Rune Westlund (1921 – 2021). I Knew A Good Man.

By Adeola Aderounmu

There are not so many people in the world today or even in old times who would open their doors for others to come in. It is not a matter of whether one is a stranger or not. Opening of doors to others is not even a family matter. People have locked out friends and strangers alike. For various reasons, people close their doors and lives to family members. People are strange. We are strange.

So, when a person willfully opens his/her door to help you accomplished a task or reach your goals, it is not just a matter of flesh and blood, it is the best of humanity. It is a feeling that you cannot describe or quantify. It is something that should boost the quality of your thoughts and move them in a positive direction, permanently.

Rune was a man with a good heart and a clear conscience. He was a symbol of harmony and dedication

Breaking a chain of kindness can bring non-visible pains as well as emotional distress to those who really have flesh, bones and hearts. Breaking the chains of paying (good deeds) forward can bring unhappiness or a feeling of unfulfillment. You break the chain already when you lack appreciation. You break it when you close your door and heart to others even when you could have sustained it or pay it forward. Indeed, humans are plagued with insecurities and broken chains of goodwill. We are!

I am not qualified to write the tributes of a man who lived for almost 100 years. I can only pay my respect. Rune Westlund was a man who opened his doors and life to as many as he could possibly do. He would have been 100 years old today (12 December). Rune was born in Stockholm in 1921. He left us, peacefully, on 26 April 2021 after a brief illness. His burial took place at Kanalkrykan in Sandviken, a place where he spent his working life and nurtured his family. A few people are worth celebrating, even in death. Rune stood out amongst them. I am paying him this respect as a way of celebrating his life and all the indelible marks he left behind.

I knew Rune for about 17 years. His kindness and thoughtfulness ensured that he became one of those who impacted my life. It added to the list of the people who previously influenced my choices in life: my parents, my teachers, and a few good people. Rune was the great-grandfather of my 2 wonderful daughters. He was the same to a handful others. If you are looking for exemplary, selfless life, he lived one. He was an accomplished man who left us a year after Smith & Tell sang that 2020 was the Year Of The Young.  Even 2021 turned out to be another year of the young.

Almost invariably, we always feel sad when our loved ones leave us even if they had grown very old. But sometimes we ought to focus on the quality of their lives too and the impact they made to humanity. In addition, we ought to reflect on the roles we played when they were with us. How much time did we spend with them and how well did we influence the things that were within our capabilities to do? A lot of people would find genuine or residual happiness if they focused on the outstanding quality of lives that their loved ones experienced and the positive values they added to humanity.

Rune was a man with a good heart and a clear conscience. Until his last days, his mind was alert and his memories never depreciated in worth. I will not tell you how, but he was ingenious. Okay, I’ll tell you: he kept the ones he loved close to his heart. Rune was never out of words to describe things and events. There was almost nothing he forgot. Throughout life and in all seasons, he trained his mind to remember the things that matter. He never forgot the birthdays of any member of the family.

He knew the dates when all his grandchildren and great-grand children were born. He read newspapers and followed current affairs. He could discuss politics at top level, and he never shied away from our discussions on sports. The value or worth of our memories can never depreciate if the people we love are always in our hearts and if we apply our heart to good deeds. We often neglect the need to overcome our shortcomings to find fulfilment and happiness. There are, of course, consequences for life’s choices.

Rune was a symbol of harmony and dedication. He was contented and happy. He was always calm and jovial. Faced by the inevitable, the end of all mortals, he never lost it. For a man who lost his wife Anita to cancer in 2008, he carried on gracefully and kept fond memories of her. In their lifetime, Rune and Anita were also parents to some other people they never met in real life. Regularly, they sent monies that ensured that some children in faraway places on earth had food on their tables and got educated. As if that was not sufficient, they opened their doors to receive and welcome immigrants in Gävle/Sandviken area of Sweden. In their home, immigrants learned a new language, they learned to cook and bake. They found a dependable base to seek happiness and hope for the future.

