This is the first post in a series about family relationships that have inspired me to write the memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets West” (c)
Some time ago, I wrote the post “Two sisters still at war” about the friction between my mother Ella and her sister Anna aka Anyna. The derogatory version of the beautiful name refers to the relationship between the two aging sisters. Notice that the word Anyna is missing on the greeting card for Anna’s Day.
Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” kindled my inquisitive mind to further explore relationships and psychology.
Watch as I pick up on the tension between the two sisters. Check out the post at the following link:
Lowell, MI- As I was checking Facebook for messages, I came across a greeting card for Anna from the group Czechoslovak Friends on Facebook. The greeting card wished well to all the girls and women who carry this beautiful name.
Our family celebrated Anna’s day to honor three great women: Grandmother Anna Drabkova of Vizovice, aunt and godmother Anna Chudarkova of Zlin and paternal aunt Anna Tomankova of Otrokovice.
However, not everyone thought they were great. But, time changes everything.
I spent all the summers with grandma Anna and my grandpa Joseph; first at their old dwelling “chalupa” near the river Lutoninka and later at their ranch no.111 on a hill.
Grandma Anna accompanied me to the first grade at the Vizovice Elementary School in mid 1960s. At the time my parents and brother Vas were in Sudan, Africa. Dad Vaclav Konecny was teaching physics & mathematics at the University of Khartoum.
Wallachian town Vizovice was a paradise during formative years for the future writer. My first memory goes back to Vizovice. I remember chasing after our neighbor farmer Vlada for whatever reason, as I fell on the crushed asphalt path leading to the river Lutoninka and the wheat fields.
Krnovska, Vizovice where the street was the playground.
Vizovice, where old meets new.
Main Square Vizovice with Marian Column.
I hurt my knee. A little trickle of blood came out of the scratched skin. I couldn’t get up and I desperately reached out to Vlada.
“Wait for me, wait for me,” I screamed.
Farmer Vlada kept on walking. I finally got up, turned around and ran back to the “chalupa.”
“Babiiiii, babii, I am hurt,” I whined.
“That’s nothing,” said grandpa Joseph without looking up from the sewing machine that he was just repairing.
“Look here,” I cried pointing at my first wound.
Anna bent down to me and patted me on the head and then on my hurt knee.
“Come on little one,” she soothed me.
Grandma Anna was the youngest of seven children. Some of them died prematurely. She was taking care of her two single brothers, farmers Frank and Joseph. The brothers owned the family field called “Hrabina” close to the famous plum brandy plant “Jelinek.”
The field was a fraction of what they used to own prior to the 1948 socialization of private businesses and farms.
Both grandparents spent endless hours working in the fields after work and on weekends. They worked at the local shoe factory Svedrup. Grandpa Joseph as the lead machine maintenance man.
Anna was a seamstress, who also worked at Svedrup until she got a heart attack.
That day, the family forgot to pick me up from kindergarten.
I like this one for the Taurus in me. We’ll see what happens today.
I’ll write about it.
Your interactions with others are so smooth today that you can charm your way into someone’s heart. Luckily, your ability to approach new relationships with both vitality and responsibility enhances your …
Lowell, MI- I have just found out that small things matter, that destiny exists and that life is frail.
Three times in life I had close calls when death was reaching for me with her long arms.
Once, I almost drowned even though I am an apt swimmer, not like Michael Phelps but close. Just joking. I feel lucky when I can swim a 50-meter pool once and not the butterfly style.
The second time I almost got killed in a car driving on a rural route from one small town to another small town in northern Michigan.
The third time I fell down straight on my face due to low blood pressure, heat and dizziness from medication at the height of summer on July 14th.
A one-night stay at the Metro Hospital on M-6 cost us $10,000. My husband Ludek also spent one night at what we call “Hotel 6” with heart problems. That also cost us $10,000.
We came out of there alive unlike our neighbor Ted aka “Teddy Bear” who never made it out of “Hotel 6” after a 2-year struggle with leukemia.
“At least he lived it up,” said my daughter-in-law Maranda Palova.
No matter what you call it whether living it up, bucket list or living your way because you think you’re going to die soon, you can’t escape destiny.
And yes life is frail at all its stages.
I am breathing again freely with new wisdom. I found out why I didn’t die in any of those close calls.
It’s my French granddaughter Ella Chavent, 5. She will turn six in September. Ella is staying with us for the summer. At first I had butterflies in my stomach. I worried about this international experiment not knowing where it will take us. We didn’t know Ella that well because we’ve seen her in six years only six times.
Ella’s parents left for France last Friday taking along her two-year old brother Sam.
“Did Sam leave?” she asked me.
“No, he’s living under the roof in the attic,” I said seriously but laughing out loud afterwards.
And we’ve played that joke ever since. Ella keeps telling everyone that her brother lives in the attic. That simple joke broke the ice when Ella started crying for her mami after coming home from St. Pat’s summer school.
Normally, I hate Mondays but this time I didn’t. I took Ella to school in the morning. She carried her tart cherry pie for her friends. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have made that cherry pie. I would normally not go to St. Pat’s Church. I would just lounge around all Sunday morning.
But, with Ella going to a catholic school, I felt compelled to go to church. Ella wouldn’t go either, but she wanted to see her friends from school.
After dropping her off this morning, I felt an urge to drive to Smyrna to see if the work on Whites Bridge replica has started.
Instead, there was a stronger pull to go home. I kept looking around over all my stuff; things that I used to think mattered so much.
At first I wanted to do the laundry, so I went upstairs to pick up Ella’s clothes. Picking up stuff off the floor in what was my daughter’s room in the nineties, I realized there’s a greater cause than just dirty laundry.
