She is survived by her son Edward and daughter Jasna, as well as her grandchildren, Marni, Mariko and Miroslav, and great-grandchildren, Laurana, Diane, Kian, Cade, Mikel and Luca.
Teresa came to Canada in 1956, along with her husband and children. The family had escaped post-war Communist Yugoslavia and spent two long years in a refugee camp in Austria before Canada accepted them as immigrants. Arriving in Vancouver, B.C. penniless and without a word of English, the family struggled to survive those harsh first years in the new country, working at any jobs they could get. For a time, Teresa and her husband Marijan (Meho) tried their luck at a Glass Craft business, a much needed, second-income project they had started while still in the former Yugoslavia. They opened a little shop on Water Street, in Gastown, making hand-blown Christmas ornaments.
Teresa was the gifted glassblower, and her husband, Marijan and son, Edward worked at dyeing and decorating the blown glass, packaging the delicate ornaments and taking care of the business in general. Once Teresa and Marijan felt more confident in their English language skills, they looked for positions in the full-time professions they had had back home in Zagreb – Teresa as a hairdresser and Marijan, an electrician. Both had to take examinations to qualify for certification and licenses in B.C. Teresa spent several decades as a hairdresser, working in salons in Vancouver, watching the hair styles change from heavily permed hair, highly teased bouffant coifs to piles of cannoli-like curls on top of sleek French rolls, to short boy-cuts, and so on.
Teresa and Marijan were among the founding members of the Croatian Catholic Church in Vancouver, and their lives revolved around the friends they had made within the church community. Teresa had a lovely, soft, singing voice, and she was part of the Croatian Church choir for many years. Marijan died of cancer in 1976. Teresa continued to work for some time after the loss of her husband and found solace in her flower garden and joy in the care of her grandchildren.
Teresa loved to bake. Her kitchen was often filled with a flurry of flour, and her table covered with strudel dough, stretched to paper-thin transparency. Burek, or cheese pita or fragrant apple strudel awaited her family and friends. Teresa was well known for her tender, soft, sweet, brioche-like, plum jam filled buns, known as ‘buhtle.’ Her friends humorously called them “Ružica’s condominiums” because they were quite literally architectural in dimension!
Floral arranging was also one of her favorite past times, and even when she was well into her eighties, she was energetically making flower arrangements and decorations at her assisted living residence. Teresa was loved and admired for her skills and willingness to participate and help with various activities and projects. She was well known for her quirky hand-crocheted carry bags, which she made by recycling single-use plastic grocery bags. Her mailbox was often jammed with plastic bags as fellow residents gladly offered their empty bags to her.
Covid brought a change to everything and everybody, and the last two years of Teresa’s life were marred by lockdowns, and sadly, by dementia as well. An accidental fall and a prolonged stay in the hospital proved too much for her independent lifestyle, and a move to an extended care residence was inevitable. Teresa survived a bout of Covid while in care, but time was taking its toll upon her aged body. She saw her 100th birthday come and go. The Covid lockdown prevented a celebration with her family, with Zoom and Facetime providing a few, rare moments of shared greetings and affections. Her grandson Mirko nicknamed her “SuperBaka” for her tenacious resilience in the face of so many hurdles and such long years of life.
Teresa declined suddenly on January 2, and on the third, she died quietly at her care home. She is fondly remembered by her family and friends. Beloved mother and grandmother, forever in our hearts.
FOTO: Privatni album
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