Of earlier times and now.

While walking through my house (or should that still be our house?) I am struck how everything is still so much Helvi. They say that in grieving it is best to be busy and sustain from sitting too much. Walking around the place I sometimes just go in circles ( to while the time, achingly passing so slow)around one of the old tables that was part of the very old furniture from the farm in Holland. We lived there with our three children from 1973-76. This table through travel between continents and daily wear became a bit battered and some years ago, Helvi urged me to paint the top of this table white. At first the idea of painting an old semi-antique table at all seemed a bit questionable but Helvi never really attached much monetary value to things that we owned. It’s not as if one can take it with you, is it?

And that’s how it is. This place is the embodiment of so much that is still Helvi. Her sense of form and aesthetics would exclude any other consideration. Some tell me I should move somewhere else, but I now need time to pass. I go bowling tonight and in an effort not to fall in a heap I keep walking with Milo and shop at the slightest pretence. I haven’t as yet dealt with anything much at all, and am surrounded by flower arrangements and cards of condolences. The house is tidy and I wash up regularly, even if it is just a single cup and single plate. It is not easy.

I leave you with an early photo of us soon after arrival in Australia from Finland in 1965/66. We moved into a small apartment in Pott’s Point ,Sydney, which I had bought a year or so before. We were just married. The photo must have been taken with a self timer but it doesn’t look posed. We had such a lovely time there.

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35 Responses to “Of earlier times and now.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    One of the best pieces of advice I had when my husband died, was not to make any decisons in haste

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Sorry, that posted too soon. So, listen to those who are concerned, but use your own good judgement, just as your beautiful Helvi would want.

    And, take car of yourself. Thank goodness for Milo. Love to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Milo is a good friend and ally.He knows. I shall not only tend and nurture the memories but also do likewise to our lovely garden that Helvi always made wherever we lived.
      It is true that the winters here are a bit bleak but I can always go and spend time in Majorca or rent a summer cottage in Holland. Or…revisit that heavenly farmer’s village in Finland where Helvi came from. ( Surrounded by lakes, spruce and birch) Thank you ,Yvonne.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. lifecameos Says:

    You are doing well at a very difficult time. Don’t make any major decisions just yet, you may well want something different in a few months’ time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. auntyuta Says:

    Gerard, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, all your blogger friends.
    We think so much about you and how you are coping now. So you are still surrounded by flower arrangements and cards of condolences reminding you that everything happened so recently.
    To farewell Helvi you were surrounded by your lovely family and lots of dear friends. It was so good to share memories of Helvi with lots of different people. May Milo be a great comfort for you helping you to get over this difficult time. I am looking forward to reading a lot more of your writing. I am sure Helvi would very much like for you to keep writing.
    Hugs and wishing you all the best,
    your friends Uta and Peter

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the flowers are only now started to wilt a bit. I refreshed the vases with water, something Helvi taught me.
      Thank you Uta and Peter. You were of great comfort at Helvi’s celebration wake.
      I will try and keep on putting down words.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Oh dear Gerard. I feel such sorrow for you. But, with this post it seems (but maybe not) that you are coping. For what it is worth and this is merely from my own experience, staying put in ones own home is a good thing. It gives one the time to reflect, to remember the good with the bad, to relive joyous times, and to still feel the presence of the love of your life. Your home is a reflection of everything Helvi and what better way is there to honor Helvi than to remain in your home? You have Milo and I am pretty sure that you find him to be a great comfort. Time does ease the pain but it does not dim the wonderful love that you and Helvi shared.

