This is the day, 75 years ago, when this handsome young man was born in the city of Karlskrona, Sweden. He was the oldest of three siblings, but his sister went back to God at a very early age. His brother, Leif, still lives in Karlskrona.
Thirty-eight years of my life were connected to Bengt. It has been six years since he went to be with the Lord. Six years since a part of me died with him. I was left with a hole that has not been filled. When we bury a loved one, we bury part of ourselves. But life has to go one and today my daughter and grandchildren will celebrate his memory at Chicos in Muskogee. Their daddy is on a work assignment so he can’t join us.
I have many memories. My heart does a double-take when I think of the first name he gave me: Gumsen. It probably doesn’t make sense to you, and not to me either, but he made it up and now it warms my heart.
Gumma is “old lady” in Swedish. Lilla Gumman is an endearment. That’s how he got Gumsen. It doesn’t make much sense, but a lot of things people in love do don’t make sense. It’s the love that gives it value.
Matthew 6:33, about choosing God’s Kingdom first, connects us the most. That was our verse, and we practiced it.
Romans 12:18, about living in peace with everyone, was the verse Bengt lived by. His mother taught him that. In some ways she went to extremes (my opinion), because she taught her son not to defend himself. That made him a “hackkyckling” in school, someone who everybody picked on. Once again I’m going back to his Swedish roots. “Hacka” is to pick on and “kyckling” is a chicken. So he was a chicken that everyone picked on. Not fun at all.
I don’t know all the stories, but one that he would repeat time and again, especially when he had to start learning English, was one time at school when the teacher was trying to teach him to pronounce the word “hotel.” He didn’t say it to the teacher’s satisfaction. Every time he tried and failed the teacher got more upset and screamed at him. Bengt, of course, got more nervous and could not for his life get the pronunciation. What a sad way to treat a boy.
Bengt was born and saved for a special purpose. He fell from the second story of their house and survived! Another time he hit his head very bad on the concrete (riding his bike) and his dad had to walk him to the health clinic with his head bundled up in a towel. They had no other way of getting there. Old times! Different times!
His special purpose was to be a missionary among people in the Andes Mountains. He fit in like a pea in a pod! And people loved him. Bengt was very friendly and liked to laugh and joke around.
He was not the Prince Charming of my dreams. God reminded me that he doesn’t look on the outside but at the heart. Bengt had a good heart. I remember my brother Pepe telling me that it didn’t matter if he wasn’t handsome, as long as he was kind. But looking at the picture I’ve posted I see a very handsome young man.
We were both born in Sweden but were cultures apart. I was raised in South America. We had moved quite a lot and I had gone to school in four different languages. Bengt never left Karlskrona. When we had married I once told my mother, “I think I’ve married a foreigner!” We had a lot of adjusting to do. It took many years. But we made it. At the end we were like two peas in a pod. And then it was time for him to bid me farewell and go on ahead to wait for me in Heaven!
Our oldest daughter is there with him. And he has the company of his mother, his father, his sister, and his mother-in-law! And best of all, he is in the presence of Jesus!
Do you have the hope that when your day comes to leave this life you will go to your heavenly home? Is heaven your home? Soon we are celebrating Easter once again, the time of the year when we especially remind ourselves of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross to open the way for us to have peace with God.
Bengt received Jesus as his Lord and Savior when he was 20 years old. He never regretted that decision. It was the best thing he ever did. Because Bengt received Jesus in his life, ten years later I accepted to be his wife. Now our daughter loves Jesus and his grandchildren also love the Lord. What a blessed chain reaction!
I told the kids that their “morfar” (grandfather) would have been 75 today. “Oh, he didn’t make it!” said David. No, he didn’t make the 75 mark, but he made it HOME!
I celebrate the memory of a very kind man; a peacemaker.
Our first official family portrait