Where have we been?
It seems we have dropped off the planet…
We have been immersed in a family emergency that has taken all of our time, attention and energy for the past month.
Let’s rewind a bit. When we were celebrating my birthday at our summer vacation rental we learned that Dragon’s Dad had been admitted into hospital and was in the ICU. This warranted our immediate return. We were relieved when we saw him and learned that he had improved and was expected to recover.
We returned to the country and resumed our vacation without much concern, knowing that there were other family members on the scene and receiving reassurance from the ICU nurses on our nightly phone calls.
Things didn’t go as we had hoped, however. Sadly, we lost our Father / Father in law last week. We will spare you the details but suffice it to say that 23 days in the ICU pushed everyone in the family to the brink of complete despair.
Seeing someone you love suffer and die is traumatic to say the least but enduring this surrounded by the constant sense of urgency, coupled with the fear and anxiety of the patients and families in the intensive care unit set to the back drop of machines beeping the fragile sounds of life is even worse.
We have all been to hell and back and are altered by the loss of a man we love.
But, let’s not talk about the death anymore… Let’s talk about his life...
His name was Bozidar Juretic. He was born in Croatia and was beyond proud of his Croatian identity. Having been in Montreal since he was a young man, he still spoke mostly only in Croatian and spoke mostly of Croatia and cooked food inspired by his cultural heritage as well. He wore a Croatian flag on his hat, was a devoted soccer fan, loved the arts, his walls are covered in oil paintings from his country and he devoured the news and all things Croatian. He kept in close contact with his Croatian friends and family making regular overseas phone calls, exchanging letters and always making time to check in. Family was everything to him. He was a loyal man who was true to his word.
He loved to tell stories. In fact, even as he was struggling to breath in his hospital bed over these last weeks, he always found the energy to share elaborate tales of his heroism as a younger man - from battling sharks in the ocean to hunting expeditions in the woods.
As a Father Dragon describes him as using a “tough love” parenting style. “He always knew better, so I always pushed harder but he would give you the shirt off his back without a doubt. He demanded honesty and integrity from us. If I said I would be home at 9:00, this didn’t mean 9:01. He was a man of honour and expected his family to follow suit. He took me to play on the monkey bars every day when I was a small child. He was so proud of my skills and would cheer me on with unlimited enthusiasm. I had to ban him from attending my hockey games however because his enthusiasm ended up stressing me out as he tapped on the glass and shouted Croatian profanities a few feet from my face which inevitably provoked me and threw off my game even further. I did however revoke the ban in recent years and he was very well behaved in the stands offering appropriate levels of praise and encouragement.
I think he was most proud of me when we attended a Habs game a few winters ago and I caught a Montreal Canadians t shirt from the t shirt canon. He stood in jubilant celebration shouting Bravo! Bravo! In that moment, none of my academic accomplishments or athletic achievements could measure up. I had finally won his respect. He had never been more proud of me! It was one of my favourite memories.”
As a Father in Law, I would describe him as one of the most loving, strong and devoted people I have ever met. He showed me love and kindness in subtle yet unmistakable ways. Mostly through his incredible culinary skills! I know that his daughter being married to a woman wasn’t easy for him and I know that he would have preferred if I were a man but despite this, he still told me fishing stories and welcomed me into his home, and received me at his death bed as though gender and sexuality were no longer an issue. When my sister died he made my brother in law a ham and I won’t ever forget his generosity and thoughtfulness. Being included as his family is an honour that I didn’t take lightly.
So, this is where we have been….
Managing the suffering, the grief, the loss of a person who was a pillar to us.
Thanks for understanding where we have been.
We hope to be back soon….
Dragon + Bunny