This past Tuesday the last of my four grandparents, my majka Beska, passed away. Since she is largely to blame for my love of dresses and flowery old-fashioned fabrics, I think it’s only appropriate I dedicate this week’s post to her.
Majka Beska was a true character. One of those people that you either love or hate immediately, and that the sitcom writers wish they could come up with. She was well known in our hometown of Banja Luka as the tailor to go to for any special occasion outfits you might need, and many a woman celebrated weddings and birthdays sporting her designs.
When I was born she made this robe for my mom, to wear around the house while she was nursing.
Amazingly enough, it made it out of Bosnia and all the way to America with us, eventually ending up in NYC, as my main and most worn attire around the house.
A polyester-cotton blend, it’s cozy, does not wrinkle, and can safely stand in for a dress when you need to make a quick run to a store on a morning when you realize you have no coffee left (not that I’d know anything about that!)
I’m sure if anyone had told majka Beska that this robe would have such an adventurous life when she made it, she’d have laughed and said that was impossible. After all, she herself, never left the country of former Yugoslavia, spending the first half of her life in Bosnia and the other half in neighboring Croatia.
Reminiscing aside, she and I had a pretty complex relationship and it took us almost an entire lifetime to actually like each other as people. We loved each other, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you don’t really like the person you love, if you know what I mean.
Majka Beska was of the firm belief that the only way a woman can survive in this world is by marrying a rich man. A belief I don’t even know what to do with, since it’s so far away from the way I think and live my life. For years she’d nag about me waisting my life on dreams and praise all the other women in the family who followed her path. And then, some six years ago my grandpa died, and she found herself an owner of a large house on the Dalmatian coast. Suddenly alone for the first time in her life, and in need of money, she started running a bed&breakfast out of it. Over the years that followed our conversations turned towards this business of hers, and her questions for me were less and less about the men in my life and more and more about my own career and films I was working on.
But majka is majka and when she asked me the inevitable “So…do you have a boyfriend?” question last time we spoke, I was ready. I happily reported that I did indeed, and that he is a tall, handsome investment banker, fully expecting her to cheer in pleasure, and was shocked to hear her reply “That’s nice, but make sure you pursue your dreams and your passions, always. Men come and go. You have to build something of your own to be happy indeed.”
It took me a moment to fully comprehend what had just happened, and then we both laughed, two strong entrepreneurial women, finally friends.
I will surely miss you, majka!