Edmonton has been and always will be my home. After the Second World War, my father’s family decided to move to Canada from a small farming village in Denmark. My grandfather had been sent to a concentration camp for 6 months during the Second World War after helping the British army hide weapons on his farm. My father was only 4½ years old at the time of grandfather’s arrest. A few years later, my grandmother was the one who decided the family should move to Edmonton. She had written in her journal, My Journey, "I don't know why but I just knew it had to be Edmonton."
My father stayed behind in Denmark to finish his high school and came to Alberta when he was 17. A few years later, he met my mother at a handball tournament in Edmonton. My mother was a young city gal from London, England. After 5 years of dating, they married. They celebrated their 40th anniversary last year.
My grandmother, Karen Jensen, had devoted much of her time to a small church in downtown Edmonton, Ansgar Danish Lutheran Church. Karen worked many hours at the church. She loved to sing and wrote special songs for her children, grandchildren and later, great-grandchildren.
I didn't realize how much the church meant to my grandmother until I was offered a position as the organist a few years after she had passed away. After performing at my cousins wedding, Pastor Rikke Nielsen asked me if I would like play the organ for the church. I had mix feelings about the offer. Music had been a part of me for most of my life, but...
As a pianist, I was terrified of the organ. Through the encouragement of Pastor Nielsen, I applied for a scholarship for organ lessons. I competed against 5 students and won the full organ scholarship. I began lessons with Edmonton’s own Tammy Jo Mortensen. She has been a tremendous teacher and supporter of my career. I was heartbroken when Pastor Nielsen and her family returned to Denmark last year but the new Pastor, Carl-Gustov and his wife, have become family already.
As have the members of the Ansgar church, I've had the pleasure of meeting many of the Danish families in Edmonton through the church; performing for their weddings, watching their children be baptized and confirmed, and supporting them at funerals after they've lost their spouses. I’ve known some of the members of the congregation all my life. And some I've only met in the last few years. Including one congregation member, who was one of the first female pilots, and celebrated her 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane.
I still get sad sometimes, knowing that my grandmother never had the chance to see me perform, but I know that sometimes, she is sitting in the 4th row by the window, her favourite seat, and singing along to her favourite hymns. She would have been so proud of where I am today.
Edmonton has truly been my home. I've seen many changes throughout the city, and I've seen many people come and go. I remember when Edmonton was just a small town. I look back on fond memories as a child growing up in Edmonton when I first started taking piano lessons. Back then, music had only been a hobby. Now through the support of the church, music has become a career. I know that no matter where my career takes me in the next few years, Edmonton will have a special place in my heart. Edmonton will always be home.