My Photo
Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

After Long Silence: Memories of Mamma

I haven't posted since the night before Christmas. On Christmas Eve morning, right after we had finished breakfast on the sunlit terrace, my sister and I called our mom and dad to wish them a merry Christmas. I was on the phone, when my dad answered the phone and said: "I have to tell you some sad news. Mamma has died." I couldn't do anything, it was like someone had punched me in the soul. I just pushed the phone into my sister's hand and sat down, tears streaming.

Mamma was my grandmother on my mom's side. She was born Annikki Helena Aaltonen on 24 Dec 1919 — she died on her 89th birthday. She had lost her own mother at age 12; one of her most vivid memories was running down the street after the ambulance. Her father abandoned the children, leaving her to look after her 15 year-old brother and 8 year-old sister. Earlier, they had lost their baby brother, perhaps to influenza.

Mamma eventually entered nursing school, becoming a nurse specializing in the care of newborns and infants. During the beginning of World War II, which in Finland meant that all Finnish men went to war trying to repel the Russian invasion (for more detail, see this post, here), Mamma lost her true love, Pauli, whom she never forgot. Some years later, she met my grandfather, and after courting a while, they married in 1949.

They went on to have 4 children — my mother, the eldest, and my uncles, three boys. In the 1950s, Finland was in the grips of the post-war depression. My grandfather, a Master Builder, convinced Mamma that they should move to Toronto, Canada, where work and prospects were said to be good. He moved to Toronto first, but due to being a foreigner with fledgling language skills, he could at first only find manual labor in the construction business — from being a foreman in Finland, he became a "cement finisher" in Canada.

Mamma and the children began the long trek to Canada in 1958 — my mother was 8, the youngest of her brothers was 1.5 yrs old. Mamma and the four young children first travelled to Norway, where they boarded an ocean liner to New York city. The trip across the Atlantic took two weeks and everyone was seasick nearly the entire time. My mother remembers throwing up what seemed almost like the seawater they were surrounded by. Imagine! My grandmother alone with four small children, she herself seasick while trying to care for them, and not speaking any languages.

The family stayed in Canada for 4 years, after which both homesickness and the improved economy drew the family back to Finland. My grandmother became a nurse at the Turku University Central Hospital, my grandfather became a very respected Master Builder, and the children entered school. My mother now holds a high position in one of the largest insurance companies in Finland; all my uncles are Master Builders themselves.

Mamma worked until her retirement with hundreds of babies born in the city of Turku. When I was born, my grandmother was the one who bathed me and wrapped me in blankets. When I was one day old, she brought me a rattle. She was loved and respected at the hospital — several of her dear colleagues came to her memorial and it was apparent how important she had been to them.

At every important and not-so-important juncture in my life, Mamma was there. She babysat us, travelled with us, went swimming with us, picked mushrooms and berries in the forest with us, made juices and porridges and soups for us, slid down water slides with us in water parks. One of my earliest memories is walking in the park with her, on the way to feed the birds in the ponds, and crossing the lawn which had a "No stepping on the grass" sign. Mamma said if someone tried to stop us, we would just tell them that, in America, people walk on the grass all the time. On winter nights, Mamma would sit in the back seat of the car, in the uncomfortable middle spot, between my sister and I, so we could each burrow ourselves in her fur coat to keep warm.

Mamma had an amazing ability to connect with people. When I was little, it used to embarrass me that she would strike up conversations with total strangers — on the bus, in the grocery store, on the street, wherever. But it stemmed from an interest in the people around her, and only later did I understand how a few kind words, a human connection, could make another person's day. She also had a knack for keeping in touch with people, of not just making connections, but staying connected. She called everyone, visited everyone — in our extended family she was the glue that held everyone together. She had a natural warmth, sweetness, sunny optimism, and kindness one rarely, if ever, encounters.

