Pirkko’s introduction to her American cousins:
I was bourn in 1952 at home in the Big House that my Mum Tuovi and Dad Aarne shared with Grandfather Matti Vihtori and Grandmother Aini Liisa or Liisa as she was called. I was the fifth child and was supposed to be a boy in order to carry on farming after Dad. I do have a brother Jorma, second of the children, but he was bourn with a club foot, and despite a number of operations, left his leg a bit shorter, so heavy manual work was out of the question for him.
When I was 6 months old, we moved into a smaller house that Dad and Mum had built a short distance from the Big House. The house was named Astala after my eldest sister Asta. Childhood was busy as we all had to help on the farm; gathering hay in the summer, harvest in august and then digging up the potatoes in September. Between times there was always something to do; fetch water or in the winter time hay from the barns. Also, in summer we had to take the cows to the field that is some distance away and meant having to take the cows through a wood to Lapioneva (Spade Marsh) which lies between our farm and Lahteenmaki farm. The cows had to go on the road near the fields, but in those days there were not so many cars, so it was manageable. One couldn’t do it today. In addition to cows, we also had a horse called Maatuska and she was our tractor’ to the end of her life.
I went to a village primary school for four years, and then moved to a secondary school in Kurikka. Mum wanted at least one child to learn English, and I was the one to be sent to a different school. I am glad that Mum made this choice and I guess that being able to speak English has allowed me to make certain choices as to where I was going to live. I matriculated (baccalaureate) from Kurikka sixth form and went to study in Vaasa.
I had already met my husband in 1970 when spending a summer in London looking after my eldest sister Asta’s son Petja, who was 18 months old at the time. Asta’s first husband (he came from San Francisco) was studying in London to become a teacher. Chaw Tang or CT as he is called, arrived from Malaysia in the UK in 1969 to study accountancy. We became friends and he showed me London during that summer. CT then asked if he could come to spend Christmas in Finland and of course he could and almost froze to death. But, he loved the snow and the moon and starlit nights when one could walk outside in the snow without a torch. Tobogganing was great, but he couldn’t quite master skiing. I think he got the Finland bug and returned the following summer and again and again. Well, we became engaged when I went to study in Vaasa and when I finished my studies, I moved to London and we got married in the Finnish Church in Rotherhite, by the river Thames. Originally the Finnish Church was there to serve sailors and was called the Finnish Seaman’s Mission, but with the increasing number of Finnish people moving to London to work and also to study, the Church became the Finnish Church.
We lived three years in London and when I was expecting our eldest daughter, we moved to Bishop’s Stortford. The choice of location was easy, as I was working for a Finnish company United Paper Mills and the office moved from London to Bishop’s Stortford. I worked for them for 8 years, and then moved to another Finnish company Outokumpu (a mining company). After five years working for them I took a break as our second daughter was born in. I then spent some five years at home, occasionally doing some temp work and returned to full work in 1995. I have now worked for 15 years, 12 of which has been as an administrator and assistant to the director.
CT mainly worked in London for various fashion companies and some 15 years ago joined one of the Government Departments. He took early retirement some 4 years ago after going through a cancer operation. These days he works at home “very hard “ keeping the house and cooking my meals! It is lovely to come home from work and have a meal ready. As I work, some 23 miles away, my workdays are rather long, and depending so much on traffic as I have to drive to work and back.
My eldest daughter went to university in Lancaster (North of England) and met her husband there. They married eight years ago. The wedding was lovely with just a very small party there. They have three children. All the children have a Chinese second name, following in CT’s family tradition.
Our younger daughter is in her third and final year studying music. She intends to do masters, too, next year. I think a big reason for it is that her boy friend is also doing his masters in chemistry, so they should both finish studies at the same time.
CT was bourn in Ipoh, Malaysia. He is the sixth of seven children. We have made a number of trips to Malaysia, as well as Finland over the years. In fact, we hardly had holiday anywhere else, until very recently. We’ve even driven a few times all the way to Finland and back, part of the way on the ferries, of course! Our children have had a chance to spend time in both countries, but they can only speak a little Finnish, no Cantonese! One daughter attended a Finnish Saturday School in St Albans for a couple of years, and it has helped to understand the Finnish grammar. With Love, Pirkko