Eulogy for my father 
12th-Apr-2013 10:28 pm
Farscape John embrace (from sdwolfpup)
I know I haven't posted here in a long time, but my father died very early on Wednesday morning, and we had the funeral for him today, and I just wanted to save the speech I gave at the funeral.

So here is my eulogy for my father, may he rest in peace.

Hello everyone. Thank you all for coming here today to honor the memory of my father.

When we were sitting together on Wednesday, the evening after my father's death, trying to put into words just how much my father had meant to all of us, how much we loved him, and how much we would all miss him - trying to speak around the great chasm that seemed to have opened up in us now that my father wasn't with us anymore - my uncle finally sighed and said, "well, now we truly know that Andrei is not here. He would have known what to say."

And it's true - no matter the situation, my father always seemed to know just the right thing to say, just the right way to approach things. There have been many times when I found myself facing what I would think of as some kind of insurmountable problem, and I would tie myself in knots trying to think of a solution, and it would all just seem completely impossible - and then I would finally give up and ask my father for advice, and he would break down the situation with the same calm logic that he would apply to any math problem and after just a few minutes of talking to him, my own problem would not feel quite so insurmountable anymore, and I would know exactly what to do.

So of course I truly miss his calm logical view of the situation now that I am faced with the insurmountable problem of trying to figure out how to live a life without him in it.

But the truth is, I don't feel like my father is really gone. I feel like he lives on through all of us, through all the lives that he's touched, and all the people whom he inspired to do great things.

I think it's fair to say that my father had a happy life. He was living his dream - he was doing what he loved, surrounded by so many people whom he loved and who loved him back; he got to travel to amazing places and meet and make friends with so many people he deeply respected, who all shared his deep joy and love of mathematics. He accomplished great things in the field of mathematics that later inspired so many other people to also make their own great discoveries. How many people in the world can honestly say that they spent their lives doing exactly what they've always dreamt of doing?

But it wasn't enough for him to simply do what he loved to do. He wanted to share that love with other people, too. He wanted teach others to see the same beauty in mathematics as he did.

My father was a great teacher. He taught me how to take joy in life, and that I should always make room in my life for doing things that I love. He taught me what it means to truly love what you do, the excitement that comes with figuring out a problem, the wonder in sharing it with other people who are as excited about it as you are. He taught me what it means to truly know and understand a subject inside and out, rather than just knowing some of the surface facts about it, and what a difference it makes to your understanding of the world. He taught me what it is I should aspire to.

In the past few days, we have been receiving messages from all over the world from people who shared our grief over my father being gone, and many of them said the same thing - that my father inspired them and changed their lives for the better, that they considered him an example of how they would want to live their own lives.

So after seeing all the people my father made a difference to, all the lives that he has changed for the better, how can we say that he is truly gone? I think that a part of him lives on in all of us - in his children and grandchildren, in all the people that he's taught and worked with and inspired.. And as long as we all still remember him, and feel the impact that he made on our lives, as long as we try to pass on the lessons that we learned from him to other people so that we can inspire them, too, I believe that he will never truly be gone. So thank you, all of you, for helping to keep my father's memory alive.

(End of eulogy.)

He was an amazing man. (And I am not just saying that as his grieving daughter - he truly was amazing, and he touched so many lives, all over the world.)

There were close to 400 people at the funeral (I don't know exactly how many, but we were told that the hall where we held the funeral had about 400 seats, and there were not a lot of empty seats left), which was held this morning, on Friday, a workday, in a small town far from the center of Boston that you can't easily get to without a car. And this is despite the fact that I know for a fact that a lot of his really close friends and students could not make it to the funeral because they were in other parts of the world, and simply could not make it in time, no matter how much they wished they could.
13th-Apr-2013 03:02 am (UTC)
I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to him.
13th-Apr-2013 03:20 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! *hugs*

We were hoping to the very last moment that something might be done to save my father, so it was something of a shock when he died. It is never easy, though, I know.

(This has been a truly horrible half a year for my family. I lost two of my grandparents, and now my father, in the span of about 6 months. I'm just really hoping we are done with all this death now (*knock on wood*); I am not sure I can handle anything more.)
13th-Apr-2013 12:32 pm (UTC)
I lost two grandparents close together, and that was hard enough without losing my father, too. Take good care of yourself.
14th-Apr-2013 02:53 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm trying to take it one day at a time, for now.
13th-Apr-2013 04:56 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing.
14th-Apr-2013 02:55 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you.
13th-Apr-2013 05:07 am (UTC)
Oh, I am so sorry to hear this. Thank you for sharing your tribute. A part of the people we lose does live on (continuity, the mathematician might say), and there is also the part that exists outside of time; the parts that built you up to who you are. The past is untouchable and immutable and true, irrespective of the sense that it seems to get farther away.

