Already as a 2.5-year-old girl I didn´t want or let anybody help me with anything. I wanted to figure it all out by myself no matter how long it took. Mom always recalls this certain day when I was fighting with a thick pair of pantyhose, trying to get them on. She wanted to help me but goes without saying that I didn’t accept help, and I bet it was very funny sight.
When I was about six year old, I was in downtown with dad and this one shop window I saw a pair of baby blue ankle boots that had tassels with different color beads going around them. Oh my god, it was love at first sight! I couldn’t wait to get home to tell mom about that unbelievable find. When I did she listened with a serious face and said: “If you want them go to the bank with dad, withdraw money from your account and go buy them.” And that I did. Money I had saved every time I had cleaned for grandmother. I was so extremely happy when I bought those boots! It gave me such a feeling of self-worth being able to buy stuff without asking for money.
I think I was about 13 when I already was keeping once a week a club for young girls. I also went on my first trip abroad to Italy with my aunt at the age of 13. During that trip, I learned to be more independent; to trust myself and not to rely on anyone. Even my hobby “dancing” helped me to be more independent. Especially ballet that is no team sport, you cannot rely on anyone, to cover your mistakes or shortcomings.
I started working at the age of 15, in the summer full time and during school period I would work part time, in a weekend and some days after school. All that was because I hated asking for money. I wanted to be able to do all by myself.
Modeling taught me to become even more independent. Strange countries, strange cultures, strange languages and no mom! I had to do all on my own, cook, wash clothes, solve my problems and find my way around. Everyday life of a model isn’t as grand and glamorous as what people think. Days are filled with castings what you have to find yourself alone by foot, by public transportation or drive yourself. In any way, you are always alone so without confidence and independence you just don’t last long.
It is now that I am older I realize that still always being so independent; I still depended on my family and social structure to be able to be myself back then.
After the stroke, it was back to start again. I was like a baby and had no independence whatsoever. To imagine the only basic thing that I can do on my own is to breath. I depend on assistants for everything else, to drink, to eat, for all necessities.
I still remember how independent I felt this time that I took a taxi home all by myself after the movie (first time after stroke) my god I felt SO independent again. Funny when you think about it.
In June 2006, I moved alone with my assistant to the other side of the world, to the Caribbean. Now that I can call something independent what the old Kati would have done. That time in Aruba sure was one big independency school! After that suddenly coming back to Finland, back to parent’s house, without any privacy or independence. I felt like I don’t belong. I felt like a guest visiting.
It was spring 2010 when I decided to make a stop in the Netherlands to meet Henning on my trip to U.S.A. It was pretty crazy thing to do. Thank god I did! With him, I felt very independent again and still do.
Now in our house, just the 3 of us Happy (our dog), Henning and I. Running the household, cooking and gardening (all by giving commands though since I´m paralyzed from the neck down).
You could say that nowadays I totally depend on other people. It is not completely true. I can decide for myself how to live my life, how to enjoy it and how to share it.
What are independence and freedom really; they are a balancing act just like everything else in life. You cannot have them without giving them back. You cannot have your right to be independent and to have freedom of choice without being responsible and respect the right of everyone else to be independent and have the freedom of choice.
If you consider that Kati is paralyzed, you might think that she depends on me completely. But that is not all true. Even though, Kati is depended on many different ways on me so she can be herself. I am just as much depended on her, without her being how she is; I could not be myself.
I am truly blessed to be sharing this life of mine with her.