A Message from Andreas aka Andy
We are gathered here today to remember the life and times of (Emma) Annemarie Simic, nee GroBe and what a life it was.
Five years ago I began an incredible journey when I was asked by my parents to move back to Ontario from British Columbia to take care of them. Doing so was a difficult decision for me. It has been a seemingly long and at many times arduous journey that ends here today. Yet I know that the rewards that I received during that time out-way the trials and tribulations.
When I think of Mom I cannot help but think of Dad. When I think of life at Cedarvale Lodge for Mom I cannot help but think of life at Cedarvale with Dad. When I think of life at home in Virginia, I cannot help but think of Mom and Dad at Virginia. They were inseparable in spirit. All those years of bickering that I presumed was them not getting along turned into years of bonding that made them who they were when they passed on from this earthly being-ness.
It is incredible to think that they are both gone now. Yet what makes it bearable is the fact that the two of them are now together their souls re-united once again.
One cannot talk of Annemarie without thinking about the one topic she would willingly share with anyone, her four boys. Was there ever a conversation that didn't involve some mention of her boys? Yes, the boys, who look more like men; greying ones at that, than some children playing in a back yard.
I often marvel at how Mom raised four strapping boys: Each with their own agenda, wants, needs and heading in so many directions. Each so incredibly different from taller to shorter, from older to younger, from outgoing to shier, from entrepreneurial to dedicated soldier, from adventurous to stay at home, from down home on the farm to media savy, those are her four boys.
Four boys who grew up to be men any mother would be proud to call her own because she raised them that way. Four boys who loved their mother even when she was a task master who had an opinion she was more than willing to share, an opinion that you may not have liked but respected because of where it came from.
Four boys who would move away and marry adding names like Deb, Stacey, Lonnie and Sue to her vocabulary, each with their own families and lives:
There was however life before her four cherished boys.
Born in East Germany Mom grew up in a loving family. Her mother and father were simple folks dedicated to each other and the raising of their four boys and their two daughters. The early years were very blissful. Then came the war. The death of her father and subsequently her sister died sometime thereafter.
We as kids all heard the war stories as we grew up.
The starvation and how our mother would crawl under guarded trains to get a potato that may have fallen off thereby providing some nourishment for her family. How precious “a pound of butter” came to be. Those who knew her later in life appreciated her love for butter and why. About spending nights in a flooded church basement filled with dead bodies to evade capture by soldiers with the potential for rape or worse. About crossing from East Germany into West at great peril to have a better life and avoid a regime that would last for decades thereafter.
She met a dashing young soldier named Milan, aka Mike Simic who had been a prisoner of war with a scar on his head from a bullet and tuberculosis , also looking for a better life. They married and though they had a thriving trucking business in Germany wanted a better life for their children. They moved to Canada, Mike knowing the English that he learned in his military days and Annemarie knowing “Good Morning” and “Good Night”. But their conviction for a better life carried them through. Mom running a restaurant and then a store and gas station knowing little English but also knowing that they had four mouths to feed.
Though life in those days was far from a picnic Mom always had her four boys. The ones she would take into Sutton, having closed the station for a couple of hours without Dad knowing, as he was off selling real estate. Her moments of pleasure were those little trips away from the things she did every day, cleaning, washing, cooking for her four boys and running a store and station.
Who knew that in amongst all this she had time to develop some deep and loving friendships that have endured her lifetime? Some of those friends are here today and she would want me to thank you for being her friend.
Her four boys would become men and Mom suddenly had time for volunteering and trips to Florida for the winter months, as well as seeing cousin Sara and her daughters Nina and Laura growing up. There were grandchildren to visit and though they may not have heard it often from her we all know Samantha, Scott and Jamie were precious pieces of gold in her life, each one so different from the other but each one being appreciated for who they are.
“The Knick Knack Queen” as I affectionately called her was off to many garage sales and bazaars gathering many treasures that amused her. She became the “Duck Lady” another term of endearment as she collected all things with ducks on them as well as increasing her blue mountain pottery collection and of course dolls, teddy bears and other stuffed items.
As I write this I think to myself that this would make a wonderful book of fiction except having witnessed this life in action I know it to be real. Real enough to know the pain of losing someone so special to myself, my brothers, and her many friends and family, and those who have pre-deceased her.
So who was Annemarie Simic, this woman who survived the war, the loss of her father, sister, mother and brothers at too early an age. The child who had a bone disease in her foot and was called names as she hobbled through life until the many surgeries left scars and pain in her legs. Who when she had finished her journey also had a back fracture, diabetes, osteoporosis, congestive heart failure and other ailments on her resume of ill health.
After her death one of the staff at Cedarvale called her “a lovely lady”, this startled me. I had always seen mom as fighter, a little bulldog who would hold on until she got her way. She would do what it took to get what she needed done, sometimes in very un-lady like ways, to protect and feed her family and offspring. She is the greatest example of a survivor that I know, yet amongst these characteristics sat a woman with ladylike qualities that I did not see.
I know she had an opinion and was not afraid to express it (ask the staff at Cedarvale), nor would she have a problem telling it like it is. She was however always quick to say thank you and acknowledge a good deed done. During her final years I heard her say thank you so many, many times. She truly appreciated whatever you did for her.
She felt truly thankful for having such a place like Cedarvale to live at and always commented on the great people who took care of her; and she even enjoyed the food there.
In closing I would like to say that we are all here as a result of her having touched our lives. I know that she would say thank you for blessing her with your presence and who you were in her life. On behalf of the family I would like to say thank you for being here to share our grief and our remembrance of someone so special and dear to us.
Mom would tell each of us to live our lives as best we can, that there will be good days and not so good days but to appreciate each day for what it is and that tomorrow will be better.
Namaste and God Bless.
February 2, 2006