Repent, Repent The END is Near – or is it?

My Great Grandmother Helga Swanson. About age 15. I called her Morta-Mor, Swedish for grandmother.

My great-grandmother Helga Anderson was an OX born in Ostergotland, Sweden in 1901.  As the world was poised at the threshold of WWI, in the spring of 1914, she and her family immigrated to Stratford, Iowa.

Without knowing a word of English and hoping to finish her education, she began school.  Within a few months she saw her family needed support.  She quit school, left her house and became a domestic for a neighboring farmer.

The blue-eyed, blond haired girl caught the attention of a local bachelor.  He wrote a postcard to my great-grandfather Axel who was working in Philadelphia.  The card said “New arrivals from Sweden.  Come home quick before they are taken.”

As the war ended, 17-year old Helga became Axel Swanson’s wife legalizing her residency in the USA.  A year later my grandmother was born.

And life continued on.

Her one regret was had she stayed in Sweden until she was fourteen she would have completed her confirmation studies in the Lutheran church.  In the end she was confirmed in the Stratford Lutheran Church.  She became a lifelong member.

Stratford Lutheran Church.  Established 1859

Stratford Lutheran Church. Established 1859

A hundred years later, emails about 11/11/11 and 2012 missives warning me we are dangling on the brink of THE END flood my inbox.  I think of my grandmother, the farmer’s wife whose life experiences reflected her time and place, but whose words reveal her profound knowing.

“Regardless of what you may want, the world will change and you will have to adapt to those changes.”  Helga Swanson

Thank you for the wisdom Morta-Mor.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah F.
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 20:38:39

    Stories about our foremothers always touch me deeply. I usually wonder, “How did they do it? How did they cope with ———” (fill in the blank). Perhaps some day a young woman will think that of us, that we persevered–and adapted–despite (or maybe because of) the challenges & obstacles.


  2. Eva the Dragon
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 06:28:34

    And that’s the point. We persevere. We adapt. I also think that people who are in touch with the earth – farmers, native peoples, gardeners – somehow adapt to change better. I think it’s because the seasons and cycles are so obvious to them. They know that spring follows winter and life starts again.


  3. April McCaffrey
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 19:02:15

    I was looking through your posts trying to find the most appropriate place to post this comment, and decided to stop at Grandma Swanson…
    Speaking to the Dragon, and to a Swede, today is the much anticipated American release of the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. I am very excited to see how this film will hold up to the books and to the Swedish version, which I believe was excellent.
    Have you read the books and will you see the film? My neighbors and I have purchased our tickets in advance, and will carpool to the new theater in Denver that caters to adults…or should I say grownups, (not adult films). I am looking forward to a good movie, I haven’t seen one since “The King’s Speech”.


    • Eva the Dragon
      Dec 20, 2011 @ 19:52:02

      We watched the Swedish version and frankly I was surprised at how popular the series is. Have you read the books? I hadn’t read the books before I watched the movie. I found the movie to be very dark and sexually violent. I’m certain the American version is not as sexually graphic. I’ll be curious about what you think. We’ll have to get it on DVD. I doubt it will ever show in the theater here. Have fun.


  4. Debbie Al Asfoor
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 14:37:13

    I was very close to my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather for that matter. My fondest memories are those times spent with her during the long summer school holidays, two weeks in Arundel House in the picturesque country village of Tisbury, Wiltshire. To this day I often “quote” her. She was so wise and funny and when so many people were unsure of my unison to someone from a totally different part of the world, culture and religion she was one person who adored my husband to be. 36 years later we are still as happy as we were when we first met.


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