A constant worry about my aging, ailing parents was in the center of my focus about 10 years ago. I would travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi to visit and to assist them. I worried about our time together running out. I felt I was too far away and that the nonstop traveling and worrying was exhausting. Besides time and money, I realized there was a need for a balance – something to move my own life forward.
I decided to apply for Lapland University and I was admitted to the Applied Psychology/Leadership Psychology Program. With the support and active contribution from my spouse, we packed our belongings in a moving truck, and oops! – after 25 years in Helsinki I found myself temporarily back in my childhood hometown. In addition to my relationship and my studies, my life was busy with visiting my father in his home, as well as my mother in the hospital. I took a leave from my work to study. Then, suddenly, my father passed away 6 months after we’d moved. My mother continued on in the hospital care – where she has been since 2006.
As precious and valuable as those moments by the hospital bed have been, I have to admit that occasionally I’ve struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I was contemplating the topic of my thesis I felt I needed something particularly positive to focus on. Eureka! Hope it would be. I needed that hope and, incredibly enough, I saw a great deal of it in that hospital.
That spark of hope in someone’s eyes when you’re entering the hospital room is brilliant – ’Someone is coming – to visit me’. It’s been wonderful to fulfill that expectation for my mother, but also heart wrenching to disappoint so many others, who weren’t receiving that comfort of socializing and day-to-day conversation. The demonstrations of affection and care by the spouses and family members would shine especially bright in this plain environment.
I made progress with my Master’s thesis. I had opportunities to interview wonderful superiors and to learn about their methods of establishing a positive and genuinely compassionate work atmosphere. The radiance of their ideas gave me a momentary respite. As the evenings grew darker I sat alone by my computer, trying to combat the guilt of time management and struggling with my determination to graduate. We all have our personal horizon of hope. It is not given that we see it during all of life’s transitions. From time to time I quietly wept in the hospital, holding my mother’s pale hand, feeling sorry for myself. No one will ever visit me in the hospital – me, the poor childless soul. Hopefully at least the staff will keep coming. Occasionally my mother and I shared a laugh about her hilariously vivid and brutally honest remarks. I was reminded that moments of happiness can be achieved each and every day.
As we moved back to southern Finland, I finished my thesis based on Phenomenology and Positive Leadership Psychology. I had done it! I had completed a new degree. I had survived relocating, a sudden passing of a family member, white nights and night shifts. Even my relationship survived.
After graduation I was left craving for a more concrete tool to contribute in the well-being of others. I continued my studies at Valmentamo and became an LCF Life Coach. My focus is on my fellow human beings and on reinforcing the hope in their lives, should they so desire.
I still visit my mother as often as I can. My struggle with feelings of inadequacy and guilt continues. ‘You don’t have to accomplish everything at once’, I try to remind myself. I will do my best, that’s all I can promise.