All Posts Tagged ‘dad


Complete change thanks to my parents


Change has come to my life since I wrote my first book and it was published four months ago. I was a retired Journalist , pretty sick, with not so much excitement in my life. Now I’m officially a writer with lots of events in my agenda.

I have been interviewed by the media, and I have found myself just in the opposite side where I used to be. I had made hundreds of interviews. But I was used to be the one making questions. It’s quite different being in the receiving end, not knowing what its going to come, especially when you are live and there is no room for an error.

Once I was interviewed not only live, but in front of an audience of 300, all of them journalists, in Madrid. My sister was among the public in the first row. At the beginning I was so nervous and focused that I waited for the questions with an expression pretty serious and focused. She, from her seat was trying to tell me: “Look up and smile!”. “You look like being in your funeral”.

Little by little I took confidence and at the end I could answer to the questions more relaxed. I never had been in such a situation, but it was fun nevertheless.

I have been traveling from city to city talking about the book and explaining how I wrote it. I even have signed dozens of copies after those events to people who had bought my book.

I have been living in a cloud.

And everything is thanks to my parents. My book is about their story which is really exciting. They passed away but leaved us their diaries from times of great sufferings and an amazing love during the WWII and the Cold War in Eastern Europe. Those diaries have an impressive richness. All what’s happening to me is their merit. And I’m immensely grateful to them. I love them much more every day after reading their diaries and writing about them because they have taught me so much about love. Not only when their were around, but also now that they are present thru those writings. Thank you dad, thank you, mom.

Ragtag Dayly Prompt: Change


A moving celebration

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For the ones that follow this blog is not a surprise that this year we are celebrating the centenary of my father, Luka Brajnović

Recently his former students of the University of Navarre, organised a celebration in his honour in Madrid. Some famous Spanish journalists who had been his pupils came and payed him homage telling things like that my father had been the teacher who had teach them to be free (in times when in Spain that was not so easy) and work according with the ethics.

The organizadores had put in the paraninfo a giant picture of my dad surrounded by his students in the University’s bar, talking informal. With that scenery and in front of almost 300 people, I could talk about him.

A Known journalist asked me about my book. In it I have told the story of my parents during the II World War and the Cold War when they suffered a lot and had to spend twelve years separated forcefully, but their love increased in that time of harsh difficulties.

I began to write the book just after my mother’s death and for me was an intense emotional journey from which I have emerged loving my parents more than ever.

In the featured image I caress my dad’s face in the picture. With me are my sisters Elica and Ljerka. Elica Was born in Croatia during the war before my parents were forced to separate. She was a little baby 4 months. And she stayed with my mom in Yugoslavia. She met her dad when she was 12 years old and the family finally reunited in Munich.
In the picture above, there I am between two great Spanish Journalists José María Irujo (El País) and Iñaki Gabilondo (SER) talking about my dad.


immerse in my book


I have been immersed in the process of writing a book. That took almost all my time the last year, but most intensely these two last months, when I have been editing, proof checking, negotiating with my editor and all those things one have to do before having the book in the bookstores.

I just have sent to the editing house the last proof with my last corrections and my approval, and now I only have to wait for them to do their job. I suddenly am feeling very tired. Really exhausted. But at the same time excited and restless waiting for the moment when I will see the work completed.

It was not easy to reach this moment. I have written My parent’s story, pretty exceptional, during the war and the exile. For me was a very emotional trip. I began to dive into the diaries of my dad and the memories of my mom. They suffered a lot and loved a lot, and finally the love they professed each other was the winer.

When I sent my manuscript to the editorial house, they told me it was too long and instructed me to cut off 20.000 words. I was desolated It was like amputate a limb to your own child. Very painful.

I finally managed to do so without damaging the story and we reach an agreement.

All this is happening in the year of the centenary of my dad. The Regional Newspaper, where my dad had a daily column about International Politics during 28 years, published a page about him and another page days after, when the University where he was teacher of Journalism during 32 years celebrated a big event with many assistants.

