I visited my aunt today. With my mother’s passing, my aunt is the last of the five siblings in her family (five children – three sons and two daughters). But out of those three uncles I should have had, I only ever got to know one, and even he died when I was still a kid and I barely remember him. I’ve always known that one of the brothers died young (four years of age) and another died in the war, but since my mother was much younger than her siblings, she didn’t remember these lost brothers and thus never spoke about them. In fact, I didn’t even know their names.
But now at my aunt’s… she showed me an article that had appeared in a local newspaper, they had interviewed her on the Commemoration Day of Fallen Soldiers and she talked about this brother that had died in the Continuation War in 1942. As I was reading the article, it hit me – he was my uncle! Like I said, mother never talked about him so I never needed to reflect on the family tie. My aunt then pulled out some old pictures and said that I actually look a lot like this fallen soldier, Viljo. When I saw a portrait of him, I was almost shocked – he could easily be my twin brother! All the women on my mother’s side have very similar cheekbones so it’s easy to see we’re related. But nobody has a mouth like mine, until now that I saw Viljo’s picture. It was eerie… it was so obvious that we’re related that I felt like I had lost something because I never even got to meet him.
Finland’s Independence Day is on Saturday. I am so incredibly proud knowing that my uncle was one of those brave men who defended that independence!
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About the first picture. My aunt couldn’t give the old photo to me (it’s the only copy) so I took a picture of it, Viljo sitting in the rocking chair with my mother (!) in his lap.