My book Morsels from Heaven Recipes for Life and the Table will be coming to this website soon. This is another of my dreams that came true with a lot of hard work and many magical blessing along the way. I learned to cook from my mother who learned to cook from her mother (my grandma Ida).
Grandma Ida is my hero. Somehow I feel a connection to her although I never knew her, she died before I was born. Her story and all the good things everyone tells me about her inspire me and make me want to be a like her. She was a very brave little girl that through a lot of faith and hard work overcame more than most of us will ever have to.
She was born in Sweden and her family dreamed of coming to America, but that cost a lot of money. They came up with a plan that involved a lot of risk and would take years to fulfill. Booking passage on a ship to America was very expensive, but the price for children under 12 was much less. They made arrangements to send the children one at a time starting with the children under 12. Someone would accompany them on the ship and a family would take them in once they arrived in America until the parents could come.
Everything was going according to the plan until it was my grandma Ida’s turn. The person that was to accompany her missed the boat so, there she was sailing to America all by herself at 11 years old. All she had from home was a small basket that her mother had packed some bread and cheese in. She was using it very sparingly when sometime into the voyage a man on board deemed it was no good, grabbed it from her and threw it overboard. I can just feel how her heart must have sunk along with her basket, the only thing she had from home was now lost in the depths of the ocean forever. I can imagine how this thoughtless act must have cemented the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that had to have already filled every fiber of her being.
There was however an older couple on the ship that was very kind to her. Once they gave her a banana to eat but she had never seen one before and didn’t know how to eat it. She tried eating it peal and all and thought it tasted awful, not wanting to hurt their feelings she snuck out at night and threw it overboard. (If she only knew the treasure she could have had inside). Finally, they docked in America, but because the person that was supposed to accompany her on the ship wasn’t’ there she had no idea where to go. She couldn’t speak any English and didn’t know what to do, so she just sat on the dock and cried.
Finally, after a long time someone came along that spoke Swedish. They made arrangements for her to stay with a family in exchange for cooking, cleaning and caring for their children. This reminds me of Anne of Green Gables who was also 11 years old. Like Anne some of the people she stayed with were kind like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, but some of them were not like Mrs. Hammond.
Finally, after several years her father was able to come and gather his family together again. What a joyous day that must have been. But there was also sadness as well, her mother passed away in Sweden and never made it to America. I am grateful to know my grandmother’s story. I have drawn strength and courage from it in the difficult times of my own life. It makes me want to be a better person. I hope you can find a connection to your ancestors and draw strength from their stories.