Personal Announcement

Alexander Lilacs 2011-08-01Dear friends & family,

You are here because on March 25, 2020, Wednesday, my father Alexander Varshavsky has passed away.

As many of you know, it has been a long road but more recently, Alexander started trying to get up without anyone around to help, resulting in several falls. One of those times he broke his hip and had to be taken to the emergency room. Due to his frail condition, surgery was not an option so my mother and I requested “comfort care” only.

At first we could not visit thanks to the statewide quarantine but we requested an exception and it was granted after two days, when Alexander’s doctors and palliative nurses agreed there was not much time left.

We visited for several hours while Alexander was peacefully “sleeping”. It was a huge relief to see him free from pain and anxiety; we talked to him and held his hand but he did not respond in any way. After a while, we went home to return the next day.

Later that night I received a call from one of the palliative nurses. She went in to check up on Alexander and saw that he wasn’t breathing. At no point there was any change in the peaceful “sleep” that my mother and I saw earlier so it appears Alexander’s passing was blessfully uneventful. The doctor announced the time of death at 10:06 pm.

Because of the quarantine, we were not permitted to have an in-person funeral or ceremony of any kind; nor was it possible for family & friends from out of town to fly in. It was perhaps for the better, as both Lara and Alexander wished for a small, private burial.

Alexander Temple Israel cemeteryOn Friday March 27, we buried Alexander at a cemetery here in Minneapolis, not far from the grave of my father-in-law Millard. It was a beautiful sunny day; myself, my mother Lara, my husband Jonathan, our 10 year old son Jack, and my mother-in-law Barbara were present. Everyone had a chance to tell stories, share both tears and laughs, and say our good-byes.

There is one particular story that I’d like to share. It is something I think about when I get anxious, as we all do during this pandemic.

Alexander youngAlexander (on the left) was a young boy when World War II broke out, no more than 10-12 years old. He grew up in a privileged family but when the Germans started bombing his hometown of Chisinau, they scrambled to escape with not much more than the clothes on their back, just like everyone else. There was one particular day when his mother managed to arrange transport to Odessa – a port city which she thought would offer an escape route – but Alexander refused to leave unless they went to his grandma’s house to get his violin, as he was a promising young talent. So all across town they went to retrieve his violin in the midst of a bombing raid. Several days later, while they were en route to Odessa, their vehicle was hit by a stray bomb shard right where Alexander was sitting. Miraculously, it was the violin that saved my father’s life – it took the hit and shattered into pieces leaving young Alexander unharmed.

From that day on, Alexander’s life continued to be punctuated by peril and joy but he died in peace, 1 month 1 week and 1 day after his 90th birthday, with the world’s most beautiful woman on his arm, and a full head of luxurious hair most men half his age could only dream of.

May we all be this lucky.


For those who asked, tribute donations can be made here.