In Loving Memory of Kirsti Ilkman
Written by nephew Jyrki Matilainen.
For me, aunty Kirsti was always one of the closest in the family. All the relatives are not equally important to a young child, or equally interesting for that matter. What I am saying is, that when we are children, we tend to create stronger bond to certain members of family.
My first memories of Kirsti are when our family made its first trip to England in 1972. I was then six-year-old white-haired energetic boy, to whom even a trip with an airplane was an adventure.
The destination, the great city of London, was a distant fable-like land of many miraculous things. We arrived for Christmas. To a Finnish boy different manors were an astonishment, especially with the Christmas Day morning. No Santa bringing the presents but gift socks on the mantel piece. The Christmas dinner was set with giant candies which you popped and everyone was wearing funny paper crowns. It was a child's wonderland.
The dwellings were so different with patterned mustard colored wall-papers and funny looking detached houses with hidden backyards. In the mind of a small child this was so exotic as was Kirsti´s husband Ibrahim, a Turkish-Cyprian man with a big French-made Citröen car with golden watch and elegant looks.
This memorable trip got its finale on the way back to the airport. Aunty Sirpa asked my mom Eira in the car for which airport does our plane leave from? We had landed at the Heathrow airport, so my mother assumed that we would depart from there too. After checking the ticket, it came obvious that we were heading for the wrong airport.
Fast car turning was made but it wasn´t enough to make us in time to Gatwick airport. The excitement was too much to my mom and she had an accident into her pants. To homeland we arrived a week later in a cargo ship.
It was my first trip of the coming countless ones. I grew to fall in love with the English culture under the nursing of Kirsti and Sirpa. I even made my first trip alone at the age of 12. That summer I spent mostly at Kirsti´s and Ibrahim's house. They took me around and they really became my second family.
During the years, I got four lovely cousins in England, Karl, Heidi, Robert and Mark. They became like siblings. The family connection to England grew even stronger with Kirsti´s struggle with her ilnesses and death of Ibrahim. My dad´s and mom's transitions to eternity changed family relationship even tighter.
How do I remember her? A stubborn and all-knowing, therefore, so like myself. This is probably Kirsti's fathers, my grandpa´s Allan's legacy. But she was also an empathetic and loving person with time to listen. And time to debate too, especially when it was about Finnish history or British welfare system. She was happy to attend any family gathering. It became our habit that I would pick her up to our trips to Isle of Wight. Those car trips are some of my best memories with her.
Sitting in a pub, cooking together, playing cards game called Marjapussi until late, chatter of world affairs and politics. We had so much in common. I miss her for all those things and many more. I loved her like my own mom. I wish her a safe and painless passing to Tuonela, the Finnish mythological place of afterlife where she may rest in peace.