On behalf of my mother Ania, my brother Andrew, my aunt Roza, and my nieces Annie and Lila, I would like to thank everyone for helping us say goodbye to Jakub Wilczynski.
The past few months have been remarkably difficult. I want to thank my mother who has been a tireless advocate for my dad for years. She has done the heavy lifting – physical and emotional – at the most difficult times. Doing this during normal times is a huge challenge. In this era of COVID – it has been near impossible. I want to thank all the physicians, nurses and health care professionals who helped take care of him.
I also want to thank my brother for what he has done to help my parents through these most traumatic times. I love him, Cherish, Annie and Lila dearly and am grateful that they were here every day for Jakub.
There is a great deal one can say about Jakub – Kuba to his friends and relatives. He was a passionate man. He held his beliefs strongly and was never shy to share them – even when his voice was taken by throat cancer.
His life was affected by some of the great forces of the twentieth century. Born on the precipice of World War Two – he survived the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. Trauma was an early fixture of his life since he was wounded in a train accident when he was just a young boy.
In the aftermath of the war, and upon return to Poland, his father died at an early age. He was not dealt easy hands in the early years of his life. Though these challenges made him strong.
He was bold in always confronting the antisemitism of his time. He and my mom made the decision to leave Poland after the purge of Jews by the Communist Regime in 1969. He was fiercely proud of who he was and was determined to live life on his terms.
Despite the two historic forces that shaped his life, he lived life in the moment.
When he came to Canada – he built a life for his family. He built lifelong friendships with others who shared a similar journey. These are people – many who are joining us virtually today – who he loved dearly.
He was passionate about being an engineer. He loved his job and revelled in the work with colleagues over a career that he retired from when he was in his 70s.
He was a dedicated husband and father who was immensely proud of his family. His support for Andrew and me is something that we will always cherish.
I remember when I came out to my dad. I was petrified of telling him I was gay. When I finally mustered the courage – his reaction was nonchalant. “Did you think I was blind?” He said. I never felt his love for me ever wavered. His support for Randy and me over the past 33 years was remarkable for a man of his generation and background.
He was incredibly proud of Andrew and the life he and Cherish have built here in Vancouver. His pride and joy are his two granddaughters – Annie and Lila. He loved you very much and you always brought him much joy.
I want to save my last few words for his love that lasted the longest – until his last breath. For my mother. For Ania.
My dad’s love for my mom was profound. Over the course of 6 decades they built a life together. It wasn’t always easy – but it was based in love. Mom – thank you again for everything you have done for dad over the many years together. Through good years and times when his health failed him. Your love and support brought him comfort and peace to the end.
Dad – you lived passionately. There was never an argument you didn’t want to have. There was rarely an argument you lost. You taught me well.
You taught me to be passionate and to take risks. You taught me the importance of being true to myself and my identity – particularly being a Jew in an often hostile world. You taught me to have convictions and values. These lessons have guided me my whole life.
Dad – thank you for everything you have done for us. We love you.