Colleen

Salme Stories: A Mother’s Journey
Part 3

Reading further into my Mother, Salme’s journal I find I am captivated by this little round-cheeked darling.

Her past helps me to discover so many things I didn’t know about my Mother as well as the little things that made her who she was when I knew her.

For me, I am real-eye-sing that we are the product of our childhood.

Every nuance. Every emotion. Every person who came and went along this time capsule we call Life.

Colleen

Colleen

I look back on all the things that have effected my own children, as simple as words spoken over the fence to a neighbour, laughter in the kitchen when making cookies, or reprimands made out of frustration and fear.

Sight. Sound. Touch. Scent. Emotion. Imprints upon our Spirit.

I regret so many.

I am proud of many more.

Each, in their own way, are the ingredients we needed for our present.

And I can truly say, our present is pretty terrific.

Thank you Mom for leaving your words behind for me to experience your life, where your travels made you wiser, stronger, and resilient. You began your travels early.

To Finland we go in this chapter I will call:

Close Calls-From Illness to the Frog Pond

My life was very nice, until the problem that stuck. I got a terrific cold and became very ill. I got ill and stayed that way. Doctors didn’t know what was wrong. They would say it was appendicitis, my Dad didn’t allow them to operate, Dad said ‘no, this is something else’. And so, my Father went busy on it and it took quite a while but he got results, he got this Dr. Barry, a specialist from Toronto, to come all the way up to Timmins, Ontario. It was a long jaunt for them man, and an expensive thing as Dad had to pay his way, and Dad had to pay for my hospitalization. In those days he had to pay the local doctor, he had to pay for my operation, that I had on my lung. We had to drain one lung, and before they could operate, they had to spend several days, every 3 hrs or so they would bend me over my Dad’s arm, and as he held me, they would move quite a heavy needle between my ribs and into my lungs and suck out the water and blood, giving me a little more room to breathe.

Then, of course, they operated on me. I don’t recall a lot about it. There was a man that worked as a kind of an orderly, and furnace man, and what have you; his name was Frank. He was good with children. So he carried me up to the operating room, and strapped me down, and then they put me to sleep. Well, it took quite a while for me to get better. I don’t remember going back to school until, it must have been May or June, and I remember being carried there the first few days on my Dad’s shoulders. I had lost so much weight, there was nothing to me, but I wanted very much to go back to school. It was probably just Grade One or something, but I wanted to go back, I wanted to see my friends. Then later on through the summer I started to feel better, and I started school again in the fall, and then, I didn’t do too good I guess, so with the Doctors advice as to climate and that, my parents decided to go to Finland and that’s where we went to my Grandmother’s place, and that’s where my sister Aune was born.

She was a beautiful baby. And, being 7 years old, I felt responsible, like she was something I had to watch out for, and I wanted to do things for my Mom, something special; and this is the funniest thing; I wanted to do something REALLY special for my Mother, something that was, oh, over and above the ordinary thing… I asked if I could rinse out the dirt off the diapers for her, and of course, she didn’t want me doing that, and I begged if I could just do this one marvelous thing for her, it seemed like such a big thing to do, and finally Dad said “well if this is all she wants to do!” he said “Well, have you got an old knife, and odd one?”. So, Mother gave him an odd knife, and we went outside near the wash barrels, and he showed me; he did the first diaper, he showed how to use the knife to take the dirt off, and then drop the diaper into another pail of water. And so, I did these for the longest time, I guess. But I guess eventually forgot about it, and… but Mother had the knife then (chuckle). I thought that was funny for a kid to want to do, but I guess it was kind of a premonition, cause I sure did lots of diapers after, later on in my life.

I’m trying to remember the name of the farm we lived on; like we didn’t stay long at Grandma and Grandpa’s. My Dad bought a farm. There’s so many wonderful memories of that farm in my mind. For one thing, the name of it was Hakosalme, meaning ‘Evergreen Salme’, and so it was kind of appropriate, at the time, that we lived there.

We had cows and chickens and pigs and whatever…and Dad went to the market and he purchased this horse. It was a beautiful horse but it wasn’t a horse that you’d use on the plow. Dad knew that but he loved horses. He’d be in the cavalry in the First World War so he had a yen for horses. This was a beautiful black stallion, and I will always remember it. I remember seeing him – we had quite a big yard – and I remember seeing him put a saddle on him and try to ride it. We didn’t find out what the horse was good for until a neighbor came by, and said ‘he’s a trotter’… he had been used to a little 2-wheel cart, had an arch shaped neck, and would take little short steps. He was kind of a show horse! Also, a race horse… because once he got going with this cart, he’d stretch himself like nobody’s business – he could cover more ground!… but, this is not what Dad needed.

So, he enjoyed this horse for a while and I guess he tripled his money after he got this horse back and found the one that he needed. Someone came and bought it, cart and all. But Dad did let me have one ride in the cart with him. And that was such a thrill. That was a beautiful horse. He did ask me one day if I wanted to sit on the horse; we had a little pond in our yard and there was a lot of frogs and frog eggs, and lily pads – sort of thing – but it wasn’t really something you ‘d want to go swimming in- but I ended up swimming in it that day! ‘Cause I just sat down on the back of that horse, and he kicked up his heals, and over his head I went, splash, into this pool with these frog eggs and frogs- it didn’t hurt me, and Dad had a good laugh over that.”

I feel her laugh with me as I read on.

I shake my head at every close call I remember happening when I was a little girl.

Oh the gratitude I feel for whatever guardian angel encircled me and saved me from worse outcomes than a scraped knee, bruised ankle, broken heart or frog pond.

Love you, Mom!

With Love and Light, a good Laugh,

Colleen and Salme.

www.colleensongs.ca