Musician Sakari Kuosmanen grew up without a father and this had an impact on him. Kuosmanen addresses a painful subject in his recent biography.
Today, independent parenting is a point of pride, but in the 50s, having a child out of wedlock was a matter of great shame. Sakari Kuosmanen, 67, knows this, having spoken about his experience of fatherlessness in the recently published biography Sakari Kuosmanen – Ihana Elama (Ottawa). Tommy Saarela wrote the piece which touches on the pain points of a musician’s life.
In the book, Kuosmanen explains how his life began on 6 September 1956 in Helsinki. His mother Anja had met nine months earlier a young man who, despite temptation, wanted nothing to do with the new life. The mother tried to stay in touch with the child until he was born, but after that she gave up trying.
Anja from Kuopio went to Helsinki to study to become a nurse, but due to an unwanted pregnancy she had to leave her studies.
– The meeting of my mother and biological father was a coincidence. I’m a damage shot. First, the mother certainly had the desire to try to commit to the young man who had impregnated her. If not otherwise, it was because having a child out of wedlock was a matter of shame in the 1950s. But the man was on his way to death, so my mother sent me out into the world and returned to Kuopio with a scroll under her arm. Alone, Kuosmanen says in the book.
Soon, a father figure of sorts enters little Sakar’s life, mother’s new partner and father to her future half-brother.
– I am very much the son of women – Anja’s mother, Rauha’s grandmother and my aunts Ira and Tulik – were raised. I grew up without a father. However, my stepfather was almost like a father to me, warm and loving, says Kuosmanen.
Although things were not discussed directly, Kuosmas learned early on that the man living under the same roof was not his biological father. The matter came to light when the elders were arguing.
– I was at a rough age, a troubled teenager, when my mother and father had a very bad time. Mother wanted to hold the neck of father. “He threatened to reveal who my real father was and pulled me into a mysterious situation,” the book says.
At the time, young Sakari did not want to hear his mother’s revelation, and also wanted to protect his stepfather from the information. Only later did he realize how heavy the burden of the secret was on his mother.
– I was too young to understand that my mother sincerely hoped that the matter would eventually be discussed.
In that era of the world, there was an illegitimate child, a vagabond, a freak of nature that set the bells of language ringing. The easiest way to silence the rumors was with a white lie, which Kuosmanen’s mother also resorted to.
According to the book, a story held true for decades in the Kuosmasten family was that Sakaar’s father was someone else, whom many people knew.
– My mother came forward a long time ago to blurt out a false name, and such a small lie can develop into a long and pervasive drama that ripples beneath everything she does and does for decades.
– That man himself thought that he was my biological father. It became a delicate matter, but the family accepted or at least tolerated it, because they felt they now knew the truth, Kuosmanen says in the book.
The truth about the father’s true identity came to light only twenty years ago, when Kuosmanen’s stepfather fell asleep. This was the moment when mother finally felt the need to tell the truth.
After that, Kuosmanen’s own daughter had her DNA tested, which showed that her mother had told the truth. Five years ago, Kuosmanen grabbed himself by the neck and called his father for the first time.
However, the spark of hope was soon extinguished, as the man refused to admit the whole thing. Kuosmanen once again contacted the father, but the man remained adamant.
– When the man repeatedly refused, we started searching for his descendants, i.e. my so-called close relatives. At first he asked not to pursue the matter further. I didn’t panic. But time passed and I began to calculate that soon everyone involved would be dead and it would be too late to try to figure anything out, the book says.
Ultimately, Kuosmanen was able to contact his new half-brother, who also helped the father get a DNA test. The test results confirmed a belief that had been held for years.
– 30 December 2022 was a historic day. Then a secret hidden for more than 65 years was revealed.
When Kuosmanen spoke to his father for the third time, the sound of the clock had changed. The man acknowledged his paternity and the father’s wife immediately welcomed Sakaar into the family.
– I understand that sometimes it feels like you can’t tell the truth. But now that the matter has finally been resolved, I believe everyone is relieved, Kuosmanen says in the book.
Kuosmanen believes that fatherlessness has fundamentally affected him with all its stages. The fact that he was raised largely by women may also have had an impact on his musical production.
– Many people have asked why I sing emotional songs and why my characters in films are so sad. I haven’t been able to answer, but I think that’s why.
Kuosmanen says he is at peace with his past, but is now more aware than ever that he has been haunted by secrets related to his father throughout his life.
– But I’m not bitter. Life is a gift, not a burden. I am happy that my parents met and I got life. You have to remember to be grateful for life, Kuosmanen says in the book.
Read more: Sakari Kuosmanen turns 60 – see photos from past years: “Family is more important than career”