March 10th is always a special day in my life – no, it is not my birthday, wedding or other memorial day. It is the beginning of my second life. On this day in 1962, I arrived in Canada having lived through horrible war and the even worse aftereffects of hunger and brutalities of Russian allies. I had my trade papers as a qualified dressmaker in my pocket, an engagement ring on my finger, and hopes of a happy ever after in my head.
I had met my fiance in Germany who had great plans to immigrate to the USA or Canada to make a fortune and dared me to follow. I was “bulletproof” in those days and after one year of love letters back and forth, I followed.
There he was with long stem roses and the second-hand Lincoln at the Toronto Airport. lt took us two days to travel to Wawa, ending up in Mustafa’s boarding house. The snowl! How wonderful, to the roofs. Having experienced only a few centimetres in Europe, everything was wonderful through the eyes of love, until reality set in.
Living in basements and borrowed furniture and sewing for wives that my fiance advertised through his buddies at the mine. When things looked dismal, changes happened. One lady gave me a deadline for her outfit to be finished and picked up in secret on a specific date, she would pay me later. That never happened because she left her husband, and here is when my happiness began.
To make a long story short the distraught husband came to pay for his wife’s outfit and as I heard later a mutual WOW hung in the air. He came from my home country, we spoke the same language, had the same values, discipline and ideas (and could eat civilized with a knife and fork, a personal family joke). We kept in touch and the longer I knew him I admired his qualities. Honesty, hardworking, dependability, trust, etc. I couldn’t have “baked” a better man, plus he was in my eyes the most handsome man.
Things followed quickly. His divorce, my kiss goodbye to my fiance, we flew to Germany to introduce him to my parents who embraced him dearly. We even bought our rings there and we married. Within a few years, we had two boys. My hubby built us a house. A quarter for my sewing atelier and the other quarter for his hobby photography, studio, and darkroom. We were a team. I made the outfits, and he took the wedding pictures and I assisted him.
Life was fulfilled and good, But nothing is forever, two days after my 39th birthday, my love and soulmate died suddenly. The boys were 5 and 8. What followed were years of hard work alone. Looking back, could or would I do it again? Keeping two boys straight and narrow with all the temptation with what life has to offer. I raised them with discipline, I was a tough mother but travelled with them and opened the world. They still speak two languages and most importantly they always had a safe loving home where their friends were always welcome.
Teaching sewing classes and keeping photography afloat for years was very stressful. Many times, the thought of going back to Germany crossed my mind but for the boy’s sake, I stayed. They grew up, and the grandchildren they produced are my pride and joy. My grandchildren have goals in their lives and no use for drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.
Yes, men have crossed my path, but once you had the best you don’t settle, and I used my energy and purpose to rescue and take care of abused and neglected animals and clean up our surroundings. Every time I found a good home for one of the poor animals, I felt a sense of pride. Every time I hauled garbage out of the ditches, with the help of like-minded friends, it was back-breaking but satisfying. Giving stranded travellers a place to rest over the years gave me a feeling of being blessed and a purpose in life.
So on this 10th of March, I sit alone with a glass of wine, good music in the background and reflect on 60 years full of joy, lots of sadness, but having lived a purpose for life in Canada.
P.S All my stories are in my books called My Life in the Shadow of the Goose.