MEMORIES OF MAMI
It was not only Arkansans who had trouble pronouncing her last name of Antosiewicz, and it was not only her grandchildren who called her "Mami", which, when spoken, sounded the same as the English word "Mommy". Everyone else respectfully referred to her as "Mrs. A." or "Miss Ana".
But she was born Ana Cebulj, her surname meaning "of onions", and her journey to Arkansas took her far from her humble beginnings in a rural area just outside the Slovene capital city of Ljubljana on September 29, 1907. One of seven siblings, she went to work in the local shoe factory at age 14, doing so up until her marriage to Edvard Antosiewicz, a prominent businessman, Olympic medalist and judge in gymnastics, and an ardent defender of democracy. Together they had two beautiful children - daughter Ana and son Andrej - but their lives soon became disrupted by the horrors of Hitler's regime.
Mami came to America in December of 1949, and for so many years she was shuttled back and forth between Arkansas and New York for the sake of her children and grandchildren. She made her move to Hot Springs, Arkansas permanent in October of 1964, and, as she stepped out of the airplane that autumn evening, she looked like royalty in her handsomely-tailored suit and her elegant wide-brimmed hat.
It was then that she first met her grandson Andre, the youngest of her daughter's eight children, and, when he was four years old, he escorted her back and forth every day between her rented room on Ridgeway Boulevard and her daughter Ana's house on Malvern Road. Mami helped rear those eight children. She taught them how to tie their own shoelaces, how to dance, how to bake, and how to make things "just so".
At age 73, Mami took the oral exam to obtain her American citizenship, and she impressed her immigration officer in Hot Springs with her knowledge of the 16th President of the United States. During the formal ceremony held in the infamous courtroom of "Hanging Judge" Isaac C. Parker in Fort Smith, that same immigration agent readily presented to the federal court the names of more than a hundred new citizens - mostly Asian or Hispanic - but he hesitated over the one name on his list that he could not pronounce: Antosiewicz.
Mami was the ultimate survivor. She had managed through two world wars, five kinds of cancer, the loss of her husband, and the death of her daughter. Seven weeks before her 95th birthday, she waited for her grandson Andre to escort her for the very last time. It was her time to go Home.
Copyright 2002-2011 B. Sloan
Ana Sloan - In Memoriam
Ana's Kitchen Art Services II - Barbara A. Sloan, BFA, JD
Editor's Note: Edvard Antosiewicz first arrived in the United States of America with his wife Ana (Cebulj) and their son Andrej on December 22, 1949.