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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

100th birthday party

I went to Stockholm by train Thursday, to stay with my mother’s relatives. Friday I went shopping in town a little, but I spent most of the day at the Swedish History Museum. I can’t remember ever having been there before. I toured the exhibits about gold and silver treasures, Vikings, textiles from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the history of Sweden 1000-2000. I also listened to a guide, who gave more details about the special exhibit on the battle of Gotland in 1361, where a few thousand people were killed when the Danish king Valdemar invaded the island. Not the best museum I have visited, but all rather interesting, especially the Viking exhibit.

My grandfather’s birthday party Saturday was amazing. It was at a restaurant near his home, a 40 minute train ride for me. Almost 70 people attended, some had travelled very far (his nephew from Denmark and his former hunting friends from northern Sweden, for instance). The 100 year-old seemed to be enjoying the event, as he has always loved parties. He said he gets tired quite quickly these days, but that’s no wonder. His mind is clear and he still plays bridge and solves the most difficult crossword puzzles. It’s not easy to find a suitable present for someone turning 100, but we ended up giving him a basket with food items like jam and biscuits. Other people gave him flowers, mostly. The buffet was very nice, and the cake too. It was a warm and sunny day (perhaps a little too warm), but we all had a good time. I don’t see those relatives much, as we are spread out all over the country.

Sunday I went to a town two subway stations away, to visit even more relatives. These ones I had never met. It’s my paternal grandmother’s cousin. I contacted him recently because I need help with Olga’s biography. It turns out that he has all his father’s (Olga’s eldest brother) documents saved, including the letters from Olga, photos and much else. I stayed there for hours, going through these papers. His father had been very meticulous and kept all documents. It was very interesting and I got answers to some of my questions. I was given the letters from Olga, which was great, as I need them for the book. I pointed out which photos I wanted, and he will scan them and send later. He had paintings of some of the ships Olga’s father and brother-in-law sailed on, and even a wooden model of one, apparently made by Olga’s mother.

I returned home yesterday, and I have now read through all Olga’s letters to her brother. Some of them can be used in the biography. They also shed light on something I had been wondering about. Olga occasionally wrote about someone named Ulla (which can be a woman’s name), but I now found out that it’s actually a cat!

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