Female Ancestor Profile: Remembering Emilia

[This post was written by my cousin, Renata C. in loving memory of her mum, Emilia who recently passed away.]


Wedding Dance Photo
[Renata C. and Emilia ]


My Dear Mum Emilia, whom everyone called Milka,


She was a bubbly, funny, strong, kind, an amazing cook, a fantastic hostess, a great singer, with endless compassion for everyone. Gosh, I miss you Mum…

My mum’s life wasn’t an easy one. Her father abandoned the family when she was just three years old. Grandma never remarried, and had to look after two girls all alone. Moving into a town, having only few acquaintances here and there, sisters relied on each other. However, Mum’s older sister’s domineering tendencies meant compassion towards Mum was rare.  

When Mum married Dad, her mother-in-law didn’t hesitate to show her disapproval. It didn’t stop my Mum looking after both of Dad’s parents. (Grandma later developed Alzheimer’s which was undiagnosed for years). Mum had worked extremely hard, taking care of a household with four children and elderly in-laws. Moreover, the livestock needed tending to and fields needed constant workaround, however it was predominantly my father’s hobby. The doors were open to any neighbour and family. The cars just pulled in; the gates were rarely shut… Often unannounced, not using a main door doorbell, people just walked round straight to the kitchen door, knocked and sneaked their head in. To have a cup of coffee or offer of the food was a given. Mum had welcomed all. Friends, cousins, their friends, colleagues, our classmates, teachers, priests, brother’s army mates (the service was compulsory), everybody was welcome.  Our house was always full of people, some staying overnight. Almost every Sunday my Dad’s large family would gather at our place. Mum would prepare so much food, it would feed an army. Weddings, funerals, Christenings, for any occasion Mum would bake a huge cake and variety of trays of small ones. She would spend days, sometimes away from home, preparing food for friends’ and families’ celebrations. The number of dishes she handwashed in her lifetime! All that while being a working mother.

Mum and Dad were together for 41 years. As in every marriage, they had their ups and downs, but with Mum being of warm-hearted nature, ‘downs’ never lasted long. A great challenge arrives… Dad got diagnosed with cancer. Mum is devastated, she cries, but doesn’t lose hope. She prays and compassionately looks after Dad after many operations and treatments. Cancers goes away, but then pacemaker follows. Dad tires easily, eats less, but operation went well, so there is hope. Mum keeps looking after him. 

Myself, after the collapse of communism in 1989 and having completed my studies, I had travelled to the UK. My newly acquired knowledge of English enabled me to communicate and find long lost family ties in the USA. 

I connected with the second-generation cousins on Dad’s side. Absolutely brilliant! Visit is planned, Mum started to prepare the menu. “Just tell me how many and when.” Research and talking to older family members bring family history to light. It transpired that the family homestead was lived at by our family for over 150 years, every generation working hard to preserve it for the next. After all, a piece of land means survival. The whole family legacy is on this homestead. Generations of family members who were born here, lived here, played, worked, laughed, cried, chatted here, walked on the same ground. It is precious. When Lisa, our first cousin from the USA arrives for the first time, she gets on her knees and kisses the ground. 

Homestead legacy continues; more visits and more cousins follow. Mum welcomes everybody with open arms. After all, this ground is their home, too.  

When Mum was younger, the accident limited her walking ability. Looking after children and vast household, there was somewhat never right time to undergo a complex operation. In her final years, she could only walk with the support of two crutches. Being strong-minded, she refused a wheelchair. Step by step, slowly battling distances between rooms and outdoor places. Inevitably, over the years, she gained weight and developed diabetes as well. Her heart was weak so undertaking both hips and knee operations would be too risky. 

When Dad became seriously ill again, Mum looked after him in his final months with only a little help. She lacked the sleep and was mentally and physically drained. In his final days, my father suffered physically a lot, but passed away in his sleep. Peacefully, with Mum next to him. 

Mum’s grief was deep. Despite my health issues, I decided to take our three years old daughter and relocate for a little while from London.  Husband stayed behind working. For our daughter, Slovakian is a second language which she could hardly speak then. That didn’t stop Mum to enjoy her granddaughter. She would play and draw and sing with her every day, for hours and hours, while I was cleaning and cooking. And grieving together with Mum. 

This solution wasn’t feasible for a long term. Mum didn’t want to sell the house and relocate somewhere else. She built that house with Dad – literally. A note to the reader about the historical background:  the house was built during communism; no private business of any kind was allowed, including no private building companies to do the job. Families would help each other over the weekends, alongside friends of whom some were professional builders. I remember the sand, mountains of bricks, pipes, door frames, building material scattered all over the yard that was shared with the ‘old’ house.

Mum was pregnant with my younger brother then, looking after me and another brother. It was an incredibly hard work. She built this house with her bare hands: for her children to grow up in, for Dad and Herself to grow old in, for grandkids to visit, to spend holidays in this house, for any close or extended family and their children to gather together in, anytime they wanted to. 

Her house, the local church, the village, neighbours, former colleagues and nearby community were her life. 

It was agreed that one of my brothers would sell his flat in town and relocate with his second wife and stepchildren. Mum always treated them as her grandkids, them calling Mum grandma. Another two grandchildren arrived. Despite Mum’s health issues and advanced age, it was given she would help out looking after them. And she did so. Being her grandchildren, spending a lot of time with them, mainly in her room. 

