Living Monuments to Ancestors as Tributes

The feeling to leave a tribute behind to honor my Swedish Grandmother Maja carried me through the ordeals of publishing a book. But, Why? How?

“WE are the “living monuments” to our ancestors. Shirley Abbott once said, “We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.”

Why is the desire to build monuments so strong and lasting? What in us sparks the desire or need to build monuments? The easy answer comes from the word itself, Monument.

The origin of the word comes from a Latin/ French word “Monere”, which means to remind. For thousands of years’ humans have had the desire to be remembered. Inherently, those left after a death take on the role of memorializing the deceased. We do this as a reminder to present and future generations of the life and accomplishments of an individual, society, or nation.

“A monument, great or small, frail or enduring, is nothing more than the thoughtful act of one man or group, to perpetuate the memory of loved ones who preceded them. Thus, a monument is nothing more than a lasting way to say I care”.– Monument Builders of North America

Monument to log riders in Central Wisconsin USA

Spending the day fishing on the Wisconsin River I was surprised to discover a new monument honoring the log riders who worked in the lumber industry doing dangerous work. It made me think of my Grandmother’s home town in Sollefteå Northern Sweden and a grandiose monument like this one.

Log riders memorialized in Sweden on the Angermanlaven River in Sollefteå

The monument has great psychological benefit also. A monument gives someone a place to come, visit, grieve, and remember the dead. Without a place to go, a loved one often struggles to grieve properly. Unhealthy mourning can result in get strain on the human body, much less emotional and psychological health.

The desire to be remember is a natural human response. To allow the lessons and experiences of your own life to mean something to future generations is an innate desire.

Building monuments creates an everlasting object symbolizing the life and accomplishments of an individual, bringing meaning and understanding to future generations of those who have come before.

Take some time to walk through your local cemetery, take in the history and remember those who have come before us have made today what it Is….(Monument Builders of North America)

My grandparents monuments in Illinois, USA
My great grandparent’s monument in Sweden
My great great grandparent’s monuments in Sweden

In traveling to Sweden to discover more about my relatives and family in Sweden I experienced a spiritual awakening.

As a grandfather entertaining my grandson Henrik as his parents shopped in a store in Stockholm named, “grandpa”, I thought deeply about what we hope to leave behind in life.

The photo becomes a kind of monument. The experience, the memory becomes a monument.

Building a living monument to visit again and again honoring a precious memory.
A living monument that helped inspire the writing of the book, My Maja A Grandson’s Tribute. The photo honors the day I received my Eagle Scout Award accompanied by my special mentor- very proud, Grandma Maja.
Famous Sculpture monument honoring Swedish immigrants who look back to the past and the life left behind while looking ahead. Grandma Maja was an immigrant who struggled, but somehow triumphantly succeeded against the odds.
A monument such as this one portraying an immigrant father, mother and child reminds me of Grandma Maja but, without a husband, Maja became a widow during Great Depression tough times. Alone in America with 3 small children almost killed her twice.

Exploring the deeper meaning of monuments in this blog connects me to emotions and feelings. The feelings of nostalgia, sentiment can rise in the face of some physical reminder made of stone, or bronze, or paper.

It took me some 16 years to sort out feelings about the kind of story I would leave behind as a tribute and monument to appropriately honor Grandma Maja.

Maja was brave and skillful like the log drivers. She took risks and remained focused. Maja was an immigrant widow. Through it all she found a way to meet me in 1948. I have 21 years of memories and life lessons she imparted through hours of sharing oral history lessons.

The book and more than 50 pages of detailed genealogy stand as a monument left behind to Maja’s generations to come.
Monuments in Iceland trace our heritage celebrating our Viking roots (Father and son journeys create monumental memories)
Slaying dragons memorialized in Stockholm

What monument might you identify with? And Why?

Published by Donnie: An Admiring Grandson

Living an inspired life modeled after my Grandma Maja, who stepped up as a Swedish immigrant widow and mom of 3, facing America’s Great Depression while demonstrating uncommon grit and valor. I am determined to share her life lessons so she is no longer forgotten. I have a book to share and the reader will preview the entire story by visiting here. You are most welcome.

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