He taught me what it means to truly know and understand a subject inside and out, rather than just knowing some of the surface facts about it, and what a difference it makes to your understanding of the world. This is why the world is so much better for teachers and thinkers. It doesn't matter the subject; whether it's a rarefied theory or in the trenches of applications, math or history or whatever. This knowledge is precious, and it lives on in family as I see from your story. And from my experience it lives on too with students who may never have had such role models growing up. I know I didn't, and I am only now understanding the depth that kind of knowledge, learning and guidance has.

I am so sorry for your loss.
14th-Apr-2013 03:47 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you so much for your kind words!

This is why the world is so much better for teachers and thinkers. It doesn't matter the subject; whether it's a rarefied theory or in the trenches of applications, math or history or whatever.

This is exactly right! I'm so glad to see that what I meant to say really came across, because I feel like this might be one of the most important things I learned from my father.

When my father was very young and just starting out in math, he got a chance to attend some seminars with one of the greatest Russian mathematicians, I M Gelfand, and listening to him talk about mathematics completely transformed the way my father thought about math, because it made him understand what it's like to truly know mathematics, to feel it on a fundamental level. Ever since then, my father has had a very firm belief that it's vitally important for young students who are only starting out in math to spend at least some time with the true experts in the field. He said that even if those aren't truly great teachers, just having a chance to hear the way they think about math, how they make connections between things, can move students to a completely new level of understanding of mathematics.

I never really understood what he meant until a few years ago, when I was taking some statistics class, and was having trouble in it, and ended up talking to my dad about it. Now, my dad has always said that statistics was not his field of expertise. (He said he found it counter-intuitive.) And yet, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I learned more in just a half an hour of talking to him about it than I had in years of statistics classes. Just listening to the way he approached the problems made me realize the connection statistics has to other fields of mathematics, how statistics is a special case of a much wider field of study.

It was a very profound moment for me - that was the moment I truly understood what it's like to truly understand math - that you can approach problems not so much with the just purpose of solving them, but with the purpose of seeing how they fit in with other things, seeing what connections you can make, seeing how all of mathematics fits in together, how pretty much everything in mathematics flows from from just a few fundamental things, and how beautiful that is.

I feel very lucky that I had the chance to make this discovery, and I wish more students had the same chance, as well. It makes me really sad that my father is not around anymore to help people learn it.
13th-Apr-2013 06:10 am (UTC)
I'm really sorry. And that's a really good eulogy.
14th-Apr-2013 03:48 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you! I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to do my father justice.
13th-Apr-2013 11:05 am (UTC) - re:
Dear Kate,
I was one from students of your father in 1980 when he was a lecturer in People university in Moscow (These period of his life he described in his paper in Mathematical education.)
Last days I found paper and two math problems that he did not publish in his site - I think they could be published in his memorial site and
be in your arxive. Keeping always memory about Andrei
Roman, Jerusalem

Here the links.
14th-Apr-2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Roman! I've heard a lot about my father's time teaching at the People's University, so it's great to talk to someone who was in the classes there! And we were just talking recently about how we would like to find some of the problems my father had for school-age children, so it's really nice to see these problems.

I've never seen the format that the magazine, Kvant, is in, though - .djvu. Do you know if there is a program that can read it, or maybe convert it to some other format, like pdf or epub?

Also, I have no idea how this comment ended up in the spam filter! Sorry about that! Things like that didn't happen back when I still posted regularly on livejournal.

(By the way, if it is easier for you to write in Russian, that is fine with me as well. I am not great at writing in Russian, but I am happy to read it.)
14th-Apr-2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
There are browser plugins for djvu, as well as standalone programs. You can even read it on a smartphone.

http://djvu.org/ is adequate for desktops. On a smartphone, just install an appropriate app.

The format is great for representing scientific literature. Converters to pdf exist but reading the original djvu is more convenient.
15th-Apr-2013 03:42 am (UTC)
Thank you, cema! I will try djvu.org, then.
20th-Apr-2013 05:18 pm (UTC) - re:
Dear Kate,
Sorry for delay with my reply due to my absence.
It's not a problem for me to write in English if you understsand me.
I would like to tell you that from my life experience there is one thing that we can do for our friends who were the Scientists when they passed away - the Memorial site with their papers & memorials. The personal page in University site can dissapear at either reconstruction.
At the moment due to lifejournal spam filters - may be you can send me your e-mail for simplicity of communication and I would like to send you any Andrei's related materials that I hope to find in net. At the moment two new links that are look significant for Andrei personality(next comment due to the mentioned filter)
Best wishes,
13th-Apr-2013 12:04 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry for your loss and I wish you and your family only good things from now on. That was a really lovely eulogy.
14th-Apr-2013 03:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really, really hope we are done with all this death. I don't think I could take any more. :(

Wand to do something sometime? I feel like I haven't seen you in a really long time, and it would kind of be nice to take my mind off things.
14th-Apr-2013 12:03 pm (UTC)
I absolutely would! Just let me know when's good for you.
17th-Apr-2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
I emailed you, but then it occurred to me that I might not have the right address anymore. Has it really been that long since we talked?! That just feels wrong to me!

