As I was unpacking some books today (yes I know, longest move ever), this little old clipping fell out on to the floor. Upon closer inspection I realized it had fallen out of my great great (great?) aunt Lyydia’s confirmation psalter from around 1908. Not sure why I have it, I must have grabbed it from among my grandpa’s things when we cleaned up his house after the funeral. My grandpa Mikko never seemed the sort to hold on to sentimental knick-knacks though, so I wonder how it ended up there either…
I took the opportunity to leaf through the sheaf of papers again, once upon a time in college I read this little booklet on the bus. Since then my erstwhile dog chewed through the antique hand-stitched book binding (I seem to be finding more and more things that dog ate) and now I’m not sure all the pages are here anymore, truly tragic. It was never completely bound together in any case, it was an old bible that Lyydia had taken apart and refinished in embroidered fabric (guess I get my fixing-up gene from that side of the family) and stuck some of her letters, diary entries etc. in between the covers. Her handwriting is beyond gorgeous, even down to the very last careless ink splotch.
I thought I’d translate one of her notes for you, a lot of them are just dates with some kind of scripture quotations dating from 1908 to 1937, but others seem to actually be about her. I feel like a detective piecing together her life. Anyway, here goes, it’s a bit awkward because she used no punctuation or capitalization, very stream of consciousness…
“1922 – it is midsummer eve,
Oh how it is beautiful outside. All of nature seems dressed for the occasion of midsummer night. It is tragic that I myself am imprisoned inside in bed, even though outside it is the most beautiful summer. At first it was too hard to bear such a midsummer, but now I’ve learned that this too is a gift. It is so lovely to think that He hasn’t abandoned me after all, but is just reminding us of who it is that allows us our health and good days.
Here too there is such a beautiful scent of birches and roses, they bring me the vigor of life, it’s as if the illness has left me. Oh blessed midsummer, I wonder if it will be my last…”
Rather dramatic, I think I can safely say that she didn’t die of that though, since she kept writing notes in this book at least until 1937.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief foray into pre-winter war Finland, please join me again next time I dig up some old stuff.