Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Serendipity strikes again

In the idyllic summer of 1980, I was an AFS exchange student to Finland with the Pitkanen family. Outi is my one year younger Finnish sister. I absolutely adore the family and the Finnish culture and landscape they introduced to me.
At the time, Outi and I talked about how the Finnish landscape was perhaps not so different from Lithuania where my family was from.
It turns out this is very much the case and I have been reminded by the landscape, food, and architecture every day that I am geographically near to Outi but was stupid to neglect to make plans to visit her.
Thanks to Facebook, Outi realized I was in Lithuania and sent me the gift of an invisible thread that connects Vilnius holocaust museum to a lovely girl named Heli I met in Orimattila, Finland in 1980.
That lovely girl grown up is now living in Austria and is the mother of a lovely son who is doing his army service as Holocaust education service...she is Sebastian's mother.....Just a coincidence but I am very happy to be connected to the young man who gave us such an eloquent and thoughtful welcome at the green house of the Vilna holocaust museum.
See post on the green house.


  1. Dear Bobbie,
    I'm so delighted to hear you met my son in Vilna! As I visited the city together with Outi and Minnami a couple of months ago we were talking about you and I was wondering if you ever had been there. I was aware that your family originates from Lithuania and we even told Sebastian about that as he guided us through the museum.
    I'd wish you could extend your journey with a couple of days visit to Vienna. Please make sure to contact me when you come to Europe next time! I would be very happy to host you and show you another beautiful country!
    Your blog is very intresting. Thank you for sharing all your experiences.
    Wishing you a good trip and a wonderful summer!
    Warm regards, Heli

  2. Heli,
    many thanks. I treasure your message. Vice Versa for you in the US. be in touch if you or Sebastian has any interest in pursuing interests there.
    Proud to be your new Facebook friend, Bobbie

  3. Sharonsilber8@gmail.comJune 26, 2014 at 4:00 AM

    What a wonderful surprise that the delightful young man you met was your old friend's son! You know, Bobbi, of course, that Dad's father (who never actually raised him) was from Vienna. Sharon

  4. ... so one more reason to plan a visit to Vienna! ;-) Heli

  5. As Heli wrote when we were visiting Vilna - Bobbi you were in our thoughts. many hugs to Bobbi, Heli and Sharon! Outi

  6. There was a little bit of Finland in the Novotel in Vilnius yesterday. So much fun to tell Sebastian of my Orimattila happy memories from when I was exactly his age. My hope is that the visits continue in many places for all of us. I am waiting for Sebastian next summer, and others in the group offered beds as well! It gives one hope for the future to meet a bright light like Sebastian, we can't help but want to enjoy the glow. Proud to know him and Finland. Xox