Dinka Markovich was born Dinka Anicic on April 9, 1927 in Mostar, Croatia which is a beautiful city nestled in the mountains just inland from the Adriatic coast. She was the youngest of 9 children and she had a happy childhood with a close-knit family. She lived in a house in the village that boasted a large backyard with a beautiful lush garden which she spoke of often. Her family were an eclectic mix - very artistic and very funny. Dinka loved to sing, had a lot of friends and was spoiled by all her older brothers and sisters.
When World War II began, she was only 12 years old. Like so many of her generation, the war left a huge imprint on her life. During those years, her simple happy life became marked by loss and struggle as she lost family and friends and experienced periods of fear and an unknown future. She attributed her family’s survival to her father who worked for the railroad and had access to both fresh meat and other scarce commodities.
When the war ended in 1945, she was still young, only 18 years old. Her family reunited after years of separation and they started the process of piecing back their lives. Miraculously, all her brothers and sisters survived the war.
Dinka often spoke of those years of hardship and survival. She experienced great fear as the communists occupied her beloved country. But she also spoke of her faith that sustained her and gave her hope. She had a particularly close connection to St. Anthony and said that he always answered her prayers. Like the time she spent in an internment camp during the war. She was without food and water for 7 days. She was scared that she wouldn’t survive this experience and prayed very hard to St. Anthony to help her. Miraculously, a short while later, a man appeared at her window with a loaf of bread. He told her that he was sent to give this bread to her. You may think that this was coincidence, but for Dinka, this was a miracle and further proof of the power of prayer.
Only one of Dinka’s brothers left Croatia. Her elder brother, Stanko, left just as the war ended and came to Canada where he eventually settled in Toronto, married Anna and had 3 children. It was through Stanko that Dinka met George who left Croatia at the same time. Stanko introduced George to Dinka who became pen pals, corresponded for many years, fell in love and then married - - all without ever having met in person. It took many years and attempts before George was finally able to get Dinka a visa to come to Canada.
Finally, on March 10, 1958, Dinka flew into Toronto to finally meet George and begin a new chapter of her life. There are some wonderful pictures of Dinka at the train station with her family as she embarked on her journey of fate and faith. There is also a picture of Dinka at the airport holding a hand to her heart as she finally saw George. However, she said that her first glimpse of Toronto from the plane was not very impressive. It was not the Toronto we know today. But colourless and bleak. Luckily, she didn’t jump on the next return flight to Mostar. Instead, she forged ahead and married George a couple of days later, on March 12, 1958.
She settled into her life as wife and mother and had three children - Charlie, Rosemary and Caroline, and three grandchildren, Stephen, Gabrielle and Alexandra. Dinka came to truly love her adopted country. One of Dinka’s happiest moments was when she received her Canadian citizenship in 1986. She studied so hard to learn all the facts so she could pass the test. She was so proud of herself.
Dinka lived a life full of love – love for her family, friends, animals and her garden. She showed this love by caring for and feeding those around her. She loved food and was particularly skilled in cooking. Swiss Chalet was a favorite of hers. Dinka always made many wonderful Croatian dishes, such as pita and strudel which will be sorely missed. She loved children and provided day care to many children throughout the years for both family and friends. They all received her unconditional love.
After George died in 2016, Dinka forged ahead again, but fate is not always kind and she struggled the last few years with dementia which stole her ability to find the right words. But what she did have was an abundance of love right to the end. Dinka will always be cherished by her family and friends as a truly wonderful wife, mother and friend. She taught her children the best values in life and she will be missed.