“Cat’s In The Cradle”

The jet touched down at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport exactly on time, and already I felt an air of calm come over me. Mom had nudged me numerous times throughout the flight as she could not believe how quiet the toddler was seated next to us. I told her they were Finnish people, culturally quiet and private people, so naturally the babies were silent too. Having grown up in a loud Italian-American Family in Philly, I could see why she was perplexed. Mikko was waiting anxiously for us at International arrivals and soon we were on our way to the hotel! This was my first trip to Finland with Mom, although I had been there many times. It had become a home away from home for me and I was thrilled to finally share all this beauty and tranquility with her. The late summer sun still shined late until nearly 10pm and we took full advantage seeing all the sites and enjoying a lovely lunch outdoors at Esplanadi, a quaint urban park just minutes from Helsinki harbor. Mom did have her moments of confusion. One time, we grabbed a bite at the “Chico’s All American Diner” in the City Centre and Mom took one look at her order and said, “that’s not a burger!” Perhaps she was looking for oversized American portions? Bigger is better 😉 Our trip to the countryside stands as the high point of our time together. As we exited the bus, the smell of birch and cedar trees engulfed invaded our noses. A Renault sedan appeared on the horizon and puttered to a stop. Mikko’s Dad cordially opened the door for Mom, bowing courteously as they greeted each other. My mind made a mental picture of this and my eyes welled up as I never believed they would meet.
That’s also the trip Mom and I were able to take a four day excursion to Arpino, Italy, where we stayed with cousins and practiced our broken Italian. One night late, Mom and I were chatting near our adjacent bedrooms. She confided her cancer diagnosis to me and I wept. I never felt as close to her as I did then. I knew then why this trip was meant to happen.