Family

Mostly stuff about my own family, but if you’re interested, feel free.

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I have always been fairly bouncy and youthful. I’ve also always been vain and deeply in denial about getting older.  2 years ago, my health nosedived in a way that went from sad to frustrating to terrifying. It started with sudden arthritis bad enough to stop my aerobic routine and make keyboard and mouse use agonizing. If you know me, you know that means a lot of every day was agonizing. I rationalized that I am getting older and that I’ve earned any repetitive motion injuries with 2 decades of thoughtless ergonomics. I sucked it up.

I started having a lot of stomach trouble but it was gradual enough that it never clicked into the foreground. Whatever was happening, it messed with my energy levels. It messed with my sexuality. It messed with my sleep. I had a hundred odd little complaints. I rationalized it all as me getting old. My optimism decayed, my demented confidence that women still think I’m hot went with it. It turns out that a lot depends on that delusion for me. You might as well remove my thyroid or my knees.

I love moving, I love walking. Suddenly one day there was a tightness in my chest when going up a big hill. Over the next year, it got worse and worse and worse. All the joy in my life began to shrink and dry up like a waterhole. I was imprisoned on a small island. Walking to my classrooms the chest pain would become crushing and terrifying. I wasn’t tired or out of breath, just being squeezed by something that would pop me like a bubble if I kept moving. Worst were the weird middle of the night chest pains that seemed to come from nowhere. I think they made me the loneliest I have ever been. Continue reading

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It’s very humble, a cottage, really. But it’s home.

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Not such a happy time. Florida. No friends. Heat like a beating. Lawns watered with sulfurous well water. A four mile bike ride to the worst school I had ever seen. 35% dropout rate: They called them “dysfunctionals”. It smelled like broccoli and peanut butter. They hit kids with a wooden paddle to punish them 1. There was no fresh air. The windows were permanently sealed slits of frosted glass. Kids had desperately scratched at the windows for a glimpse outside. A social studies teacher talked about how black people had better natural rhythm in the course of teaching class.  I started to curl up and surrender inside. I began bringing a novel every day and refusing to participate. Then a four mile bike ride back.

1 One fond memory: My Dad called the Principal and told him if he ever used that paddle on me he’d come straight over and use it on him.
I didn’t know that at the time but one day the principal called me out of class to say: “I’d just like to reassure you that we will never use the paddle on you.”

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Some memories of when my son was little.

I suppose these range from around age 4 to 8 or 9.

  1. The other day I said “Sometimes I wish life could be more interesting and surprising.” Isaac said “If you mean you’re tired of the same old thing all the time, I’m with you.”
  2. Streaming a very funny anime (Sgt. Frog.) on Netflix with Isaac. Isaac says: “Have you noticed that every anime has hot teenage girls in it?” me: “Um. yes.”
  3. The other day I was reading to Isaac and he looked up at me and said: “And the winner of the longest nose hair award is…my Dad.”
  4. Isaac complained about the cutesy little notes his Mom puts into his lunchbox so today I slipped a note in there that said: “Did you forget about the amazing space lizards?”
  5. Isaac: “Dad, where did crows eat before there were burger joints?”
  6. I spent the afternoon playing video games with Isaac and when I grumbled about needing to get some work done he said “Lazy Butt!” and I said, “Well you should know, you’re a chip off the old butt.”
  7. It was a beautiful warm spring-like day. Isaac and I went out to the beach, turning over rocks in the low tide zone, finding hundreds of little crabs. We picked up a few on our shovel and they tried to fight us. As we were leaving he said: “I guess we gave them some great stories to tell their grandchildren.”
  8. Over at Isaac’s school celebration for Winter vacation. A woman came over to help me open the beverages I brought. She said, “Oh, by the way, I’m Mikey’s mom.” I said, “Hi, I’m Isaac’s mom!” She noticed a beat before I did.
  9. Isaac put refrigerator magnets together that said: “So I pounded an elaborate bitter goddess”. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  10. The other night Isaac started painting a big piece of styrofoam all sorts of weird colors, with glitter here and there. He said he was making decorations for April Fools Day.

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My Great Grandfather, Karl Oscar Lundstrom wrote this letter to his wife, my Great Grandma Henrika. 

