3.6.15

Renaissance Woman

The most satisfactory definition of infinity was given to me by my great grandmother Yona, who also taught me how to count.

Slippers made by my great grandmother Yona in one sitting
without lifting the hook once (one piece)


From her life I learned the secret to not letting sadness consume you even when your world appears to fall apart. The secret to being happy is creating stuff so that you don't have time to think about being sad.

My great grandmother Yona made and sold hats and slippers that always fit people perfectly even though she just eyeballed measurements. Her stuff was always unique, always done in one sitting in less than an hour. She was a genius. People nowadays tend to scoff at knitters but that's only because they haven't tried making something with 2 hooks and 10 fingers. It's not for everyone.

Hats made by Yona Zenkova - Danchovska

Hats made by Yona Zenkova - Danchovska


I learned a lot from my great grandmother about life, the universe, and everything, but I know very little about who she was and where she came from.

First picture: Yona's father and his comrades;
Second picture: the father of Yona's husband
and his fellow city councillors

She was born in 1916 to a poor family and she taught herself how to read and write. She never had pictures of herself as a young woman on her but she always carried a wrinkled photo of her husband as a young man in a fancy suit. Luckily, her children did keep pictures of their mother.

Yona & Ivan Danchovsky with baby Tida

Her beloved husband died in his 30s from pneumonia only a few years after their second child was born and she was left alone with 2 young children, no education, and no home. That is just the sugarcoated version of that period of her life between 1939 and 1946.

She raised two exceptionally good children who became successful in life, and went on to raise their own exceptionally good children, one of which is my mother, who was supposed to be named after Yona but the communists didn't allow it possibly because it has a religious connotation. It was not on the list of allowed communist names. Yona is the Hebrew word for dove.

My great grandmother Yona (middle) with her 2 children:
my grandfather Dimitar (right) and my great aunt Tida (left)