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October 4, 2004

The statue called “Liberty Enlightening the World” was unveiled in October, 1866. The pylon and framework were designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the Tower) but the actual statue was designed by a sculptor called Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. I’m sure art historians are familiar with the name – I must admit to not knowing it before today.

Today, however, I looked in an encyclopedia of historical events, to see what happened on October 4, 1904. I found a lot of interesting things that happened during the year – Salvador Dali, Pablo Neruda, Johnny Weissmüller and Count Basie were all born in 1904), but the only event of note for Oct 4 was the death of Bartholdi. He died of tuberculosis in Paris.

And on the same day, in far-away Kärrbo, my grandmother’s cousin Edith was born. Today she celebrates her 100th birthday.

Edith was born when Sweden and Norway were still a single kingdom, ruled by Oscar II. She experienced both world wars and was old enough to remember even the first. With her sister, she travelled extensively in Europe and North Africa, sending long postcards to our family. They owned a fashion store together, and later Edith worked in an art gallery – and her flat always looked a little like an art gallery to me, every wall covered with paintings. Only five years ago she still lived in her own flat, although when we came by for coffee we generally got instant coffee and not all the biscuits were home-made – and she came to Uppsala for my wedding in 1998, and stayed rather late in the evening. Her walking isn’t so good now, and she needs bifocals, but she’s still reading, and enjoying music and cross-words. She’s happy in the nursing home although some of the people there are a bit, well, old… She is a remarkable, remarkable person.

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