Today my family honors a very special man on his 80th birthday – our father, grandfather and husband.
Ovo je za tebe, Tata, Deda, Čale!
You were born and raised in Grahovo, Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia. A teenage prankster during World War II, you contributed to the complete destruction of a military guard’s house. You and an accomplice took an unexploded bomb dropped by the Italians and put it in the basement, throwing hay down with it and setting it alight. You slept in the woods for three days, afraid to go home! When you remember the story today, you are so grateful that no one was injured.
When you were a young boy of 16, you moved to Belgrade to attend apprentice school. You stood out because you wore a white linen suit that your sister made.
You were then and still are a romantic and charming man, and a good-natured flirt! You call
ladies, even strangers 'my dear' and 'darrlingg'. You kiss their
hands when you first meet them, even young girls your grand children's
And you charmed the best one of all, Emilija, whom you named ‘Mila’. You have never forgotten your ‘Valentina’ on Valentine’s Day, always showering her with roses and a personal gift.
You were ambitious and young and energetic. You left your homeland in search of a better life. South Africa is where you succeeded to be ‘your own boss’. Driven, successful and disciplined, you became an entrepreneur. You believe that with God’s help, you achieved.
You raised three children there and provided for them the best childhood and a firm but loving home. You kept us safe and always welcomed our friends, even when the entire class came for Vesna’s 11th birthday party unannounced! You took us on family vacations to the Kruger National Park and Durban every year.
You demanded that we do well in school. You showed us the world when you pulled us out of school and took us to see your birthplace. How we loved to run with the sheep in the clean mountain air! We then toured Europe, an education in itself. You demanded that we go to college and become educated.
After 18 great years in South Africa, your rather substantial nose sensed that it was time to leave. A secure future for your children was your priority. You were strong and moved us to Canada, but the climate and unexpected circumstances made you stronger and you moved us to warm and welcoming Texas! We know people who have never been to the next town, let alone hop continents!
You have boundless energy and to this day work seven days a week. You use your time wisely. You are an optimist and are always upbeat.
You are always ready to take on the tango with Mama or dance a lively kolo. You have taken the microphone many times to entertain us with a lively song!
Your kids married and you became passionate about all seven of your grandchildren. You were the first to bathe your first grandchild, Alex, when he came home from the hospital.
You are enthusiastic and when you attend Jovan’s basketball games and disagree with a call, you yell at the referee and call him ‘Judge’! There’s never a dull moment when you, Deda are around! Everyone in the stands asks for you when you miss a game.
You are the happiest when your family is healthy and happy.
You are always elegant.
In South Africa, they used to playfully call you 'Arizona’ because it sounded like our last name. Little did you know that you would end up in nearby Texas, wearing jeans and a cowboy hat and owning your own ranch! And would you please stop bumping your head on that silly shed?
You are humorous and playful and you are still a child at heart. We don’t always understand your jokes, but we do know that the kids ‘don’t mess with Boxer!’
You are a mechanical engineer without the training! You are able to repair, create, sew, assemble, build, manage and conceive with your talent and knowledge.
You are very generous. It is not uncommon for you to whip out your wallet and gift a kid with money. You make friends with everyone that crosses your path.
You have taught me to have an adventurous palate. You introduced me to stinky cheeses, liver and bakalar. You are an expert at making venison sausage, sarma and lamb on a spit. You befriend the butcher and the baker. And do you remember the time you enjoyed a raw garlic meal that kept the viruses and your family away for days?!
Deda, you are the happiest when you are loved and you are surrounded by your pride and joy. We are blessed to have you. You will always be our Slatkiš!
Naša ljubav za tebe nema kraja. Mi smo večito zahvalni za sve ono što si učinio za nas. Ti nam ulepšavas zivot sa tvojim humorom, pričama i ljubav!
- Mila, Dragana, Vesna, Božidar, Teague, Mark, Natalie, Alex, Emilia, Nikola, Saša, Stefan, Jovan i Jelena!
Živeo naš Deda!