Traveling through Sweden with my friend to find her roots (not the hair kind) was an experience. We hopped in our rental car after five days in Stockholm and hit the road to Gavle, where she thought her grandfather was born. However, the Gavle Archives gave us more accurate information. She has ancestors from Torsaker, about a 45 minute drive from Gavle on mostly back roads. No problem, we had a car and Betsy, our British GPS lady. We hit the road the next morning.
All was great until about 30 minutes in when I reached for my phone and…you guessed it, it wasn’t there. Not in my purse and not in my pocket. Anxiety kicked in from the tip of my fingers to my toes. Once I realized that we were out of touch with the rest of the world and, more importantly, no picture taking for me, I was ready to cry. As luck would have it, a Swedish rest stop appeared out of nowhere. Thank goodness for road signs with pictures. I pulled in and after rechecking my purse and pocket, I got out of the car to inspect the back seat. No need to look there, I was sitting on it. Whew. We were back in business. Lucky that seat was cushy, no cracked screen.
We found Torsaker and donned our raincoats as the drizzle fell. We visited the church in the middle of town. My friend’s great grandfather was born there. We inspected the cemetery and church, went to the florist to see if there were any Josephson’s there, but to no avail. After driving around town and the countryside, we told Betsy the address of our next destination, Husby.
We followed back roads to Husby (pronounced, “Hoos Bee” by the locals), but before we got there, we came upon one breathtaking lake after another. You guessed it, right in the middle of nowhere. We were spending a lot of time in nowhere…but when it’s that pretty no one complains. I’d heard about the lakes and waterfalls of Sweden and here they were. Spectacular and pristine. We kept stopping to take pictures and had to remind ourselves to keep on going or we’d be on the road too long, but then again, we didn’t have to worry about driving after dark, ’cause it never seems to really get dark there, at least not this time of year. That’s for a different blog.
We could see Husby in the distance, but not before a HUGE heron went flying across the field in front of us as if to say, “welcome.” Red buildings dotted the countryside and a big white church with a beautiful steeple raised its hand to welcome us. We parked the car and walked to the cemetery that surrounded the church, hoping to find a Josephson buried there. We looked around for someone to ask and gained an intro to the head groundskeeper. As I said in another blog, the Swedes are so helpful and friendly and never make you feel like you are imposing. Note to self, be nicer and more patient. People need that. I need that. Everyone needs that.
The groundskeeper was gracious and took the information to see if he could locate a relative and pointed us to a new restaurant in town (the only one, actually). It was time for lunch, so who were we to argue? The recently renovated inn/restaurant was charming. The owner was very engaging offering up history about the place. After we ate, we walked out to the back porch to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. A young woman was there with her two little dogs and let us know that she’d overheard. It turned out that she knew some Josephsons in the area and is putting my friend in touch with them. Did I mention how helpful the Swedes are?
We went back to the church, but the groundskeeper was so apologetic because he was unable to locate any graves from her family. It seems that it was so long ago, it is likely they are there, but they’re not identified. It was a disappointment, but did little to dampen our spirits. Finding the magical town of Husby was enough. Watching the flow of a river that we were certain her great grandparents had enjoyed and walking the streets of the town served as confirmation of love. Love that transcends generations from then till now.
It turned out the young woman that we met at the inn was a singer. Her name is Cecilia Kyllinge. She never said anything about her singing and we became fast Facebook friends. Her CD now lives in my car. Check it out on Amazon, she sings in both English and Swedish. It’s amazing and so is she.
Roots are important and so is the future, but nothing is more important than the present and living in the moment. Learning about the past gives us a new appreciation of the present and reminds us that love transcends generations.