Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 15, 2007

Reconnecting with relatives

Husband Art and I peered though the waiting room glass as the passengers passed through the airport gate. I had met Lars-Gunnar on my trip to Sweden in 2005, but suddenly I was afraid I might not recognize him.

Art's Internet searching during Christmas of 2004 combined with a bunch of my e-mails eventually reconnected us with Mom's "lost" Moström relatives. Lars is my second cousin once removed or, to make it more understandable, his mother Sigrid and I are second cousins. When Lars and wife Marita found out that my sister, her two girls, Mom and I were coming to Sweden, they offered the use of their home as they would be gone most of the days we were there. Because of where they lived, it couldn't have worked out better for us. They're located in about the middle of Sweden and we had Karlberg relatives to visit in the south and Moström ones in the north.

Lars works for a company that has subsidiaries all over the world and periodically sends out representatives to make certain all are following the company's environmental requirements. His business in early May was in Seattle, but I had suggested a few weeks earlier that he should come to Kansas to see the "real" America and he had accepted our invitation.

I needn't have been concerned about not recognizing him at the airport. I had forgotten how tall he is. When he finally made it past the security door, Art introduced himself while I stared in surprise over how short he made Art look!

From the airport, Art took us to the Outback Steakhouse. We thought Lars might be tired, but he said he was too excited to be tired. Later, we drove into Kansas City for what Art calls his 10-cent tour, finishing up by having ice cream on the Plaza.

Saturday was the 50-cent tour of Manhattan, including two high points so he could see the city from above, a trip across Tuttle Creek Dam and past the tubes and lunch at Vista. After lunch, we continued the tour to Wamego, then back toward home via the Beecher Bible Rifle Church and Pillsbury Crossing.

Saturday evening, Art barbecued chicken at Mom's home. The heavy winds and predicted rain meant he had to seek shelter in the garage. Mom kept worrying he was going to start the house on fire.

Lars said he didn't sleep much Saturday night as he had never encountered thunder and rain like what he experienced with us. In contrast, Art slept through the night!

On Sunday we headed down to Morris County, where Mom, her sister Edith and Grandma and Grandpa Nels Moström had lived. Lars was amazed at the open lands and how far apart the homes are. "They must be lonely at times," he said. In Sweden and other parts of Europe, it is typical for people to live in villages and go out to work on their farm lands rather than live on the farm land itself.

We walked the cemetery at the Marion Hill Lutheran Church near Dwight and then took a tour of the little town. Although the tour took less time than the one in Kansas City, I think we saw every building twice and took pictures at least once while Mom gave a running commentary about where she stayed while she was in high school there and what buildings had held which businesses.

By that time, we were late getting to Edith's in Council Grove. When we rolled in, Edith was waiting on the front porch with lasagna and fried chicken being kept warm in the oven. Everyone ate heartily and then retired to the living room where Mom and Edith kept our guest entertained with stories about their childhood years.

Everyone was tired by the time we made it home Sunday evening, but soon we were swapping computer files and scanning pictures relating to our common Swedish relatives.

The weekend had passed quickly. When we weren't looking at the sights, we were discussing children, politics, taxes, weather and all the other things that everyone discusses, although not usually quite so intently.

Monday we took Lars back to Kansas City so he could catch his flight for Seattle. There are other Moström relatives in Washington, so after he finished his business, he met with them, too.

After Lars returned to Sweden, he sent me an e-mail in which he told me that he hadn't really thought much about the Moströms that left Sweden 100 years ago. But, now that he has visited the states where those relatives settled, he wants to know more about them. I'm glad we reconnected after all these years, but I wonder what took us so long!

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