France
Dieppe the 20th of June 1883

My dear beloved wife, live well. Many thanks for your welcome letters which came today, it was a great joy for me. Any other earthly joy can’t be compared to this one, when I heard that you are still alive and in good health. I am in good health too, thanks god, till now and God, may these simple lines find you, my noble wife by the same precious gift of grace. I don’t know anything better to wish for than that.
We have to be separated, but in thoughts we can embrace each other I hope. If God helps me, then I can take your hand once again just like the hands here above and I can press you to my heart with devoted love. May god give us soon that day.

We stayed here longer than we thought to, but now the cargo is taken in and we are nearly ready to go out to sea. I wrote a letter the 13th of this month. You hadn’t had it yet when you wrote your letter but perhaps even got it the next day, I don’t know. Please write to me again as soon as you can, so I can know how you are. Remember me to Father and Mother, sisters and brothers, relatives and friends. Tell the first and last of them, you are all remembered.
My consolation, my joy, Goodbye.
Respectfully yours,

K.O. Lundstrom

If you haven’t had the first letter yet I write the address here
Sailor K.O. Lundstrom
The Swedish ship FRANS
Stockholm

 

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My Grandma, Aina Helena Sundberg wrote this quick little reminiscence about Christmas during her childhood in Nykarleby, Finland.
Sleighs and jingle bells and candles in the window! She was born in 1887 and died in 1982 at 95 years old. 

“Little Christmas,” the 13th of December, was the day for school children’s festivities in our all-girls school.

Our vacation had started the day before. We were all dressed in our best bib and tucker as we trudged through the snow to our school in the mid-afternoon. It was all dark — there were only four oraina-young-cropped five hours of daylight. Our one-room school was all lit up. There was a big tree to the ceiling, colorful decorations and live candles, ten or twelve inches high burning brightly on the tree, There was an air of expectancy all around. I can still remember feeling the warmth of that room and the crowd.

There were between 30 to 40 of us girls, and anyone who wanted to come was welcome to see us perform — singing, reciting, doing ring dances, imitating “Little mouse, watch out for the trap — little pussy cat tiptoe; little rabbit, sound asleep, better wake and hop before the wolf comes,” etc. We had our fling around and around. Last of all came refreshments of candies, cookies and red rosy apples and Children’s Christmas Magazine, with very colorful pictures and interesting stories, with one for each pupil to take home. By that time we had had our fill and we ventured out into the cold, homeward bound. Our ages were between 8 and 13, We had four classes, and one teacher. We had attended the “Children’s Cradle” school for two years previously. There the first year was kindergarten, and the second year there was reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The 14th of December was the boys‘ school entertainment. They were more favored/in that their school was located on the teachers‘ college territory. There were four buildings in all, so they had individual classrooms. In the last year of the teacher’s’ course of four years, they practiced their teaching ability in the boys classes, observed and judged by the principal and the professors of the seminary, as it was called. All students were males. The boys’ Christmas festivities took place in the big gym and assembly hall I of the seminary. The seating was about the same as at our gala, but everything was on a bigger scale. Some boisterous plays were performed in costumes. Last of all, there was a real, fur-coated Santa Claus who was very generous with gifts for the boys. They all got the same simple useful things. There were goodies for all the children present. You can bet we girls were there too, as were the boys the day before, at the girls‘ celebration. Continue reading

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As Boy comes up to his 4th birthday I have to marvel at how fast it has all gone. Of course, that is exactly what veteran parents always say. As my friend Walt told me; “Remember, you can’t go back and take pictures.”

As Mindy lay recovering on his first night the nurses escorted me to his incubator. I have to strain to remember what he looked like at first: That tiny little red person left high and dry in an incubator. He looked like a little old man in a nursing home but he still felt like a vibrant little person. He was so delicate but I could hear life humming in him. He had to be tough to hold on as he did. My wordy mind just sort of shut down as I watched him. Inside I heard a strange machinery coming fully online. It wasn’t verbal or conceptual, it was just a new fact of my life. Translated it would have said:  “This is mine. This is my job. I’m your guy.”

I reached my hand through the little window and touched his hand. His hand closed around my index finger and held on warm and solid.

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