My husband’s great-grandmother, Anna Susan Bires, was born on July 14, 1892 in Czechoslovakia. She was the daughter of George Bires and Susan Dudas.

Anna had a very unhappy childhood. Her mother Susan died following the birth of twins when Anna was about two years old. Sadly, the twins both died, as well.

George remarried shortly afterwards, and he and second wife Mary had five children. Mary treated Anna almost like the evil stepmother treated “Cinderella”: her own children had beds to sleep in and plenty of food, while Anna slept under the kitchen table and had barely enough to eat. When she was old enough, she was made to work during the week and give her earnings to Mary. On weekends, she worked at home for no pay.

Mary wanted Anna to marry an older man who was quite wealthy, but Anna refused. She said she would “jump in the well” before she would marry that man.

Anna eventually met John Andrew Pado (b. March 25, 1887), whom she married in May 1910 in Czechoslovakia.

Their first child, Mary, was born November 26, 1911, in Czechoslovakia.

John immigrated to the United States in 1911, and by 1914 had saved enough money to bring Anna and Mary to New York.

Five more children were born to John and Anna:

  • Anna Marie, born April 10, 1916 in Endicott, New York; died February 2, 2007 in Melbourne, Florida.
  • John, born May 3, 1918 in New York; died May 1978 in Johnson City, New York.
  • Beverly, born November 26, 1928; died March 9, 2003 in New Jersey.
  • Two other daughters are still living.

John took good care of Anna, and she was very happy with him and her life in the United States.

Granchildren called Anna, “Baba.” and John, “Zedo,” meaning grandmother and grandfather in Czech.

My husband’s mother remembers Anna as being a kind and thoughtful grandmother. She has fond memories of Anna cooking and baking whatever the children wanted to eat, and says Anna never had an unpleasant word to say about anybody. She remembers her as always smiling and happy.

One year on Anna’s birthday, when my husband’s mother was a young girl and did not have money to buy her grandmother a present, she went upstairs to Anna’s room and got a piece of jewelry from Anna’s jewelry box, wrapped it up, and gave it to Anna as her “birthday gift.” Anna opened the package and acted surprised and thrilled to receive such a lovely piece of jewelry for a gift, never letting on that she knew it was her own.

John died in February, 1967. Anna stayed in Endicott, New York, until she died on October 20, 1979. Both are buried in New York.

Following her death, Anna was mourned by many family members and friends, and Masses were held for several days in her honor.

She had found her prince and got her happy ending after all.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O’Neal
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