I hope you are OK after Monday's marathon bombing!
13th-Apr-2013 12:25 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I am sorry to hear about your loss, Katya.
14th-Apr-2013 03:56 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you! It has been an absolutely terrible year for us. I'm just hoping that it gets better from now on, because surely this can't go on! (*knock on wood*)

I feel like I haven't heard from you in a very long time! How have you been doing?
13th-Apr-2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
That was a beautiful eulogy, Katya. I'm very sorry for your losses.
14th-Apr-2013 03:57 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you so much for all your support! I'm sorry I've been so slow to respond recently, but I really do appreciate it.
13th-Apr-2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. My condolences. He sounds like a wonderful man and your eulogy was a wonderful tribute.
14th-Apr-2013 04:04 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you so much. I was trying really hard to do my father justice, but it's just so difficult to put it into words!
13th-Apr-2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
So many condolences. Your father sounds like a treasure -- and what a gorgeous eulogy you wrote -- and I hope your memories of him are a comfort always. Wishing you and your family much peace.

(I've had the kind of year you're having before and, oof. It is unbelievably hard; you might look back some day and have no idea how you survived it; but you did and you will. Take care of you as much as you can right now.)
14th-Apr-2013 04:16 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I am just trying to take it one day at a time, for now, and I know the rest of my family feels the same.

Writing the eulogy actually did help, because I do believe that we live on through other people even after we pass away, and my father left a big mark on a lot of people. It's still really difficult, though. *sigh*
13th-Apr-2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
That is an absolutely beautiful eulogy.

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I remember you speaking about him and could tell then how much you loved and admired him.
14th-Apr-2013 04:24 am (UTC)
*hugs you* Thank you, Kerlin!

It sounds like it's been a horrible year for a whole lot of people. I just hope whatever it is that's been going around *stops*, because I don't know if I can bear any more of this.

I'm sorry we haven't gotten to talk much lately. I hope things are going well for you! I often wonder how you are doing, and feel sad that we've kind of lost touch with each other.
20th-Apr-2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
I agree - 2013 has had an unfairly high ratio of tragedy to joy. Especially with this past week.

I will be down in Boston occasionally over the coming months - we should meet up for lunch or a movie or dinner! Or if you ever want to get away from the city for a weekend in beautiful Vermont, please let me know at any time - we have a guest bedroom and I'd be genuinely happy to host and see you.

Are you still at the same email? I'll ping you when I know I'll be in the area.
14th-Apr-2013 01:02 am (UTC)
Oh no, I wondered when I didn't hear back on that last email. I am so sorry, and all my sympathies for you and your family. I am glad that I had the chance to meet him once. I will always remember how he (and you!) was so excited about math and wanted to share that excitement, and how much that was just one part of the love I could tell he had for all of you. ::hugs:: And let me know whenever I can do anything.
14th-Apr-2013 04:31 am (UTC)
I am so sorry I didn't reply to your email! I was going to, but then I spent the whole day at the hospital with my dad, and he died that night, and things just... kind of got away from me.

I remember introducing you to my father! I'm glad you got a chance to meet him, too. :)

And we should still get together sometime!
14th-Apr-2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
Katya, I'm sorry for your loss. I have met your father only when I was a kid. And I remeber his kindness very well. I enjoyed reading his blog... My condolences to Galya and Leo.
Alex Podobryaev.

Edited at 2013-04-14 05:55 pm (UTC)
15th-Apr-2013 03:40 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words, Alyosha! I really appreciate them.

I remember when we were both little kids, studying English together - it really doesn't feel like all that long ago, somehow. And yet, so much has changed since then!
16th-Apr-2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so terribly sorry for the loss of your father (and what sounds like it's been a year of loss). You and your family are in my thoughts, and the eulogy is a lovely, loving tribute to someone who clearly touched so many lives.
17th-Apr-2013 02:20 pm (UTC)
*hugs you tight* Thank you so much! Yeah, it's been a pretty horrible year. I'm just really, really hoping that this is it, and nothing more will happen. I have had enough of death!

And it's so great to hear from you! I was so happy to hear about your wedding! I'm sorry I haven't been checking livejournal recently, so I missed the pictures that you posted, but I looked just now, and they are lovely. You look beautiful, as always. :)
23rd-Apr-2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Материал памяти А.В. Зелевинского в газете ученых и научных журналистов "Троицкий вариант-Наука" http://trv-science.ru/2013/04/23/on-uchil-nas-matematike-i-radosti-zhizni/

Светлая память Вашему отцу...
28th-May-2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
I am really sorry for my late reply, but thank you so much for letting me know about this article!
27th-May-2013 01:06 pm (UTC)
Примите, Катя, мои искренние соболезнования. Я тоже помню его таким, как на его аватаре. Мы однокурсники. Больно.
28th-May-2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words. It's been more than a month and a half now, and I can still hardly believe that he is really gone.
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