Hello from Heaven has been triggered by recent events both worldwide and within my extended circle of family and friends. I am indulging myself in journeying through memories. A patchwork of reminiscing. So many images are flicking on to the screen of my mind. Family celebrations. Holidays. Get togethers. Weddings. Funerals. A veritable mishmash of emotional paths leading me into nooks and crannies not often visited.
I am blessed to be part of a network of people with big hearts. During the last decade we have celebrated and farewelled Mum and Dad. The family gathered together for both events in the hub that was their home. Spending countless more hours on the expansive veranda with a panoramic vista of tropical Queensland. A place where many tall tales were told by Dad. We listened enthralled to his stories. Tears poured down our faces as we laughed till our cheeks hurt. He was a master story teller, skilfully crafting a mix of truth embellished generously with his own twists to the tale. As we drank a toast to his life, we revisited those tales on the veranda for the last time as a family gathered together in that home.
His youngest grandson, Pastor Paul, had masterfully led us through laying him to rest next to Mum. It was a beautiful service.
Mum’s life was celebrated some years earlier. Her reminiscing was filled to overflowing with big hearted love. Tears and laughter again flowed freely as we collectively crafted her funeral wreath from flowers growing in her garden. The display was so big and heavy it needed to be placed on a coffin sized wooden tray made to measure by the boys of the family. Ritva had phoned the funeral director for the dimensions of the coffin. It was a stunning display of Birds of Paradise. Fitting for the woman who a friend called the Mother of All Australian Finns as she was laid to rest.
Both my parents had major health challenges. Dad was diagnosed with mesothelioma in his early 60’s. His doctor gave him less than six months to live. Friends and family were galvanised into action. Prayers for healing bombarded heaven. Not surprisingly, a biopsy only found scar tissue where there should have been a mass. He lived another 20+ years. We were honoured to have had the privilege of cocooning both Mum and Dad in acts of love and service. My sister, Ritva, as the oldest and most capable led the way. I am in awe of her capacity to care, organise, cajole, support, love, nurture and walk with so many of our family members through their various life and health challenges.
Distance has not kept us separated as a family. Countless times we holidayed and visited each other. There was a memorable houseboat holiday on the riverways of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I will forever recall the excruciating sting of a catfish. I had caught one. In my clumsy attempt to remove it from the hook it stung me. The pain was immediate. And intense. Ritva put my hand in cold water. It got a LOT worse. She phoned the Poisons Information Centre and was put through to national headquarters in Sydney. It was Saturday and no other centre was open. The treatment seemed so counter-intuitive. Soak the hand in water as hot as I could bear until the pain stopped. The relief was immediate. It’s a treatment I will never forget.
Opportunities to serve and care for family members continues. As is the way of life. I sometimes wonder if it is easier to have a loss that is sudden and catastrophic. I guess there is no easy way. Slow or fast it offers us moments of grace to love each other.
Today Ritva and her family are celebrating the life of another family member – Annikki, her mother-in-law. From afar our hearts and prayers are with them. Once again Pastor Paul, her grandson, will lead the way in laying his grandmother to rest.
I want to end this post with a poem I wrote of an experience I had on the journey home after Dad’s funeral. I called it Hello from Heaven.
Dozing in the twilight zone
between wake and sleep
I was travelling home
having just buried my father
In My mind rang the words
my brother had said
“We are orphans now, the three of us”
On the widescreen of my mind
zoomed an image
of a giant softly pink heart
Within it in rapid succession
appeared the faces of all
the family members one by one
Then in a final still shot
Mum and Dad in profile
smiling at each other
I heard the words
“Hello from Heaven”
© Raili Tanska
Images Family albums and Pixabay