This will be a year of celebrations here and in Croatia were My dad comes from. Lots of things will happen around his memory. I’m proud and happy.

(In te picture during the celebration of the centenary of my dad at the University, with my sisters, my brother in law and the dean of the Journalism School. I’m the last one at the right.)

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Immerse


Travel to an unknown homeland

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I can sense the blue glance of my dad very close to me while I’m sailing thru the sea of his childhood.

I’m looking at the green and white islands around us and listening to the ancient stories that the old sailor is telling me about these magic places. There is an Island with the shape of a heart in the middle of our trip. A big heart like it was my dad’s.

The breeze  bring my thoughts away. Or maybe is pushing  them to the deepest of my soul. Yes. That is it. Images from my parents being happy are mixed with this Symphony of blue that was the landscape of their youth. I look for silence while I hear the seagulls and look at the dolphins jumping cheerfully.

BB309814-886E-4D8B-8459-756D82499BB2I have never been here before, but somehow all this is familiar to me and,  in a way, mine. My arrivals to this land and this sea are in fact  a way back home. Here I feel safe and happy. Like when I was near mom and dad. Maybe because their presence here is so powerful and is a reminder of the years they were young and happy together. 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Travel


Homely tradition

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Since we don’t have the daily prompt I have turned back for inspiration in the Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Topic Generator at It provides you a random noun combined with a random adjective as a headline for your blog post.
Today it gave me the combination “Homely Tradition”
The first thing it came to my mind was music.

When we were kids my dad used to wake us up in feast days and special occasions with music. He would turned on the record player and surprised us with some joyful classic.

We would jumped up from bed and would run to the living room knowing that something special was waiting for us. A little gift, a funny poem, and that was only the beginning of a wonderful day in wich wouldn’t fail a delicious cake baked by mom.

So, from our childhood we have the music associated to joy and nice family life, because we also sang together a lot. Nowadays in the era of the headphones the music experience has become more individualistic (apart from the concerts and the street musicians). I

miss the times when we listened to the music together. With the social networks one can easily establish relationships with distant and unknown people and have problems to interact with real people in the neighbourhood. That happens to me above all with youngsters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting old.



Thank You, Danny Kaye

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When my dad was very sick and he couldn’t move, we knew how to make him laugh heartily and forget about his situation for a while. It was pretty easy because he was a good-humoured man.

But we had a specially very good time when we used to watch with him a Danny Kaye’s video. In it, Kaye plays a performer who imitates a russian baritone, who had been temporarily retired because of problems with allergies, and wants to return to the music hall singing the popular russian song: “Black eyes”. Everything seems normal untill a girl brings to the scene a big bouquet of flowers and he begins to sneeze while he’s singing. It’s hilarious.

Only mentioning the title of the song (“Otchi Chornya”) was enough for a belly laugh. We all knew what was coming after.

So, Thank you, Danny Kaye, wherever you are. (I’m sure there is a very special place in Heaven for the people who make us laugh or convey us beauty, for the people who make us happy.)



Singing together


My father loved music and every time we were all together, he encouraged us to sing. My sister Elica used to play the piano or the guitar and we could spend hours after dinner merrily singing all kind of songs.

Dad had a nice tenor voice and a some repertoire of love songs he always sang to my mom. And she used to smile and blush. They had been married for decades, but they seemed like a boyfriend and his girlfriend. Some were ancient Croatian songs, Other were Italian songs he learned when he spent some years exiled in Italy after the war, when he was alone estranged from his family.

I have a particular memory of one of these Italian songs: “Non ti Scordar di me” (Don’t you forget about me).

When Dad was were sick in the hospital, one morning they were broadcasting on the tv one of the concerts of the three tenors, and Pavarotti began to sing that song. My dad almost couldn’t move and speak at the time,  but when he heard the melody he said: I know this song. And began to sing with his cracked voice to me, “Don’t you forget about me, My life is united to you, …

It was the las song he sang. and almost the last words he said to me. He passed away only a few days after that.

