We Remember #7 – “Sisu”

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…


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to We Remember #7 – “Sisu”

  1. garry and linda says:

    I told you about the walrus and me-man
    You know that we’re as close as can be-man.
    Well here’s another clue for you all,
    The walrus was Paul.

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