Dear Leeka ,
Two Things Leeka could make any person on earth do….. Think & Feel.
Elizabeth Grecz My Aunt Leeka, The Last of her name. Was A double edged personality that you could only endear. From Squirrels to Spiders, she saw all life as a vital piece of ecology. A Composting Communist & Recycling revolutionary, anyone that knew Leeka Knew she would clarify any waste management discrepancy known to human beings. An animal lover of unconditional magnitude, a loving homemaker of 3 dogs; Fitz, Otis & Luka with too many cats other than the most memorable Stewart to count. where her love thrived, as much as I saw as her nephew, Her nuclear family & fantastic group of sweet animals that would be a signal of the love my aunt had the capacity for.
Even with tensions high between big dogs in the house, she never forsake the offender. Fitz had been ripped open by Otis, a misunderstood dog with a hard upbringing that Leeka found while avoiding the highway during her run-ins with a DUI. Otis was fortunate to be found by Leeka & would always have a home even after running away 10+ times. When Both Fitz & Otis were sick she’d pour her love to help them with eastern medicine, acupuncture & Hydro Treadmill therapy.
My Aunt Leeka was a one of a kind wonder that created a indistinguishably unique place in every person’s heart she came in contact with for better, or for worse. From credit swiping innocent bystanders butt cracks after attending my Great Pani Natasha’s funeral, to always standing strong to the simple pleasures of everyday life most of us forget while in the fast pace rat race of life.
In some many ways we never realize the impact a person has made on us until they’re gone. I personally have had more time than many to prepare for this last moment of gathering to celebrate Leeka’s Life. Since February 2020 I took an active role in organizing Leeka’s belongings and had the privilege of understanding who she was based on the story her belongings told, beyond the told story she commonly spoke.
An animal defender, cartoonist & beloved family member. A true counterculturist, avid reader & devils advocate. A believer in a different path & a ruthless savage(in the good way). A person with her face on plates, 50 ash trays & more newspapers than a person could read in a year. A Suntimes reader of 30 years & a UIC Graduate. An abroad traveler & out of box thinker.
I’ll never forget the story about Leeka as a kid watching TV & Grandmother asking Leeka what she was going to do with her life?…. Leeka’d respond “A TV Critic”. Always a quick witted student with an Ace up her sleeve.
An Avid Viewer of; “The Simpsons” “The Bachelorette” “Baskets” & “Dinosaur train” …… Late Night Shows with James Cordon,John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah.
A Chicagoan as stubborn as any unwilling to leave the city limits of chicago. 4 buildings up the street would be where I’d realize much like a previous scenario that Leeka wasn’t going to get better. As I went to visit I would see the sight of cancer destroying the person you’ll always hold dear & near to our hearts. Fuck cancer, it can happen to anyone 442.4 per 100,000 men and women per year will have a tragedy much like this. Having Time is something we all take for grantiids until the clock has run up & we’re stuck thinking about what could or should have been done differently. As sad as this realization is it’s an opportunity to let little qualms melt to the side, while reaffirming the best of life working towards the ideal goal. This goal I’d say is spending time creating moment’s and experiences that can be shared with love. Exploring unknown territory that will remain a memory until our time, Leeka was a perfect Leeka. A solid character unwilling to change foreknowing the consequences , my Aunt who would be one of the few to ever rattle my moms cage. A true competitor for the stage in the kitchen always bitchin about chicken.
Looking back these are some of the ripest moments we’d share together, the closest proximity that we as a family would ever share. Watching jeopardy like it were an actual contestant & truly competing for the victory.
Leeka, you were my closest aunt. The aunt that I spent late spring of 2007 walking every shape of dog possible. Funny outlandish christmas cards from a nudist white golden Labrador owner. To introducing me to David & Valarie as the first gay couple I ever knew(without thinking anything of it) . Truly she kept the world grey as many would paint as black and white back in the early 2000’s. The real progressive gone treehugger party until the end. A Humane Society contributor & Jehovah's witness entertainer. One of a kind that will never be forgotten, A true reflection of my grandfather Nicholas Greczecnecov.
From teaching me to be a thoughtful dog owner with frosty, to showing me unconditional love for the animals in her care. Water Treadmills & Chemotherapy for Luka, the cost was never a factor. A true companion in this world that i’ll never stop mourning.
In Dark times where no one was there she was, when our family was torn apart from the loss of my grandma she held the line & step up when I needed a foundation. I remember thinking back to 2011 when I moved in with her on Giddings, she would complain about me washing the dishes properly…… we’ll just say she taught me a lesson XD.
Now coming to the ending years of Leeka’s Life, I’d say in her own weird was knew she was passing. And instead of sacrificing her proclivities in life decided to go out with a bang. i’ll be honest the last home experience with her wasn’t anything pretty but instead served as a moment of humility. As I found her facedown on the floor fallen & I was conflicted between shock & worry.
As I checked her to make sure she was conscious I would record a video that at the time regret but now treasure as one of the last intimate moments that I would share with Leeka. All I wanted was her to see her wrong and work towards the better. something all of us have the opportunity to make better for our family’s as a whole. though it might limit a selfish desire it overall benefits the family & this is something each and every one of us has the ability to contribute to.
Leeka & I had a very different relationship from many Aunts that most will have. Though she was my Aunt there was a level of respected peership that we shared. The spit game was a game we both knew well surprisingly. A Broken nose by door knob, Late night Television Viewer & Forever Big Gulp Cup Owner. Limeade Lover & soup sharing pet owner, a pedigree boycotter & Stratified Lover of life.
A unique gardener with old country methods to tomatoes & pest control with chilli paste water. A Tooth paste pimple applicator & Closet photographer. Though the albums weren't organized the thought for each photo was present, urns for each of the four pets that were members of our family; Fitz, Steward, Otis, Luka! All with their own engraved Russian Orthodox Saint Tag for each family member. Though she wasn’t religious she definitely understood the connection between us & the earth.
Now the first quote that comes to mind to encapsulate the spirit of Leeka,
― Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief
“The purpose of life, as far as I can tell… is to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.”
She really had this part of life perfected, no matter the situation would always find a place in our hearts that no one can forget, each piece unique.
Looking back the last 5 years of spending time with Leeka has been a true privilege, getting back to the basics of family is something she has always had a forte in.
What a way to go out with a bang. always remembered, never forgotten
My Only Aunt, Leeka . The person unwilling to follow the status quo to make her own identity as an aunt. never seen before in my lifetime. Unreplaceable .
With All My Love,
Sincerely, Your Nephew…… Julian