"Life was slavery"

"I'm a 100 year old lady from the west who has slaved a lot in her life" says Jensína Jóna Kristín Guðmundsdóttir, known as Jenna, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday. Speaking to Morgunblaðið she says she's always love to sing. "I sang a lot and very loudly and I destroyed my voice. The neighbours would often complain about the noise to my parents," she says laughing. 

"I have five children, eighteen grandchildren and forty-two great grandchildren. That's some feat, isn't it?" 

Jenna says that her mother "Kept having children." She had fourteen children of which twelve survived childhood. 

"I was the second oldest and had to take care of the home when mum kept having all these children. My slavery began at age nine or ten." She says that although they were poor they had plenty to eat, good food. "But we didn't have a lot of things. It was very cold going to the stream to wash out the clothes and hang them out to dry in a snowstorm. I would often take them back inside and they were frozen. Sometimes I had no socks on, just shoes, in the cold, when I didn't own any socks."

Jenna remembers her first washing machine, built by her husband Ingimundur Guðmundsson. The couple had to take over his father's farm in the desolate fjord of Önundarfjörður, against their will she says. 

"He made this big tub by sawing the top of a barrel, then he put a handle and a spinner on i. Inside he put floats from fishing nets which he had cut in half, to make the washing spin better. " She thinks that life nowadays in Iceland is completely different to what it was and that such poverty doesn't exist anymore. 

 She left home age eighteen, learned to sew and met her future husband. They had a happy, close marriage but for 43 years they had to put their dreams aside when they took on the farm. However, in 1970, her husband bought a framing shop and started to make frames. 

"We worked there together until we moved to Garðabær, and began to build chairs and other furniture for Fjörukráin. (A Viking pub in Hafnarfjörður) That's where I met the former owner, Karen, and I couldn't think of a better friend to have."

"I have a great group of siblings who have always been close. It's important to communicate well with people."

Jenna's always loved to sew and make things in her hands, everything from crocheting to creating coats. She no longer sews but she held an exhibition of her work when she celebrated her 95th birthday.  She now lives with her daughter, and says that she's finally resting after a long and hard life, happy and thankful to be cared for by her family. 




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