Those who went before me…

My dad Mats and I talk every Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday, we spent more than an hour chatting about various topics – his boat that he’s working on, my childhood, societal class differences, and his educational journey.

“I think my parents spent a considerable amount of their income in sending me to school, realskolan (school after 6th grade). I was the only one from my town going. Everyone else joined their parents in farming or something similar.”

School wasn’t free back then, and my dad’s classmates were all sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers, and academics. He was from a small village in southern Sweden and knew no one.

Later on, he joined a merchant vessel to continue his education and sailed to South America a few times during his internship there.

One week ‘on duty’ and the next in class (on the boat). It was here he forged his path forward, on the sea, towards what would be an excellent career in the Swedish Coast Guard.

“My father, Harald (my grandfather), only went to school through 6th grade, and his principal visited his parents to let them know he had the aptitude for school. But they couldn’t afford it. So he didn’t go. And he spent his whole life in carpentry.”

“And my grandfather, Hjalmar (my great grandfather), probably had the same level of education. He worked on a sailing vessel transporting street stone and pavers.”

At one point, we talked about how I had struggled in math, and my dad told another story about Harald:

“I struggled in math, and my dad didn’t know how to help me. So he signed up for a math class for adults and was able to get me ‘over the hump’ in understanding the basics of math. I ended up with a ‘small a’ in math. I don’t think many got a ‘big A’. It was very hard.”

Last week I successfully defended my oral and written comprehensive exams in a Ph.D. program at Kent State University, and I am now officially a doctoral candidate.

Oskar is still in 6th grade.

I wonder what he’ll accomplish on the shoulders of the Johansson men that have gone before him in education. I can’t wait to support him in his journey to find out.

Hjalmar –> Harald –> Mats –> Andreas –> Oskar = 140+ years of legacy.

The opportunities are endless with the right support. We all do our best with what we have to support those who follow.

I am thankful for my lineage and for what it has afforded me – full of experiences and opportunities.

Pictured above – Oskar, my dad, and I on his boat in the Blekinge archipelago a few years back.