death, and to pretend he did not know what was about to happen. The opportunity to come home in order to say farewell to his mother was thwarted by the fact that he was forced to play a role the family expected of him. The idea of how a man should act prevented him from being honest towards his mother in a very difficult time