57 years after first letter, pen pals from Minnesota and Sweden finally meet in person

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Looking anxiously through a set of doors at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Wednesday afternoon, it's easy to tell that Connie Male is nervous about something. 

“I’m probably going to cry,” she said. “I can’t feel my legs.”

The anticipation is building, as the 68-year-old from Carlton, Minnesota awaits the arrival of a childhood friend. She and her husband Dan are at the airport to pick up her friend Gun Britt Efraimmson, who is flying in from Sweden.

“We’ve gone through lots together through letters,” said Male. “We got married, had kids, watched our kids get married and now we’re grandmas."

The women have been pen pals since fifth grade, exchanging up to one letter a week for almost 57 years and only starting to communicate through text message and phone calls about a month ago.

“I still like to write letters,” said Male. “I think it’s nice to get something in the mail and something to open with a picture enclosed.”

For years, Male has closed her letters with an invitation to come to Minnesota. Decades later, Efraimmson finally took her up on the offer. 

Along with her husband, they made the long trip from Sweden and will spend an entire week with Male and her family in Northern Minnesota. It is the first time the women have met in person.

“This is a happy moment, but next Wednesday will be sad because then I won’t want you to leave,” Male told Efraimmson after her arrival Wednesday.