Tribute to Andy

IN MEMORY OF ANDY:

A commentary on Andy's passing by Lorraine Fell

Author of his story, No Longer On the Run

 

Andy Klischenko lived with an instinct for survival. We felt he would live forever. At age 89 Andy remained active, in good health. He had already beaten the odds of survival in the Ukraine, outliving the dangers and perils of war, the years incarcerated in a German Prison camp, making a final escape to safety in England. Throughout his long life he adapted to the challenge of change, determined to keep his own gentle and kindly spirit intact; an instinct that served him well in his many years in a new life in Canada.   

         Andy was born in Kiev in 1925. After the war, in 1952 he married Eva Wundlich in London, England. In 1955 the couple decided to immigrate to Canada, where they raised a family of three children. Andy obtained work in Oshawa at General Motors where he worked for over 30 years at many jobs in the plant. When he retired, he was applauded for having never missed a day’s work, and for never being late—to which Andy responded, "I never had a reason.”

After his retirement, in 1985 Andy and Eva moved to a new home on Baptiste Lake, and should have lived there happily ever after. However in 2001 Andy’s wife Eva died. Grief and loneliness forced Andy once again to make a major change in his life. He decided to move to Bancroft, where he met his neighbour Shirley Palmer. The two became friends and eventually both agreed to begin a new life together.

 Andy was honoured to become the first non-native Canadian member of the Royal Canadian Legion. He was proud to carry the Canadian Flag in his last march with the Legion on Remembrance Day.

On his last birthday November 30, Andy anxiously awaited the delivery of a new tractor with a bucket. When it arrived he immediately put it to work moving the soil from the empty lot beside his home, where he had created a new entrance onto York River Drive. Andy and Shirley were planning to build a new one-story home on this lot in the spring.

         On Christmas Day at dinner, fate intervened and Andy was rushed to Kingston Hospital with head pain. He went into a coma from which he never recovered. Andy  passed away peacefully in hospital on Friday January 2, 2015.

          He will be sorely missed by Shirley and the Palmer family; his children and his many grandchildren; and indeed all those who had the distinct pleasure of knowing him.

         I felt especially privileged to know this man, and to hear and understand his thoughts throughout the months of interviews and talks we had while writing his life story. Delving into his past growing up in the Ukraine, hearing the hardship and tragedy of his early life, I came to understand the pain and fear he had lived through. Recounting events in his life came easy to him; revealing how he felt at the time did not. When I tried to interpret his feelings into words, then read him what I wrote, he said, "You know, when I hear the words, I feel like I was right back there, and I’m just shaking inside.” Yet he seemed relieved to talk about it at last, like getting rid of a great thorn in his side.  

         In talks like this we decided on a title for the book: One day he said, "I feel I’ve lived so many years of my life always ready to run, but not anymore.” I said, "What about No Longer on the Run as the title then?” Andy replied "That’s it!” And the book’s title was decided.

         After the book launch last summer, Andy came to enjoy and look forward to talking to different groups about his life, inviting them to ask questions. A new audience asked different questions, and Andy surprised us with new revelations and anecdotes of his life. Before Christmas, he was looking forward to meeting with Ukrainian groups in Toronto in the New Year. Sadly, that won’t happen now. Still, the courage he showed in re-living his life lives on in his story, in tribute to this ordinary man who lived in extraordinary times, and survived long enough to tell about it.

Farewell Andy, may you forever rest in peace.