Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In Memory :: John Stolarski

It's that time of year when you have the opportunity to re-connect with friends you may not have seen in many years. You dash off a happy note with your card mentioning something you may have shared years ago, suddenly forgetting the relentless march of time - as though you were magically transported back and nothing has changed.

And then the return card comes, with the unfamiliar handwriting and the return address that, although familiar, is not quite right. That happened last night.

 So why am I sharing this?  Because a friend, a dear friend of my parents, is gone. But the loss is significant here because this person sparked my fascination with lettering.  Oh, so long ago. 

 I guess I was 10 years old.  We’d moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and as we looked out the back window of our new house to the neighbour’s, we saw the largest cage we had *ever* seen.  It never took my mother long to solve a puzzle.  That was how we met John Stolarski and his family.  John was an RCMP Dogmaster.  And he loved Italic lettering.  He shared nibs and ink with me and an instruction book that I cannot remember the name of. He took my parents to an RCMP Ball in Regina. He took me out on the bald prairie one weekend, asked for my scarf and told me to go hide.  Then he laughed at my saucer-eyed expression when his huge German Shepherd suddenly found my scent and came roaring over a little rise towards me.  And when we had our first son many years later, he and Mildred brought the gift of a wonderful stuffed bunny with bendy ears.  I remember sitting beside John watching him give that bunny life and character by rearranging his ears, chuckling the whole time. "Mr. B" still sits on the shelf behind my chair. His ears are pretty worn out now, though!
John passed away a few weeks ago and it feels like I’ve lost my parents all over again.
Our paths weave in and out and lives tangle and stray and often come back together.  I haven’t seen the Stolarskis in years.  But the memories are still vivid and never forgotten.  
John never stopped addressing Christmas cards in his jet black, strong Italic hand.  Watch for the next black cloud in the sky.  Perhaps John has spilled his bottle of ink.

My deepest sympathy to Mildred and Shawnee for their loss.  And my apologies to John that this quote, lettered many years ago, isn't even Italic!


  1. My sympathies on the loss of your precious friend. May your memories bring you comfort, and may one day you get to share nibs and paper and ink and stories once again.

  2. Francie in MontrealDecember 20, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    My heartfelt sympathy. Words are just so inadequate at a time like this. But that's all I have. Grief is all it is cracked up to be. It hurts. I wish you courage and strength to get through the journey quickly. Luckily, you have lots of happy memories to comfort and sustain you as you work through your sorrow.

  3. so sad, but glad you have many happy memories. I'm expecting to hear something similar and each year I'm amazed that it hadn't happened yet - I dread the day it happens.

  4. I am sorry to hear about your loss. What beautiful memories of a beautiful man. Your words are truly from the heart. As well, he sounded like a very fascinating person. Hugs.
    suz, in chilliwack

  5. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories. Through your description, he seems familiar.