Sunday, March 14, 2010

My grandfather Henry's Century....

March 14 is a day that I often pause to reflect and remember my grandfather Henry. He would have been a 100 today. My grandfather Henry Helge Alexis Linneberg was a farmer who told me wonderful stories. He was born to immigrant parents who came from Sweden in 1907(his father) and his mother(1908). Their trip to Canada was long and arduous. My great grandmother arrived on a boat with her two children. Her berth was the size of a large chair. Frida then rode on a train that took 3 weeks across Canada. Her journey did not end there. The final leg was to ride in a wagon to the farm. It took another day and a half to arrive on the homestead where my grandfather was born. There was not much more than brush,forest and hills as far as the eye could see. My great grandmother Frida did not speak English. Her nearest neighbour lived about a mile down the road. When Nils, her husband died 6 years later, they had only 6 acres cleared. In Sweden, Frida had always worried about Nils dying in the mines,he worked as a fire boss in Malmberget in Northern Sweden. Life was not easy as an immigrant widow on the prairies. Frida never returned to Sweden. She became a widow at age 38 and raised her 4 children to adulthood by herself. My grandfather was 6 when his father Nils died. This large aerial photo is of my grandparents farm taken in the early 70's. Their farm was adjacent to the original homestead. My grandparents lived on that property from 1936 until 2003.For almost 100 years, my mother's family had roots in that Alberta farming community.

My grandfather Henry was a dapper looking guy. Here he is with my gorgeous grandmother Grace on their wedding day. Henry was a man of many talents- he played a saxophone and a violin. He had a deep baritone voice and some of my first memories of him, are related to music and mealtimes. Henry would say the blessing and we would have a beautiful meal prepared from the food he and my grandmother had raised on the farm. After the meal was over, he would often stop to sing a song or tell a story. If there were small children he would bounce them on his knee and sing" Jimmy Crack Corn". I loved his stories and asked him to write them down in a small journal I gave him.
Over his lifetime, my grandfather worked many jobs as well as farmed. He often spent the winter away from my grandmother so that they would survive on the farm. He sold Watkins and drove a dairy truck during the second world war. In the later years, he went down to work in a cement plant near Banff. For 18 years, Henry spent winters away working on the boilers to help provide for his family. There are many bundles of letters from his time away, that reflect the deep feelings he had for my grandmother and how much he missed being with her and his family.
Henry wrote many letters to Grace over the years. Here is one of his notes that he wrote called "My Gracie."
" My Gracie
How fortunate I have been in choosing a wife. For over 50 years we have enjoyed life together. I look back even before we were married-
George(Grace's brother) and I were working at the mill- You(Grace) came out to get some wood and I received that million dollar smile that has won so many people into our friendship and lives. It has flashed across the room at me countless times and never failed to give me that old familiar thrill that has colored our lives each and every day throughout the years that have never been marred by discord or disagreement." by Henry written around their 50th wedding anniversary

One of the things that I think about when I think of my grandparents - besides their unwavering devotion to one another, was their value of family and family times. Many of my memories of childhood surround the times I spent with them on the family farm. I remember going to bring in the cows and berry picking in the fields in the surrounding area( saskatoons, wild strawberries, raspberries). I can close my eyes and smell the smells of the milk separator and the hay in the fields. I can taste the berries and cream and my grandmother's delicious chicken. There was always music in the house and we all sang the old country songs or the current musicals. The last sounds I heard each day were usually the voices of my grandparents talking and laughing with one another in their bed which was on the other side of a thin wall that separated our bedrooms in their old house. I remember that sound being like a comforting blanket that soothed me on my way to dreamland.

When I stayed with them we would go to town. Sometimes we stopped to get a soft ice cream cone. One of my grandpa's favorite food combinations was cantaloupe and vanilla ice cream. He loved raisin pie- my mother would often bake it when my grandparents came to visit. My grandmother kept humbugs, hard red berry candies and bridge mixture in the candy bowl. Henry was a patient man- As a child, I had a good imagination. There was a tree playhouse on the farm and I would often visit the dump area to bring back the Old Avon bottles, spice containers and other miscellaneous refuse to play store or house with- It didn't matter to Grandpa whether it was stuff that he had just taken to be destroyed or thought he had disposed off. He happily let me play and make my concoctions in spite of the extra work that I created for him.

My grandfather loved books- he was a serious thinker and there were many books in their home. While he had only a one room schoolhouse education, he continued to love to learn throughout his lifetime. Henry was an avid reader and was very fond of stories about Nature- books like "The Yearling". Grandpa had a dry sense of humor and a great deep laugh. I think at another time, he would have enjoyed being a philosopher. Henry was well known and trusted in his community- many people would come to seek his opinion and council. They knew their stories were safe with him- He was a good listener and a reflective thinker. My grand dad and my husband enjoyed many discussions about the sport of baseball.

As an adult,some of our later discussions revolved around all the changes that had occurred in my grandfather's life time. From horse and wagon to airplanes in less than 50 years. In 1982,my grandparents went to Sweden- he discovered he still could communicate in Swedish even though he had not spoken it since his mother died in 1953. It was an event filled journey meeting cousins and seeing places that his parents left nearly 70 years before.

I don't like to think about the time of his passing. He died in 1988 six weeks after our son was born. He was nearly 78. We have a few pictures of him holding Kevin. His large hands cradling my small baby. They still make me sad.

I have often wondered what he would think now of all the technological changes - the marvels of the internet and how small the world has become. He lived in a simpler time where people traded services and helped each other bring in their crops. Being a farmer often meant being a jack of all trades. He knew how to fix the machinery and what to do when an animal was giving birth. The image that I have when I think of my grandfather is of a man dressed in farm clothes; it always includes a brim hat and cowboy boots. Being a farmer was the essence of grandpa's being and the way I remember him best!

This game of Authors is one that I played as a child on my grandparent's farm. The original set was kept in a buffet in the living room in their house. I would often go and check it out long after I stopped playing it.
A very dear friend found a copy of it on ebay for me as a birthday gift. It is one of my most treasured possessions.
In other news, this lovely pair of earrings came to me from Mel in Singapore. Aren't they beautiful? They were a prize I won in one of the OWOH giveaways. Thank you so much Mel- I have the perfect outfit to wear with them.

Some great books have arrived in my mailbox the last few months from Connecting Threads and Amazon. There are some terrific patterns waiting to be made- I am not sure which one to begin with but I can feel the need to quilt again. Perhaps I am like the bear- waking up from a long quilting sleep. I also got some batting during their sale for some very good prices.

Before I close I want to leave you with some giveaways to checkout:
Banghaisge is having a quilt giveaway. It is a wonderful piece with such interesting fabrics and design- You will need to scroll down to around March 5 post to find it.
Bearbits is giving away the sweetest spring bear- if you love teddy bears do visit her blog- I love her stories too. The bears are often having some adventures. You will find a bear button on the right side of her post.
Tanglefrost has a fabulous post about the concept of worthiness and is giving away a fantastic handmade orchid necklace. I really enjoyed reading her post - I am sure you will too.
Diane of Turn left at pigs is also having a giveaway. Don't you just love the name of her blog.
There are so fabulous blogs for you to visit if you have the time.

Report cards are done and spring is coming... Change is on the horizon.. More about that next time.

Warmest regards,
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