Oscar and Sylvia
The following is a work of memories and stories told by my Finnish Grandmother, and Mom.
Oscar is gone.
I now sit in the tired chair that shared space in this room with a worn man's bones. The thread-bare arms and head rest won't show their weakness once I lay the crocheted covers atop them. How many hours I worked on those pieces, I don't care to count.
The final years were mostly silent ones; the sounds of mumbled conversations made short by age, and after all, the important words had long been spoken. Smells of over washed tick overalls, leather slippers, and the tin spittoon are wanting to linger longer than I'd thought they'd care to. Their presence is a welcome companion.
The split wood will continue to make their way to the cooking stove without his knarled hands; I have no qualms over the work. The children will continue to come and chop, and stack. The women will continue to help slice peaches to fill the jars and the pantry.
Both the cold storage shed and the sauna house need no attention, having turned their shelves to welcoming unused items. How the young ones love to sit on the wood slat seats and pretend the now cool river rocks are surrounded by hot steam from a lively fire below. Finnish chatter leaves the walls embedded with stories and friendly gossip.
I imagine the barn should be torn down now that proud eyes won't be watching. The leaning boards need not provide dangers to curious young antics. Horses have long ago stopped their work of hauling in hay, and the dogs have laid down for their final rest in more than one dark corner. Barn boards will make frames for faded photos so there will be nothing left to memory.
I will go to meeting today. The ladies fingers might finish that quilt for those two sweet heila who are to marry soon. The crocks are clean, having served their purpose, comforting with food to those who followed us home from the service. I will get them back to their respective homes. Many of us are slowly finding our company in each other. Those who don't wander far from the Finn neighborhood will find the food needs stocked by those of us who do drive to town.
It is time to climb the stairs that replace the thick wood ladder to the upper rooms. Time to place the slippers and overalls in the chest. One moment to gaze out the small window to years with the girls waking here to smile on another day. To look out over the boys already heading out to the field.
A good life; not easy, but we laughed.
I wonder if I'd admonished them too often for speaking Finnish among the other children. "A new land - a new language", I'd say. "You must fit in and menestya".
Now, familiar words spoken back home make my heart soft and easy.
A brief rest in the yard today brought yet another comfort. I sat among the trees atop the artisian well that works day in, and out. Looking to a bird's nest, and remembering the bits of hair trimmed from impatient boys once padding those nests. Seeing the wash line with sheets and embroidered dish towels slapping in the wind; they too must be missing the thick wool work socks. I looked to the green grass about my cotton dress folds; the superstitions surrounding old traditions guide my eyes to an elusive four-leaf clover. There, and there, and yet another little treasure.
Rising, my apron cradles dozens of precious four-leaf clovers . . . the meaning to me that everything will be okay.
The fragile pieces now are framed with poem, and with a hope for a future of laughter for all the grandchildren.
"You have Finnish sisu, my Sylvia . . . "
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