Mamma's ability to make friends everywhere, with anyone, served her well in her many travels. She went to Italy, Morocco, and even Israel, and though she used to say: "My English is very short", her enthusiasm and efforts to communicate always got her understood. I forget which country she was in when someone offered to purchase her for many, many camels. She visited me twice in the U.S. — the first time with my mother, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the second time by herself, in Pennsylvania, where she spent most of her time in the garden. She had a green thumb like nobody I've ever seen and though I haven't inherited her talent, I've inherited her love of gardening.

In the last few years, Mamma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, which started slowly stealing her memories away. She wouldn't always remember who had visited her, whether she had eaten or taken her medicines, or whether she had left the stove on. Most of the time, however, she was entirely lucid and sometimes distressed because she knew she was forgetting things. She was also very lonesome and, till the end, kept saying that when she won the lottery, she'd come visit me in America one more time. It wasn't a function of money, however. She wasn't in any shape to travel the long distance. Towards the end, she lost her will to live, saying to my father that a person should be allowed to leave this world with dignity, without suffering.

The end, though it could be foreseen, was still sudden. Mamma had most likely suffered a stroke which had caused her to fall and hit her head. Though the hospital had been able to restore her physical health, she had no wish to continue. In the end, she refused to eat. After most likely suffering a second stroke, she didn't wake up again, although she reacted to my mother's voice talking to her about America and singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." My youngest uncle, still "little Lassi" to Mamma, though he was 50 years old, held her tiny, birdlike form in his arms on his lap, as he sang Christmas songs to her. She slipped away quietly, being held like a baby by her own baby.

Mamma loved music, loved singing, especially when my sister and I would sing songs in harmony. So on Christmas Eve night, on a darkened terrace lit only by Christmas lights, half a world away from her, my sister and I sang every beautiful song we knew, to her. We know she was listening.

The funeral was in January and everyone came to remember her and to strew her coffins with beautiful flowers — how she would have loved them! The memorial service was a small, intimate gathering, in which we talked about her, sang songs to her, and shared our memories of her. By the end, we were filled with smiles and even laughter, sad though we were. It was perfect, it was a celebration of who she was and what she meant to us, and Mamma would have been pleased. She would have said, "What a lovely party."

I will always love her and, as I said to her as I was leaving the chapel, I will never, ever stop missing her.




Blogger Mophia said...

Dear Anniina,

I'm sorry for your loss. I see from your writing how wonderful, strong, and sweet of a woman Mamma was. It reminds me of my own wonderful, amazing grandparents, and how much I appreciate that I still have 3 of them in my life. I give you my sympathy, and hope you and your family are doing well. I am thankful that you do have all of the wonderful memories to remember her by in spite of the sadness of the event.

~Your Friend~ Philip

February 26, 2009 10:20 PM  
Blogger Ahren said...

Oh, Sweetheart. I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose someone you love to Alzheimer's. It's clear that you knew her well and that you have a lifetime of wonderful memories to draw on and remember her by and in that way she is never really gone. She helped shape the woman you are and anyone who knows and loves you (like they must upon the instant of meeting you)owes her love and gratitude. I know I do. Let me know if its okay to call.

Yours ~Elfboy~

March 06, 2009 9:42 AM  
Blogger sexy said...

情趣用品,情趣,情色,成人,A片,自拍,情趣用品,情趣,色情,成人影片,色情影片,免費A片,情趣用品,情趣,成人網站,A片下載,日本AV,做愛,情趣用品,情趣,美女交友,A片,辣妹視訊,情色視訊,情趣用品,情趣,色情聊天室,聊天室,AV,成人電影,A片,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣,情趣情色,A片,AIO,AV,日本AV,色情A片,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,A片下載,情色A片,哈啦聊天室,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,色情聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080視訊聊天室,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,免費視訊聊天,上班族聊天室,080中部人聊天室,視訊聊天室,視訊聊天,成人聊天室,一夜情聊天室,辣妹視訊,情色視訊,成人,成人影片,成人光碟,成人影城,自拍情趣用品,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,日本AV,寄情築園小遊戲,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,色情遊戲,一葉情貼圖片區,色情網站,色情影片,微風成人, 嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人影片,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,080視訊聊天室,視訊聊天室情趣用品,A片,aio,av,av女優,a漫,免費a片,aio交友愛情館,a片免費看,a片下載,本土自拍,自拍,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,嘟嘟情人色網,一葉情貼圖片區,色情影片,情色網,色情網站,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人小說,成人電影情趣用品,情趣,情趣商品,自拍,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,H漫,A片,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,情色文學,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,色情遊戲,SEX,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣商品,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,中古車,二手車,情色小說,色情,情色視訊,寄情築園小遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,色情遊戲,情色交友,嘟嘟情人色網,言情小說,一葉情貼圖片區,情色論壇,色情影片,情色網,色情漫畫,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,視訊聊天室,080聊天室,視訊聊天,美女交友,視訊做愛,情色視訊,免費視訊A片,A片,A片下載,做愛,成人電影,18成人,日本A片,情色小說,情色電影,成人影城,自拍,情色論壇,成人論壇,情色貼圖,情色,免費A片,成人,成人光碟

April 24, 2009 2:33 AM  
Blogger dyana said...

very interesting.....
Good post.....
Great blog.....
Every one should read this once.....
Thanks for sharing.....
Online Marketing of your brand

August 11, 2009 5:59 AM  
Blogger Bz said...

I've been blogging for a little over a year now... every now and then, I click on the "next blog" link at the top to see what comes up. Your blog did ...and I must say, reading "After Long Silence: Memories of Mamma" is one of the best posts that I have ever read. What a tribute. I almost feel like I know her. What fineness has been passed down as evidenced from your post. Tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat were ever so present while reading about her 'baby' holding her in his lap.
Not sure when you will get this as it's been awhile since your last posting... nevertheless, I had to communicate what a remarkable, loving story it is that you shared.
Thank you.

November 13, 2009 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

免費線上 aa 片試看.色美眉,a片免費線上看.av女優報報,性愛技巧.剛彈seed成人圖區.成人電影,sexy,av.0941網愛聊天室 .免費成人影片,g點.777美女dvd,偷拍,人妻.0204成人.成人論壇,情色.kiss168成人電影.日本av,美女視訊.波霸美女寫真.免費視訊美女,情人視訊網.淫蕩女孩自拍.免費成人影片,日本美女寫真集.sex免費成人影片.台灣18成人網.拓峰交友.bbs論壇,色情 a 片,色妹妹免費情慾影片觀賞.xxx383美女寫真,wii遊戲片,java,寫真集辣妹.85cc成人片 西洋片.微風成人,成人電影,sex女優王國.無碼av女優,av成人網,台灣kiss情色貼圖.介紹免費觀賞,78論壇,080情人網.ec成人.視訊交友90739,限制級,777美女dvd.高雄視訊,qq 美女貼圖片區.成人小遊戲.無碼卡通,無碼a片.成人,色美眉帖圖,色妹.aooyy 成人玩具.日本av女優,免費性短片欣賞.kyo成人動漫.免費a長片線上看,女優影片.免費成人電影.情色論壇,卡提諾王國.av免費影片,性感沙灘3.視訊交友.,g點,免費a片,免費18影片.交友聊天室.wii無雙遊戲網,電玩快打小遊戲.台灣甜心視訊聊天網.免費 a 長片線上看,黑澀會美眉無名,辣妹no3.s101成人大喇叭. 080聊天網fm,免費試看短片a.夢幻家族影音視訊聊天室.辣妹脫衣麻將視訊聊天室.免費a片線上觀看,sex520貼片.線上成人影片.倉井空免費影片,情趣 商品,視訊 美女.aa免費倉井空影片.日本美女寫真集,kk視訊.遊戲天堂,免費av,美女自拍.無碼av女優, 色美眉部落格 2.av成人網.383成人影城.QQ美女視訊秀 .免費 aa 片試看,成人影片分享.成人,UT視訊交友,視訊女郎,免費視訊秀,限制級.亞亞成人館-sex.吉澤明步

November 22, 2009 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 22, 2009 3:42 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home