Sunday, May 14
Etal. Rautatienkatu, 14:30
Today, along with the rest of Finland, we celebrate Mother’s Day. Naa got up and went into the woods to collect the traditional flowers, called valkovuokko in Finnish. (My dictionary translates that as wood anemone.) She and I gave Irma presents on behalf of her and Auo. I gave her a Stockmann voucher, a Shisheido moisturiser, and a face cream. Naa gave her a beautiful cashmere scarf to replace the one that got destroyed in an experiment to test whether you should take labels saying “Handwash Only” seriously or not.
None of us will find this an easy day. Sometimes it proves impossible not to dwell on Auo’s absence, especially when she moves so willingly into the foreground of our thoughts. Sometimes we can accept that our lives changed when she died. Other times, like today, we find ourselves face to face with the realisation that our lives diminished.
When Auo died I did a lot of things that had little to do with rationality. In one of these I calculated the date 123 days after her death, and then set it in my diary as an annually recurring anniversary. I did this because it reflected the kind of things she really liked; such as her fascination with palindromic time, like 12:21 and her laborious attempt to prove that 22:22 did not count as a palindrome. I understood that if she had had the chance she would have wanted to know the date 123 days after she died, and I felt closer to her when I recognised this and calculated it on her behalf.
I did not mention to anyone but today, for the first time, Mother’s Day coincided with Auo’s 123 anniversary.
Naa collected enough flowers for Irma, and for both her grandparents. At 1:45 we drove Naa to work and then drove to visit Irma’s father. We gave him his flowers.
He had fallen yesterday and hurt his ear badly. He was bandaged but seemed not to mind. We talked in three languages, not all of them making sense to everyone at the same time. We then left and drove to Kamppi.
I stand outside Irma’s mother’s apartment while Irma searches for a parking space. I have the valkovuokko in a champagne glass on a wall, and I watch people walking past in both directions with their Mother’s Day flowers in their hands. Roses have replaced valkovuokko for city dwellers but a few people other than me have the real thing.
When we get back home I will paint a second coat on the terrace fence, saw some logs, and help Irma with the gardening. Sunshine will sit looking at a spot under the shed for almost an hour. We will suspect that the supply of mice has come from there.