Then Covid struck. 

For various reasons, we haven’t seen each other from 2016. Summer of 2020 was a possibility. Mum can’t wait to see her granddaughter again. Yet, we mutually agree on postponing the visit until it is safe. We love Mum too much to risk her health.

My mum had a great respect for this virus. She understood the power of nature. Watching news, listening, observing that not everybody was taking it as seriously. She was ever so careful, minimizing outings to only necessary doctor’s visits, ever excited to get her first shot of vaccine. Too soon, only few days later, she tested positive. 

We kept praying and hoping…every day. Mum got worse only after few days. There was shortage of medicine and not enough beds in hospitals, anywhere. Some people are helped at day care unit, but sent home afterwards. Thankfully, local hospital manages to convert another ward onto Covid station and Mum gets a full medical care. Waiting is an agony. So many people caring about her.  She fights her battle to the very end. That definitely sounds like my Mum… Staff tell us of her ‘not giving up’ attitude. 

On that sad Friday, my sister is unsettled. She gets through to the nurse, who kindly switches mum’s phone on and put it to Mum’s ear. “Hi Mum, you don’t need to talk, I know it is so difficult for you to breathe. Just save your energy. We all love you Mum. We thank you for everything you have done for us All. Fight this virus if you can. So many people think of you. Everybody is praying for you. We All love you so much. We love you.” Mum is conscious, forces herself to breathe out faint and elaborate ‘alright’ and waves her hand gently. A nurse thinks Mum is signaling she understands. We later wondered if that gesture was her ‘Goodbye’. A nurse tells my sister a priest did his weekly rounds of confessions in the morning and that he attended to mum, too.  Two hours after my sister’s call, Mum passed away. 

Due to Covid restrictions nobody is allowed to visit. The staff is ever so kind and caring. Yet none of her children can hug Mum during her battle. None of us can gently stroke her face, to physically comfort her, talk to her… She was motherly to so many, compassionate, she opened her arms to anyone who needed her help or friendly chat. I wonder if anyone was holding her hand when God called her Soul back to Him. 

I don’t care about my grief. I care about our dear Mum’s pain. Lungs and body aching all over, every attempt to breathe so painful. She has no strength to breathe, no strength to talk. Not enough oxygen in her lungs to reply to her daughter: ‘I love you all, too’. It breaks my heart to think about it. I have to force myself not to. Instead, I think of her Soul being guided away by Angels, to the realm of respect, peace and love. She would be right at home there.

She respected all of her family and anyone she knew, even if sometimes it was not reciprocated. She was the glue that held the family together, she kept the traditions alive and put order to things.

Mum did everything out of love – because she loved…

She appreciated everything that life gave her. Family, friends, health, everyday things…she didn’t take people nor stuff for granted. In her view, everything is a gift from God. 

Mum tried to live every day gracefully. She used to say: “Nobody knows, when they go”. 

And she was right. Tomorrow is promised to no-one.

When my time comes to leave this world, when Angels guide my Soul away, I want my Mum to be the first one to greet me. I can’t wait to hug you and hold you again, Mum. I can’t wait to have a chat and laugh with you again. 

Until then, enjoy blissfulness of Heaven and company of your loved ones, who preceded you there. I have my everyday choices to make here.  Guide me Mum, that my choices- small or great, are the right ones; full of respect and love, as yours were. 

Some people are simple irreplaceable. Mum, you are without doubt one of them. 

We ALL miss you and love you very much. 

Dear Mum, 

May God grant you His eternal peace.

May God holds you in His arms forever.

May God let you feel His unconditional love forever.



Copyright 2021, All Rights Reserved

Back for 2021: The Fearless Females Blogging Prompts Series

In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the “fearless females” in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I’m happy to say that this series is still going strong and is back for another year (the 11th).

Fearless Females 2021
Fearless Females Badge courtesy of Denise Levenick with edits by Lisa A. Alzo

So, to mark National Women’s History Month (beginning Monday, March 1), I’m listing the 31 prompts below. 

Also, you can download the free badge above to use on your blog to indicate your participation. [A special thanks to my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, who created the original version of this badge especially for me for the 2016 edition of Fearless Females].

The theme for National Women’s History Month 2021 is once again “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” According to the The National Women’s History Alliance, “Since many of the women’s suffrage centennial celebrations originally scheduled for 2020 were curtailed, the National Women’s History Alliance is extending the annual theme for 2021.” The theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.” So, once again, it is a perfect time to start writing about your valiant female ancestors.   

Watch this blog for other ideas, prompts, and tips to learn about your female ancestors, as well as special coupons for discounts on books, courses, or other products related to researching your female lines.


Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

You can choose to do some of the prompts, or all of them–there’s no pressure–it’s meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told! 

[Group of young women reading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c00288]

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link to it.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Want Even More Prompts and Tips?

If you would like additional writing prompts and tips for researching and writing about your female ancestors, pick up a copy of my eBook Fearless Females: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History. Click here to order a copy and get $2.00 off the purchase price with coupon code fearless2021 (coupon good through 31 March 2021 11:59 p.m. Eastern time).

Copyright, 2021, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved