Personal Histories

Personal Histories

houseofflowers1.jpg

A couple of weeks ago a devastating reason brought us back to Belgrade a few short months after we last visited. My aunt Jelena 'Jela' passed away after a long illness. In the old apartment where her family lives, memories swirled and hid in every heavy credenza and stuffy wooden drawer. A few days after the funeral we visited the Museum of Yugoslavian History. It is the resting place of infamous ex-president, Tito, and an homage to a bygone era, now remembered fondly by many. The series of buildings also houses a range of exhibits devoted to relics and our shared memories of the past.

When my family moved to Canada we moved from Yugoslavia, but within a few years the country began fracturing violently and trying on new names like one might hats.

My memory of Yugoslavia is deeply intertwined with the memory of my aunt: her expertly prepared meals, games we invented, get-togethers for family and neighbours. She organized it all with precision and warmth and held the pieces together with stubbornness when economic hardships and war took hold. Jela's home was a bastion of comfort and calm in an ever-changing and often frightening world. Going 'home' will never be the same without her.

Jela, 1960s
Jela, 1960s
It's practically impossible to find a photo of Jela where she isn't in motion, lighting candles, feeding or playing with us. Also note the 4 birthday cakes in the first image.
It's practically impossible to find a photo of Jela where she isn't in motion, lighting candles, feeding or playing with us. Also note the 4 birthday cakes in the first image.
Tito's grave at the Museum of Yugoslavian History
Tito's grave at the Museum of Yugoslavian History
Letter to Tito
Letter to Tito
Presidential Decoration
Presidential Decoration
Baton display
Baton display
Russian Avant-Garde exhibit
Russian Avant-Garde exhibit
Iconic example of Soviet design
Iconic example of Soviet design
Buttons from the exhibit sold at the giftshop
Buttons from the exhibit sold at the giftshop
Examples of Yugo poster design
Examples of Yugo poster design
From the exhibit on Yugoslav Falcons, a patriotic youth movement. My grandmother was a falconess.
From the exhibit on Yugoslav Falcons, a patriotic youth movement. My grandmother was a falconess.
The view from the museum entrance
The view from the museum entrance
Spring
Spring
The Pause

The Pause

Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece