Friday, May 11, 2007

An AWESOME Gift

As you are all aware now about the Swedish visitors in our little community, today was a really cool day! Not temperature wise, but just soooo cool and enjoyable.

Before I headed off to the restaurant (Jim/Charmaine's) for our luncheon today, I had to run down to Winburne to pay that pesky bill we get every month for our sewage connection It has to be paid before 1 p.m. on the 11th of every month or you end up paying an extra fee for their lovely fine. And, on my way to Winburne, as I drove through Lanse, what did I see across the road from the now apartment complex that used to be the Swedish Covenant Church of Lanse, but Olaf - the gentleman of the Swedish group! The three ladies were traipsing about in the cemetery rapidly photographing tombstones there of long since passed natives of Sweden. So, I stopped and chatted a bit with Olaf who told me they had found their way down to this spot - all on their own - and he felt sure they would have no difficulty in finding their way back to Route 53 and down to Jim/Charmaine's for the lunch there.

Once at J/C's (my daughter Mandy's and my abbreviation for the restaurant), those who remembered to attend began to show up -and we ended up I believe with 14 or 15 people there. Charmaine had brought out her photo album in which she has it loaded with old, old pictures of Grassflat's early years along with a goodly number of old photos too from Peale - the ghost town. This album was a big hit with everyone who got a chance to view it.

Then, Anneli - the lady who I have corresponded with for close to eight years now - brought out her laptop (or as she calls it, her "brain") and began to show me numerous photos she had taken shortly before leaving Sweden to come here on this visit. Beautiful photos of the churches in Erikstad (which is her home parish), Grinstad, which is where my Great-Aunt Hilma's family came from and Bolstad, the little area where my Grandpa Eld was born (my Mor-far or 'mother's father' as he would be known in Swedish) and where the majority of my ancestors on that side of my Swedish heritage lived between 1600 and 1880 - and perhaps some of my distant cousins still may reside in that area as well.

Then, my neighbors, Jim and Kate Nelson Eyerly, asked Anneli about family tree data and within less than two minutes time, she had pulled up the family tree records for my friend Kate's mother's family and it took her maybe 3-4 minutes to pull up Kate's husband, Jim's mother's family too. Kate was impressed but maybe not quite enough to start digging around for family tree data since it would inevitably involve dealing with a computer and that is something she doesn't enjoy at all - unlike me! But, her husband now - Jim's quite a computer buff and after he saw the records Anneli could produce there for him and so quickly too, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him maybe start delving into geneology sometime in the future. Hey, if that bug bites, you're usually "infected" for the rest of your life then!

Anneli showed several others there their family trees too - all in rapid fire and really interesting to see how far back she has these records linked to this area too.

But then, Anneli told me she had a gift for me - something she figured I would appreciate very much and that she had even had to "smuggle" it in with her luggage to get it to this country. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

And when she handed me a rock - yes, a rock - I was pleased because I knew she understood I would appreciate that sentiment of something that connected with my ancestral homeland. But when she explained that this wasn't just a rock from just anyplace in Sweden but it came from a part of the old stone foundation of the older Lutheran church in Bolstad, which had been the church of my grandfather and his family going back many generations, this rock took on a whole different aura! Just being from Sweden would have made me happy as a lark but to think it was once a part of the church my ancestors had been affiliated with, now that was just AWESOME!

Even my son-in-law said that too -Awesome. But when my son phoned home this evening and I told him about this rock, his response was akin to mine - AWESOME! And yes indeed it is that! It was, I must confess, a gift that I had a lot of difficulty keeping back the tears that immediately began to well up.

And yes, for a while after receiving it, I confess too that I was pretty darned speechless! Hard to believe that one isn't it?

After our lunch, I took the visitors up to Allport to see the Swedish cemetery there and then, down to the home in Kylertown of Ray and Janet Rydberg Larson, with whom they were going to go out to dinner this evening.

I didn't get all that many photos taken today - a few, here and there but I was so tied up viewing the album, looking at the photos and records Anneli had on her computer, I got really side-tracked there and forgot for quite awhile I had a camera with me. I did however get some pictures of Ray and Janet Larson with the four visitors surrounding them at their home. Unfortunately, this morning Ray had some problems -again- with his leg and the knee area swelling, fluid retention so Janet had to take him to the emergency room to get that attended too and thus, she missed the luncheon at J/C's as a result.

Tomorrow now, the plans for that day were changed today by the visitors. Initially, I had figured tomorrow I'd be able to take them down to visit the ghost town of Peale but they decided while they were here, they would be better served to drive about two hours east of here to visit Antrim and Arnot, PA - two towns up in Tioga County that had a very heavy concentration of Swedish immigrants too. Besides, those towns also have cemeteries with tombstones whereas Peale's cemetery only has one tombstone remaining there so Arnot and Antrim had the allure needed then!

Tomorrow night, they will be here at my house for supper. Pray that I don't burn the meat and scorch everything else I'm planning to serve too, will you please?

6 comments:

Dorothy said...

Wow...now wasn't that neat about the rock, Jeni. My twin soul before he died gave me a rock that said, "miracles," on it. Isn't it neat how the smallest things mean so much?

Meloncutter said...

Good Morning Jeni.

YOU'VE BEEN TAGGED.

Later Y'all

TomCat said...

Jeni, that's pretty amazing. I used to have a chip of brick from the house I grew up in.

Claire said...

I don't use this word much as i am British, but that is awesome!

Will you ask your Swedish visitors if they watch the eurovision song contest.

lattégirl said...

Sounds like a busy but fun time! Hope you don't tire yourself out.

Wellmaybeiam said...

Hi, I was reading your post and I would like to say that my Grandmother was swedish and grew up in Grassflat, PA. I think her parents were barried in that cemetary. And also. Ray and Janet Larson are related to me. I see them about once a year and they are my 5th or 4th cousins!!! Its a small world!!