It was only after my 65th birthday that I felt the need to get down the history of my parents, and also my life, so that my children, grandchildren and their children would have a better idea of their maternal side of the family.
I’m ashamed to say that I never had any interest in asking my parents or Balia anything about their past until around 1990, when I asked my father if he could tell me something about his past. What he wrote down is recorded for posterity, but it was incredibly brief for someone who’d lived for 28 years in Russia and China, then Hong Kong.
My mother just chatted to me and I wonder if I’ve remembered what she told me correctly. I hope so as now my memory is getting a bit hazy.
I absolutely hated the Soviets with all my heart when I was growing up. Hearing what they did to both sides of my family, I wasn’t interested in learning Russian when sent to Balia for lessons and really switched off. Balia was a sweetheart but she was a real hypochondriac and if you asked her how she was, you could get a litany of all her aches and pains; and her English was limited, so even if I had been interested to ask her more about her past, it was almost impossible with my reluctance to learn Russian and her inability to speak English properly.
I don’t know why she didn’t speak the language well – she was educated at a good girls’ school and knew French perfectly, and I would have thought the curriculum would have included learning English as well. She would have had to speak English in Shanghai and, being a piano teacher, all her pupils spoke English to her, so she understood it well enough. I don’t know, maybe she was being a rebel too by refusing to converse in English with me?
I knew enough to guess what my parents were talking about on the (very) rare occasions they spoke Russian between themselves – usually when planning my birthday party or discussing what presents to get me for Christmas! However, since my parents never spoke Russian at home – it was always English – then there really was no incentive for me to learn 🙁
I had a wonderful childhood and early adult life in Hong Kong. My parents loved me and I adored them; my sister was 8 years older than me so we didn’t really connect as sisters until I was about 13, on our 3rd overseas leave in 1961, and then we became good friends.
My parents were strict and sometimes, IMHO, could be unreasonable about certain things and I would never have dared to do anything which would have displeased them. I was such a suck-up – LOL!! 😀
I was so brokenhearted when, in 1994, my father died, then 3 years later my mother left to join him. They were so in love that I think she felt life was useless without him. I wanted her to stay around with us but no, when she developed VRE after a neck fusion, she refused to have the stronger antibiotics to try to lick the problem and slowly slipped into a coma and then slipped away from us! 🙁
I still mourn their loss so this site is my attempt to keep their memory alive and to show what kind and loving people they were. Yes, they had their faults … who doesn’t? But they were so special to me and I’m proud that I am their daughter.
To help out people who’ll read this, I’ll define the names of all the “players” to make life easier, so that you don’t have to keep referring to the Family Tree 🙂
In Russian, one calls one’s grandfather, DEDA (pronounced Deyda) then their first name, or Dedushka – which means grandfather; and their grandmother BABA then their first name, e.g. my grandmother was Baba Anya (Anna) but when I was young, I couldn’t say it properly and it came out as Balia. The name stuck for all her life after that 🙂 Babushka means grandmother and the only person we called that was Uncle Michael’s mother. I never knew her first name.
My parents didn’t want to be called Deda George and Baba Lyalya (as Lila is pronounced in Russian) by my kids so when Alexia started talking, Deda George became Worjie, and Baba Lyalya became Duppy! No idea how that happened but my parents were happy with their new titles so that stuck 😀
However to make life easier, I’ll refer to my parents by their first names during their lives before I was born. After 1947, I can’t bring myself to refer to my parents by their first names – too weird for words!! 😀
My maternal grandmother, Baba Anya, is Balia – as that’s how I always knew here as. I’ll refer to my mother’s father, whom I never knew, as Dedushka, and my father’s mother will be Baba Manya. My father didn’t discuss his father with me so I will refer to him by his first name, Wladyslaw.
Here are the names my family members and I were known as during our lives – hopefully it will save any confusion to have the list here …
George Parks (Pio-Ulski) … my father.
Lila (Melitza) Parks (Pio-Ulski, nee Nozadze) … my mother.
Lindy … my sister. Her nickname was Lindooha and also Mooha (which means fly in Russian)
Nona … me 🙂 My nickname was Nonchick or, as other Russian friends called me, Nonsya.
Anna Nozadze … aka Balia, or prior to my birth, Anya, mother to Lila and Jenny, and grandmother to Lindy, me & Chucha.
Joseph Nozadze … aka Joseph / Dedushka, husband to Balia, father to Lila and Jenny, and grandfather to Lindy (he died before I was born). His name would have been spelled Ioseb in Georgia.
Wladyslaw Pio-Ulski … aka Vladyslav (the Russian spelling of his name, but pronounced the same way), father to George and grandfather to Lindy and me (he died before Lindy and I were born). I’ve been fretting about which version of his name to use and decided on the Polish one, since he would have been christened with that 🙂
I am also writing the Russian names à la française, not the English way, meaning that I shall refer to any names ending in the English way of “-ov” in the French way, i.e. as “-off”.
I knew my Russian friends in Hong Kong with their names spelled that way – Smirnoffs, Vargassoffs, Cherikoffs, etc so, to keep everything uniform, all other Russian names, including the Romanovs, will be spelled as Romanoffs 😀
But, of course, if I’ve copied and pasted bits from books or websites, then I will leave the spelling as is.
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