“Nobody knows my name” — James Baldwin
Humans are social creatures. We need others to share their lives with us. When Grandpa and Grandma Westerberg came to the states, the only way they could keep in touch with family and friends in the “old country” was through postal mail carried on ships. Grandpa Karl (His first name over here was Carl, but I like to remember him by his Swedish first name.) in 1937 visited his sick sister in his homeland and got intimately involved with her young caregiver, before returning to the U.S. We survivors, on both sides of the Atlantic, do not know if Karl ever knew he had fathered a girl when he was over there. The girl is my aunt (min faster Märta).
FAST FORWARD TO 2014
A Swedish lady finds me on Facebook and says we are cousins. Her mother is my aunt. At first I didn’t believe it. Then through further emails we shared what we knew about Karl. Later in 2014, I flew to Copenhagen and stayed with my cousin’s family for three weeks in Southern Sweden. Having family I didn’t know about for 71 years (and then being diagnosed with stomach cancer two years later) seems so unfair. But we did meet in this life and I will be having my sista resa (final rest) in the Trelleborg cemetery over there.
Now I knew where my last name came from and that I had to add Swedish to the collection of foreign languages acquired (and still acquiring) in my life. Thanks to the Internet I can watch Swedish TV and listen to Swedish radio. Emails and Skype are just a few keystrokes away.
AND LIFE GOES ON.