What’s on my Mind

Welcoming, and saying farewell, to family members

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I find myself in a quandary as to what to write about this week. Not because I don’t have enough to write about—where do I start and where will it end?

So much has been going on in our household the past couple of weeks, it’s hard to rein it all in and tie it into a box with a neat bow on top. It may be best that I start where I sort of left off the last time I shared what was on my mind.

One of the biggest changes over the past week is that we got our Labrador puppy. As noted in a previous column, my hope was that her name would be Gracie.

I thought I had won that debate just because, in a weak moment, I agreed to welcome yet another Lab into our lives, already knowing how much work they are.

Through some kind of non-sanctioned voting session, which included our son and his fiancée, Fred and me, sharing a yummy cut of steak and an adult beverage, the debate turned to her name. This was the night before Fred was to travel practically the whole length of the state to get her.

Sight unseen, (something Fred said was necessary before we could officially name her), Gracie became Tikka (pronounced Teeka) that night by family majority vote. I was not in favor, but it was a three-to-one vote, although my future daughter-in-law was more in favor of Lily.

Although the spellings vary, in Finnish, Tikka means “woodpecker.” (Okay—like that really fits for a bouncing Lab puppy!) Tikka is also a South Asian type of food; the forehead mark (also spelled “tilaka”) made on the forehead by Hindu Indians; a brand of hunting rifles formerly manufactured by Finnish company Tikkakoski; and it means “swift” in the Native American Chinook language.

Well, my husband is half Finn and Tikka is swift, so I guess her name is somewhat applicable. Unfortunately, it sounds very close to our schnauzer’s name Frieda (pronounced Freeda), which has caused a bit of confusion. Perhaps not a well thought out decision…

Anyway, there are many more stories to share about our new family member, which I’m sure Guest Columnist Frieda Reichel will be happy to share once she recovers from the trauma of sharing her house with a new buddy.

Not only did we welcome a new pet to our home, we also welcomed family from out of state who joined us in saying a final farewell to my mother-in-law as we were able to celebrate her life and lay her to rest. Family members are from Fred’s side, but I consider them just as close as my own family.

So many emotions when it comes to the finality of the loss of a loved family member. Shirley Reichel passed away on December 20, 2021, so quite some time has passed for us to make that adjustment in life. However, when faced with the final goodbye, all the arrangements that go into a service, and the emotions that surface it is, indeed, a trying time.

In the way healing after a loss often seems to work, the sharing of stories, laughter, and tears help cleanse the soul and make the bad times a little better.

We did share many tears and laughter and will continue to do so as we recall family stories and find items in Shirley’s house that spark memories.

On a lighter side, our Ohio family also kept a constant supply of fruits and salads on hand, something Fred and I need to be more cognizant of in our daily dietary lives. However, with several left-over heads of lettuce and accompanying fixings, there’s a possibility that Fred and I may shortly turn into rabbits.

Our Ohio family also had the privilege of witnessing the ice making its rather rapid departure from the portion of Lake Vermilion we live on. When all had arrived, the lake was somewhat chewed up in front of our place, but much of it was still iced in.

We had the sauna lit, and the brave among us (neither Fred or I up to that challenge) took a plunge in the lake. Re- freshing, cleansing, healing—all the things a sauna experience can provide.

In keeping with the roller coaster week we experienced, the weather turned from winter to summer within a matter of a couple of days, and we witnessed the ice melting and floating away while sitting at our picnic table wearing T-shirts and sandals. (Actually, I should say we were wearing flip flops as that seems more applicable to the type of days we were experiencing—yes, pun intended!)

So, in a nutshell, in life we say our “hellos” and “goodbyes.” We can welcome new life, while at the same time mourning the loss of life of a loved one.

We embrace the change of season, late or early as it may be, but always in a splendid fashion, depending on what Mother Nature has in store for us.

Kirsten Reichel lives in Cook with her husband, Fred, dogs Frieda and Tikka. She is in dire need of a good night sleep—having a new puppy in the house is like having a new baby! She can be reached at kirstenr@htfnews.us.

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