Jumping the Pond

I returned to college in 2008.  In 2009, one of my classes was information technology.  One week’s assignment was to create a website and to create a blog.  One assignment = two different aspects.

My website was a shopping site for my knitted products.  Some of the photos included propped-up knitted-and-felted handbags in beach chairs for a backdrop, and other photos were my hand modeling fingerless gloves.  It’s hard to take a decent photo of your own hand, and don’t let anyone else tell you it’s not. 

For my blogsite, I chose WordPress.com after consulting with my computer guru, also known as my nephew Keith.  Writing the blog was so much fun, I just kept doing it, and here we are, almost three years later. 

WordPress has a dashboard page where you, among other things, control the look of the blog.  Y’all just go to WordPress right now and make a blog – it’s free – and you’ll see what I mean.  Another aspect of the dashboard is the stats graph.  You can see how many hits you get per day.  I usually get at least 5 hits, which doesn’t sound like very much, but sometimes my stats shoot through the roof to maybe 16.  Sometimes I see a trend of a lot of hits, usually because someone is searching for something specific, perhaps through google or bing, like “Corinne Elliott Lawton” or “seed ticks”.  (I know.  Seed ticks, right?  Who’s not searching for seed ticks.)

So my goal is to get ten hits a day.  That’s not too much, and I suppose one is supposed to have some sort of goal, but really?  I write the blog for me.  The blog turned into a way for me to unload some of those old photos and letters that I have been carting around through various lives and lifestyles.  The blog has been such an unburdening of the responsibilities of me being the only one who has these bits of the past.  When I started collecting genealogy stuff, I would think, “If I only had a picture.”  I met some really nice folks who send photos of gravestones, and photos of people, and snippets of stories, and some wonderful old letters, and I know how wonderful it felt to have the kindness of strangers bestowed upon you, if for no other reason except that they could.  One woman did a headstone rubbing of my 3rd great-grandfather Theophilas Rawls.  One volunteer copied the entire family Bible ancestry of Josias and Anne Gamble, because she could, but she also copied a lot of pages of her family group sheets and some photos of some of my great-grandmother’s sisters, who she knew *in person*, and she told me that she thought when she was a child that she was related to these people because the families were so close.  Touches my heart.

So I’ve uploaded my own fair share of some of my family stuff because you just don’t know when and how you can touch someone else’s heart.  And therein lies a tale.

If y’all will just go back in time and click on this link to my daughter’s 6th birthday, and re-read it, or read it for the first time, and don’t fail to read the comments, because we’re about to jump the pond.

*****

When I met my now-ex-husband back in 1976, he spoke lovingly of his family.  He had spent a lot of his growing-up years with his mother’s parents.  He said that his grandmother Aina was from Sweden, that she was the oldest child in the family, that she and her mother and 3 younger siblings came over “on the boat” in 1909, and that she was one year younger than the year and that was how he remembered how old she was.  If it was ’77, she was 76.  It was sweet to see how much he loved his family.  Later when I met his family, they all seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and they planned trips and outings together, and they were very serious about being a family.

A few years before she died, his grandmother told me about her younger brother Bertil, also known as Bert.  He was the only boy with four sisters Aina, Estrid, Brita, and Gertrude, and if they all went out to a community dance when they were young, Bert danced with all the sisters so that they got at least one dance.  My mother-in-law told me that Bert had a full scholarship to UCONN, and I thought it odd that they would consider sending him off to the Yukon, but I didn’t say anything – fortunately – and I listened and learned that Yukon was not UCONN.    (I’m from the South.  I don’t know such YankeeTalk like UCONN.)  But Bertil contracted a disease, and he died. 

*****

One of the comments was from a gentleman in Sweden.  I could only read the first few words of his comment, because I was confused by it and I was trying to process it.  He said that he saw the picture of this grandfather’s sister Aina, and I stopped reading, trying quickly to figure it out, because there was only one brother, and that was Bertil, and he died before he married or had children.  I read it again, and this time I kept reading and saw that his grandfather knew the family names, like Aina, and Bertil, and Gertrude, and then I realized, scratching my head, that there was a brother out there that no one knew about.  Or worse, that they did know about his existence, but, for whatever reason, chose not to talk about him.

*****

Another feature of the blog is that the blog-holder – the dashboard-reader-type-person – can view the email address of a commenter.  I emailed the gentlemen, and told him that I didn’t know his grandfather’s name.  He replied, and told me that his grandfather was the oldest in the family, and was left behind in Sweden to stay with the grandparents to help them, because the grandfather was blind. 

Even though I’m not related to these folks, not even by marriage any more, my children are related, and it feels like my responsibility to tell this story.  But right now, mostly I’m so sad for this little boy who was left behind.  I have a theory about this, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to purchase the international version of ancestry.com. 

And now, a “new” letter that you have not seen before. 

Page one.

And also… 

 

*****

Sat. Nov. 8, 1986

Dear Ruth,

I am sending your birthday card very early Ruth because I want you both to know about the Campbell Soup Christmas ornament and calendar that I have ordered for the children and am having them mailed to your home in time for Christmas I hope.  They are to be mailed separately so look for them one at a time.

About two years ago we gave Jennifer a tree ornament and the calendar to Andrew; this time the ornament goes to Michael and the calendar to Jennifer so they will both have a Christmas ornament for their Christmas tree.

This morning we received an invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner at Suzanne and George Morris’ home in Oxford.  This is our third dinner there.  They have also invited my sister Brita.  It is so thoughtful of them to have us share the dinner with them.

Grandpa and I spent yesterday with Aunt Brita; took her out for dinner to celebrate her 81st birthday, a month late, as I wasn’t feeling well enough to go down before.  Gladys Benson stopped in afterwards and we all had supper together.  We are looking forward to seeing all of you at Christmas.

Love from Grandpa and myself,

Grandma

 *****

Sleep well, Oskar.  We’re just about full circle.

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One Response to “Jumping the Pond”

  1. Jumping the Pond, Part 2 « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] you have not read the first part about jumping the pond, please take a moment and click on the link.  If you don’t want to, well, then […]

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