Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Uno Wikberg

Uno Wikberg was my grandfather, or farfar (fathers father) like we say in Sweden, up until today.
Because today Uno stopped breathing.

Uno has been losing a lot of weight this year. It´s been sad to see him fade away. He was ready to leave this earth a few years ago and has in a way been "stuck" here too long.

Yesterday I felt a really uncomfortable heartache.. I sent a message on a chat to my parents to call me when they got it cause I wanted to hear about Uno´s condition. I later talked to my father and he said Uno was pushing his last breaths..

I cried before I fell asleep. It´s been a long time since I cried. But just thinking about the pain he endured in his past months on this planet made me cry. Then thinking about how great it was to have him close to home for the past 10 years (he lived in Stockholm, 1000km away, for most of my life) made me cry even more.

Uno at my parents house on his 80th birthday. Feb 22, 2008.

Life is a strange thing. So is the human body. Uno smoked Camel´s without filters for most of his life (maybe John Silver too if I´m not mistaken) and he wasn´t a textbook eater or drinker either but his heart never wanted to stop beating.
I see a lot of myself in Uno, always have. My immediate family knows what I´m talking about :)
I looked up to Uno a lot. As I did to my late grandpa (morfar) Östen as well. They were both smart, and they were grandfathers.. you know.. grandma´s made the waffles and the rhubarb soup and grandpa´s smoked pipe or Camel´s without filter. They had grey hair and knew a lot about the world.

Östen knew everything about the land, forest, cars, tools, hunting.. he built his own houses, always fixed broken cars, cut down trees that would later become skateboard ramps in my backyard. He built one in the late 80´s and then my uncle Krille built a 5 sheet wide mini ramp with a small spine ramp out of grandpa Östen´s trees.
Östen was great. I´m still reminded about his greatness when I visit grandma Irene (mormor) at the property he built.. huge house, a handful of barns and garages and lots of forest.. It´s situated just a few km away from Luleå where my sister and parents live and it´s a really great place. Me and my cousins grew up playing here. Now we still meet here every now and then and I feel blessed with having such wonderful family in my life.
Östen was a trooper of another proportion. He tricked death once when his aorta bursted and my cousin and uncle got his to the hospital with only seconds to spare. His blood level was so low for days and the doctors said it was very rare for someone in his condition to come through. But he did.
Some years later his heart stopped beating while being in his own element. The woods hunting moose. Almost a fairy tale ending.

Uno knew all the answers in Jeopary, or maybe the questions.. you know how that show goes.
He was John and Alma Wikberg´s first born (Uno) and was sent to school in Stockholm after finishing elementary school in Luleå.
He was really ambitious in school and I always admired that. His english was great, he travelled a fair amount but since he divorced my grandmother (farmor) Britt when my father was young and moved to Stockholm I didn´t get to see him very often.
But the times I´d go to Stockholm and visit him remain some of my fondest childhood memories. Especially when I was there in the summer of 1988. They had build a huge vert ramp and some tiny street obstacles in Hammarbyhamnen and I just got home from a family trip in England with my first real skateboard, a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp "Face". I hung out by that ramp for what seemed like weeks and walked back and forth to Uno´s apartment by Ringvägen on Södermalm a couple of times a day. The fact that I was only 11 and walked / took the bus around Stockholm didn´t seem odd. I actually think that summer helped me become self sufficient and it definitely helped my sense of direction (I have Jedi sense of direction in case you wondered).

Grandma Britt passed away in cancer when I was on my first trip to California in 1995, or maybe I had landed in Skellefteå where I went to school.. can´t remember.
Now Uno passed away while I´m sitting in New York City.. looking at the tall buildings.. I sure feel small right now. It feels good to be anonymous here. And crying has never felt so good. I know Uno is in a better place now, even though I don´t believe in heaven or any other christian myth. He´s with me in spirit, he´s in everyone he´s ever known´s spirit. And that´s where he should be. It hurt seeing him fade away in the assisted living home he was at. He hated that place too.. but I know he´s better off dead. Might sound harsh, but he knows what I´m talking about.

Me and Uno in Luleå, June 2006.

For the past decade Uno lived in Luleå with close proximity to my family as well as his brothers and sisters. I´m assuming I´ll get to see them all the funeral soon. A funeral I don´t dread at all. We all saw it coming. And I for one is relived that my grandfather isn´t suffering.. anymore.

Saknar dig farfar.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. It's a shame life is so short!

Niklas said...

Fantastiskt fint inlägg. Jag beklagar verkligen.

maggie.01 said...

I lost my grandmother a couple months ago and even though we all knew it was coming it doesn't really make it any easier. It's definitely bittersweet because you know they were suffering and are better off now, but it's hard to let go.

anyway, you're in my thoughts!

goodie pocket said...

RIP, Uno sounds like an absolutely amazing man...

Daniel said...

Hey, reading your blog a while. I feel sorry too. I understand what you're writing, I hope it helped a bit! Keep your head up!

Anonymous said...


lars said...

Hej Pierre
Vad fint du skrivit om farfar o morfar.
Var rädd om dej.Vi ses snart.
Kram.Mam o Pap

Johannes said...

Bra skrivet. Beklagar.

Therese said...

Vad fint du skrivit! Alltid tomt när kära lämnar oss, fastän de lever kvar i våra minnen. Nu är bara mormor kvar... Vart tar tiden vägen?! Vi ses snart! Saknar dig. Kram kram /Thessy

Kyle Fougere said...

So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your memories. It brought a tear to my eye and reminded me of the time I used to spend with my Grandpa.

Anonymous said...


Oj, vad fint du skriver, både om din morfar Östen och farfar Uno!En del av livets glädjeämnen, trots sorgen just nu, är att kunna ha så fina minnnen av sina mor-och farföräldrar. Det är någonting som inte kan köpas för alla pengar i världen, verkligen något att vara tacksam för. Oxå en påminnelse om att vi inte är odödliga och att livet ska levas här och nu.

Ta väl hand om dig!

Kram "Tant" Eva!

Bjarne said...

I´m sorry to hear about Uno. I think both you and me me had some special connections to our grandfathers (fathers father). Hope to see you in Björsbyn at Irene´s during Christmas :-). Got some strange things to tell you...

Anonymous said...

May he rest in peace. He must have been one of your heros and it's tough to see them go.

Urban W said...

Pierre. Varmt och rörande skrivet om Uno. Jag minns våra resor till Stockholm när jag var mindre. Oftast bodde vi hos Uno. I Farsta och på Notvarpsgränd inne i stan. Han var verkligen intressant att lyssna på. Det är tråkigt när anhöriga går bort, men för honom var det nog skönast så. Han sitter nog nu tillsammans med John och Alma bland syrenbuskarna vid bagarstugan hos Framigårs.En varm försommardag.

Ha en God Jul