The Finnish word for determination is Sisu. I know this now. It is a word that was used to describe a woman named Aila, who lived to the ripe old age of 93. That alone is a great measure of determination. And that trait was clearly passed on to her son, who told her story at the memorial service. I have no idea what his name was. He was a thick, tall man with a bushy mustache. He spoke slowly and with “determination”. He looked a bit like a human walrus and he so totally loved his mother more than anything on this earth.
In the midst of a story there a many sub stories. The most touching to me in this case was when this “walrus man” was speaking about death. He described a time in the past when his first wife died, in his arms. And then he described the determination or “Sisu” that his Mom showed in her later years. Even though she was, as he described “only slightly ambulatory” in her late 80’s she managed a trip to Finland and saw all the sights and family members one more time. He also told stories about moving his Mom from her life long home on the East coast (Boston I think) to a smaller care facility in the midwest. I imagine that move came with some “determined” protest.
One of the most interesting and beautiful parts of this man’s stories about life was the fact that he told them with an attractive dark haired woman on his arm. They had a wonderful sense of connection that radiated from both of them. At the reception after the service he introduced her as his new wife of less than two years. The whole thing to me was quite moving, and a quality reminder that we all have the opportunity to overcome great change and even great loss, if we have “Sisu”. At the end of his story he said something quite profound, “Grief is something you have to work at. It’s not a one size fits all suit.” How true that is as it applies to so many things in life, eh?
And with that I think these memorial stories are nearly “Finnish”. Sorry I couldn’t resist…