Monday, March 17, 2008

The Funeral

I’d like to start by thanking each of you for being here to experience Boris Vlasenko, his life and his ways. Perhaps to you he is your oldest friend, your lover, your newest friend, a part of your family, your friend’s father or simply, the man whose being and vibration you’ve come to honor; just for today. My father always said that if in a life time, a man could count his friends on one hand, he could count himself lucky. I’d like to suggest that my father was beyond lucky; for his life, his perseverance and his charm were born of sheer effort and intention.

My Dad knew that he was blessed for being loved and liked by so many, but, like the rest of us, he could never put his finger on the reasons why. As I called each of you to tell you he had passed away, many of you shared your thoughts about him with me. You used words like unique, special, witty, influential, neat, intelligent and compassionate. I would like to offer those compliments to him today.

Among these great compliments, none of you mentioned that he was bigger than a building. As a child, I thought he was. How unsettling it was to pass a building with him and see him glide through it inches below the door frame. As my depth perception and reality matured I realized of course, that he wasn’t as big as a building but I did go on to win all school yard bets about whose Dad could beat up whose Dad, or whose Dad was bigger than whose Dad.

When my Dad arrived to pick me up at school, we all watched him coming down the hall in slow long legged strides towards me. When he would bend at the torso to pick me up, it seemed to take so long for his face to finally connect with mine, and when it did, all the kids could feel his love.

Before Boris died he wished that his life and his death would come together like rain drops hitting a river. Today I seek solace in knowing that it did.

Boris was a lover of cities; from the ghosts of his heritage in Leningrad and Kiev to the billboards in Chicago, the daily death of chickens in Kensington Market, the crisp white concrete Rues of Montreal, to the smoke stacks and broken warehouse windows of Boston, he loved the city and the shot; for photography captivated him for many years

Through his lens, I see him at the top of Coney Islands’ Ferris Wheel; one of his favourite spots. At the peak of its cycle, he turns in slow motion to suck in the magic around him; like the Chinese man who could suck up the sea; my father sucked up life. As the wheel drops and stops at each level he feels no lower or higher than before; he is merely grateful for the change in perspective. I’d like to offer that like rain drops hitting a river, Boris has simply come to a new spot on his Ferris wheel.

Boris was a custodian of all memories. He kept them clean and colorful and ready to be pulled from the archives of his mind on a dime. When he shared his memories, he used his tongue to polish them as they came to life and made noise among us.

My father was a teller of jokes; while his repertoire included the standard knock knocks, and “a guy walks into bar…”, he could also sing Jingle Bells in Russian without cracking up and was never afraid to embarrass himself in the name of humour.

Boris is the owner of many a lesson. He was his own teacher and among many lessons he came to love the delicacy of humble pie. Towards his last days with us, he asked that his ego be pushed aside in the name of truth and he wanted to contribute more by faith and kindness than by smartness.

My father admired characters in fiction for he knew that if he hadn’t met them all, they all lived inside of him. He was touched that so many authors could write about him so accurately.

My Dad was a builder of families, one that became two and two that became one. My brother Jonas, my father’s wife Maria, my mother and my husband Kelly are united through him now.

My Dad was a thinker, a believer and a fighter; he was bigger than a building.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so sorry that I missed him.