Back to our early years, when we were all young and happy, we’ve enjoyed a lot singing polyphonic songs. Our familiar choir grown when Elica got married and Jim with his beautiful baritone voice joined us with his new repertoire of American songs. There was a Spanish folk song, a simple melody with a silly lyrics but very suitable to sing with multiple voices we enjoyed a lot. “My grandma’s pot” was usually the end of those wonderful Family get together, plenty of music an laughters.


They can’t take that away from me…

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It’s been seventeen years since my dad passed away, but sometimes it seems it was yesterday. So vivid and sweet is the memory of his words, his blue glances, his kindness… I’ll say with Ella Fitzgerald, that

they may take him from me,

I’ll miss his fond caress,

but though They take him from me,

I’ll still possess:

the way his smile just beams,

The way he looks at me,

the way he speaks to me,

the way he sings so nicely,

the way he jokes with me,

the memory of all that.

No, no, they can’t take that away from me.

It’ll remain carved in my soul for ever

along with the peace he conveys.

Daddy, stay with me

No, no, they can’t take you away from me.



My dad’s library

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My parents house was a cozy place mainly because they were there filling everything with their affection and their love. But also because the house was plenty of books (my father was a writer and a professor of literature), that gave warmth to the rooms. There were no walls without shelves and books on them except in the kitchen.

My father passed away years ago and my mother a few months ago, and we decided to donate my father’s library and his archive to his University. It will be available to scholars to research about my father’s work.

A few days before Christmas two librarians from the University came to classify, pack, and take away everything. They needed 115 big boxes to pack everything and two big vans to move them to the University’s Library and Archive

Now the house is empty and cold. Very sad. At least, we know all that beloved material is in good hands and will be useful for people interested in what my father had been doing all those years he spent writing and teaching. There are some graduated who could make their papers for their PhD on my father’s work.

All these are the good reasons we did. But for me is hard to look at the empty shelves without feeling my heart torn.



Inheritance of love


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My parents lived one of the most exciting love stories I’ve ever heard of. They got married during the WWII. They had a baby, and almost immediately after that,  the war separated them.

My father was a prisoner, later a refugee and finally an exiled. My mom had to hide with the baby and later was persecuted because of her faith in a communist country. They spent twelve years trying to reunite again during which they suffered a lot.

All their attempts were a failures until 1956. But they loved each other so much that when they finally succeeded and met again, they were able to look at each other at the eyes without regrets, and continue their live together just as if they had said farewell the day before. And they continued loving each other like the first day till the end.

Dad, a writer, used to write poems to mom and surprise her with little gifts with no apparently reason. She was always smiling. Their friends and acquaintances say that my parents conveyed serenity and happiness. I think so too.

My dad passed away sixteen years ago. My mom just last August.

I miss them badly

They didn’t have material things to leave us as inheritance.

I would like to inherit their way of loving, so natural, so intense, so faithful.



Grieving Night

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Dad with his pupils at the university

Dad with his pupils at the university

I didn’t want to get out of that room. I wanted to stay by him till the end. I loved him so much! Every second was precious for me. But all the others decided that I was the suitable person to accompany my mother home to have some rest. I kissed him in the forehead, fearing it would be my last and said: wait for me, dad. He had no strength to talk nor open his blue eyes, but he managed to smile. I left the hospital heartbroken. So many remembrances kept in that faint smile, so acute pain in the soul thinking in the approaching farewell. Mom and I went home and she managed to sleep because she was exhausted. At two am I the phone awakened me.

– Come immediately, he is dying.
I got up in a rush and called mom to tell her the we had to go to the hospital. She began to dress up and comb her hair and apply her lipstick, because she wanted to be pretty for my father even in the last instant. I began to get nervous, because we didn’t have time to lose.
– Mom, hurry up, please.
Finally we went out. I drove to the hospital. My mom got out from the car at the door, to arrive as soon as possible, and I continued to find a parking lot. I ran back to the hospital hoping to find my dad alive and having the opportunity to tell him goodby.
He, who almost was executed during WWII, and once thought his body would disappear, and his love, my mom, would never know how much he loved her, was dying at old age, in her bed, surrounded by his wife and children and accompanied by a priest, friend of the family. Far away from his homeland, that’s true, but embraced by love.
When I arrived to the room, he was looking with his blue eyes to my mom, their hands clasped. He had trouble breathing and had an oxygen mask. But it was useless, so the doctor removed it. I asked the priest to pray something, but he was too moved to utter a word.
– Netter pray you something in Croatian, he told me.
I began to repeat the Lord’s prayer and the Hail Mary, my dad’s favourites.
Little by little dad faded looking at mom, his only love of 56 years. When he stopped breathing I stopped praying, the tears overwhelming my voice.  The sadness was tremendous. But my soul was invaded by an overwhelming peace. I kissed again his forehead and told him: thank you dad.

Topic Generator


See you in Heaven


At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

Death visited my home very soon. Somehow I always knew we are here passing by. I don’t remember my life otherwise. But I believed firmly that there is another life after this one and that our souls are immortal. Since my dad’s death, the belief has strengthened. I can feel his presence. I’m convinced he’s listening to me when I talk with him in my inner thoughts. Just like he listened to me when we had those long talks here, when he was alive, and I could hear his comforting and joyful voice. Oh, dad! I believe some day we will reunite again. If only I could be a good person like you! But I’m weak. I need your help. I want to see you in Heaven. Help me, dad. Show me the path.

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Finite Creatures.


Non ti scordar di me


You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?

The first poem that come to my mind is the Pirate’s song of José de Espronceda, because I learned by heart when I was a child in school. there were other poems we had to learn by heart, but were a bit corny and I didn’t like them, so I forgot them This one was great, talking about cannons and sails and adventures on the seven seas. I used to play to the pirates with my brother and my sisters all the time. The poem brings me sweet memories from my childhood.
I found a translation made by James Kennedy. I’ll copy for you the begining of the poem so you can have an idea of how it goes:

The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,
Ten guns on each side mounted seen,
She does not cut the sea, but fly,
A swiftly sailing brigantine;
A pirate bark, the “Dreaded” named,
For her surpassing boldness famed,
On every sea well-known and shore,
From side to side their boundaries o’er.
The moon in streaks the waves illumes
Hoarse groans the wind the rigging through;
In gentle motion raised assumes
The sea a silvery shade with blue;

Wonderful verses to a child imagination. This is the Pirate’s moto that appears several times during the poem:

“My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.”

About the songs, the first one I remember is always an Italian one, because it was the last one I heard my father sing before his death. He was in his hospital bed almost unable to move and talk. He was with his eyes closed as if sleeping. The TV in the room was on, and there was a program about the three tenors. Luciano Pavarotti began to sing “Non ti scordar di me” (Don’t forget about me) and suddenly my dad said: “I know this song”. And he began to sing with his frail voice to me:

Don’t forget about me:
My life is tied to you
I love you more and more
In my dream you stay

Don’t forget about me
My life is tied to you
There’s always a nest
In my heart for you

Don’t forget about me

Don’t forget about me

Three days after that, he died. That song stayed engraved in my mind for ever.

By Heart.




Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

I’m afraid of the elevator. It’s an old dark wooden machine inserted in a cage-like structure that quiver while it lifts up to the sixth and top floor where I live.

But the shaking is not what worries me. I hate the elevator because once a man cornered me inside it with the intention to kidnap me. He even grabbed my hand. I screamed and a neighbour heard me and saved me. The man escaped. Since then I can’t take the elevator without shivering. I still have nightmares.

