Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday's Treasures & Things


Today's treasure is a small heart -- a piece of Swedish folk art. 


A gift from Elsa, my friend Barbro's mother, who was like a second mother to me, I have owned it now for almost 30 years. My own mother was wonderful and there was no need for a second mother in my life, but sometimes life brings us blessings beyond our wildest expectations.


The heart hangs in our bedroom over the frame of a watercolor of Katarina Church, the church in Stockholm where I was baptized. As with all my treasures, it comes with a story:

It was the spring of 1946 and I had ventured across a hill that separated our street from another street in our suburb. The freedom of being a child then, able to move around freely and explore, was my childhood's greatest gift to me. There was a tree on the other side of this rocky hill. It had a branch, coveted by all us children. The branch was low enough for us to reach, strong enough for us to climb, and, best of all, you could hook your knees around it and hang upside down.


On this day, I met a girl my age there. Her name was Barbro and we struck up an instant friendship. She invited me to her house across the street and when the door opened, I had the biggest surprise of my young life. It was opened by Barbro's mother, Elsa, a very tall and large-boned woman, dressed in one of the flowery housecoats that women wore in those days. Elsa had a very friendly face and demeanor, but what really got me was her voice. My mother was short and soft spoken, not Elsa. She was tall and her voice was incredible. It was loud and strong and happy and it made a lasting impression on me. After visiting for a while, I went home and told my mother about this wonderful woman I met and, years later, we would still talk about her voice. 


Barbro and I – we are the same age, so you can see how tall I was.

Barbro and I are still friends; she stayed in Sweden, married young and had two daughters. Now she has a beautiful granddaughter as well. Every time I go back to Stockholm, we spend time together and, for me, this time is important and unforgettable. I have been friends with no one else for so long, 65 years this spring, and our friendship means the world to me.

I always spent time with Elsa when I came back to Stockholm. In 1983, Elsa and I walked and talked about life and death. My brother had just died at the age of 40 and I needed to talk about such things. We walked past the riding school, the stables and barns, through the beautiful park, all part of the place where I grew up. I remember so clearly that she told me she was not afraid of dying. She felt very calm and reassured about death, she told me. Our conversation has stayed with me all these years. And it is helping me now, as I am getting old myself. Oh, the gifts we give to others without really knowing..... Elsa passed away in the early 1990s at the age of 80, I believe. I will always love her and I will always remember our walk that summer evening in 1983.

21 comments:

  1. Very nice! My husband has Swedish Roots so it is interesting reading your blogs about Sweden.

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  2. It was great to hear how you and Barbro met. You've spoken of her often through the years now I know the whole story. Her Mom sounds like a jewel too. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Wow. That little heart is cool, and I love the story behind it.

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  4. Swedish roots here, too...this was so interesting!

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  5. What a sweet story of lifelong friendships thanks for sharing.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this delightful memory with us Inger ... I was going to ask about the symbolic significance of the Heart but, thinking about it, it's obvious ...

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  7. such beautiful sentiments. you are so fortunate to have barbro (and have had elsa) in your life for this long.

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  8. I belive friends are family that you get to choose for yourself. I hope that you & your wonderful husband will always be a part of my "family".

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  9. oh that was sweet, inger. she sounds like a wonderful, strong, caring woman. and her daughter is a treasure to you. love the little heart signifying all the love you've received from these two souls. :)

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  10. what a sweet story...it is nice to have friends for so many years...and to have a second Mom..is always a true blessing...I know I had one too...she passed last year after a long battle with cancer...her daughter and I have been friends since middle school...

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  11. A wonderful story to go with your heart.

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  12. How precious, Inger. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. It is touching and sweet.

    That little heart hanging on the picture is indeed full of love!
    xxxx

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  13. Wow! A 65 year friendship. How special and how wonderful for both of you. Love that heart.

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  14. Inger I am sure Elsa felt the same way about meeting you. What a wonderful bond was established on that first meeting....one that has helped form your life. Great story and thanks for sharing it.
    Jim

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  15. How wonderful to have a life-long friend.

    I hope you feel much better soon, Inger.

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  16. How lucky for you to have formed such a lasting friendship - even though distance separates you. I wonder how many other women are so fortunate?
    I love how one item can represent such a rich story!

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  17. Hi Inger - lovely story .. it's funny how people can affect us so much and we always remember them .. I had a friend same age as me - sadly she died about 7 years ago .. way too young. It's wonderful that you and Barbro are still great little girls .. and I love your heart decoration .. the Swedish folk art .. and the photo - thanks for sharing this story .. Hilary

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  18. Thanks for sharing such lovely details about he little heart. When a piece of jewelry has a little story behind it, it becomes priceless. Swedish folk art must be beautiful:)

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  19. This is a lovely story of friendship. I have several Swedish friends. I love the "accent."

    Your story reminds me of my friend Susan of 45 years whom I miss very much. She's in my memoir that I wish she were here to read. She encouraged me to write; laughed when I said I couldn't. She died too soon, at age 75, 3 years ago.

    I think you and I are close to the same age. We're getting older, but better!!
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

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  20. Your story touched my heart...and gave it comfort as well - thank you for sharing!

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Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger

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