Mom Ella and I

One week to write

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

If I had only week to write.

On Wednesday I would write about my mom Ella because the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir about the family immigration saga is dedicated to her.

And I would write about Ella because it’s the Mother’s Day week and my birthday. We are both moms. I became a mom at 18.

Mom goes by the name Ella Konecny, but her real name in Czech is Eliska Konecna with the female gender ending of the last name. That is typical for all Slavic languages that the woman’s name changes twice with the marriage.

Mom adopted the Ella alias at her naturalization in the early 1980s when she became a US citizen.

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Ella never really liked her own name, so she jumped at the opportunity to change it. I wish I had done the same thing for my naturalization.

I always wanted to be Anabelle Anastasia or vice versa. But, I was already writing under the name Emma Palova, and I had my name recognition from writing for regional newspapers and national magazines.

“That name just flows so smoothly,” all the editors said. “Emma Palova, the cool Czech,” editor Valerie once put on a white template of the front page.

Even though mom doesn’t like her name and being old, she likes her looks. Ella looks very good for a pre- World War II baby. Only recently she stopped dying her hair because the color would not stick after decades of covering up grays.

Mom always wishes she was still young together with dad Vaclav.

“Mom that’s vanity,” I said to her in Venice. “You’re chasing after something you cannot capture.”

I took an action photo of both of my parents trying to rip open a box of chocolates during my writer’s retreat in Florida. Action photos are not selective. Usually they are very candid.

“Everybody keeps telling me how good I look and look at this picture you took,” mom snapped at me angrily.

We were in one of our occasional fights; a mother versus daughter fight.

“Well, I don’t look good in most photos and like most people I hate having my picture taken,” I snapped back.

Mom and I fight quite often. She literally picks fights like a little kid usually during family gatherings, but more often with my brother than me.

“You’re right I am chasing after windmills like Don Quichote,” she caved in.

Ella & Emma

Ella & Emma

We’re both avid readers. So, mom took me in 2000 for my birthday and her retirement on a big tour of Spain.

I will forever remain grateful to her for that. We explored Andalusia, the land of Don Quichote and Sancho Panza with the actual windmills.

Mom is big traveler. For her birthday in August, she usually takes us to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan.

Even when we arrived on North American continent in 1989, we traveled a lot to the Upper Peninsula. I remember one year when we canoed on the Two-Hearted River that Ernest Hemingway so much loved.

We  do these famous figure tours like in 2003. Mom and I went to Key West to visit Hemingway’s home. We were so enthused by the home and the six-toed cats, that we forgot to stop at a local restaurant to try some Cuban pork.

Mom and I also love art even though we have different taste in artists. Mom prefers traditional art like that of the darkness of Spanish masters El Greco, Goya and Velasquez. I say give me the magnificence of Salvador Dali anytime.

We have bought so many reproductions that we don’t have enough wall space.

Mom and I differ in many aspects. I am quite entrepreneurial. Mom needs a boss. The Czech nation is used to being bossed around and captivated by other countries.

That must be why people feel so inferior, first the Austria-Hungarian Empire, then Hitler and the Soviets. I guess now it’s the European Union that gets the Czechs so upset.

Mom likes being inferior to dad because that is the heritage of female chauvinism from Czech villages. Ella thinks that a woman must constantly cater to the husband, that she must be the servant of the man she loves.

I like being equal with my husband. I don’t like to boss him and I don’t like being bossed around.

We both like sauerkraut, sweet & sour dills and beer. Mom says she can’t eat her dinner without having her beer first. She protested at my daughter Emma’s wedding that she had no beer there. Well, the French are not big on beer and especially not if you’re having the reception at a Burgundy winery.

Mom and I are both obsessed with medical stuff, typical hypochondriacs.

“Am I having a heart attack or do I have that rosy cheek syndrome?”

Mom never had problems with weight. I, on the other hand have been fighting with weight since I turned 13.

True to be said is that mom had jaundice as a kid, and suffered from stomach problems most of her life.

 

If I can think about anymore likes and differences between mom and me, I’ll write about them tomorrow.

 

But, I will definitely write about mom and her sister Anna.

 

To be continued

 

Copyright © story and photos by Emma Palova

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