Once in my floor I ring the bell. Mom opens the door. She greets me in Croatian with her sweet voice and I feel like I just have left the hostile world in which I live and to enter not only my home but my homeland. I finally feel sure. Inside dwells my family. I understand the sense of humor. I can hear my motherly language.

The flat has a long and narrow corridor with rooms at both sides and the kitchen at the end. We have the apartment rented. The kitchen is very old. It works with charcoal. My mom has to work hard to maintain all clean. She is an intelectual but when she arrived to Spain they didn’t recognised her titles so she is not working outside home.

My dad is professor at the University writer and journalist. He teaches Literature. He has a big library and a desk where he writes his books and articles for the newspaper typing in an old Olivetti. Every night he is in a rush writing his column about foreign politics for the local newspaper. At eight a messenger comes to pick up the original. We all know what a deadline is.

What I love of my father’s work is when he begins to write poetry. He uses to read his poems to mom, some of them dedicated to her. She smiles when he reads. They love each other so much!

What I don’t like so much is his work at the University. He spends too much time there and organises meetings with his students at home also. Once a year he invites all his students. That day is crazy. We don’t have enough chairs for all. Dad helps mom in the kitchen to prepare dinner, buffet style, because many of the students are standing or sitting on the floor. They enjoy it, because they stay till late in the evening chatting and laughing.

It’s the same living room in which we spend so many afternoons singing and laughing and playing all together.

Everything inside is nice and homy to everyone. But I don’t think it is because of how the flat is decorated. I think it is because of how mom and dad are. They are the soul of the home.


Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters.



Still my hero


When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?


When I was 5 he was my hero. The perfect man. The one who knew all the answers. The one with whom I was completely safe. The one who never deceived me. The one who defended me from all dangers. The one who taught me to talk, to pray and to sing. My dad. He was a quiet man, with beautiful blue eyes and a charming smile. Later I learned that he was a journalist, a professor, a writer and a poet.

I didn’t know he had a hazardous and heroic life during WWII and after. Plenty of sufferings. He was forcibly separated from my mother during twelve years, two of his brothers were killed, he was held prisoner and tortured. Despite all that pain there was no bitterness in him. How he did it? He said with God’s help. He was a man of great faith.

As I was growing and knowing more about his life I’d admired him more and more. Not only by knowing about his past life, but by witnessing his everyday life. So honest, good humoured, simple, joyful, till the end.

Once, in a homage dedicated to my father they asked me: how would I define him?. I told them he was like an open door. He was always working even at home. But I never went to him and found him telling me he was too busy to pay attention and take care of me. Nor when I was little neither when I grew up. He was always ready to listen to me, to talk to me. He never failed me.

He died almost thirteen years ago and it seems as if it was yesterday. I miss him so much. He still mi hero.

Daily Prompt: Heroic.
Heroic posts by other bloggers on the next page:


Fighting against hate


Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.

I have lived all my life with people who have suffered incredible wrongdoings and injustices and have been able to forgive, so my stories about people wronging me and I forgiving them seem ridiculous in comparison.

My parents had to endure prosecution, prison and exile. My father was once almost executed. Two of his brothers were killed. He forgave. It was not easy for him. He prayed every day the Lord’s prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…  And he was completely honest.

I already wrote about him and his forgiveness in a post several months ago titled “Fighting hate”. I remembered then that in an interview about his life the interviewer asked my father if he hated someone from those years when all that happened to him. He answered: 

“from then I lived every day of my life fighting against hate”.

For me listening to him I t was like discovering him with a new light. I realised that something he had taught me that seamed easy and natural in him, it was actually a matter of constant inner fight, difficult, and just for that more valuable. From that day I admired him more than before.

Daily Prompt: Forgive and Forget?.
Find why other bloggers have to say about this topic on the next page:


Christmas Eve


What is your very favorite holiday? Recount the specific memory or memories that have made that holiday special to you.

