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Behind the Crooked Smile: My Dad & Granddad Are My Heroes

For Father’s Day this year, we asked you to send in photos of father-child look-alike pairs in your family. The response was absolutely overwhelming! We received so many beautiful photos and fascinating stories. One of them comes to us from Mervi Rahikainen, who shared the photos and stories of her father and grandfather — who were both heroes in their own way.

Do you also have a story to share with us about discoveries you’ve made through MyHeritage? Click here to tell us about it!

This is her story:

I noticed a resemblance of my dad and his father a few years ago, in these photos of them.

Mervi’s grandfather, Evert Eteläpää (left), and his son, Mervi’s father, Tenho Eteläpää (right)

Mervi’s grandfather, Evert Eteläpää (left), and his son, Mervi’s father, Tenho Eteläpää (right)

They seem to be with their eyes closed, but are both actually looking down at their children. Grandad Evert Eteläpää (left) is looking at his son, my dad. And my dad Tenho Eteläpää (right) is looking at me.

The story of the crooked smile, that we all have inherited, and granddad’s history — is worth telling.

Everyone probably knows by now about the winter war in Finland 1939–1940, as the Ukrainian President has compared the current war in Ukraine to that conflict.

Grandad fought then. During the short peacetime between what we called “the winter war” and “the continuation war,” he was training to be a long-range soldier. He disappeared to some camps, never telling anyone where he went. He and his family lived near the Russian border — where our summer cottage still is — and he was selected for this job. I don’t know if he “visited” the Russians during peacetime. All his documents and the documents of his colleagues mysteriously disappeared.All we know is that my grandmother wondered where he got all that money. He received large payments from the army. And when he died, far away from the current border, it took two weeks for the Finnish army to reach him and the two other men from the patrol who survived. The Russians interrogated my grandad, smashed his face with the rifle, and when he told them nothing, they killed him. One of the survivors told everything to my dad when he was old enough. It was a big secret then.

Mervi’s grandfather

Mervi’s grandfather

Lately, I found our ancestors through Geni and MyHeritage. My great-grandfather used to be a horse trainer and caretaker in the Russian Emperor’s court in St. Petersburg. True story. He worked there before his marriage, and after they had two children. But then there was the war, and Finland achieved independence from Russia. 

The picture of my grandad was taken before the war. Granddad bought some land, and even then, a very old log house. He married at a relatively advanced age and had three kids including one son: my dad. The photos and the land are all we have left of him. I like this photo, because he is smiling down at his child… just like my dad did. The best dad ever.

My dad had a very long career working as a carpenter and a supervisor in different institutions. He had many other skills also. He worked in a home for juvenile delinquent girls, and I was born there in the employee housing. Then he worked in the mental hospital, where he was the supervisor. We lived near there, too. He was liked by the patients and the staff, and by that point he had become quite well-known in our town.

Then, he was asked to work in the local prison by the warden. There all the men worked together. He was very well-liked and a very good carpenter. I still receive birthday cards, painted on plywood, from nice prisoners. And yes, we lived very close to the prison, the other side of the street. In the middle of our town. It was a lovely place. All the families knew each other. Finland was definitely different then… safe, free, self-sufficient, good schools, healthcare… a great place for kids to grow up.

Dad was granted a First Class Medal of the White Rose of Finland by the President. The first medal ever granted to a prison employee in this country ever, for doing good for this country and for other people. But the decision to award the medal to him of course took into account the entirety of my father’s career and his achievements, including his work in the army, in youth homes with troubled teens, and as a counselor of woodworking activities for the patients of the mental hospital and then at the prison. He made a great team with the prisoners. All of them worked together: my dad taught them, designed projects, and did paperwork and other jobs other people couldn’t do. He was popular everywhere, even amongst the prisoners, so that must have been a reason why he got the medal.

He’s a professional housebuilder, painter, master carpenter, and so on. We never had to buy any furniture or instruments — he made them all, and of the best quality.

He is very sick now. He’s doing OK, he has no pain, but I know that there is not much time left. That is why I’m sharing this with you. The short version of the story of two kind, great, and loving dads, who look alike. Bright blue, kind eyes, one with darker hair and one more blond.

Mervi with her father

Mervi with her father

Both are heroes to me, and to all the people they have helped with their work and actions.

Many thanks to Mervi for sharing with us about her grandfather and her father. Do you also have a story to share with us? Please send it to us via this form or email it to us:

The post Behind the Crooked Smile: My Dad & Granddad Are My Heroes appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Source: My Heritage

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