Friday, September 16, 2011

meeting Gunda

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was meeting Gunda, who, at 96, is the last remaining sibling of my great-grandfather, Ernst.  Since my great-great-grandfather only brought his sons to America, Gunda, the baby of the family and a girl, remained in Sweden.  

Gert (Gunda's son), Erik, Gunda, Kerstin
I would like for it to be noted that Gert and Gunda arrived in a blue volvo station wagon, not unlike the one belonging to yours-truly.

We knew we were going to be meeting Gunda, but just like many of our activities in Sweden, something got lost in translation and we didn't realize where we would be meeting her. When we arrived at a random parking lot near a bridge during inclement weather, we were a bit confused about what was going on.  Turns out Gunda wanted to show us where the house that she and my great-grandfather and all of their siblings had grown up in was!

We walked from the parking lot over this little bridge to the island.  As you can see, the island is not far from the mainland.  But when Gunda was small, she said the bridge was just wide enough for a person to cross, which is how they got all of the building materials for their house over there. 

The homes that were on the island when Gunda was a girl are no longer.  In fact, nobody lives on the island year round anymore, however there is a small community of summer homes/campsites that is in use in the summer. 

Kärleks-Stigen = Lovers' Trail
We followed a small trail through the woods.  I was quite impressed at how well Gunda could walk on such un-even terrain at 96!

The trail eventually led to an opening of land surrounded by rocks.  This is where their house was. Some of the rocks marked the perimeter of their yard and others marked the house's foundation.  The house, as you can see, was situated quite close to the water.

Gert standing in the overgrown area where the house used to be.

Gunda explained that there were a few other families who lived on the island and that one family had 16 children living in one house!  She also told us about how they built the foot bridge to transport building materials across to the island and how they had to walk to the mainland everyday (and a few miles more) to go to school.  Thunderstorms chased us from the island, but we met up with Gunda again shortly thereafter...

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