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Ivonne. Your words are of enormous comfort and help. I will stay put in this lovely home and you are right; it reflects so much of Helvi. Why should I move away from that?
      I know where everything is including the matrass covers, bottom (fitted) sheets ,top sheets, pillow cases and so much more…
      Helvi pointed all those things out not all that long ago!
      At some stage I have to deal with her beads, necklaces, rings, wrist bands and her lovely scarves. She was such a good dresser. Nothing over the top, just perfect.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Dear Gerard, no matter where you are, dear Helvi will always be with you. She is in your heart, your mind, your memories. 🙂
    I’m so glad you and Milo can comfort each other and keep each other company.
    I think staying put for now is a good thing. When my Dad died, my mom stayed put (in the house they’d lived in for over 55 years) and she didn’t leave their house until she was 91 and felt the need to be in a smaller place with less housework and yard work. She said she always felt Dad’s presence in their house and would talk to him out loud. I thought that was sweet…and she said it made her feel good. 🙂
    Please know that so many of us here have had you on our minds and in our hearts. We care. We share our love and (((Hugs))) with you.
    I hope you will keep writing. You have more to share. More that we need to read.
    (((HUGS))) for you and PATS for Milo

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, All I am doing now is reflecting over things and at the same time try and do something, anything really. I went bowling last night and actually spoke to a few people.
      They say time heals.
      Hugs,
      Gerard

      Liked by 2 people

      • doesitevenmatter3 Says:

        I’m glad you went bowling.

        And know you can do things in your own time and in your own way. Everyone grieves differently.

        Anytime you feel like writing and sharing about Helvi here on WP, please do! I know my Mom wanted to talk about my Dad a lot after he died, and some people wanted her just to “move on”. I thought that was sad,
        So she and I always had conversations about my Dad and we smiled, cried, and laughed. 🙂
        (((HUGS)))

        Liked by 2 people

  7. bkpyett Says:

    What a lovely photo of you both. I can hear your yearning heart, but know you’ll feel comfort from staying put in your shared space, at least while you can. Blessings and love to you and I hope one day you’ll feel strong enough to paint again!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Julia Lund Says:

    Dear Gerard,
    You have come to mind over these past couple of weeks. Though we have never ‘met’, your blog has always been such a joy to read: the funny things; poignant and sometimes sad reminiscenses; your sense of justice and outrage when the world is cruel and devoid of it; glimpses into your life and a world different from my own, and yet so identifiable. I don’t blog these days, and yours is only one of two I still follow. As I picture you wandering the home you built and shared with Helvi, I say stay, as long as you want. And keep all the beads and bangles and scarves as long as you wish. When my father died aged 48, mum had to quickly move out of their home, which they didn’t own, into a much smaller house. That meant getting rid of so many possessions, his clothes, books, everything. It was awful. When mum died, again the house had to be emptied quickly. I ended up putting so much into bin bags, into boxes for the sale room, dispersing her life and with it the last physical traces of dad’s. Grief must run its own course in its own time and not be ripped from our hearts as though it’s something to be dealt with and swept under the carpet. There is no right timescale except yours. Mum and Dad had two little dogs, and in those first months after Dad died, it was the dogs that saved Mum from turning her face to the wall and never looking life in the eye again. Milo surely shares a special bond with you and Helvi. And if you do travel, if you ever venture to Europe and the UK, there is an open door here. I wish I could send you what’s in my heart and that if I could, it could ease your loss. But it doesn’t work like that. Love to you, anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, well Julia shared grief does help, and I would love to visit Europe and you at some time in the future. I am so happy that you have enjoyed reading some of my words. It is strange how the world of words sometimes meanders around this world, almost like magic.

      My mother’s grief was hard when my dad passed away at the age I am now. And even though she was three years older than dad, she managed to live another 14 years, despite having migrated to the other side of the world, then went back to Holland, had numerous stays in hospitals and having had 6 children.

      Thank you so much for your invitation and I can see your open door. I will now just keep going, even though most of what I do during the day is very trivial, but doing the dishes and making my bed, feed Milo and take walks is all I am capable of right now.

      I still hear Helvi’s voice and her favourite (Italian brand) walking shoes are tucked under the bed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Julia Lund Says:

        Yes, shoes. They are precious. But so sad when they are empty. My love to you. And I look forward to your visit.

