That deaf rapper? Eeva Pekkola knew about Marko Vuoriheimo only in advance. Today, a lawyer and a musician known as Signmark form a family, and deafness is a small thing among others.
Marko Vuoriheimoa excited. The sign language rapper was going to meet his fresh cohabitant for the first time Eeva Pekkolan older but usually confident man was now sitting in the car in front of Eve’s childhood home more silent than usual.
What if Eve’s parents didn’t like her? What if the parents didn’t want the daughter to be with the deaf or could have deaf grandchildren?
– I was in love and thought that here I have a great person now! What if I lose him because my parents don’t accept me because of my deafness?
All his life, Marko had heard stories from his deaf friends about meetings with his girlfriend’s parents. There had been receptions at every departure.
However, Marko’s fear proved futile. He was received with open arms by his in-laws, as was the daughter of Marko’s previous relationship Celinan, who was four years old at the time. It is now more than seven years since the first meeting of the in-laws, and Marko and Eeva have started a family.
For Mark, 42, breaking prejudices has been a life-threatening task. As the world’s first sign language rapper, Signmark, he has been demanding equal services for the deaf and has been fighting for more than a decade against the doubt that the deaf can be a credible musician.
He has had relationships with the deaf as well as the hearing since he was young.
Marko’s spouse, Eeva Pekkola, is a 33-year-old lawyer. He was interested in Marko’s attitude to life from the beginning.
– Markossa was fascinated by his positivity and ability to cope with adversity. Instead of threats and fears, he sees opportunities. By itself, I have only processed mass of matter, Marko has already turned the gaze forward, Eve says.
Meeting in the theater
In the spring of 2013, Eeva had just returned from a legal student exchange from New York to Finland when a family friend asked her to go to the theater. The same party would include Marko Vuoriheimo, whose name Eeva recognized. That deaf rapper? It later became clear to him that in addition to his career as a musician, Marko had also worked as a sign language lecturer at the university of applied sciences for years and was currently founding a new company.
– The theater performance was already the next day, so I didn’t have time to find out about Marko or form any preview. I’m curious nature, and I think it is nice to meet new people. Marko’s deafness was just one thing to me among others. Communication between us was natural from the beginning.
Contrary to general prejudice, Marko is able to hear and respond by speaking with a hearing aid. He is bilingual, ie communicates and works in both Finnish and sign language.
– I was impressed by Eve’s genuine interest in other people. Eve asked me, wanted to know about deafness, but also about my life anyway. After the evening, I realized that again I didn’t know anything about him yet. We started messaging and later we went to eat two of us.
Marko had divorced his daughter’s mother just over a year earlier and was excited about how Eve, as a 25-year-old student, would receive information about the child. That worry, too, proved futile.
– I was impressed by how good and caring father Marko was, Eeva says.
– At that stage, I was not sure whether I would settle in Finland or somewhere else after returning from abroad. After Marko came into the picture, after graduation, I started working here.
The close circle was curious about the fresh couple. Eve patiently explained to each questioner that the only difference when meeting the deaf was that video calls were made instead of voice calls.
When living together, deafness is mainly seen in some everyday situations.
– Sometimes I have come into the home and wondered who we are in the shower. Marko may accidentally leave showers or taps on. Or he may shout at me coming upstairs, but when I shout, no one is visible or heard, Eve thinks.
– But on the other hand, you can communicate and negotiate in the store from a long distance or even through the glass. Or command the children, Marko grins.
Before meeting Mark, Eve had only one touch with sign language. At the age of 9, he had, on a whim, grabbed a library sign language guide. With Marko, he learned the signs little by little in everyday life.
– I took a sign language course after we had been together for a year. After that, I learned the signs while talking to Mark.
Mark and Eve have two children in common, Amalia, 4, and five months old Alvar. Marko has always emphasized that it is exactly the same for him whether a child is deaf or hearing.
After Amalia was born, the midwife performed a hearing test on the baby. Marko ventilated when the baby did not react to the sounds during the tests. The midwife, on the other hand, stated that there was nothing to worry about; it is very common for a newborn not yet to respond to a hearing test.
