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While she peacefully slept, God gently embraced my beautiful daughter Andreja and took her Home to meet loved ones waiting to greet her. Due to complications related to Covid-19, Andreja passed away in Winnipeg on November 1st, 2022... just a week past her 35th birthday.
Andreja lost no time in arriving a month early into this world in Bonnyville, AB. on October 25, 1987. In the process, her timing was such that she set the clocks back an hour (DST), causing some confusion in documenting the exact time of her birth. She was a wonderful baby girl, an absolute delightful joy and completely fulfilled my life and heart's desires. Always high-spirited, passionate, strong-willed, living and loving life to the fullest, yet so sensitive, compassionate and vulnerable, always seeing the best in everyone. I won’t down play the “strong-willed” as she was certainly blessed with that intense “Scorpio” personality, which she seemed to be so proud of.
Following our return to Manitoba in 1989, Andreja later attended Smith-Jackson School. She was very fortunate, along with a classmate Jordan and Mr. Jaddock, to represent Smith-Jackson school after winning a computer contest sponsored by AT&T where she got to travel to Hong Kong. She was over the moon with excitement, calling me at work and telling me she was going to Hong Kong… dumb me thought she meant the cafe! When she returned from the trip of a lifetime, she boasted that she had left some of her stomach contents in the sea off the mainland.
In her younger years she was a Cadet, took ballet lessons, excelled at swimming, guitar lessons, joined the soccer team, attended Bible camp, had sleepovers and countless friends…which kept her (and me) busy. She accompanied me to Toronto, saw the Niagara Falls and also New York State to visit with her cousin Katee and family. She so often spoke of wanting to visit Katee once again.
AJ completed her schooling and graduated with honours from ACC, attaining her HCA diploma. Prior to making the big move to Winnipeg, in her younger years she worked at the Elkhorn Ranch and later moved to Gimli, working at Hecla. She was thrilled in having had the honour of being chosen to serve the Prime Minister’s table during the Icelandic Festival. She also lived and worked in Brandon for a brief time, always making lasting friendships along the way.
In further pursuing her HCA training, she was employed for some time at St. Paul’s home (Dauphin), Golden Links Lodge, the Concordia and Canadian Blood Services, but her adventurous side drew her to the private home care sector, caring for a variety of clients. One job found her on a week long working trip to the Yukon where she was taken back in time, being entertained by can-can dancers in a saloon and was in awe of the untamed “Wild West” wilderness. In Ottawa, she made an appearance on television in the House of Commons. She called me from Ottawa and told me to quickly turn on the tv to which I responded, “what did you do now??” Every day/every week found a new adventure for Andreja. Unfortunately, due to some of the physical stress associated in working alone in the private sector, she required surgery to repair an ACL and was due to have her second knee repaired. She was saddened in having to accept that some of her former experiences would now be restricted.
From early childhood while spending time with her Baba and Gido in Mink Creek, AJ’s love of animals blossomed. She loved inviting in and feeding the neighbourhood strays, worrying if they were neglected, nursing their wounds and then rehoming them with help from the Humane Society. AJ started her own “catch and release” program from her old rental in the city, catching and carrying out mice in paper bags and giving them another chance at life, perhaps in someone else’s house... but was likely recapturing the same mouse several days later. AJ’s own furry love was Oliver, a beautiful tabby she adopted from the Humane Society. He was an active partner in her catch and release program and she loved his gentleness. Her chosen Shih Tzu, Jesse, was always tucked in her heart even though I had “apprehended” him as my own due to her busy lifestyle. The excitement Jesse displayed whenever she came home confirmed she was his always first and forever momma.
As she grew into a young woman, she picked up the fine hobby of shopping like a Kardashian and became a designer handbag collector. Michael Kors certainly profited from her loyalty. Andreja loved patio gardening which became an annual hobby, often growing tomatoes to the ceiling. She loved her cooking shows and experimenting with different recipes and cooking favourite meals. Yes, she certainly loved her order-in meals, as well. Her love of travel had also picked up some momentum. Her free and fun-loving spontaneous and sometimes daring spirit led her to places I wasn’t even aware of most times. According to her passport Jamaica, Vegas, Mexico x 2, Cuba... . I only became aware of Vegas when she called me at work to announce she was “stranded” after she and a girlfriend missed their plane…for reasons I was never told!! Mom to the rescue! On another occasion she called me at work again, ”Momma! I have car trouble!” I told her to call Larry. Her response was “but you don’t understand!!” “What’s to not understand, call Larry, he’ll look after things.” ….. “But Mom, I’m in Banff!”
AJ was thrilled to attend two Paul McCartney concerts with me where she was in awe that he wasn’t wearing Depends and was blown away by his talent. She shared my excitement and realized there was no one else she needed to see after his performances, although she did sneak in Shania and Chris deBurgh concerts, as well as several others no doubt. She was always a true blue Jets fan and then added the NY Islanders because of Dauphin’s Barry. Her love of sports, hunting, fishing, camping, swimming, skidooing filled her weekends with fun and friendships.
In the sadness of AJ having had to spend her last few days of earthly life in isolation, the blessing that came from it was the immense closeness and love we shared during that time. Along with the constant calls and messaging into the wee hours, I had never heard her gush so many daily “I love you’s”. We shared a deep unconditional love and closeness. I was profusely thanked for making her lonely birthday better (the day she tested positive) in having her favourite meal delivered. The "missing her" will be forever. The hole in my shattered heart can never be filled.
Andreja is survived by her mother Betty Jane; her deeply loved furbaby Oliver who continues to be pampered by a special relative, Dennis; best friend/boyfriend of 7 years, Rob; a forever friend, Toni; Godmothers Bonnie and Brenda; and Godfather, Everett. She leaves behind many special cousins, relatives and countless friends and acquaintances.
Andreja was predeceased by her Baba and Gido, Alfred and Jeanne Frykas and many other special relatives.
Jesse, her chosen Shih Tzu, suddenly passed at the age of 16+, just three weeks before his “momma” and I know he was there waiting to joyously reunite with her. The warmest thanks to Dr. Bretecher for his kindness, compassion and care.
I thank you all for your love, support and the kindest of comforting words and gestures, visits, food, cards, touching calls from near and far; these will forever be held dearly in my heart. Margaret and Bill, I leaned on you during this most difficult and darkest time in my life and you held me up. Forever and ever grateful. Luke from Pathways Funeral was the most gracious, the kindest and a professional, easing the immense ongoing pain experienced during this time. Thank you.
I ask that you please light a candle for my Andreja and keep the glow of her spirit shining brightly!
“We must remember that all we are and all we have belongs to God. Hold on to your children and love them.. Enjoy every minute God gives you with them as if it were the last. They are only on loan to us from heaven.”
Rest peacefully, my baby girl…I will hug you again! ❤️
Should friends so desire, donations in AJ's memory may be made to the Parkland Humane Society: Box 805 411 2nd avenue NW Dauphin MB, R7N 3B3. Or to the Parkland Ukrainian Family Fund: Box 658, Dauphin, MB R7N 2V4.