        Like

  9. Robert Parker Says:

    My aunt would look at old photos, like this lovely shot you’ve got here, with my grandparents, and write down the stories they prompted, to share with the younger kids. I’m glad you’re continuing with the bowling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Robert. One wonders what will happen to all those photos of the years gone by. I know that last year Helvi went through our numerous albums and took out the ones that were of interest. Most of them were boring and repetitive . I must have had a trigger happy finger. The more interesting pictures are now stored in a blue willow tree Dutch biscuit box.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. catterel Says:

    Gerard, grief must run its course. You need to stay in your own home where Helvi’s presence is still so tangible, and not do anything different until it is absolutely necessary. Read old letters, look at old photos, and weep. Later you’l also be able to smile, too, at happy memories. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I will stay in my house or ‘our house’ and won’t move. Helvi often said we should have moved away from the hostile community owned complex we own some years ago. Recently the top of our slender birch tree, which we had planted opposite us, was lopped off out of sheer spite or revenge.
      It annoyed us terribly that that was done. The excuse by the strata committee; ‘it might damage the guttering’.
      Helvi was ropeable!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. rangewriter Says:

    Thank you for sharing how you are getting through this. It sounds to me as if you are taking things a step at a time, which makes perfect sense. I would think this is NOT the time to be making big life-style changing decisions. The biggest one of those has already imposed itself on you. You and your soul need time to process this new you, new life, without a life.I’m sure it seems utterly unbearable at times. Please keep reaching out to us. Even if we are too far away to offer anything but empty words, hopefully the act of reaching out will act as a dab of salve for your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. stuartbramhall Says:

    Thanks for letting us know how you’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Some days are good, but some are grey and never-ending. I met one of the palliative nurses today who was very good and helpful for the last few days before Helvi passed away. She gave me a wonderful hug and smile. And that helps a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I meant to add that the photo of you and Helvi is beautiful and it shows your love for each other then…a love that has is still with you today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. shoreacres Says:

    Your decision to remain in your home is a wise one. When we lose a beloved person, the space left after their passing is as much a part of our experience of them as their presence in life. Staying put, for however long as seems good to you, allows all the reminders of your beautiful life with Helvi to be a comfort as you adjust to the new reality.

    I’ve often thought of deep, profound loss as akin to hitting a thumb with a hammer. The first blow is a sharp, almost unbearable pain, but even after that has subsided, the throbbing continues for some time, until at last it ebbs away. That’s the “ache that seems to stay” that you mentioned. In a way, it’s a testament to the degree of your loss, which of course points back to the wonderful life you shared with Helvi. Not everyone has such a relationship, and once the pain is gone, the memories will remain: sweet and sustaining.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      In my bowling club a surprising number of fellow bowlers also lost long time partners. I asked one of them how she coped when she lost her husband of 49 years, due to illness. She felt terrible for a long time and she just used to go out driving her car around. She tried not to sit around and would keep busy. One of the things she really liked was to keep the garden.

      Of course, in great friendships and relationships, sooner or later one of them passes away. It is normal, they say. But at the moment, no matter how often I tell that myself, I so wished to have had another good year, or so. It doesn’t yet feel it is ‘normal’.

      You are right, Linda. I will stay put. The house is so much part of Helvi. What to do with all her clothes, shoes on the racks, and so much that she managed to find in op-shops and charity venues? She would regularly donate clothes to the same shops. She just loved that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • shoreacres Says:

        It takes time. For a couple of years after my mother died, I’d go to the grocery store, see something she especially liked on sale, and think, “Oh — I need to pick that up for Mom.” Then I’d realize I didn’t really have a way to get it to her; I’d smile, and start over again.

        As for things like clothing, sometimes a perfect answer comes that you never would have thought of. It’s funny how life seems to help us out sometimes — that’s another good reason for not being too impatient.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. J.Chron.Ltt.&Sci. [JCR] Says:

    Reblogged this on Journey Chronicle in Letters and Science.

    Like

  16. J.Chron.Ltt.&Sci. [JCR] Says:

    ☼ Another beautiful entry. There is not a right thing to say, so I will just say thank-you for electing to share. I appreciated it.

    JC

    Liked by 2 people

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