I'm writing today's post with a heavy heart. Tuesday night we got word that my dear Grandma Sirkka passed away. I've mentioned her quite a few times here on the blog, she was my knitting Grandma who has always been my hero in both crafting and life in general.
She was born in Finland in 1923, the oldest of 5 children and grew up on a farm where she learned how to make most of the things she would ever need or want by hand. She survived both the Winter War and WWII, which for any of you who are familiar with history would know was pretty horrific in Finland, and worked in a factory right out of high school while the men were at war. She married a handsome Finn who looked like Ricky Riccardo in 1946, and in 1951 she left her entire family and immigrated to Canada as a young wife and mother with her husband and young son while pregnant with my Aunt. She had to learn new languages and customs in this country, Polish being her first language because that was the community they first moved to in Quebec. One of the ways she would learn the words was by looking at the pictures on the cans at the grocery store. They moved to our island when my Mom was 10 months old, and settled down permanently in one of the little towns.
Grandma would sew and knit for her family as well as cook and bake delicious meals. She was an amazingly creative woman who could look at a picture in a magazine and either sew or knit the object without any patterns or instructions, and they came out looking exactly like, or even prettier than the picture. Her knitting was legendary. To this day, people still remember my Mom for all the beautiful sweaters she would wear that Grandma knit for her.
She never wasted anything. After the clothing she had sewn had worn out, she would take the fabric and turn them into pillow covers or patchwork quilts. I remember her telling me how when she was a young girl she knit herself a one piece bathing suit and when she grew too tall for it, she cut it apart around the middle, stitched it up on the ends and turned it into a bikini! She has inspired all of us by her creativity and resourcefulness and to this day we each apply things we learned from her in our everyday lives.
She was the dictionary definition of sisu: which is determination, perseverance, and courage among many other things. Here's a partial explanation of what sisu means taken from a Finnish survey done in March and May 2013:
Among the main findings was the perception of sisu as a reserve of power, which enables extraordinary action to overcome mentally or physically challenging situations (rather than being the ability to pursue long-term goals and be persistent). To elaborate on the function of sisu: it is a powerful psychological potential which enables the individual to tap into mental strength beyond their pre-conceived resources. Wielding sisu in the face of adversity helps individuals push through what first seemed like the boundaries of their mental or physical capacities. Furthermore, sisu is an action mindset which equips the individual to choose to take on challenges beyond their observed capacities. It provides the final empowering push when we would otherwise hesitate to act. Sisu can be conceptualized as taking action against the odds.She was so brave and courageous. Impossible was not a word in her vocabulary. To her, you could do or make anything if you put your mind and will to work. She didn't back down from challenges, but rather met them head on and persevered. She was strong, determined, brave, funny, giving, tender-hearted, steadfast in her faith, and talented beyond belief. She will always be remembered as one amazing lady and I hope that one day I will become even half the woman she was.
She is going to be greatly missed by us all, but she will live on through our memories, the knitting that we do, her projects that we still have today, and through the people we have all become from her influence on our lives.