I was going through a box of things the other day and ran across a surprise. It’s a small thing, 5×7, an oil painting, done by a Swedish aunt I never met. I only ever spoke to her on the phone once, and exchanged a couple of letters. She sent me a beautiful crystal swan when I was in my 20s, and invited me to visit, but I never did. My regret. Now that all my ancestors on that side of the family are gone, I wish I would have met her, as she still lived in the “old country.” It might have changed my life at a time when I needed it. Her last name was Anderson. I’m happy to still have that crystal swan. In fact, it inspired me to buy my grandparents Swedish crystal lovebirds on their 60th anniversary, many years ago. I now have both pieces. I’ve used the lovebirds a few times in my scans (Tree of Love is one), so their meaning can be shared in many unique ways. Mementos really do carry memories and connection.
The painting is of a young Swedish girl, decked out in a traditional outfit, in white, blue, red, and yellow, surrounded by flowers. I have the plaque my grandfather gave my grandmother when they got married. It says in Swedish, “The sun is shining over a little cottage, and in that cottage I would like to live with you.” It hung over their breakfast table for as long as I can remember. I was thrilled to get it when they died. Later, my local aunt brought me a similar plaque from Sweden that says something like “The sun shines and lives smile when one is young and the future lies ahead.” (pretty rough translation by Systran. Need to find a real Swede!)
Now, all three hang together, in my blue and yellow kitchen. The power of pieces handed down over time is to keep us connected. In fact, my sister just asked me for our grandmother’s swedish recipes. I only have one written in her hand. Helping these treasures and their stories live on is one of the reasons I love creating my Telling Images.