Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 16, 2005
A friend recently asked if the delicate silver necklace I was wearing had any special significance. She had no idea such a simple question would require such a long and detailed response!
I had purchased the necklace in Sweden, but not from just any tourist shop. I bought it in Nyliden, the small town in Ångermanland Province where my Grandpa Nels Moström was born. He left his homeland in 1909, never to return. After his death in 1981, we lost track of the Moströms who stayed behind.
But the Internet and e-mail reconnected me with my family when I began the search for my Swedish relatives last winter. Then, this past summer, Mom, my sister Gaila, my two nieces and I visited in Grandpa's hometown with cousins we had met only the day before.
Sigrid, Gunnar, Gunilla and Fredrik were among the 150 or so who attended the Moström reunion in a nearby town. They had "adopted" the five of us - introducing us to family members we didn't know existed, serving us a picnic lunch, translating Swedish to English and back again, and explaining family relationships. My head spun trying to figure out how everyone fit into the family tree. I soon figured out Sigrid was my second cousin. Her grandfather Johan Olaf and my grandfather Nels were brothers. This made her father Johan Anton and Mom first cousins.
While the worlds we came from were different, in many ways we were similar and our relationship wasn't that distant. I wondered why we had waited so long to find each other.
Second cousin Bengt-Erik and his son Dennis were also at the reunion. Dennis explained that names used to come from the father's first name. Hence, a daughter of Nels became Nelsdotter and a son became Nelsson. But beginning in the late 1800s, names reflected the places where people lived. My Moström ancestors lived near a stream called the Moälven and so my great-great grandfather Erik took the name Moström - "Mo" meaning hill with pine trees and "ström" meaning stream.
In Nyliden, Grandpa's hometown, there isn't much in the way of businesses, but one establishment served as a restaurant, tourist center and shop. As the owners fixed us a meal of quiche and cabbage salad, we wandered through the store, which had second-hand items and hand-made crafts.
When I found the shelf with jewelry items, my heart started beating faster. The necklaces and other items were labeled "Lappland Design." Grandpa had often talked about his days in Lappland when he worked in the lumber industry as a young man in northern Sweden.
The pendants on the necklaces were unusual. A small card inside the boxes explained:
"The 'wind of wilderness' is the name of a handicraft series produced by Lapplands Tenn (tin.) The source of inspiration is nature which is given to us from our creator. The different shapes spring from ancient, windswept northern wood. The structure bears witness to the barren landscape where coldness and snowstorms have passed throughout centuries. A gentle touch of human hands has formed this handicraft into modern designs."
When I found a necklace marked "Midnattssol," I had to have it. And now when I wear it, I'm reminded of Grandpa, my new-found Moström relatives and Sweden - the land of the Midnight Sun.
So does my delicate silver necklace have special significance? Oh yes, indeed it does!
"Welcome to Nyliden," Sweden sign (left) and village store/restaurant with relatives Gunnar Sjölund, Gunilla Schmidt, Gabriela, Gaila and Larisa Chambi, Edla (Mostrom) Freeland, Fredrik Schmidt, and Sigrid (Mostrom) Sjölund