Tombstone Tuesday – December 31, 2019 – Rita Ingwardo

Rita Ingwardo-Cropped

Rita Ingwardo was the daughter of Bjarne and Sigrunn Ingwardo born on February 19, 1959 in Norway. Bjarne and Sigrunn had three children; Rita(1959), Knut (1961) and Steinar (1964). Sigrunn had an older son who Bjarne adopted who became Torgeir Ingwardo. They lived in the suburbs of Oslo.

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Rita, Sigrunn, Bjarne with Steinar and Knut standing in front – 1973 

Rita had two children; Charlotte and Henrik.  Rita was a social worker who help immigrants adapt to and assimilate into the Norwegian lifestyle. She was a very strong, kind, caring woman. She died in her sleep on December 31, 2018 of what appears to have been heart ailment which went was not diagnosed.

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Rita, Charlotte, Henrik

Rita was our cousin who we had known through letters shared between my sister, Sharon and Rita when they were teens. In 2010, my siblings and I traveled to Denmark to visit Rita’s Dad, Bjarne. He took us to Norway for a short visit where Rita acted as our tour guide. She proudly showed us her beloved Oslo with a wonderful bus tour. We also took a sailboat across the Olso Fjord to the Viking Ship Museum which features a Viking ship that was unearthed near where our Norwegian family originates on the Island of Tjome.

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Standing : Matt, Sue, Pam and Mark  Seated:  Bjarne, Sharon and Jan – Fall 2010 – Headed to Norway 

Seven years later in 2017, my sister, Sharon, my nephew, Zach and I returned to Norway to visit Tjome and spend a few days with Rita. Once again she was our tour guide and hostess. We visited Tjome and met Inger Zeiner (another relative by marriage) who showed all of us where our ancestors have flourished for a couple hundred years. It was an inspiring trip full of “goosebumps” events. We stood on the beach that our Great Grandfather fished and sailed out of. We visited the area where our 2X Great Grandmother house was…long gone but we could still feel her presence.

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Sharon, Zach, Rita and I – Standing outside of our Great Grandfathers home – 2017

Later that morning we visited the home of our Great Grandfather, Han Andersen. The current owners are friends of Inger and they graciously invited us into their home for coffee and cake. They were able to show us the old walls of the original structure. We visited with a man who knew our Great Grandfather when he was a child. He told us stories of Hans and his role in the German occupation of the island during WWII and his life. Later that afternoon we visited the Tjome Church and the cemetery where our family members have been buried for hundreds of years. It was an amazing day with Rita.

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Tea in Great Grandpa Han’s House – Rita, Zach, Inger’s Friend, Jan, Sharon, Inger – 2017

Rita tried to teach us Norwegian and we taught her a little American English slang. We are so thankful to have been able to spend the time that we did with our sweet cousin.

Last year when we heard that she had died, neither Sharon or I could believe the news. We contacted Charlotte and she confirmed it. We were so overwhelmed that this vibrant young woman could be dead but she was. After a couple of weeks, we realized that her funeral had been postponed until late into January. My sister and I decided to go to Norway for her funeral and a visit afterwords to her Dad, Bjarne, who is very sick, too sick to go to his daughter funeral.

It was a very sad trip but something we felt a need to do. As a result of that visit, we were able to meet her brothers, Knut and Steinar, whom we had not met before. We spent five days with Rita’s daughter and her new husband, Vidar. It was a comfort to know that Charlotte had found a wonderful husband since we had met her in 2017 and they were building a wonderful family. Charlotte told us that Rita had lost her mother when she was 29 years.  Charlotte said “I am 29.”  Sigrunn was 59 years old when she died. Charlotte said, “My Mother was 59 years old too. “

We miss Rita. We know she is with her mother who she spoke of often and we knew she missed her very much.

Rest in peace, Rita! We love and miss you!

Love, Jan

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