Friday, January 16, 2009


His full name was Nils Magnus Svensson. I said Hello. He said Hello. And then I began asking questions in swedish. He had forgotten his Swedish. He spoke English with an Australian Swedish accent. I guess one would say, he spoke Australian with a Swedish accent. When we finally got together on the same page and stopped all the how are yous, I discovered that he had innocently been on his way to the post office, when a couple of Americans grabbed him asking 'are you Gunne Svensson?' He said yes and they said something like 'the White House in Washington would like to talk to you.'

I found out that he used to work on high steel structures when he was younger. He was sent all over Australia. When he returned to his home-base he would look for mail. His letters from mother had been returned with ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. And finally he said to himself If they don't write, why should I. Eventually he had married a widow with two children. A woman from Malta. At some time he was given the job of taking care of the local church and its garden. His wife died and he was lonesome and had written to the minister in our hometown church to find out if he had any relatives left.

I asked him if he planned to go home to see mother who was at that time just about the age I am now. He said "It is winter there and it is summer here. I think I have to wait, for the change could be bad for me. " How do you feel about Mother's age. She might not have too much longer to live. "

Our Aunt Karin had left her nieces and nephews what she had saved. It was a small amount, maybe $2.000 or a little more. Mother had saved Gunne's share, refusing to believe he was dead. I said to him:"there is money....... and with that we were disconnected.

Now I just had to wait for his letter to find out more. We had not become any closer through the call. We had not had time to get a quicker way to get in touch. But I had learned enough to be able to sleep. And I had learned a little of what kind of man he had become. Very little, but enough. I could not call my mother for it was time for her to be asleep. I would wait a couple of hours and then repeat what I had heard. I would not tell her what he said about the climate change.


Anonymous said...

another facinating turn

Joanna said...

Wow. I can't imagine your brother's shock to hear that the US White House was trying to contact him! How funny.

Anonymous said...

Have been waiting with bated breath for each new development in this story.

I wonder if people of today's generation can even imagine how slow international mail was or how expensive international (or even national) long distance calls were in the 1970s.