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Nils, 87, warms Swedish hearts on Valentine's Day

Published: 14 Feb 2014 10:05 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Feb 2014 12:28 GMT+01:00

"Two years ago, my wife died. Now that I'm alone, there's no big difference between weekdays and the weekend," Nils Lindfors, 87, told his local newspaper Sala Allehanda. Vox pops are everyday fodder in Swedish papers, and the funnier answers often find a degree of virality online, but Lindfors' no-frills answer appeared to strike a sentimental chord with the Swedish people.

"This warms the heart," was the succinct comment of the Twitter user who shared a photo of Lindfors' answer, which was quickly re-tweeted some 500 times. Lindfors himself, however, had not even taken note of the fact that his short conversation with the reporter had made the newspaper. Nor does he know why his candour sparked such sentiment.

"I don't have the slightest clue. You know, I haven't even seen the paper, which day was it?" he tells The Local over the phone.

"We were married 59 and a half years and we really got along," he said about his wife Mimmi. "The only time she shouted at me was when I slapped her on the bum once."

The couple had long since decided that the one left behind when they grew older would visit the other's grave every day, a promise that Nils, or "Nisse", has kept.

"Well, not every day, but almost," he says.

In the two years since Mimmi passed away, Nils has whiled his time away with exercise. Keeping physically active is also the top tip he has for any other widower struggling with boredom and sadness.

"Exercise all the time, that's the best thing. I exercise all the time," he says, before proving it with an impressive array of numbers - a three-kilometre walking loop, a stairmaster at home, plus an exercise bike.

"When the weather is like this," he says about Friday's soggy greyness, "I just do one loop, but if it's nice out I'll walk the three-kilometre loop two or three times."

His routine doesn't stop there. As well as half an hour on the bike at home, he takes turns on the stairmaster, stepping 300 times per session.

"Sometimes I'll do 600 or 900 steps a day," Nils says. "It's so sad and boring to be alone so this way you've got something to do."

He is quick to add, however, that exercising was always part of his life. He and his 12 siblings used to play football matches against a neighbouring family with the same number of children.

"Our mums would be the goal keepers, family against family, and usually the score was a tie because we laughed so much," Nils says.

How many of his siblings are still alive?

"Oh no, it's just Nisse," he says.

But his two daughters live nearby and one works at the local food store. She was working when he was out running errands today, but despite a trip to the store he forgot to buy flowers for Mimmi.

"It wasn't until I got to the grave that I realized I'd forgotten the flowers," he tells The Local. "But I'll bring flowers tomorrow."  

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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