"Eulogy for Pekka"
- spoken by Heli, Pekka's daughter.
Thank you all for coming today, most of you know me, but for those who don't, my name is Heli. Pekka, or little Peter to work mates, was my dad and for many years I was his little boy. I may have been 4 or 5 and whenever anyone asked who I was, I would pipe up, "I am mummin kulta ,aitin kukka ja isin poika," which translated means, "I was my grandmother's sweetheart, my mother's flower and my father's little boy." It's funny what you believe as a kid!
Dad was born in Finland, two years after his elder sister Sofia. He has two younger brothers, Pauli and Heikki, and a little sister Elisabet! He left his home at 14 to travel the world. He became a cook on a merchant ship, and he sailed until he was old enough to do his army service and returned to sea for a few months before staying on land in Sweden. He found work there and in Belgium and lived there for many years before moving back to Finland. He worked with his Dad, and then as a boilermaker in a power station. He met mum at a midsummer's party in '66. They married the following year and my sister and I were born in '68.
Mum and Dad decided to leave Finland with my sister and I when we were 9 and 10, as Dad was put out of work and saw an article in a newspaper about Australia looking for Finnish workers, offering free plane tickets with housing availability. So, with a friend, they put an application in for a two year stay, and the rest is history! I remember thinking we were moving to somewhere like Africa but when we arrived in Sydney I was definitely surprised and confused! We spent some time in an immigration hostel before moving to Queensland. There we met lots of other Finns like ourselves, starting a new adventure in a new country, some of whom I'm still friends with today!
We lived at Clayfield for a little while, where Dad and Mum cleaned carpets. Dad found better work and made friends in the building industry, one family in particular became very close, who allowed us to move into a caravan in their yard until Dad and Mum found our home in Thorneside. There, we had a new addition to the family, Maarit, our younger sister, was born.
Dad and Mum enjoyed golf as a hobby and I remember most weekends I would go to play with them, along with Maarit. Growing up, I remember Dad always in his jocks and I would feel embarrassed when my friends would come over. He was strict, but fair and forgiving for all the things I did as a rebellious daughter. We used to get grounded but never belted, although I thought that may have been better than not being allowed out!
My siblings and I found our own paths in this life and we all left home. We would come back a few times, but eventually we would leave again to pursue our own lives. Dad sold the house a few years after mum passed. He bought a unit, still in Thorneside, but a smaller place as he was on his own. He travelled back to Finland a few times. He had a few lady friends over the years but preferred the single life, or maybe he was hard to live with!
We would go and stay with him on holidays and weekends. Dad was the tidiest man I've ever known. I would stress about making a mess and my kids have fun memories of these visits. I think he enjoyed having us even though there wasn't room to swing a cat and the kids would leave a trail of clothes, toys and whatever else. I'm sure he breathed a sigh of relief as we left! He was not very patient and less so as he got older. Some would say he had a short fuse but as he aged, he also mellowed, so when he wasn't able to look after himself that well, I started driving to his place to help with things. I felt he needed more help so we talked about him going into the Finnish aged care home, unfortunately it was harder to get into so we decided that he would come and stay with us once we had our own place.
The last three and a half years we have enjoyed his company daily unless we'd been away and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to spend so much time with each other. It makes saying goodbye today a little easier knowing we had no things left unsaid.
I'm glad that I was able to share some of my memories with you today. Thank you all for listening!