I am sorry to say that my step-grandfather, Veikko, passed away on Saturday, August 30th, 2014. Even though he was technically my step-grandfather, he had always been around since I can remember and in my eyes he was my grandfather as much as my other grandfather, Pentti. Personally this is very hard for me because he was someone we visited regularly and with very fond memories of. Some of my earliest memories are of being back in Finland on the farm just southeast of Lahti in a small place called Hollala.
My brother and I would do all sorts of things from playing in the fields to taking the rowboat onto the large pond in front of the house. We always loved riding on the tractor and I remember when he let me take the wheel a few times. He taught us quite a bit about farming and planting flowers and vegetables to milking the cows and getting eggs from the chickens. We always looked forward to the days when he wanted to go fishing, we would load up the rowboat and go to one of the many lakes in Finland. We would tend to use worms he pulled from the garden and we get a good haul of fish. He taught us how to clean the fish, and it was always interesting to watch because in just a few motions the fish would be clean and he would toss the guts onto the ground for the chickens to feed.
If we weren’t helping him on the farm we would be playing with Legos in the front yard or on the dirt road. He also took us to the soccer field down the street and would kick the ball with us which we always enjoyed. We had a lot of fun on the farm playing and exploring around the forest. There was this one hill which had a small landslide where we would play and dig into the side of it pretending to uncover treasure and bones. It was a great place to spend a long summer at and I personally miss everything about it dearly.
One of the biggest regrets I am having is not being fluent enough in Finnish so I could have a full conversation with him. The last time I was on the farm was in 2005, I was 18 and pretty upset actually because a close friend of mine had passed away and I was unable to be stateside for the funeral. I stayed in the room a lot and played on the computer instead of going outside much. As I look back I wish I cherished that moment because it was the last time I saw my grandfathers both of whom have passed away, my grandmother and the farm.
One day I would like to go back and own the farm since it was such an important place in my childhood. Working full time and playing off debt does interfere with that dream but doesn’t prevent it. I will always remember my grandfather and want to make sure my future children have the similar experiences and memories.