I love family. And we have shared so much- all the life markers, the ups and downs of life and through it all there is that special glue that connects us.
We had an impromptu get together at my place on Saturday- somehow ALL of us (niece, nephew, brothers, sister in laws, daughter, son, daughter in love, parrot) were together in my creative mayhem- my crowded delirious delicious chaos.
It’s not unusual for us to get together, but this day felt a bit deeper and very special. I was so aware of a feeling I couldn’t name- joy, love, gratitude, what?
I looked around as I sat sewing my nephew’s Cookie Monster costume and smiled, watching the hurricane of activity as everyone ranging in age from toddler to adult was talking at once, doing something, playing with something, eating chicken! ribs! cupcakes!, being real loud and hilarious.
Chaos meets chaos in the name of LOVE! I felt the strong presence of mom and dad and that they were celebrating with us. Celebrating family. I felt Tobey’s spirit walking around snuffling for scraps.
And I really had this sense that we were drawn together for a reason– if nothing else than to just BE together. But in my heart I felt there was something more. I had a smile on my face all Sunday and just had to send a message of love and gratitude to the family today, acknowledging there was something magical about it. It definitely was not a typical family dinner. The palpable connection and vibe harkened back to our vigils around Mom and Dad during their final days. We were all together celebrating our connections.
And so now, we cut to about an hour ago and I receive a message from my cousin in Stockholm that my mom’s brother, my uncle Olle, passed away peacefully on Saturday surrounded by family.
Is this why we were drawn together on Saturday!?
It’s amazing- a family drawn together. Souls celebrating, acknowledging.
My uncle was so funny, so loving. The rest of us were frequently doubled over in laughter. And often woken by his late night cook offs in the kitchen. I recall he was so worried that I would get lost in 1984 when I hopped on the train to visit my friend outside of Stockholm. When I arrived at Huddinge station, he was sitting in his car, ensuring I had arrived OK. In 2009, when my son and I were taking the bus to visit my cousins at their summer cottage, Olle walked us to the bus stop, bought the tickets and thrust chocolate bars in our hands for the trip. He loved history and he influenced my love for American literature- introducing me to the likes of Miller and Heller.
Photo by my son Julian Bowers of my uncle during our visit in 2009. Olle looks out his apartment window over Stortorget in Stockholm.
Say hi to Mamma and Pappa, Olle.
An homage by my son, Julian:
My great uncle Olle passed away on Saturday.
I only met him once during the half a week I was in Stockholm, but he was a really wonderful and warm person and he was one of the many things that made my trip to Sweden in 2009 so phenomenal.
A story mom’s fond of telling is his bashing around in the kitchen at three in the morning to make himself a full dinner. I can relate to this habit.
When I went to Stockholm, he was living across from the Nobel Museum.
“See that place?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I went there yesterday,” I said.
“I’ve never been there in my life,” he laughed.
“OUR FAMILY HAS HAD THIS PLACE FOR TWENTY YEARS,” I said.
“I’ve been meaning to go.”
“Ehh, I’m not in a rush.”
I always thought that story was funny, but in hindsight, I appreciated the fact that he wasn’t too concerned about rushing in to doing things if it wasn’t necessary. It doesn’t matter if he ever went or not, he was obviously relaxed and satisfied with how his life was going and it was wonderful to see someone content with the flow of life as opposed to fighting it. He was a comforting human being to be around, just judging from the few days I was able to see him.
I took this photo of him in his apartment.
Dedicated to Olof Orwald and Aunt Siv, cousins Annika, Dan, Gunilla, Tom and their families.
Interestingly, today it is 48 years since my family arrived in Canada: