My father and my mother have instilled a desire in me to know more about my family, where they come from, who they were, and what they did. On my dad’s side many left Norway in the mid-1850s to early 1900s and made their way to America. For example, my family once owned a “castle” (really just a nice house) outside Oslo. Also, one of my great great grandfathers went to Tromso to get his teaching certificate. There were actually a lot of my ancestors that lived close to or above the Arctic Circle in Norway. My dad was actually the one that did all of the research on them, but he had never been to any of these places that he had researched. So, we decided to go there to Norway to visit a couple of these places. I had heard the stories, seen the pictures, and this trip was an opportunity for both my dad, mom and I to visit some of the places that our family once called home.
It was November and cold, but we wanted to go up North to see the Northern Lights, visit Tromso, and experience the Lofoten Islands. We would then go to Honefoss, where the "castle" was, and see the Fjords in Western Norway. There are two things that really stand out when I think about this trip to my father’s land. The first was driving after we landed in Tromso to our hotel half way between Tromso and the Lofoten Islands. I was like a little kid, sitting in the back seat, staring out the window, looking for something in the sky. I didn’t know what I was looking for, to be honest. Would the lights be these green streaks dancing across the sky? Would they be big? Small? Would clouds come? Would the weather hold? As I stared, not wanting to miss a moment, this ballerina of a grey streak started dancing across the sky. It floated, shifted, moved with such a grace that I had never seen before. They captured my imagination, and I would be lucky enough to see them both nights that we were up north, and they have driven future trips to watch their beauty.
The other moment was walking around the old farm/castle of my family. It is currently owned by another family, but being there with my parents was special. My dad had put a lot of effort into doing our family history, and now all of that work came alive and became real – real houses, real gravestones, real churches, real places. Words can’t even really describe the feeling of being where your family once was all those years ago. There was a connection that I felt to them that I had never experienced before. It made me wonder what their life was really like, what they were really like. And while I won’t ever really know the answers to those questions, this experience was a close second.
So my story is one of connecting, of family, of wonder. To me, this is Norway.