It has indeed been a while, but now I am back with 'pen in hand'. And with pencil and brush as well, I might add. Even if I always feel sad over leaving Finland, it is great being back in my studio.
Today I want to celebrate a life. In 4 days time, my grandmother would have turned 106. She passed away this summer while I was home in Finland. I am so happy that I not only was home at the time, but I was actually there by her side when she very quietly and peacefully took her last breath.
I have been debating whether I should share this at all here on a public social media. Grief is such a personal thing, and something we all have to go through sooner or later. Now with her birthday approaching I decided that I do want to share it. Especially when the grief in this case is mingled with gratefulness and relief. Grateful that my grandmother finally after a very long life was able 'to go home' as she herself called it, and relieved because she was so very tired the last couple of years, and now she can rest.
But mostly I want to share it because she was an extraordinary woman, and my biggest role model.
My grandmother Kia Kyllikki at her 101 birthday 5 years ago.
My grandmother was a nurse. That is how she came to our hometown in the first place. She was asked to come and set up the laboratory in our hospital after the war (second world war) and she did. She met my grandfather and that was that, so to say. Later she even ran her own private laboratory from home, and she always spoke very fondly of the work she had did as a nurse.
She was always happy, always content, always grateful. She must have had her own grieves and difficulties like everyone else, but she never complained. I learned from her never to take stress or to worry about things you can not control. She taught me to see the pleasures and joys of the little things in life. I do not know how many pleasant hours I have spend at her kitchen table drinking tea and watching the birds feed outside the window. Just finding happiness and enjoyment in the moment 'right now'. Even after she was not able to leave her home without our help anymore, such simple everyday things like feeding the birds, going to the sauna and then drink a cup of tea really gave her joy. And yes, my love for the subject birds ( and tea!!! ) started at her kitchen table.
She could also be fierce. But it only came forth when she thought that something was seriously wrong. I had forgotten it, but when my mother and I was talking about her my mother told me about the time when my grandmother got very concerned about the direction the Pope was going ( Yes, the Pope in the Vatican city) so she wrote him a letter and reminded him of what the scripture actually says about whatever the matter was. And she wasn't even a catholic, but belonged to one of the Protestant churches in Finland. For some reason it just struck me as really funny. When our own politicians and worldly leaders did something wrong she just sighed a little sadly, but when THE spiritual leader started to have funny ideas she reacted immediately and did something about it.
My grandmother was also an artist. Art was never more than a hobby for her, but something she enjoyed very much. She painted mostly on ceramic plates. ( painted art on ceramic plates used to be a very common art form in the nordic countries, and are still today found in many homes on the walls of the kitchen and dining room) She painted not only florals, but also mushrooms and my favourite subject, birds. She had a very good eye for design and colours. I do not know if she ever wanted to become a full time artist, but I think not. She was too practical and sensible for that, plus that I really believe she loved her work as a nurse. I think I did ask her about it very long ago when I started to study art, and her answer was about what I just told you.
Anyway, I loved showing my work to her. She always found something to praise, and something that I could improve. She gave me her box of art supplies that she had saved, even if she had stopped painting before I was born. It is the pigments that she used for painting on ceramics. One day I have to take a course in how to paint with them. It is the kind of pigments that change colour after they have been burned in the oven, so it is totally new territory for me. Then again, the small old fashioned glass vials with the pigment powder in them are quite beautiful, so maybe I will just save them as they are.
There would probably be a hundred stories and feelings I could share with you of my grandmother, but I do not have the skill with words to do them justice. So I will just leave it at this. Her memory makes me very happy. That warm, cosy and safe feeling inside of being important to her and loved.