Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More to love

Yesterday was a busy and an emotional day. We started with some sightseeing late in the afternoon. We went to the Russian Cathedral, the national library, the Helsinki Cathedral, the railway station, a bit of shopping, then the rock church.

After we met up with Rita and one of her daughters and we went to a old restaurant with traditional food. We were joined by many other relatives - twelve or thirteen in total- for a meal and good wine. I had asparagus and smoked salmon and new potatoes.

There was lively talk around the table as I met my second cousins and their children, some in school, some in business, all animated and interesting and funny. We compared ourselves, looking for similarities. One of the women looks a lot like a picture we have of my grandmother when she was 15 or 16. After the meal we all walked to my grandmother youngest half-sister's apartment in Helsinki. She is 83, very lively and warm. She reminded me almost instantly of my grandmother, especially the eyes.

She played the piano for us - she plays by ear. Old songs, war songs, popular songs, at one point we were all singing along to Elvis. I was overwhelmed emotionally, to be sitting there with so many wonderful, talented women, all related to me, all coming together to see me. I've never felt so special and so undeserving of such an honour, it was truly remarkable and humbling.

I cried several times during the evening, and laughed, and sang, and shared stories about my grandmother. On the way home I tried to explain to Richard in a text what the evening had been to me and I couldn't come close in words. It was just so much to take in, unreal and overwhelming and marvelous. I slept soundly and woke up this morning to sunshine on the water and birds singing - the first sunny day I've had in Finland.
Today, my grandmother's other half-sister, Meri, came for a visit with her husband, Esko. Joining us for lunch were two more of my mother's cousins, Vaikho and Torsti. We had a good lunch and tried to unravel some of the mysteries of my grandmother's family. There are so many stories that it's hard to tell what is true. Maybe some day we will be closer to figuring out all the real history.

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