November events fuel Greenwich Meridian © memoir
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- The months of November and May, with events both in the family and in the history of the Czech Republic, have inspired entire chapters in my Greenwich Meridian © memoir.
November is significant historically and spiritually worldwide. The thread of events that I track in the memoir starts with All Souls Day on Nov. 2, touches on US elections and leads up to the 27th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Nov. 17, a state holiday.
“We’re surrounded by death,” said Fr. Mark Peacock pointing to the shrine of the dead at the altar of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell during mass last Sunday. “Look at the trees and the nature; but we know all will live again in the spring and in heaven.”
On All Souls Day in former Czechoslovakia, we headed out to the decorated cemeteries to remember all the dead in the family. The cemeteries glowed in the night with only the light from thousands of candles.
Spooky, you might say. But entire families gathered at the graves to reminisce and pray. Before the souls remembrance day we cleaned and polished the monuments at the gravesites.
I loved the yellow spiky asters arranged in wreaths, pots and vases.
At that time in 1989, my grandpa Josef Drabek from Vizovice was already very sick. He was transferred from the hospital in Olomouc to the Hospital of the Merciful Brothers in his hometown Vizovice.
I visited him at the hospital on regular basis. Pale, skinny and weak, grandpa could always recognize me. Stepping inside the hospital room, I already feared the next time.
One Sunday afternoon, I took him in the wheelchair to the hospital garden. The leaves on the trees were still orange and red, and there was water in the fountain and the pond. I could hear coughing and I could smell smoke.
More men congregated by the garden shed. My socialite grandpa didn’t want to join the group. As we passed by them, I could not believe my eyes. Standing or sitting in their hospital striped robes, that were hanging down from what used to be their shoulders and chest, the terminally ill men were smoking.
With shaking hands and fingers, they were holding onto what may be their last cigarette.
“Come and join us,” said one of them with a scratchy voice.
Grandpa turned his head the other way.
“You sold the ranch?” he asked me.
“Grandpa, you know I had to, so I could pay for my education before I leave,” I was crying.
Grandpa’s serious illness consumed me, so I hardly noticed that Nov. 7th has rolled around. Back in the totalitarian era from 1949 until 1989, November was the month of Czechoslovak Soviet Friendship.
It was a month of mandatory celebrations of the “Great October Socialist Revolution the military coup of 11.7. 1917 or 10.25. 1917 according to the old Russian calendar in St. Petersburg.
“Hurry up, Emma, you can’t be late for the parade,” I put a coat on my daughter and handed her the Chinese lantern. “You’ll light it when you get to the Revolutionary Boulevard.”
This time father-in-law Joseph took Emma to the parade, and I just stayed home. It was cold and dark. I was shivering from the upcoming events.
I had nothing to lose. I had my exit visa to the USA, and I had sold everything. No one could hurt me anymore by writing some bad cadre profile about me not being at the Russian Revolution celebrations.
The news magazine before movies was all about the Russian Revolution; that is about the Bolshevik movement with Trotsky and V.I. Lenin and the occupation of the Winter Palace.
My Alma Mater, the Gottwaldov Gymnasium pumped all the Russian & Soviet history into us. It was a total brainwash with weird results.
But behind the scenes, a different revolution was brewing preceded by months of unrest.
To be continued…..
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