Father, the founder of immigration
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- As we ready to head out west for the Rendezvous in Prairie du Chien, I can’t help but think about my father Vaclav Konecny. Mom Ella calls him the founder of immigration.
“Without him we’d be back home,” she said.
I never know if mom is sarcastic when she says this.
Once my father sets his mind on something, he goes and pursues it until he gets it. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a math problem, a new shower or toilet.
“He’s a perfectionist,” mom says about dad.
Dad, former math professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, still calculates math problems for journals. He will be 80 this July. He has always been fascinated by Fermat’s Last Theorem and sought to solve it. Originally, a physicist, dad loves Einstein’s relativity theory and makes endless jokes about it.
He has proposed many math problems himself.
“That can sometimes be harder than solving them,” dad says.
Math is still the anchor of his life to which he turns when times are good or bad.
“In my mind, I can travel anywhere,” he said.
His co-anchors are languages. At 60, he learned Spanish motivated by a trip to Mexico and Spain. At 75, dad started studying French motivated by my daughter Emma’s wedding in France.
Dad now reads novels in Spanish and French.
He relentlessly pursues perfection in all its forms, whether intellectual or physical. Dad has always been on a strict diet, never gaining an extra pound.
“He gets his discipline from the seminary,” Ella says.
Both dad and his brother Tony went to the seminary in Kromeriz.
But, paternal grandpa and grandma too requested 100 percent obedience. I found that out the hard way when we went back to Czechoslovakia in 1973 from the USA. We lived in their house under strict rules.
The ruling nature of grandparents has never transferred on my dad.
“He never yells,” says mom, “he’s forever patient.”
Dad can patiently wait for hours at the airport for a delayed plane. His quest for perfection has rubbed off to a certain point on me; that is in my creative work. But, I lack both his discipline and obedience.
Only once, dad yelled at mom, when he was teaching her how to drive in Africa.
Dad taught me how to drive in 1990 in Big Rapids.
“The car is a weapon,” he said, “be careful with it.”
Unlike my mom, dad has always been encouraging and positive about everything.
“You have to pursue things,” he says.
A great educator and a lifelong student, dad continues to pursue things with the same energy he had, when he emigrated some 50 years ago.
Happy Father’s Day, dad
Copyright (c) 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova