Tag Archives: St. Pat’s School Parnell

Summer with Ella in America

Goodbye Ella

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- As our time together with Ella winds down, I write this with deep sadness in my heart.

Today is Ella’s last day at the Early Fives summer program at St. Patrick’s School in Parnell. I went into my husband Ludek’s experiment with butterflies in my stomach.

“Ella will stay with us this summer and you will fly back with her to France,” Ludek said back in May.

“Wow, slow down I got to work,” I said surprised.

Ella will be going to the first grade in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy, France after the summer break in the USA. In six years, we’ve seen her six times, when she came for brief visits with her mother Emma.

“That’s the price you pay for immigration,” I said to Ludek and my friends.

And that’s when Ludek came up with the idea of having Ella here to capture the time gone by over the years, as she was growing up.

It wasn’t just the ocean of time that separated us. It was all the little things that we missed. All the firsts that had gone by: the first steps, first words, first hugs, first laughs and first tears.

I’ve never imagined that I could miss someone else’s tears or laughs.

But, the reality is different.

“I will miss your laugh,” said former publisher Val at the Ionia Sentinel-Standard when I left the paper for good in 1993.

“How about her work,” snapped the editor also Val.

Ella has grown from the toddler that we took with us to the beach in South Haven back in 2011 to a smart and sassy girl with an artsy flair.

“Why do you get angry,” I asked her the other day in the car on the way back from school as the Queen rocked & rolled to full blast.

“Because sometimes you annoy me,” Ella said pouting.

“Really, so no more crepes or ice cream for you,” I said.

“No, sorry.”

We missed all the sorries, too.

“Sorry, grandpa,” Ella apologized after refusing to follow another one of Ludek’s orders.

However, time apart brings along appreciation, deeper love and understanding.

“I miss my mommy,” Ella cried one afternoon after school as she hugged Emma’s graduation picture hanging in the living room next to Mona Lisa.

“I am sure she misses you too,” I said.

“I want to be with her,” Ella continued.

“You will eventually,” I said trying to comfort her.

But, Ella was inconsolable. The persistent little girls cried hours into the night.

“Alright, you’re flying back with her to France tomorrow,” I said to Ludek.

 

The next day was a brand new day.

“Will I see my friends today?” Ella asked on our way to school with Queen blasting in the background. “Tell me one of your stories.”

And I started telling her the story of Scheherazade and the mean king, and the story of the guy with the expensive McLaren automobile who ran a red stop sign.

“Tell me the story about the bracelet and Jake’s wedding ring,” Ella demanded more storytelling.

Ella loves the music of Queen after a Picnic Pops concert at Cannonsburg in July.

“I am like Freddie Mercury, I want it all,” she laughs as we go back home.

Throughout these six weeks, I’ve learned several big lessons. I learned that stories are soothing and healing. I learned that food which reminds you of home is comforting. I learned that the jittery music of Queen can bring on the atmosphere of home. And that the school environment is good for kids.

So, whenever Ella got homesick, I made French crepes and opened a jar of “cornichons.” We call them dills, here in America.

And I spent a perfect day with Ella doing the “Back to School Shopping” rut that was so new to me. Finally, Ella got her ears pierced at the Piercing Pagoda at the mall.

And I told her my endless stories on demand.

I will keep telling them, until I can’t speak or write anymore.

Goodbye, my friend. It was brief, but it was. It really did happen that you were here in America.

I need to assure myself.

Note: Most of my relationship stories appear in the “Greenwich Meridian” (c) memoir, as well as ethnic and travel stories. I hope to finish the memoir for publication my Mother’s Day 2017.

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Frail times

Small frail things matter

“Do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

By Emma Palova

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.

Ella by her computer station in her girl's room.
Ella’s time in America.

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.

Ella Chavent with one of the teachers at St. Pat's.
Ella Chavent with one of the volunteers at St. Pat’s.

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.

Our international family clan on July 4th under the pergola.
Our international family clan on July 4th under the pergola.

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/

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Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.