In 2004 I went to Sweden on an ancestral pilgrimage to research the life of my Grandma Maja. When I returned I discovered Maja’s discarded steamer trunk in a dusty attic . Overwhelmed with sadness that Maja would soon be forgotten prompted book writing about her life as a Swedish immigrant. A granddaughter was named after her. The race was on to write about her namesake so she would know Maja.
During research I stumbled on 3 secrets my grandmother kept from me despite 21 years of her mentoring and storytelling. Now, I have much more to tell. Soon on Amazon.
Maja as a Swedish immigrant widowed with three small children left alone during the dark hard times of America’s Great Depression finds gritty ways to be resilient. How did she manage the guts and gumption? Did Maja’s ancestry play a part in her gritty and gutsy very resilient character?
Exploring how Swedish “framatånda” was built into Maja’s character shows the reader that survival of the fittest is more than just inherited DNA. Framåtanda is an old Swedish term Maja used to explain the powerful forward propelling spirit she called upon many times, especially when she was in trouble of being beaten down.
You are invited to come along on a reader’s journey learning that Maja comes from Sollefteå benefitting from wealthy Swedish entrepreneur family with proud framåtanda lineage. Prompted by her Uncle Albert’s bragging about America’s limitless prosperity and opportunity, Maja ventures off with him. They travel via a magnificent steamship to New York/Chicago in 1922. What happens next rolls out the makings of fulfilling her Swedish American Dream which meant marriage and growing a happy family life of prosperity.
Over 40 pages of archives offer the reader a vivid visual history panorama as Maja’s life of framåtanda. Photos accompany the narrative which through 11 chapters reveals how she untangles one troublesome adversity logjam after another.
Research for the book shockingly discovers three Grandma Maja secret family skeletons. Maja’s secrets were apparently intentionally hidden from being known by her admiring, but sheltered, and always inquiring grandson.
A crisis for Donnie, the writer, had to be worked out. A crucial decision focused on whether to abandon the writing project because of finding telltale exposed family secrets, or continue forward in some fashion.
To at least share Maja’s story only for family was considered. What would Maja want? That very tough question was pondered over and over. Could making Maja’s complete story available to a larger audience be helpful and thus justified?
Grandson Donnie remembers Maja’s letter writing as a way she recharged her framåtanda and use communication with her loved ones as an antidote to the poison of chronic depression and homesickness. In his tribute, Donnie writes 10 letters to Grandma in heaven to recharge his own framåtanda and connect with a source of her energizing spiritual grit, gumption and resilience. Writing the letters was found to be motivating to help moving the writing project along on the way for future publication.
Written United States history telling about everyday life of the common man and family life occurring during the Great Depression has been sadly neglected .
A main message intended by deciding to forward along her stories, including her secrets, points to highlight the valor of her selflessly lifting up her family sometimes at her own peril. Maja and other forgotten women of these hard times, contributed much to be celebrated and valued. Maja and other noble women by doing their part as key contributors in holding family’s together helped raise the entire slumping nation’s economic catastrophe.
Grandma Maja’s story and the life lessons that explain her Swedish framåtanda deserve to be remembered and never forgotten.