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Janko Krotecjanko's obituary

May 24, 1946 - September 6, 2009

My Mama (Part 2)

My mother and all her babies

My mother and all her babies

A Mother of Eight

Like a candle burning in the wind … that was always our mama. She never gave up, never quit, could never do enough in order to feed and cloth her brew. Homespun cloth started with seeding flax and hemp in the fields that would eventually become homemade sheets, clothing, table cloths, even diapers. Her husband, a blacksmith, often “disabled” by homemade alcohols and some shop work saw farm/field work suitable mostly for the lower classes — like his tiny, scrawny wife and any of his young children able to walk in front of the oxen.

Our mother’s dedication to us, her babies, became clear in 1952 when our hay/grain barn burned to the ground. At the time the cause of the fire was a hush-hush affair. (I am forever grateful that my, a-hem, twin brothers managed to escape the flames!) The family food supplies were devastated for the oncoming winter. Our mother took a large homemade sheet and a very large home woven basket and set in search of hay and other food stuffs in our village and surrounding farm communities. The results were mixed at best — however due to her sacrifice we managed to survive the winter.

Working in the field together

Working in the field together

My brother Lojze was sent off that same September to another farm for work and school and would eventually finish his theological studies in Rome. My sister Anka was sent to live with our uncle Stane to continue school in a more favourable environment. She eventually became a mathematics teacher and assistant school principal. I was dispatched to the same farm at age twelve for four years before going to the seminary. Franje was shipped off at the tender age of seven to a physically abusive farm owner. There he would continue his difficult path into the travel industry from which he recently retired. His twin brother Slavko stayed at home until army duty called after which he spent 10 years as Gastarbeiter in a construction workers’ slum quarters in an area of Stuttgart. This work allowed him to finance our brother Miko who was in charge of building a brand new house to replace our 160 year old home in Preloka. Miko never left home and has grown up in the more prosperous times of the sixties and seventies. Our youngest, Marica, also grew up on the farm while taking care of our ageing mama.

I need to turn back and pick up where I left one paragraph above. My oldest brother Jozef continued his kingly rule. Although now, whether I liked it or not, I became his junior supporting partner. Together we became a great relief for our mother. One day however, we “caused” an unfortunate incident. While herding our and some other villagers’ sheep we were surprised by a very hungry and destructive wolf. After the flock had spread out in all directions, the wolf trotted past me, shining his healthy white teeth thus placing me firmly on the ground. I was thankful I had not become an early afternoon snack. On his rampage several sheep were killed and not even eaten; I assumed only a male could be so cruel.

In my father’s eyes the incident had somehow become my brother’s and my responsibility. Jozef was twelve and I was only six years old. Here came our mother to our defence. One of the slaughtered sheep had belonged to her sister, my aunt with whom I had spent the first six months of my life; another had belonged to relatives of my fraternal grandmother; two others had been meant to provide lambs for sale next season. As a result of my mother’s intervention, the workers who were building a new barn nearby were very well fed for quite some time.

On the river Kolpa

On the river Kolpa

My memory of our mother is one of a defender of her children without limits. When one of us would get into any kind of trouble we would always find a glimmer of hope, if not in public then in private — a slight nod, a faint smile, a word of encouragement. She always gave more of herself to the child most in need. We are all proud, grateful and will forever remember our mother.

Thank you mama, for our lives, for the constant guidance until you departed. We will remember you forever …

To be continued …

With love and affection,

Janko

Hope is a waking dream.” Aristotle

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