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Three score and ten or more

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Last not LOST weekend

The  Last (not LOST, LAST) Weekend

As a prelim to this post, I need to draw your attention to one of my early posts on Finland.  When we arrived here the trees were just beginning to yellow.  The birches seemed to have little crowns of gold on top, but farmers were still baling hay in the fields, some fields (I presume, of rye) were just being planted and the weather, except for a tendency to rain every afternoon, was really beautiful.  As I slipped Jan out the entrance door in her crippled wheelchair, it had snowed for several days.  We had developed the pattern of leaving soft drinks in the car to cool to avoid clutter in the refrigerator of our hosts.  At the moment of exit, the snow had ended and the sky was beautiful, but the wind was biting cold.  I was glad that I had bought her a purple knitted muffler and cap to wear as she left the hospital. (But we all imbibed some icy diet Coke.)

As it turned November, on one of my frequent trips to Avis to extend my contract for another week, they had informed me that I had to return my little Chevrolet Kala with the mystic reverse gear to exchange it for a car with snow tires.  The replacement (for the same price, nice Avis) was a Subaru Forester with studded tires and four wheel drive.
As Alex pulled the car up the drive to the hospital door I was grateful.  The drive, and the sidewalk around it were icy from the recent snow. I popped Janet into the front seat, Alex in the back and drove away, with relief, from the hospital where Jan’s life was returned to her, and with anticipation, not just of returning home, but of giving her another glance  at the Finland that she had so enjoyed for four days before her illness. (illness sounds like a wimpy word for the experience, but I couldn’t think of a better one.)

I had expected an immediate request to go Christmas shopping, but once she was in the car, she made it clear that she was very tired (from sitting in the chair tapping her foot while waiting for us to arrive) and that, since she had put on her traveling clothes before she went to bed, she felt that they were getting a bit gamy smelling, and wanted to change clothes.  We went back to the Stromberg house, where she disrobed, got into her new bed and fell almost immediately to sleep.  Pirkko (Ms. Stromberg) and I went to the county social agency to pick up the wheel chair.  After the rickety crippled chair at the hospital it was nice to get what appeared to be a brand new chair, then we went back to the house.   Jan only slept an hour or two, and when she awoke she was ready to go into the world.  Pirkko had gone to see Jan in the hospital, but it was like a meeting of new friends (even though Pirkko spoke very little English (she understood a lot more than she spoke) and Jan spoke almost no Finnish.  We had a little lunch (of, guess what? Good Finnish bread and cheese) then loaded a Jan into the chair and went out to see the snowy world.

Jan really remembered very little of the trip preceding the attack, but since one of our major reasons for making the trip had been to seen the new  Helsinki, Finland LDS temple, and that had been one of our last experiences before she woke up screaming in the night, we concluded that a return to the Temple Site was in order.  We knew that the temple had now been dedicated and become a “working” temple so that we couldn’t tour the inside, but just going to the exterior would be a good return of memories.  The temple itself is relatively small, but the design is very different from most others.  The steeple is very tall, and the walls are of polished marble or granite that, when the light is right have a multiple mirror effect.  We drove up to the terrace that serves as one parking lot, and Jan exclaimed multiple times, “Oh yes, I remember this.”  She even remembered the monster mall that is on the corner of bypass 2 and the Turku highway, about four or five miles from the mall.  (The Finns have carried the mall concept to absolute extremes, and this mall has its own train and bus station).  

By the time we had wheeled her chair in a circle around the temple we were all three emotional, and tired.  Alex asked me if I thought anyone would object if he just peered in the foyer. I told him that I thought he was much too casually dressed, but he opened the door and looked in for a moment.  The temple workers (who had come in a group only a couple of days before to see Jan in the hospital) spotted him, recognized him, and came to the door to see Janet.  They were as thrilled to see her out of the hospital as we were thrilled to see her enjoying the temple again.  One of the workers asked if we all had temple recommends.  Coincidentally we not only had them but had them with us. (A temple recommend is a document that verifies that one has met with his local ecclesiastical authorities, and  pledged that a sincere attempt is being made to live in concert with the Gospel of Christ. Having this document is a pre-requisite to entering a working temple.)  Seeing that we had them, they brought us in and showed Alex and Janet (again) around some of the rooms of the temple that were not in use at that time.  It was a very powerful moment.

As we bid our goodbyes to the elders and sisters in the temple and went out into the car, We talked about where to go next, but Jan was very tired again so we slipped her wheelchair into the back of the car and set off for bed.  When we arrived at the Stromberg’s Pirkko, in what must have been prescience was setting out voileippia (smorgasbord, or a lot of open faced sandwiches) so we ate and  had a really nice visit.  When Jan discovered that Pirkko loved Italy she invited her to go on a trip to Italy that she, her friend Kathy, and Kathy’s daughter Elizabeth had been planning for a long time.
(without me???????). It wasn’t long before Jan asked to go to bed, and she was tucked in, prayed with, and asleep before six thirty.  As she went of to sleep, we noticed that snow was falling in abundance so we were interested in how much travel we would do on Saturday.  

3 Comments:

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Norma said...

Glad to see you haven't switched over to beta. It's not letting me comment.

Thanks for bringing us a little more of the story. It really is amazing that you two were able to get through all this.

We talked to our Finnish friend last week and there is now just a few hours of daylight.

Stop by--you might enjoy this week's Monday memories.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I'm so glad that Jan got to visit the Temple again, and even happier she lived through that horrible ordeal. I'm also absolutely amazed at your stamina throughout it all.

God bless you and Jan, and Merry Christmas! :)

 
At 8:48 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

It sounds like your trip ended on a happier note. Jan sounds amazingly strong ... much like her husband.

Once again, may your Christmas be peaceful and full of love.

 

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