We Remember

KRUGER, Louba (née Bolotzky)

To our sweet mom,

How so incredibly lucky we were to be given a mom like you! Life is funny sometimes…it is not until a child becomes an adult that we truly understand and appreciate all of the exceptional qualities it takes to be a mom and the relentless sacrifices a mom makes for her children. We have witnessed these amazing qualities in you and we saw all of the sacrifices you made for us throughout our lives.

You were born in 1939 to loving parents Konstantine and Maria Bolotzky in Kamenka, Ukraine. You told us life was not easy for you, older sister Valentina and younger sister Cathy growing up in a country full of poverty during the Second World War.  Granny and Grandpa did everything they could for you and your sisters to keep you safe and happy, but it was difficult under the circumstances. You didn’t like talking to us about life back then, and we understand why now. We couldn’t imagine what it must have been like when Grandpa had to scoop up his three little girls while Granny grabbed a few random items and placed you all in the back of a chuck wagon when the soldiers suddenly invaded your home. We can’t fathom the fear you must have felt when you told us you could feel the breeze of the bullets flying past your head and the sounds of screaming during the chaos, but we understand it now. How scary it must have been for you at just 5 years old! You had to leave everything behind including your toys, pets and clothing. You had no idea what the future had in store for you.

We thank our lucky stars that you had parents who were tenacious, resourceful and determined to make a better life for their girls. You definitely inherited these qualities from Granny and Grandpa! Over the course of the next 7 years, the five of you eventually made your way from the Ukraine to Germany, Belgium and France where you met some wonderfully helpful and generous people along the way. You did all you could to contribute to the family income by sewing clothes to sell, harvesting crops in the fields, and picking mushrooms for food. We see now why you knew the look, colour, shape and name of every mushroom under the sun…picking the wrong mushroom could have poisoned your entire family! To this day “mushroom picking” was one of your favourite hobbies.

Your creativity and imagination shone through in so many ways. You told us you would use the pollen from flowers to paint pictures, you would press and dry flower petals to make gift cards, and you taught yourself how to do needlepoint to create wall hangings to decorate your bedroom. Through your travels you took the time to learn how to fluently speak not only Russian, but also French and English.  We wish we would have taken the time to learn these languages from you. You were naturally smart and good with numbers, so Granny and Grandpa relied on you to interpret, barter and advocate for them during all financial transactions, work contracts and immigration applications. We cannot comprehend the pressure that must have put on you at only 10 years old!

Thankfully, you and your family eventually immigrated to Canada in 1951 and made your way West, stopping at mining and farming towns along the way to finance your travels. You worked so hard to contribute to your family by going to school all day, then coming home and working in the fields picking beets until it got dark out. You told us how happy you were when you all finally made it to your forever destination of Kelowna! What excitement you must have felt knowing you could finally set down some roots, buy a family home of your own, and not have to leave any more good friends behind. This journey made you such a resilient, confident and determined young woman.

You were excited to enroll in school at the original Kelowna Senior Secondary school and met many life-long friends during your teen/young adult years… Mary, Christine, Helen, Anne, and John + Annamarie Klein just to name a few. We know how very special they were to you.  We remember the stories you told us of all the fun you had growing up in Kelowna.  From evening swims in the lake to formal dances at the Royal Anne Hotel where the girls put on their flowy dresses and fanciest shoes, and the boys wore their suites, and you would all dance the night away having some good old-fashioned fun! In your young adult life, you were delighted to participate in the Kelowna Regatta beauty pageant, you graciously helped your parents on their apple farm, and you even modelled for the apple industry to promote their products.

You put yourself through hairdressing school and moved to Vancouver for a few years to experience the big city life and to explore your new independence. It is here where you met dad and started a whirlwind courtship that would eventually end up in marriage in 1965. Together you moved back to Kelowna and eventually started a family of your own. You were blessed with two daughters, Ramona and Carina, that you lovingly nurtured, fearlessly protected and encouraged endlessly. Your love and compassion for us showed in everything you did. You were our biggest fan and the loudest cheerer at our soccer games, you were the shoulder we cried on when our hearts were broken, and you provided guidance and strength through some of our ordeals.

