I don’t remember where I bought these earrings, but I loved them at first sight.
These earrings have no connection to a person or place. So, I put them on and decided to see what the day would bring.
What the day brought was a Swedish Bible sent by my aunt and delivered by mail. I don’t read Swedish, so I can’t read a word of scripture in this Bible. And after looking at the pristine pages inside this Bible, I wonder if anyone else read it.
But I translated the inscription: August Ljungquist, Minne af Confirmation dagar, 28 Maj 1882. (Memories of Confirmation Days, 28 May 1882.)
On May 28, 1882, my great-great-uncle Patrick August Ljungquist received this Bible for his confirmation. He was born in Sweden in 1868 and called by his middle name August. In 1869, at the age of one, he sailed to America with his family, who settled in Stillwater, Minnesota, where August grew up. As an adult, August worked as an insurance agent in Pennsylvania where he married a school teacher named Elizabeth and had one son. August died in 1952 at eighty-four.
Between 1909 and 1911, August had two brothers and a sister-in-law die from tuberculosis, and another sister-in-law die from heart failure, leaving a total of seven children orphaned. Makes me think about children who’ve become orphans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
August’s Bible is 139 years old. When I first held it this morning and fanned through its pages, I wondered if August’s parents, Johann and Eva (my great-great-grandparents), ever held it.
I know this Bible was given to August for his confirmation. What I don’t know is why he didn’t take it with him when he moved to Pennsylvania. Maybe August never learned to read Swedish, even though he most likely spoke Swedish before he learned English in the public schools. He and his family would’ve attended a Swedish church where Sunday services and religious classes were presented in Swedish. The Swedes, like many other people uprooted from their homelands, worked to maintain their language and culture after coming to America.
Immigrants or not, at some point we all reach into our past with grasping fingers, hoping to hold a remnant of a past life that’s unraveling and fading.