YEGOROV email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-15 published
Great-grandmother, babushka, mother, artist, gardener, free spirit. Born April 9, 1909, in Terijoki, Karelia, Finland (now Zelenogorsk, Russia). Died March 12 in Sutton, Ontario, of old age, aged 98.
By Nadine Ryan BANNERMAN, Page L6
Zoya and her family evacuated to northern Finland during the Second World War. Her father, who worked in Russia, returned to collect important work and was not seen again. Zoya and her sister, Nina, mourned his loss deeply. Eventually the family, including their mother, Maria, settled in Helsinki.
In 1959, Zoya ended her marriage and immigrated to Canada. She worked for a Toronto fur store for a number of years, bought a house in the Beaches and paid the mortgage with rent from lodgers. Zoya was both creative and pragmatic. At the end of her shift at work she would collect scraps of fur to take home, and after she retired she made herself a gorgeous fur coat. Always generous with her time, possessions and talents, she also made coats for family members.
Her house was a showcase for her artistic talents. She created wild gardens outside, and populated the interior with original paintings, sculptures and mosaics that she and her two daughters, Zina and Olga, created. The decor changed frequently depending on her interests. A lavender satin bedspread she'd made herself turned up later as an elegant dress worn to a wedding.
One of Zoya's lodgers was Konstantin YEGOROV, who needed a place to stay after his marriage broke up. Kon and Zoya found they shared many interests, and they remained loving companions until he died at 87.
The peaceful life they enjoyed in their 60s - visiting with Friends, attending the ballet and the opera, watching hockey - was interrupted by the arrival of Kon's adolescent grandchildren, Nadine and Danial, to live with them. Zoya generously cared for them, making endless grilled cheese sandwiches and trying to get them to love wild mushrooms and dandelions in their salads.
Once, when Zoya's grand_son Henry remarked in dismay, "Babushka, there's a slug in my salad," she was unsympathetic. "You, big strong boy, afraid of so little a thing from nature?" she said, with a pronounced and endearing Russian accent that we remember so well.
After Kon retired, they moved to Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe. Babushka loved to walk every day. She travelled to visit her daughters, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Youthful-looking and beautiful, she was healthy and strong. But when she broke her leg recently and could no longer walk every day, her spirit declined.
Known as "Cucoo" to Danial's children, she is much missed by her family, Kon's family and all who knew her. Now, however, as Danial said, she can again walk in her garden every day.
Nadine Ryan BANNERMAN is Zoya's step-granddaughter.
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