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.
Today is a big day. As I write to the rhythm of the rain, morning chirping of the birds and to the frantic panting of my dog and husband, I still have my feet wet from the patio. I had to move the phlox and the moss roses from the garage out into the rain.
It’s May 9th, it’s my birthday. I was born on the national holiday in former Czechoslovakia. On that day, the nation’s capital Prague, the mother of all cities, was freed from the Nazi occupation by the Soviet Army. That was the end of World War II.
Many years later, I was born in the wee hours at 4 a.m. to parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny. My mom woke up to the cracking noises of fireworks announcing the anniversary of the victory.
“I thought it was war again, but then I realized those were fireworks celebrating your birth,” she said to me this morning as she wished me a happy birthday. “The whole nation celebrated.”
Mom says that to me every year, as the nature too celebrates the awakening after long winter.
“The nature blossoms on your birthday,” she says. “You always had the day off and a parade.”
The above note is one of the many reasons why I dedicated the memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west” to my mother.
100 Posts & beyond
This post is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and the constant friction that I have witnessed between sisters in this world.
Mom Ella and aunt Anna
As I watch people drop like flies around me, I realize how time is going by fast. I like the inscription on the clock in the living room, “Tempus fugit.” That’s why I bought that pendulum clock as one of the first things when I arrived on this continent in 1989 for $110. Not that I had that kind of money. I just wanted the clock so bad, that I probably borrowed money for it. It announces the time by boldly striking every full and half hour. My husband Ludek still has to wind it by hand much like the clock that the in-laws had at home in the old country.
“They probably wouldn’t even let us know if she’s dead,” mom said. “You write the wedding invite. She’s your aunt and godmother.”
We bought the card that had written “Sisters” in the sand on it in Venice, Florida.
“I’ll pay for her air ticket, but not for him,” Mom said angrily. “Anyna won’t be able to translate that. She’s not going to come anyway.” Anyna is a slanderous nickname for the pretty name Anna.
Mom was referring to my uncle whom we once fancied as “Jean” rather the ordinary Czech John. We took that from the French movies that we had devoured like crazy in old Czechoslovakia.
That was more than quarter of a century ago before the big family dispute.
“But we don’t even know if he’s alive,” I argued. “I’ll just write it and we’ll see.”
Unintentionally, we sent the invite off without any contact numbers or addresses. Subconscious at its best.
“Write it again,” mom said last week. “This is her last chance to make up with me.”
To be continued as part of the ongoing series 100 Posts & beyond