Renewing 50-Year-Old Ties
By Joyce Arline Wans
It gives me great pleasure to present this story written by my second-cousin Joyce Arline Wans. We had a most enjoyable time during her, her sister Sharon and brother in-law David's visit in Romsdal this summer.
It was the first time we met, but after a few minutes we were talking like we had known each other all life.
We are already looking forward to another visit.
Our grandmother Petra (Vestnes) Liljedahl returned to her home in Vestnes, Norway, only once after she left for the United States in 1924. She traveled with her husband Sigurd and son Kenneth. Our mother didn’t join them as she had just married. We grandchildren have often heard the stories and studied the photos.
This picture of the old homestead was taken in the late 50's.
Fifty years have passed since that six-month-long visit in 1949. They spent time with her sister Kitty, who had married Gustav Furland. At that time Kitty and Gustav had two children: Gunnar who was then six years old and Njaal who was two.
Kitty is now the last remaining member of her generation. Petra was the oldest sister and Kitty was the second to the youngest. Among the siblings in-between was Pauline, known as Paula. Among Paula’s grandchildren is Martin Eidhammer (the very one who publishes this web site!).
Earlier this year as we (sisters Joyce Wans and Sharon Payne, and Sharon’s husband David) were planning our trip to Norway, we were in contact with our second cousin Martin via e-mail. He contacted Tante Kitty for us and arranged for us to visit her.
The Saturday Martin took us to Vestnes to meet Kitty was intensely emotional. Kitty reminded us so much of our grandmother Petra, it was like having her back for a few hours. Even though we couldn’t speak directly to each other, we could laugh and smile and look expectantly at Martin as he translated for us all.
From left: David Payne, Joyce Wans, Kitty Furland, Sharon Payne, Njaal Furland and Gunnar Furland
Gunnar and Njaal also spent time with us so we got to share some of Uncle Kenneth’s stories of the fun he had in Norway but this time we got to hear the Norwegian side of the stories! We also got to hear about some of the younger generations of the family and to laugh at stories Kitty told us about our grandmother and other relatives.
As we talked we enjoyed the delicious and abundant food and coffee that Tante Kitty had prepared for us. She then took us on a tour of Vestnes. Our first stop was the church to visit the graves of our relatives. Then came a visit to the old farm where the family lived when our grandmother left for America. The buildings are gone but she showed us where the house and barn had been and the now-enormous old tree that she and her younger sister Alma had planted in 1925!
Following our visit to another farm where our great-grandmother Mathea Løvold was raised and several other interesting stops, we returned to Tante Kitty’s for a last cup of coffee and lingering farewells. While it was hard to leave, we are filled with many wonderful memories that we have been sharing with our family in America.
Pictures are exchanged. From left David Payne, Joyce Wans, Kitty Furland and son Njaal Furland
We boarded the ferry to return to Molde but the excitement was not over, as we were invited to have dinner with Martin and his family. His wife Inger Lise greeted us warmly and prepared a wonderful meal for us. Their three children are delightful. We spent time getting to know each other better. We are, of course, already talking of trying to arrange another visit.
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