A year and a half ago, my Mom, Sister, and I traveled to Finland to visit an “old” exchange student and meet his family. I’ll post my reflections in reverse so that you can easily click through and read them in the order in we experienced Finland. Enjoy!
My trip to Finland began at 1:30 on the afternoon of June 17, I had just quit my job and was in an empty state of mind. No stresses to think about, just excitement about the journey ahead.
My flight didn’t leave for a couple of hours so I took time to people watch in the waiting area of Gate 1. I saw families heading to vacation, business people making phone calls and checking emails, students reading textbooks, and a Texas Longhorn fan. I say the latter of that group had a death wish, proclaiming his love for the all things Longhorn in an Arkansas airport, but my boyfriend begged to differ.
In the plethora of personalities that surrounded me, one specifically stood out. An older lady wearing a brown linen tunic and khaki pants was traveling with what I assumed were members of her family. (For most of my trip I think I’ll be with them, I just heard them mention going to London.) This lady was striking. She was talking about all of the traveling she had done, the types of coins she had in bags at home, and a fleeting mention of 200,000 frequent flyer miles. She seemed so full of life that she reminded me of someone. It wasn’t until I was on the plane at our cruising altitude somewhere above Arkansas that I realized who I was being reminded of.
Ottie, my late grandmother (Dad’s side), was one of the dearest souls I knew (and know to this day). Ottie loved to travel. She was in Switzerland in a gondola above the Swiss Alps on the day I was born, had been all across the US with the “Trailblazers” (a group of retirees from my hometown that took twice yearly charter tours), and had taken an Alaskan cruise, among other trips.
She was also an educator, gardener, and inspiring Christian. I often find myself wishing Ottie was still with us, that I could call her and tell her all about my life, my travels, and my hopes. But, in this moment, on this journey, I know she is with me and smiling.