Thursday, July 4, 2013

Meeting an old friend, making a new one (4/60)

In the early 1980s, Bengt Bern of Sweden came to western Maine as an exchange student with the Thompson family of Canton/Dixfield. We met through ski racing. A superb all-around athlete, Bengt ran fall cross-county, skied XC, and played tennis. A year after his exchange, Bengt came to work for me in a summer training camp that I directed. He worked with young athletes, kept up with his own training, and in his spare time, he worked on my house! What a great mentor and role model for younger athletes... and what a terrific worker around my big old house.

Johanna and Bengt Bern visiting Maine, July 2013. 
My brother Rob is visiting for 3 days, and we had the pleasure of welcoming Bengt  and his 19-year-old daughter Johanna to Rumford on July 3rd. Johanna had been as exchange student in the Bangor area a year ago, so during this time in Maine she visited with her host family. Dad and daughter also visited Bengt's family,  the Thompsons, and made a trip over to Rumford to have dinner and reminisce about our times nearly 30 years ago.

A software engineer, Bengt is also a mountaineer who has tackled many of the world's big mountains (photos below). As for Johanna, she is off to college in Stockholm to study medical technology for the next 5 years. She also has an ambition to write.

Father and daughter are easy, interesting people who have ready smiles and inviting ways. They are people you'd like to spend an evening with, or a lifetime. They are interesting, yes, but also interested. They pose questions and share ideas, turning conversations into a tapestry of meaning quite like a 23- year-old's walkabout. Bengt and Johanna take joy in the world around them and use their days...

One of life's gifts--and #4 on my 60 for 60 years old list--is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I did that last evening with Bengt and his wonderful daughter Johanna. Here's to their life journeys...and meeting again.
Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Rich & Bengt, after biking Cadillac Mtn., Bar Harbor, c.1984. 

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