Last Night in Sweden…Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry

At dinner tonight, at yet another cousin’s house, we ate Swedish smörgasbord, complete with herring with mustard sauce, herring with tomato sauce, and regular pickled herring with spices, and, of course, Swedish meatballs, potatoes, ‘house cheese,’ and crackers.  I tried everything.  Very proud of that.  Not the herring type.  But surprised myself with liking the regular herring pretty well. Oh.  And then there was also the Swedish aquavit (shnapps).

The son of our hosts told me that they sing when they drink this particular drink.  I thought he was joking, but it’s true.  When someone lifts his or her glass to drink, everyone must drink, but before anyone can sip, all must sing in unison a song.  My friend, W., and I were sitting with glasses in hand listening to the first boisterous song.  Then everyone drank, and so we drank a little.  We put the glasses down and everyone suddenly sprang back into song. We jumped with surprise! Then everyone howled with laughter.  That was the beginning of the end of any remaining barrier between us.  The ice was broken.  We were real with each other.

Relatives came and went, weaving in and out of our lives throughout the last few days. As we said goodbye to each person in the end, though, it got harder and harder for me.  When I planned this trip, how could I have thought this would be enough time in this place? I just found these people.  How could I now turn around and leave?  Further, if it’s this hard now, for me, how much more terrible for Oscar and his family to leave forever for America….

When the last two cousins brought us back to the hotel late tonight, they told us they would see us in the morning, even though we leave early for Göteborg, and the train station is right next to the hotel, so we could walk the three steps to the platform alone.  🙂  No, they said, we will not say goodbye now.  I was relieved beyond words.  I am not ready to part either. How I’ll manage it tomorrow I don’t know.

Then again, already we are planning our next meeting, me and my twenty-two Swedish cousins.  What will come first: my return (with my son and husband or an American relative) to these ‘new’ cousins, OR a visit from them to my home, where I have invited them?  Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, now that we have found each other, we will not be lost to one another again.


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