Yesterday was a strange day. Joanna rang me early morning to tell me that I should take Samu to school as he was going downhill skiing and would I look after Daniel at our home as she had to go to town?
She was over before noon to leave Daniel.
Daniel, Annikki an I did several things including taking Daniel to the City dump to get rid an old TV and to the Tropical Spa to make sure the arrangements for one of our Indian Groups in Oulu were OK for the company party. When I came out of the Spa I found I had a flat tyre. As usual, my good friend, Kamu, in the spirit of CHAFF rushed to help me as I was not carrying my silicone foam repair kit.
Joanna rang me to tell me that she was very tired and would I keep Daniel till we picked up Samuel from the school and then came over so that we could go out for dinner to celebrate my birthday.
I passed by her house at about half past five and I was surprised to see Ildikó and Ilari's car parked in the driveway, but thinking that they were off for a holiday, they may have dropped in to say goodbye, it did not register. When I dropped in at the International Centre (Ville Victor) I was puzzled when Shahnaz said she would see me in the evening! Again, that did not register!
Well, the email I sent out today below explains it all and the composite picture made out of photographs taken by grandson Samu show some of the the people who made it such a great day for me.
Dear Findians, O-Indians, Chaff Participants, 59er Cathedralites, Other Cathedralites, Stephanians and many other friends all around the world,
Yesterday, I was given a great lesson - knowing how it feels to be LOVED.
As I reached the turning point to my senior years, the outpouring of love from all corners of this globe gave me a lesson which made me feel that a new era of my life is opening.
Thank you to all of you, some on the groups, others directly, others by text message, who took the trouble to communicate with me on my 65th birthday.
Ashok, as I took early retirement to help her look after Annikki's mother, I have been enjoying all the benefits and now move from half to full pension. So, I was already enjoying all the free benefits of a social security system I was taxed into the earth for when I was working!
From our daughter's family in England, Susanna, Chris and Asha, Hasnain and Willie in Toronto, Bill Patel in ???, Barbara from Italy, Ellis in New York, Ashok, Percy, Ooky and Rivca, etc., etc, etc., in Mumbai, friends from Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Chennai, Bangalore, Tokyo, London, New York, and of course Oulu, I received personal greetings. (Sorry I am not mentioning all of you as I still have not had the time to go through all the messages.)
It will take me some time to respond personally to all of you, but respond I will.
But the height of my birthday was a surprise party organised by my daughter and her husband in her home in Oulu. Neither Annikki nor I had a clue till we arrived at her home and found a string of cars parked outside. As I walked in, there was a steady stream of friends, a veritable United Nations, Australia, China, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Peru (in spirit), Turkey, Venezuela, trooping out to greet me.
Ilari gave a profoundly moving speech which had me in tears and Ildikó gave me the gift on behalf all the persons from so many organisations that I felt overwhelmed. I was in shock and was hit even harder by giving me a birthday present that I really love and need - a Canon Digital camera - so that the photographs on my blog and groups will improve! Burcu, Bala and Sameer gave me their own presents. Thank you all.
It was a bring your stuff party so we had some really great grub and the spread was enormous, so much so that Joanna forgot to take out the delicious chicken salad from the fridge!
Top Row: Joanna, Samu, Daniel;
Second Row: Ilari & Tony, Kiran & me, Andy;
Third Row: Shahnaz & Yrjö, Benjamin, Sreekanth, Ani with Maria;
Bottom Row: Elina & Ildiko; Burcu, Bill.
Missing: Annikki, Bala, Pooja, Mani and Anusha, Mathias, Sameer,
Vishu, Esa, Manuel, Osku
My sincere thanks to Joanna and Tony, Ildikó and Ilari, Pooja, Mani and Anusha (who drove down all the way from Raahe (80 km away), Shahnaz and Yrjo, Andy, Ani, Bala, Benjamin, Bill, Burcu, Elina, Esa, Kiran, Manuel, Osku, Sameer, Sreekanth, Vishu, nephew Mathias who just happened to be in Oulu, grandchildren Samuel, Daniel, Maria and above all my dearest of dearest, Annikki for making it such a wonderful birthday.