Mom, your talent for cooking and entertaining was immeasurable. You were a gracious host and doted on your guests. You specialized in Ukrainian and German cuisine which attracted friends and family from near and far. Some of our fondest memories were our big family dinners gathering all the aunts, uncles and cousins under one roof and squishing around the dinner table to eat rouladen, varenicky and borscht.  The nights were lively with card games of “31”, lots of laughing, singing along to the German music that was playing, and ending the evening with your signature “Irish Coffee.” Did we ever tell you how much those nights meant to us? As fun as our large family gatherings were, we want you to know that it was our quiet family nights with just the four of us that were so special. We remember laying on our loungers outside under the stars on a warm summer evening counting the number of satellites we could find. Those were some of the dearest memories, and we hold them close to our hearts.

Your love and passion for flowers and gardening brought you endless hours of enjoyment and introduced you to an array of wonderful new friends. You grew a colourful oasis of shrubs, flowers and plants out of a simple plot of dirt and rocks that surrounded your home. It became the jewel of the neighbourhood, and it was your little piece of Heaven on Earth. It even earned you the award of “Best Large Garden + Boulevard” for the Kelowna Communities in Bloom in 2012. You were so proud of that recognition, and rightfully so! You loved to chitchat with anyone walking by to admire your yard. You were friendly, kind and respectful to everyone you met. You wouldn’t hesitate to offer these new friends a tour of the backyard then provide them with cake and coffee to make them feel welcome. Mom, do you remember all of the kids that would walk past your house on their way home from school? It was so cute hearing them call out “Hi Louba!” and wanting to help you weed your garden. Their reward was being able to pick a bouquet of flowers of their choice to take home to their own moms. You even insisted on wrapping the stems in a wet paper towel secured with an elastic so the flowers didn’t wilt. You were so sweet to them mom, and hopefully you fostered a passion for flowers and gardening in them too.

After dad’s passing in 2012, you picked up the pieces and showed us what a truly strong, independent woman looks like. There was no obstacle or challenge you weren’t willing to take on or couldn’t overcome. Your strength both mentally and physically amazed us. Your goal was to live independently in your own home for the rest of your life, and that you did our beautiful angel. Right up to the point you took your last breath, you were safe in your own home with both of your devoted daughters by your side holding your hands.

Mom will be dearly missed by her daughters Ramona (Rod Folk) and Carina (Earl Stenstrom); adored granddaughters Breanna, Ashley and Carley; sister Cathy Wolf; sisters-in-law Mayda and Irma; brothers-in-law Vince and Robert; nieces Diana, Theresa, Linda, Debbie and Kathleen; nephews Paul, Mac, Tim and Kevin and her faithful companion, her rescue dog Ewok.  Sadly, mom was predeceased by her parents Konstantine and Maria; her husband Waldemar; sister Valentina (only one month prior); brothers-in-law Rolf, John and Frank; sister-in-law Bridgette “Mary”; and nephew Mark.

Mom, you have not only been a wonderful mother to us, but you’ve shown us what it means to be a strong woman. We want you to know that we have endless love and respect for you, and we are forever grateful that we were lucky enough to be your daughters.

Love always,

Ramona and Carina XOX

We would like to kindly acknowledge all the people who graciously and respectfully helped mom along her journey: Dr Lacroix and MOA Joan; Janine Costigan, NP Heart Function Clinic and MOA Shyla; Tina, Bev and the rest of the lovely staff at the Superstore Pharmacy; Kristine, RN with the Palliative Care Team and all of her friends, family and neighbours who visited, sent well-wishes and dropped off meals for mom….we thank you all!!!


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