|FAMILY ISKRA Eulogy – Milan lskraOur dad, Milan lskra, was born on the 2~nd of April 1936, in Novokračine, Slovenia (it was during the Italian occupation of this region). He was the youngest of six children to his parents, Frančiška and Anton. He told us his childhood times were hard and it was a struggle to survive. One particular memory was that he feared the strict Italian school teachers. Even if he knew the answer, he was too scared to respond to the question and was therefore often physically punished.
In 1956, at the age of 20, he left home (which had become communist Yugoslavia), with his brother lvan and some others. They fled over the border to a refugee camp in Italy with nothing else· but the clothes they were wearing. The 21 months he spent in the Italian camps he considered a great waste of time waiting around. Along with his brother lvan they were hoping to go to Canada but dad didn’t pass the physical examination due to malnutrition. Luckily they were both accepted to go to Australia. But whilst waiting for their passports, dads went missing and his brother sailed alone. Dad followed in 1958 on the ship “Fiaminia”.
Upon arriving in Melbourne, he met up with his brother lvan who had found a place for them to stay with the Vadnal family in Moonee Ponds. They both found jobs to pay their dues. Some of the places he worked over the years were Essendon Council, Olympic, Sims Metals, Mckay Engineering and finally at Rudy’s Garden Supplies. He was very flexible as his job roles were varied but he mainly worked as a Fitter and Welder. Dad and uncle lvan even worked for some time on the Snowy Mountain Scheme in the early 60’s. I remember dad telling me how he had to travel there in the back of an-open grocer’s truck all the way up the old Hume Highway.
After several years of working hard and saving, in 1966 he returned to his home town in Slovenia for a holiday with his good mate Edo Surina. lt sounds as if they had a great time as they extended their stay, and were constantly partying and catching up with family and friends. lt was at this time he met our mother, Maria. They married in 1967. Dad returned to Australia by ship and then sent mum an airline ticket to land at Essendon airport. The story I heard was that when mum landed there was nobody there to meet her. Dad and all his friends were at the pub celebrating her arrival and lost track of time (she definitely was not impressed).
Together they built their present home in East Keilor, close to their other family and
friends. There was a strong Slovenian community in this region and dad loved the
Slovenian traditions, helping one another, socializing and having a few drinks, singing, laughing … so on. lt was here that mum gave birth to myself in 1969 and then to my sister Sylvia in 1971. He worked hard to provide and establish our family with all the opportunities that this new world offered. He loved his family and dedicated his time and attention to them. He was very proud of us and was always there to share with us our achievements, our happy times and our sad times. A couple of his happiest moments were when he became a father in law to Rado and a “nono” when Nina came along. Dad and Rado got along well and he enjoyed the shots of whiskey or rakija together.
I have so many fond memories of him. A notable one would be when he and I went to
Slovenia with the men’s’ singing choir in 1982. There I really witnessed how he and his brother lvan loved to socialise with family and friends, it was a fantastic period.
Dad and his brother lvan were so close throughout their lives. They were inseparable and our families enjoyed life together whether we were making wine or sausages or anything really. When uncle lvan passed away 20 years ago it really affected dad. Something died inside dad and he was never really the same.
Dad was always there for me and helped me where needed with my projects, be it welding, motorcycle, car or any other general problems, finding solutions particularly on the engineering side of things. He taught me many lessons and morals in his own· special way.
He was one of the founding members of the Slovenian Social Club Jadran, which became like our second home. At the club he helped whenever he could or whenever he was needed and was a committee member for many years. He even was in the men’s choir and bowling club. He always looked forward to going there every Sunday afternoon to catch up with friends and to play cards. He stayed true to the club right to the end.
At the age of 60 he retired after having a heart attack. Soon after he had a stroke, trouble with his prostate, aggressive skin cancer on his foot and almost at the same time he severely broke his other leg, so he seemed to spend a lot of this time in hospitals. His health and other problems in his life broke him. In the end he preferred to just stay at home.
He had his own special corner where he liked to read and spend his time in his own world.
Dad was raised humbly; he grew up humble and stayed humble throughout his life. He was a very sensitive in nature, and would never intentionally hurt anyone, and was hurt if someone offended him. His common reply to questions of ‘how are you’, ‘how’s your health’, or ‘how have you been’ was always responded with · ‘I’m good’ or ‘alright’ even when sick or in pain. He never wanted to burden anyone, that’s the type of man he was. He was quiet in nature and a reliable and trust-worthy man. For this he was loved by all his family, friends and acquaintances.
Right now I’m sure he is with his brother lvan who he missed so much and all his other brothers, sisters and parents who have already passes away. They along with Rado are now laughing and having a drink or two that’s for sure.
I love my Dad
I am so proud of my Dad
I am honoured to have been his son
Goodbye Dad – son Albert