In memory of Ivan Sergeyivich Chilimnic

»  mark    19 Dec 2006 @ 06:23    

This note comes a bit too late. Not only did Olya’s maternal grandfather pass away over a week ago, but words of gratitude, love, and appreciation that are not expressed in life are, sadly, always too late. But I feel to write a few things anyway, the task has been so much on my mind this past week.

Those who knew “Dedushka” well would probably consider the few days I had in February of 2005 to become acquainted with him far too little time. I cannot disagree. Yet some people can make an impact on others very quickly. I did not know Ivan in his younger years, before the struggle between lymphoma and chemotherapy had subdued him. But what I’ve heard about him, and seen of him in photographs, has revealed some glimpses to his character.

Ivan lived a quiet, simple life, raised in the countryside of western Ukraine (now Moldova). I never felt that he dominated conversation or sought to be the center of it, but seemed perfectly content to sit back and enjoy the company of others. He always had a good story to share, though, if you pressed him. And once he got started, he would weave his tale carefully and in such detail, like a seasoned guide that had been over a backcountry trail a hundred times. Indeed, Olya claimed that he told the same stories of his earlier days many times over the years. But the enthusiasm and energy with which he spoke made it seem like it just happened and he was telling everyone for the first time.

There are very few photos of Ivan that do not show him surrounded by his family. They were a source of joy to him and vice versa. Ivan compiled from memory a descendancy chart of his extended family, beginning with his grandparents on both sides. This choice work contains over 150 relatives, and we treasure it.

Perhaps what sticks with me most, is the light in his eyes. There always seemed to be more beneath the surface of this great man than he let on. But he couldn’t hide that in his eyes. Illness can take life from the body, but it cannot dim the soul.

I miss him, though I knew him so little. But I am glad that his physical suffering is over. I look forward to a future day when I can ask him to tell his stories again, and I’ll listen like I’m hearing them for the first time.



  1. I was sorry to hear about your grandpa he sounded like a great man. I love what you wrote mark thats a great tribute!

    ann    23 December 2006 @16:29

  2. Your thoughts are profound Mark. A man with character and love can touch our souls and leave lasting impressions. No matter how many minutes were shared on earth, kindred spirits live on within us.

    Christy    11 September 2007 @10:50

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