Elana Fric was almost never born at all. Her parents, Jo and Ana Fric, were Croatian immigrants who had settled in Windsor to take up jobs on the line at Chrysler and General Motors. After their eldest daughter, Carolina, was born in 1970, Ana suffered two miscarriages, and doctors told her she’d likely never have another child. When Elana was born in 1977, she seemed like a miracle. She grew into a precocious little girl, spending most of her free time reading.
By the time Elana entered St. Anne’s high school, she was an erudite overachiever who practised Croatian dancing and worked in the cornfields outside of Windsor every summer. She was a distance runner with caramel hair, high cheekbones, a long nose, and blue eyes that squinted into crescent moons when she smiled. After a stint working a torching gun on the auto line, she came home to tell her mother that she didn’t know how her parents endured those gruelling shifts. She resolved that she would make something more of herself.
Elana had a sense of humour to match her ambition. Once, on a trip back to Croatia during high school, she boarded the plane and sat down in an empty seat in first class. When a flight attendant told her to go back to coach with her parents, she said, “Wait until I grow up—I’m going to travel first class.” In high school, she excelled in science and math, and decided she wanted to become a doctor. She recorded her evolving sensibilities in an anthology of poems she wrote during her teen years, titled It’s a Part of Life. “I am the captain of my ship,” she wrote, echoing William Ernest Henley, “navigator of my destiny.” Her poems vacillate between defiance and despair, love and fear. In “Shattered Glass,” she revealed the self-doubt that would follow her through her life: “My reflection stares / into my eyes. A useless girl / whom I despise.”
Source: for MORE