Heart Choices: Walk Down Memory Lane ~ Grandpa -->

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Walk Down Memory Lane ~ Grandpa

Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane is a meme I've seen and read on other blogs. The host is Lynnette of Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground and her idea is to document precious memories. I thought that was a great idea so I decided to participate for the first time today. You can link to Lynnette's blog to find other participating blogs.

I have special memories of my Grandpa Sumstad. He is my father's father and he died much too young of a heart attack. I was in my first year of nursing school when I got the dreaded phone call. He was the first person who was very close to me to die. But instead of focusing on that memory, I'd like to share a few things about him with you.

My grandpa was born in the northern part of Norway on his family's farm in Sumstad. He later took the town's name when he sailed to America, landing on Ellis Island. His name is recorded on the wall. He had gone to seminary in Norway and so when he settled in Brooklyn, New York he immediately started a home church for Norwegian immigrants. The Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn at that time was predominantly Norwegian.

Grandpa met my grandmother in church. She had also traveled from Norway with her girlfriend and they worked for the Red Cross. After they married, they continued to live in an apartment in Brooklyn until eventually moving out to Long Island. He started another church in Smithtown, New York and it continues on to this day.

My grandfather walked his talk. He was a wonderful example of a godly man. When I stayed overnight at my grandparents' house, it wasn't unusual to find Grandpa in his chair praying or studying his well worn Bible.

He loved people! Nobody was a stranger. I loved to go to the stores with him because everyone knew his name. Whether it was the bakery or the news stand, they all knew Henry.

One time he heard a couple in a store speaking Norwegian, so he immediately went over to speak with them. The Fredericksen's had recently moved to the US and so of course Grandpa wanted to welcome them. They were invited for dinner and eventually church. My Nana got used to having unexpected guests for dinner so she always made extra.

Here are a couple of early photos of my grandpa and our family:

The first photo was taken back in 1958 when I was about five years old. That's Grandpa and Nana, my mom and dad, me in my favorite dress and my brother Steve who is 18 months older than me.

The second photo was taken in 1969; two years before Grandpa died. My Grandpa was known for wearing his hats. My younger sister is pictured here too. I have to laugh at the short dresses but that was the style back then.

My grandfather was a carpenter and he built their house. He was a very special man in my life. How grateful I am that I will see him again one day since I know that he's in heaven.

Debbie Petras
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  1. What a wonderful heritage you have Debbie. I loved reading about your precious grandfather and seeing the photos. One day you will surely see him again.


  2. Oh what happy memories! I Love the picture of your family. It looks like one of our old photos. Aren't they the best? Thanks for sharing your memory with us!!!

  3. O Debbie, I'm crying almost too hard to write. This was absolutely beautiful and as one who views my Grandpa (who is with Jesus and my precious Grandma) as my absolute HERO -- who without him as the ONLY decent and loving man in my childhood I probably would not be here from the abuse I endured from another person -- but Grandpa's love always embraced and surrounded me and he taught me the love of Christ.

    Your photos and beautiful sharing of your Grandpa tugs so deeply at my heart. I'm telling you that we are truly sisters.

    Did you get my email last night? Love ya.

  4. What a precious post, Debbie. Your Grandpa seems like he was a very special man :)

    Thanks for sharing and posting the photos!

    Sweet blessings to you,
    Kate :)

  5. How sweet a memory!!! Sounds like an awesome foundation of faith was laid as well!!! What a joy...thank you for sharing!!!

    Pamela in TX

  6. That's a really nice way to honor his memory. I shared about my grandfather last week :)

    My great greatmother came to America from Norway as well - who knows, by on the same ship!

    Funny about having strange guests over for dinner - your grandmother must have had her cupboards/frig full of food to be able to make a fest at last minute LOL

  7. Debbie, You were certainly blessed to have such a wonderful grandpa!

    And yes, you should dwell on the happy memories. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

  8. What great memories of your Grandfather. By reading your post I can tell what special people your grandparents were. Great photos as well!

  9. How wonderful to have a godly heritage like that!

  10. What wonderful memories, and great pictures! Cherish them always!

  11. Welcome to the Walk! I loved reading about your Granddaddy. He just sounds like such a Godly man! Our family has a Bible that's worn and used and is full of notes that was my G-pa's Bible. It's a coveted heirloom!

  12. I love that post. Thanks for sharing your grandpa with us. There were no grandfathers in my life, and fathers were scarce (or plentiful, depending upon how you look at it). I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had I had a strong, loving father and grandfather - but that wasn't the kind of family God gave me. And so I'm thankful to hear from others what that is like, and to gain from friends who have that particular strength of character that can be uniquely shaped only by those kinds of role models.

  13. He sounds like a wonderful man and what a rich history!

  14. Thanks for sharing about your grandpa. I almost get envious when people speak about their grandparents, I never knew mine, Treasure those memories!

    Also like your blog title. Heart Choices
    Your day to day choices determine what your tomorrows will become

    How true that our day to day choices effect our tomorrows.

  15. Thanks for sharing about your grandpa. My grandpa just died last March from a sudden heart attack. It was a shock to my whole family.

  16. Such a beautiful tribute sweetie.

  17. It is amazing how faith and character travel through generations. Your grandfather's hard work, love of the Lord and devotion to his family continues in your life. Now, you are passing that on to others through articles like this. Great post. wb

  18. What an interesting man your Grandpa was. How funny that he heard somebody in the store talking Norwegian and joined in! I wouldn't recognize that language, but of course HE WOULD since he was Norwegian! hee hee

    That's just wonderful that he was a Godly man and you will see him again. Praise the Lord!

  19. Dear Debbie,
    I am so happy for you. Finding new family is like getting ones life broadened.I really hope you'll get along well with your new found relatives. The same goes for your father.

    One can never overestimate the true wealth off roots. (That's some of the reason why I'm not too fond about making anonymous test tube babies. There is a deep urge in every one to be acquainted with ones' roots.)

    I found this link to a branch of the Sumstad. Thought I might share the address with you.


    Life is strange, or what?
    I wonder about the Fredricksen family your grandfather met in New York.
    Did they eventually move to Seattle?

    The people who built the house I call my birth home in Sauda was a Fredricksen family.
    His name was Elizar, the wife Johanna. Two girls ; Irene and Britt.
    I called them uncle and aunt, even though they weren't family, just close friends of my parents.
    Aunt Johanna even had me living in their home for three weeks when my brother was born.

    Aunt Johanna still lives in the outskirts of Seattle, she must be 94 by now.
    My aunt in Sauda just recently talked with her on the phone.

    They always belonged to the Pentecost church both in Norway and in Seattle. So does their daughter Irene.

    Wouldn't that have been great if they were the ones your grandfather took care of??
    (Uncle Elizar had 14 siblings. Many went over to seek their fortune in America. It may of course be one of them your granddad met as well.)
    Now, I'm curious how this story will continue.
    Have a relaxing and an iinspiring weekend.
    From Elise/Felisol

  20. I always love hearing about your family, especially the grandparent's stories. As a grandmom, it reminds me how very important my role is, and more importantly, it is not the things that I give my grandson, it is the character that he sees in my husband and I that really matters.


I love to read your comments! I know you have something to share so join in the conversation. And thank you for taking the time.

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