Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where Do I Come From?

I have been researching my family history recently. It's fascinating to find out the details of how and why my family came to Australia. I will share about my father's family first. My father was born in northern Norway (just 60kms south of the Arctic Circle) and came out to Australia in 1951 to work on a huge hydro electric scheme in the Snowy Mountains, only a couple of  hours drive from where I live now in Canberra. One his older brothers (he was one of eight boys) had come out on the great adventure the previous year.

My father was the youngest of my grandparents eleven children. My grandmother Julie, pictured above with me on her knee, was 46 when my father was born. I can't begin to imagine her anguish when first one son and then her baby left for Australia, possibly never to be seen again. Dad's brother Reidar did not return to Norway before his parents died in 1959 (Nils) and 1964 (Julie).

My father worked in the mountains with his brother until 1955 when they both came to Canberra. My father soon met my mother at a dance at the Scottish Australian "Burns Club"(named after Scottish poet Robbie Burns), and they were married six months later. Shortly after they boarded a ship to Norway where they lived with my grandparents, Nils and Julie, for the next two years. In March 1956 I was born in a small hospital in a town called Mo, not far from my grandparents home.

When I was 16 months old, in 1957, I came to Australia with my parents and we lived in Canberra.
I grew up here in Canberra and have lived here most of my life except for one year in Brisbane and three years in Sydney. I love Canberra!

My parents always told me they would take me back to Norway and in 1991 they did. You can imagine my excitement and I was blessed to meet most of my father's siblings although his parents had been in heaven for many years by then. I was able to visit their (and my) old home, now home to my cousin and his family. (he is in his late 70's now, his father was twenty years older than mine)

I can't tell you the emotion I felt when I stepped out of the train after the long journey to get from Australia to Mo. It felt so much like "home" to me, familiar and welcoming, after 34 years! Thankfully most Norwegians speak English, although Dad's older siblings did not, but it's awesome how a hug can communicate in any language. Their delight and great love for me and my children was obvious,  and with interpreters we communicated despite the language barrier! My children were 10, 8 and 6 and they were showered with loving attention, fabulous food and warm hospitality! It really did feel like "home".

All my Dad's siblings have gone home to the Lord now, the last one just last year. He was the brother closest in age to my Dad,  his name was Eilif and I had the opportunity to get to know him the most over three trips from the first in 1991 and then trips with my family in 2003 and 2005. He was so much like my father, two years older but fit and healthy and such a kind and gentle man. He was running marathons well into his 80's and had a full and active life many years after his wife had passed away.

I well remember his last words to me, he spoke quite a bit of English for one of Dad's siblings but was always a bit tentative with it. It was as we were getting in the car to leave him and shortly Norway behind and I know we both thought we would not see one another again in this earthly life (he was 84 by then) so it was quite an emotional farewell. He called out to me, in his best English, "I love you", and I replied in my Norske, "jeg elsker deg". He died suddenly early last year, after shoveling snow off his front path. He worked hard and was a kind man of integrity I was proud to call my uncle.

Families.....part of who we are and part of God's great plan for us.

More about my family next time and I promise it will be sooner ; )

love and blessings to  you all