Rune was aptly described by his children as a man with great generosity, empathy, and strong integrity. He had a great sense of humor and presence. When the sun went through the windows and shone on his casket, it was an affirmation that he was a good man who deserved to rest in glory. Rune is survived by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I knew a good man. His name was Rune Westlund. He’s resting, in peace.

The Last Days of Anita Westlund (1924-2008)

By Adeola Aderounmu

I met Anita for the first time just about 4 years ago. It was one cold and dark winter month in late 2004 and our first meeting was a very exciting one. She had opined that she looked forward to having a very good discussion with me and so it turned out to be. Our meeting enabled her to practice her English language. Anita’s first language is Swedish. She learnt how to write and speak English language when she was over 60 years old. It was one of the few challenges she took after her retirement.
You can imagine how interesting our conversation went as I struggled with my Swedish language and Anita with her English. She was impressed that I understood (and could interpret to English) the few lines that I’d read to her from a book written in Swedish. In subsequent years we spoke in Swedish only as my command of the language had improved but at 80+ she cherished the challenge to always impress with her English. She spoke well of her English teacher.

Anita was a jovial old lady. She radiated warmth and gladness in her family and to the people that she knew. She was a good and loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She had a good heart, was compassionate and always wanted everyone to be happy. This was not just in her old age. As I understood it, that was her life-that everyone that she knew or got acquainted with should be happy.

While she was alive, Anita and her equally wonderful living 86 year-old husband Rune Westlund prayed for their entire family every morning at the breakfast table. They are philanthropists and they support homeless people in their local council. Through their life-long dedicated involvement in church activities, they accommodated foreigners in their home and helped them to settle to life in Sweden. They are also paying for the school fees of a certain adopted child living in India. They longed for the good of all and to see smiles on faces of other people. Last year, they won an award for their seflless service to humanity.

It came to us as a rude shock when Anita was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer of the liver on the 11th of July 2008. Three months ago at the ripe age of 84, Anita could still ride her bicycle to the shopping mall and she could walk briskly to the swimming hall for her swimming exercises. No one could have suspected that she was living with such an illness because she was looking healthy and vibrant as usual until when she took ill at the end of June.

Anita took her situation in good fate and she cracked wonderful jokes until the last day that she lived on earth. She spent the last 2 weeks of July visiting her entire family both near and far. As the end approached, she did everything that she wanted to do-travelling, talking, laughing, eating good food, drinking wine and most of all-giving.

When the phone rang so early at 0844am on Sunday the 10th of August 2008, the only thing on my mind was “Anita may be dead”. So it turned out to be. Five minutes before the phone rang; I’d woken up partially but still lying on the bed and having Anita on my mind. Some of the moments we spent together were being relayed in my mind and then the news of her death revealed to me that I was very well connected to her. She was the great-grandmother to my daughter but she also treated me as one of her grandchildren.

I’m going to miss Anita just the same way that I’d missed my biological grandparents in Nigeria. One of my Christmas presents this year will not read “From Rune and Anita”. It will most likely read “From Rune”. During her farewell visit to us on the 21st of July, she wanted us to remember her and all the good times we had together. Surely, I will never forget you Anita. It will not be because your name will be missing from the Christmas and birthday gifts. I will miss you because you were a wonderful person. I will miss you because you showed me love as much as you did to your children. Far away from home, I felt very special because of you.

I cannot write everything about your life history but I know that you came into this world on the 30th of May 1924. I know some of your views about life. I’ve heard very exciting and wonderful stories about you. I know that one of your main characteristics was openness of mind and heart. You were not afraid of what you didn’t know like many other people are. It was your open heart that made you and your husband such great friends and helpers of the immigrants in Sandviken, Sweden. I am very sure that the Burmese refugees in Sandviken will never forget you as well.

You completed your race and journey the best way possible. I completely understand and respect your wish not to make this journey again because I can only imagine the pain when you made that comment just 48 hours to the end of the race. You will always be in my heart.

Rest in peace Anita!

Anita’s Photos on Facebook

Article also available at The Nigerian Village Square