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
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.
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)
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.
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.
What monument might you identify with? And Why?