Christmas eve. December 24th was a magic day. My older sister arrived home from Madrid where she was working. We were finally all together. We missed her so much! My parents got separated by force during twelve years after she was born. So there is a big gap between her and the rest of us. We, “the four small ones” adored her. When she left us to go to work in Madrid it was a complete tragedy. Every time she returned home we celebrated as a great festivity. But the day had to begin without her.

Early in the morning we began to decorate the house with the little things we had crafted with mom’s direction the precedent Sundays. Mom was the decorator in chief. She made us feel we were the important ones in all the process, but she was the one doing the job before going to the kitchen to fix dinner. It was an exhausting day for her. Then we all went to help dad trimming the tree full of lights and candles and setting the scene of the grotto.

According to the tradition we set the scene under the tree. The tree represent the life and the light that emanates from Bethlehem, so our “little Bethlehem” representation was always under the tree. Every year our “little Bethlehem” was different. Dad made a little grotto with clay or wood pieces painted by him and set an elaborate landscape made with sand and little pebbles to mark paths and moss to represent fields of grass with figurines of sheep grazing here and there. There was even a river with real water in it and a clay made bridge over. In the grotto we set carefully the clay statuettes of the Virgin, St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, and around the shepherds, the Wise Men with their presents and the angel. The angel was a statuette my dad liked very much. It was beautifully done, delicate.

When we were finishing and my mom was busy in the kitchen, my sister arrived. Big joy and excitement. She usually took us out for a walk. Wen we came back my dad was at the main room “talking with the angel” about us and our gifts. Closed doors. We waited impatiently outside, excited. When the angel had left the presents and was gone, my dad began to light the candles on the tree and the “little Bethlehem”. We could see the lights lighting one by one through the door’s crystal panels” It was the sign that we could enter. The room was only illuminated by the candles. We could see in the twilight our beautifully wrapped gifts, but we knew we had to wait to see what the angel had brought us. It was a magic. The twilight, the shiny parcels, the smell of moss, clay and candles, the excitement. My dad read the Gospel and we prayed. Then we all sang an ancient beautiful Croatian carol and only after that we turned on the lights to finally open our presents.

We all had late dinner and plenty of time after dinner to play with our new toys before was time to go to midnight Mass. It was a very solemn celebration with a beautiful liturgy and music. We met there all the other families, our friends and neighbors and wished them Merry Christmas.  When we arrived home we were ready for bed after such a long and exciting day.

Daily Prompt: Memories of Holidays Past.

Holidays posts by other bloggers on the next page:


Singing to Heaven


Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Luke.

Your feast day, dad.

Luka. What a sweet name.

How would I like you were still around to celebrate with you.  But life has his rules and you passed away leaving behind a deep wound in my soul still open. Why can’t I stop missing you? Why can’t I stop writing about you?. I miss your blue eyes looking at me penetrating, understanding me. I miss your serene smile. I miss your wise words. I miss your laugh. I miss you signing. I miss you reading your poems to mom. I miss your being there for me when I needed you.

How are things in Heaven? Sure you’re happy there. Sure you are there for me too. But I can’t see you.

“So I ask each weepin’ willow

and each brook along the way

and each lad that comes a-whistlin’


How are things in Glocca Morra

This fine day?”

Are you keeping a place ready for me? because I feel I don’t belong there in Heaven.

You must help me a lot as you ever did. I want to see you again. To be with you, to talk with you, but for that you have to help me be a good person and reach that goal. Love God and be good to others as you did. And to be entirely happy, I would like to reach that goal with all the people I love to be together for ever. But I’m so far away. I know you are working to help us because you loved all of us so much.

“Would you hold my hand

if I saw you in Heaven?

Would you help me stand

If I saw you in Heaven?”

I’m sure you would. And despite I feel I don’t belong there, I hope you’ll help me  cross the door and then

“there’ll be no more tears in heaven”

(Thank you Eric Clapton for this beautiful song)

Daily Prompt: Community Service.