Without taking down Emma’s posters from the white walls, I started re-doing the room Ella style. I cleared the shelves for her souvenirs from the Ionia Free Fair and from Picnic Pops fireworks and concert, that she enjoyed so much over the weekend.
In the corner of the room, I created a work station for her. Our neighbor Catherine Haefner gave Ella a “computer” with books and a tape. Ella tested it out at the open house for Katie Haefner.
Then I went to the balcony to water the flower boxes. I looked at Ella’s little garden made inside a cut off milk jar. Her chicks and hens started already growing.
Next to Ella’s miniature garden is a bigger black square pot with mums. I forgot to water them during the June heat. So, the flowers died. I wanted to pull out the plant and throw it out. Something wouldn’t let me.
I looked closer at the plant after watering it thoroughly for the last three weeks. With all the rain we had, I found new buds coming out on the leafy stems.
To me, the new buds symbolize new blood and a fresh new outlook on life.
There was a reason why I didn’t die in one of those close calls.
Thank you universe.
Note: This story ties into the earlier post “Immersion English” or “International Experiment” found at https://emmapalova.com/2016/07/14/international-experiment/
International experiment explores English immersion at St. Patrick’s School
Note: I will incorporate some of the current posts into the memoir “Greenwich Meridian.” The memoir is a living document in which I track the events of the past and present. It is the story of the family immigration saga spanning three generations.
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- Thanks to my French family and a history class, I know that today is a holiday in France celebrating the Fall of Bastille in 1789. The French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fort followed by a decade of chaos and executions, known as the French Revolution.
So, July 14th is a national holiday in France. The practical implications are that my daughter Emma Palova Chavent who is visiting with us in the USA can’t straighten out “stuff.” That’s what I call glitches in bureaucracy all over the world.
And now a few hours later since I’ve written this post, the tragedy in Nice, France which left so many people dead. This reminds us of the fact that nothing has changed since the French revolution. Dead and more dead. I’ve written about this before that violence breeds more violence.
I consider our family clan to be international. Our daughter Emma, who was born in former Czechoslovakia, married French husband Adrien.
Now, I fear more than ever the international fate as Emma & Adrien Chavent ready to fly out tomorrow to Paris and their daughter Ella is staying here for English immersion.
Our son Jake, also born in former Czechoslovakia, married American Maranda. All of us speak English, most of us speak Czech and some speak French. I think Emma Jr. is the only one who speaks all three languages fluently.
That’s why I put up a sign greeting our international wedding guests in 2014 in three languages: Welcome, bienvenue and vitejte.
The international experiment 2016 involves language immersion for 5-year-old Ella Chavent, our granddaughter for six weeks. In September, when she turns six she will go to first grade in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy, France.
When Emma mentioned that over the phone, my heart ached. In six years we’ve only seen Ella six times.
“That’s the price you pay for immigration,” I always say when I tell the story.
My husband Ludek came up with the summer vacation/immersion idea.
Ella was born in Dijon, France in 2010. Her first language is French. However, daughter Emma speaks to her only in English.
So, Ella’s English is good. A grammar mistake here and there. The lack of vocabulary at her age is understandable.
When at a loss for an English word, Ella uses French. So, I get to brush up on my French that was fairly good when we lived in Montreal in the 1990s. I took French immersion classes. My son Jake went to a French kindergarten. Montreal is a fully bilingual cosmopolitan city.
We do have a history in language immersion. I teach English as a second language (ESL). There was a time in the 1980s when I knew Russian, although mostly passively.
Ella started her English immersion on Tuesday of this week. We enrolled her in St. Pat’s summer school program in Parnell, MI. If everything goes fine, she will be attending through Aug. 18th. Her parents Emma & Adrien are leaving the country tomorrow July 15th. The plan is that I will fly with Ella back to Paris on Aug. 20th.
As we approach Emma & Adrien’s departure, I have butterflies in my stomach.
“Will she miss them so badly that either I’ll have to fly out with her early or Emma Jr. will have to come and get her?” I ask myself.
So, far she has whined here and there, “Where is my mami?”
Her mami and daddy were gone for four days to Arizona.
However, the whole immersion experiment hinged on St. Pat’s school. “How will Ella take it?”
When I picked her up after the first day, Ella was all excited. She immediately made friends.
“She will do fine,” her teacher assured me. “She’s great.”
That same evening Ella already started packing meticulously her things for the next day.
“We will make a jumbo pie, I want to take it to school to share it with my friends,” she said.
That warmed my heart after her video tirade that I called “Everything is mine.” Ella scripted that all by herself constantly repeating everything is mine: the books, the toys, the food.
Watch for more immersion/immigration posts to get a feel for the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir.
Contact me for your immersion needs in English and Czech. I do have two public facebook groups Immersion Czech and Immersion English.
I believe sharing our blogs is beneficial to all of us. After all we’re not writing just for our own satisfaction but to share our life’s experiences whether good or bad.
I will be sharing a story “International Experiment” about our French-English-Czech experience this summer.
First of all If you reblog this post you help me, I help you and you help your readers, so everyone wins..
There are thousands of good blogs out there and think of all of that we are missing just because they are not visible to us. That’s why I want to encourage you to share your blog with me so that I can read and hopefully many of my other readers as well. This is also a good opportunity for you to get some new readers and I believe in helping one another since we all want to spread our message to the world.
Leave your blog page link as a comment and I will definitely read it. Please be patient because I have some hectic days in front of me. I encourage everyone to read one another blogs to get motivation and thereby also motivate one another.