The nurse’s comment made Marko irritated.
– Such comments create anxiety and fear for parents of deaf children. Why can’t you say hello good luck, you gave birth to a bilingual child who gets into two languages and cultures!
Eve was not nervous about the hearing tests either. It later turned out that the baby was hearing normally.
Marko thinks that if only more was known about deafness, it could be seen as wealth.
Many hearing people also unknowingly carry a gene that causes deafness. Amalia and Alvar are audible but bilingual, meaning that when the firstborn was born, it became clear that Eve did not have that latent gene.
Marko communicates with his children mainly by sign. Eve gestures and speaks at the same time.
– We don’t listen to music at home terribly. Anyway, there is enough noise from this group, Eeva laughs and grabs Marko to feed Alvar.
A burning desire for the world
Marko has grown up as a child of deaf parents, and his little brother is also deaf. Even in the youth of the brothers ’parents, relationships between the deaf and the hearing were less frequent.
Markok, too, was amazed in the late ’90s when he said he was meeting a hearing girl.
– Parents and guys were that huh, why hear? For themselves, everyone has always been just people, not deaf or hearing.
Many of the regulations on sign language and the rights of the deaf are relatively new in Finnish history. Even at the time of Marko’s parents, using sign language could be made at school with a stick. Marko’s parents got used to relying a lot on their own, hearing parents all their lives.
– Now that there are no more grandparents, it has been difficult for parents to trust anyone. They never learned the Finnish language properly, and that too has increased uncertainty. In recent years, they have begun to turn to Eve on many matters. It has felt great.
Marko emphasizes that he has had a good childhood. Holidays and weekends the family spent at the cottage, it felt safer for the parents.
Growing up, Marko had a burning desire to see the world. For the past ten years, he has also traveled for his job as Special Representative of the State Department for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As a signmark, he has conducted gigs for a wide variety of audiences: tens of thousands of people in St. Petersburg and Ethiopia, a few students at a school for the deaf in Mozambique, or a large hall at a UN summit. In addition, Marko runs two companies, one related to the music business and the other providing sign language interpretation services.
Marko also feels it is important to show his own children a world, the existence of which he himself had no knowledge of as a child.
– It is important for Marko that we do things as a family. He’s already packing his fins while I’m still wondering where we’re going. Yes, we are both curious to see and experience, and we always have a project going on, Eeva says.
Marko values closeness to the earth in Eeva.
– Eve makes my feet land on the ground. When there’s a lot going on, sometimes you get tired of going to it yourself. I’ve always been a bit of a restless soul, and Eve calmness and intelligence and interpersonal skills have done me good.
All his life, Marko has been used to clarifying what deafness is all about. Later, it has also been part of his work identity. Raising people’s awareness has seemed important.
Eve, on the other hand, doesn’t even remember to mention her wife’s deafness anymore.
– It’s not a factor that determines Marko in any way. There are so many other aspects to Marko that deafness is out of the question.
At times, however, a lack of knowledge and preconceived notions about deafness can make both tired in the middle of everyday life. Sometimes it is difficult for the officials to understand why Marko should have an interpreter with him, Eeva can gesture and Marko hears a lot.
– It is not always understood that a sign language needs an interpreter if things are more complicated. For example, banking matters or children’s matters, which I want to know exactly, are clearer when an interpreter is involved.
Eeva has noticed that it is in children’s matters that many people contact her, even if Marko has initiated the matter.
– Then I just kindly urge you to continue doing business with Marko.
Recently, the couple has spent more time at home than during their entire relationship. Although Marko has also enjoyed time with his family, little by little he has started to miss the road again.
– Eve has never said whether the sun has to go. That is something I greatly appreciate.
– When Korona started, Marko just said that okay great, now I can be at home with my family! Another example of how Marko sees the world. Through opportunities.
A 42-year-old sign language artist, Foreign Ministry special envoy and entrepreneur.
Released three albums under the artist name Signmark.
The Helsinki single was released in January.
A 33-year-old real estate lawyer.
The family lives in Helsinki with three children.
Source site www.is.fi