One of the big lessons that my Grandma Maja tried hard to teach me was: “We Swedes try to keep to ourselves and don’t share family business.”
I won’t be a spoiler and take away suspense and prematurely share Grandma Maja’s hidden family secrets in this blog. I implore you to read our book instead.
What I found in Grandma’s trunk hidden away after the death of Maja and her three children is shocking.
I struggled whether to reveal her secrets to the public. In the end, I determined that Maja might want her secrets out. Maja’s story is inspiring and important that shows the great power of a mighty strong widow almost crushed to death by the burdens she faced.
The Great Depression has a double meaning for describing the life of Maja Källgren Wittenstrom 1897-1969.
As her storyteller I pay tribute to the might she unleashed to bring her family through the dark nights of the soul they faced.
Like bookends this photo collage sets the stage for focusing on Maja’s family’s beginning challenge, their tough times struggle and eventual triumph.
What kind of forethought Maja had to save photos in her trunk so that someone, someday might discover and appreciate them?
Now, from the contents of her trunk, we give you the reader, her story in photos.
The photographer catches the moment, the emotion, the joy and conquest so well.
Returning to trunk for another treasured photo is the passport photo taken days after Maja’s husband’s funeral, Maja finds the widow’s might. strength, will and deep down faith as she rallies forth a smile. Incredible.
Maja smiles with hope as she stands with her children. They represent affirmation that her Swedish guts and gumption she called , framåtanda was working.
Framåtanda was Maja’ secret Swedish recipe antidote to the poison of stress, grief, chronic homesickness, and relentless pain of wondering about the life she might have had if only….she had remained in Sweden.
In the college graduation photo above, they are all bursting with pride. However, the hidden, real nitty gritty story is only partially known and described. Only a glimpse of the strife experienced is described in detail in my book. I can only infer from limited storytelling.
Maja and the children were proud and seldom referred back to the tough times of emotional torture. I struggled in uncovering and trying my best to tell Maja’s sad, painful, heart wrenching and heartbreaking very personal struggle of years of torment.
Grandma taught me much about the proud family culture in which she was sculpted like a marble statue.
She and Carl Oscar Wittenstrom had a Swedish American Dream they forged together.
The college graduations and more proved the might of Maja. Togetherness and teamwork and Maja’s leadership brought fulfillment to the once shattered American Dream Maja chose to rebuild.
After Carl Oscar’s heart attack that was a horror story as he collapsed on the floor in front of the them gasping, Maja needed some extraordinary might to somehow equip her to press on.
Maja went home to Sollefteå Sweden in early 1950 to celebrate seeing her siblings: Kalle,Lisa and Ester. It was a great homecoming after 30 years apart.
I am so proud to be in Maja’s picture. I am in my father’s arms. What a joy to tell our story. Yes, My Maja, as I experienced her, loved her, and she loved me and this life.