Our surprise went very well. Mom was in the middle of a continuing-education class (obtained through the University of Helsinki) with some other Finns in the library of the senior's apartment building she lives in when my Dad and I walked in. She didn't notice me at first, but then the jaw dropped. Surprises are such fun. Several times today, she was still puzzling out how we pulled it off.
I still have to meet and in person, thank Riitta again. She is the office manager of the Finnish retirement home next door through whom I contacted my Dad to let him know I was coming. Dad is so hard of hearing that he rarely answers the phone, Mom reads all the mail and she is the one who plays on the computer, so trying to get something past her was very tricky. Although I have been introduced to many of my parents' friends and neighbours in Vancouver, I really haven't developed enough of a friendship or relationship of any kind with them to have a phone number or way to contact anybody. I could barely remember names and faces, particularly as I maybe met them once or twice. I feel very inadequate about remembering people. I know it's a skill that can be learned, but really, some people seem to just have the gift.
Anyhow, isn't the internet wonderful? Knowing the retirement home is right next door and that staff there might have met my Mom & Dad at some event or excursion or other, I found the info I needed on-line and emailed Riitta, who contacted my Dad.
From what I understand, she sent a fellow named Topi over. He managed to intercept my Dad after watching my Mom leave for a coffee klatch. Topi told Dad Riitta had a message for him...
I couldn't resist teasing my Dad. He whipped off a letter to me as soon as he got my message, saying that it would be easy for him to find a reason to slip away "because the people here are old
, they need this and that"...Funny how I too don't usually think of my own
age much. But those interns and residents at my paying job get younger and younger. I swear they are in their teens these days! Tomorrow, they will be in diapers!
Now, for anyone who doesn't know, coffee is a tradition in Finland. It's strong, black and bitter. And it is served often and always served with pulla, a traditional sweet braided bread flavored with ground cardamom. It often has raisins in it and the top is glazed with egg and sprinkled with almonds and/or sucre de perle (pearl sugar).
After I stretched out the kinks from sitting all day yesterday with my yoga routine (thank god for yoga), we went for a walk down by the river this morning. I was constantly distracted by the plantings, the shrubs, the flowers in bloom, the mountains and the birds.
At one point, a miniature Schnauzer walking with its owner was so upset that it was not allowed to chase the ball being thrown by another owner for another dog. I would make a lousy witness at the scene of a crime: I cannot recall at all what kind of dog the other one was. I know the other owner was a man, and the two owners chatted a bit. When the man threw the toy for his dog, all I remember is the energy trembling through the little Schnauzer, who whimpered and whined to be allowed to chase the ball too! A cookie appeared and the little Schnauzer forgot about the ball. Or maybe decided the cookie was a more immediate and available gratification. Whatever. Food is entertaining to me too!
The ball/toy was impressive in its simplicity and effectiveness. I have never been able to throw well, so the design intrigued me: a sock-like thing with the ball in the toe, so to speak. Even I could get great distance using the sling-shot effect.
I'd love to have immediately available pictures (of the masses of cherry blossoms, which are nearly spent; the rhodos just opening up; the tulips, the bluebells, the pieris, the camelias...oh, and of course, the mountains!) to post here, but I still have a digital camera on my wish list. Ah well.