Speaking of family - how unique is it to meet eight second cousins who’ve traveled all the way from Denmark to California? This past weekend I enjoyed this phenomena when I, along with five other cousins who live in California, met eight Danish cousins for the first time. The fact that our grandparents were siblings made it very unique and quite special.
In his early twenties, my grandfather and his brother left their native Denmark and traveled to America on the Lusitania, December of 1909. They left behind their parents, a brother and two sisters. My grandfather settled in Nebraska as a farmer and my uncle decided to try his luck in Iowa. Grandpa returned to his homeland when he was 82 years old and died before he could return to America.
What I found most interesting is that the Danish cousins’ command of the English language was good enough for them to travel here and communicate with us. I feel sad that I didn’t learn enough Danish to speak with them in their language. I grew up hearing Danish spoken in my grandparents’ home and when they spoke English their accent was quite strong. They learned English when my aunt went to school and became Americans.
We’ve always had foreigners in our home and have grown used to so many different accents. I had up to forty-one foreign penpals at one time beginning in 1989. Over the years I’ve lost some of my pen friends, but still write and speak on the phone with quite a few of them. We have added a Dutch son, his wife and their adopted Columbian sons to our family along with our Swedish exchange daughter and her husband. Our Magdalena still considers us her parents. Going through the exchange program was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made
Having many nationalities in our lives, we’ve learned as a family over the years how much alike we all are. Having a teenage Swedish daughter proved that point very clearly. Learning different customs and new ways of approaching life has always fascinated me. We’ve been lucky enough to visit many countries and several of my penpals have visited us. It has enriched our lives and has also helped me with my writing. I love to bring characters into my stories who bring varied nationalities with them. It also helps to have them as a resource when you want to add phrases into your dialogues.