My grandmother, Omerka, first lived in Romania and soon moved to Serbia. She lived there with her mother, Stojanca, father, Shiva, older sister, Biserka, two younger brothers, Mike and Shiva and sister, Lubicza. She never knew her two older brothers, Aleksandar, who was born premature and Ljudonir (9 months) who died of a hernia. She lost her baby sister Leposava (1 and a half) to measles. This would not be the end of her pain.
When she was in her late teens, her father died. The government gave her mother and whole family an alternative. You see, her father was the one in the family that had a Serbian citizenship that allowed them to stay in Serbia freely. Once he died, the government said that they would all have to get Serbian citizenships or get out of the country. For reasons of her own, my great grandmother did not want to become a Serbian citizen. She instead wanted to flee to America to see her sister who she had not seen in years. When my great grandmother was a child, her parents died and she, along with her sister, were sent to their aunt and uncle's in Boston in America. She stayed there for many years until they could not be taken care of any more. My great grandmother was sent to Europe and her sister stayed in America. It had been years and years since my great grandmother had seen her sister and she wanted to see her badly.
Regrettably, my grandmother's family did not have any money to pay towards plane tickets. They knew they needed help and they received it. They went to refugee camps in Italy. Three years later the camp was broken apart. The camp was located in a part of "no man's land" which was located in two different countries. The two countries had fought over the land in court and Italy finally won and they wanted no part of the refugee camps. The Petrov family was given another difficult choice, for they were given a choice of two countries to be sent to; Canada or Australia. My great grandmother chose Canada thinking that it was closer to her destination, America.
In 1954 the Petrov family arrived in Halifax by ship. From there, they took a train to Toronto and settled. During this time my grandmother and her brothers and sisters came to love Canada as their own. They loved everything about Toronto and Canada and they thought the people were nice. My grandmother said, "I had finally found my new home. I felt safe and happy. I didn't want to leave it." So a year later when her mother asked her and the brother and sister if they wanted to go and live in America with her mother's sister, they said no. My grandmother told me, "Thankfully she listened to us. I couldn't imagine living in America now. Everything is perfect here, not like America,"
From there, my grandmother and her mother stayed in Toronto. Her one brother went to live in Vancouver and is still there today and her other brother moved to Oshawa. Her older sister moved around from Brampton to where she is now, Georgetown. Her younger sister stayed in Toronto. My grandmother moved to Brampton, where she is still living today, with her husband, my grandfather, Sergi. My great grandmother continued to live in Toronto until she was no longer able to live by herself and moved into my grandmother's house and finally into an old person's home also located in Brampton.
This is the story of one of my many families. This, I must say though, is my favourite of all. They lived through so much and they stayed together and helped one another as a family. I love my family with all my heart and it is amazing that they survived.
Jessica Piskun 2004