On the walk down the memory lane, it is easy to realize how your life is made of small moments. It is also changed by small moments. All that what you are is result of the choices of your ancestors, and that what you are is the result of the small moments in their lives.
This my family home. Or well, our home farm. They house where I grew up is just being built, and when I was in the existence, the old house was already taken down. My great grandparents bought the land when they thought it was a good place to farm and have a family and built the house. They farmed the land and bought some forest around, life was not extremely easy but I tend to believe they were basically happy – I am told my great grandfather had a good humour and lots of healthy wit. My great grandparents had many children – I can count to 8 for what I remember. One of their daughters died as a small child, though, she became sick and back in the days there was no such health care as now. The picture below is my great granparents and their four youngest kids. I belive the picture is taken in 1928, that is when my grandfather was born and he is the baby in the picture.
In the old days, it was common that the oldest son became the next master of the house. This didn’t happen in my family. The fact is that I am the grandchild to the youngest son of my great grandparents, and child of his youngest daughter, who took over the farm.
Here below is their oldest son (on left) with a friend:
This was because of the small and bigger changes in life, connected with the history of Europe.
In the year 1939, Finland and her sons and daughers had to fight. It was in November that year when the Winter War started. My grandfather was way too young to go to war but his three brothers weren’t. His sisters also went to serve as Lotta Svärd -sisters, as did many other women in our village and town. This was a fight over our future – fight for the future generations, our nation and our self-preservation.
The youngest of the three brothers (in the family pic he is standing on right) who went in war was very smart and still very young, so he was given other kinds of tasks to do in Helsinki, away from the front lines. That saved him. The other two, they died in the war. Including the oldest son of the family (in the middle on second row). Like in so many others families, many of the sons, brothers and fathers were lost and grieved. The siblings had admired their eldest brother a lot – he was smart, strong, handsome and manly – a light in the family.
So after losing two brothers in war, my grandfather grew up in our home farm, and took over the farm when his parents were getting older. His brother who survived the war became an engineer and he moved away for work. When my grandfather was a young man, he went to work as a farm worker to a farm in the village. The master of the house (below, with his wife and my other great grandmother) had died some years before so there was a need for industrious help – which my grandfather indeed has always been. My grandfather got to know the daughter of the farm, and some years later they married each other and raised a family at my home farm.
My grandparents had three children. The oldest son, apparently never was really interested in farming. Whilst my grandfather went to eat grain sitting under a horse’s belly when he was a small child and thus got the spirit of horsemanship and farming in the early years, his son (my uncle) made a mistake by going to tease a foal. The angry Mama Horse snatched him on his neck with her horseteeth and dragged him around the field. My uncle was very smart, though, and he even skipped school grades in his youth because he learned how to read and do the math much before his peers. For some reason, perhaps as a result of an argument when he was a young man, he decided to go to the Soviet Union to study, and he became an engineer.
So the oldest son did not become a farmer. The next oldest of the siblings, my aunt, she didn’t become a farmer either. She went into the academia and became a PhD in linguistics.My mom, who was the youngest of them stayed at the farm and took over after my grandparents became older. Thanks to EU politics and the economic depression in the 90s, though, almost all the small farms in Finland went down. My mom sold the animals and put the fields on rent so the bigger farms that survived those years could get fodder for their animals. Our family became a typical reflection of the 90s: facing the structural change of the dying countryside, struggling with the economical problems and ending up with divorced parents – the break up of the family structure that contributes to the continuity and stabile happiness and togetherness.
My home farm is now raising up the 5th generation of my family. This time the one who took over was the oldest son. I live far away from there now but I have many great memories. That piece of land symbolizes continuity to me, it symbolizes my roots. It is where I come from, where my family comes from – and the roots are connected to your identity. This is one reason why I despise my current situation living in the city in a rental apartment, I despise being disconnected from the land.
Being rootless is like being in perdition. Being rootless means your being is not connected in time, it is not connected to the past and it is not connected to the future.