Sisu to you!

I will know this week if the date is confirmed, but we have a tentative date for the transplant:  March 16th.  Which means, I may be giving my sister a kidney on St. Urho’s Day, a day marked with fun and revelry everywhere!

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OK, maybe not everywhere. 

But small towns with Finnish Americans in Minnesota are gearing up.  I found this video online and it appears that it was shot in Managha, MN.  It’s so cheesy, it’s great.  Disclaimer–I don’t love beer, nor do I endorse strapping a chair to skis.

If you’re curious, a re-cap of last year’s events in Northfield, MN also includes the background on what many admit is a shameless ripoff of St. Patrick’s Day (note the date for old “Urho’s” party). 
The ‘legend’ dates to ancient times when Urho saved the grape crop in Finland by driving out grasshoppers with an incantation sending them to Hades, thus saving…the wine!  I admit it’s a bit of an in-joke for Finns, but the 1950’s vintage gag seems to have some staying power, and I’m happy to think about doing something special on the closest thing we have to a Finnish-American day.

My Finnish bona fides are all by marriage.  But when people hear my name, Ketola, they often assume otherwise (btw—no relation to the department store in Virginia, MN).  My husband’s family is Finnish-American, and he embodies the Finnish spirit of Sisu, best summed up in the words “determination, vigor, stamina, guts.”  He awakes at 4:25 am, 6 mornings a week to run 3 miles, weather notwithstanding.  This routine pre-dates our almost-16 year marriage and I have no doubt he will continue as long as his legs allow.  One of my favorite newspaper stories ever is from Bill Thomas, a Washington Post 
writer who went Helsinki and back in search of Sisu

Unlike my husband, I have no Sisu when it comes to physical bravery.  I once climbed back down a waterslide ladder after helping our girls get to the top of the five-story height.  I have joined him on the run some mornings (and slept in many more).  One recent morning the temp was well below zero.  A stinging blast of freeze-on-contact wind slapped us in the eyelids—the only flesh not encased in three or more layers against the outrageous cold.  I flinched and turned my face to the ground.  Bruce straightened his spine and cried, “I’m alive!” 

He has a strong spiritual backbone too, strengthened by his daily devotion to Scripture and prayer.  I’m glad he’ll be traveling with me to Dallas for the surgery.  He’s been completely supportive of my giving a kidney to help my sister.  He travelled to Baltimore with me for testing a few years ago.  The psych team there told us that not all spouses agree to support the decision to donate a kidney.  Family feuds can be stirred, it seems, as people hold out blame and resentment for situations which may or may not be related to their loved ones’ need for a kidney.  I am so grateful that we have not faced any of those challenges.  And that my sweetheart will be there to pray for us…and bringing his Sisu with him!

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