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Memories from Evelina Vaughan/Elya Alexeeva, Kennebunk, Maine

Though our loss is great, the sense of loss that we, Leonid’s friends, feel is not comparable to the loss that you must feel. Each one of us had a special relationship with Leonid, and so is mine very precious.

The most vivid memory I have is of one winter school vacation in the early 1980’s. I was before the Garmaev’s camp. We had already felt the need to be in a quiet natural place where we could read for children, offer prayers, and just to be ourselves. As cold as it can be in the woods near Moscow that time of year, Leonya with his three little girls, and I with my young Yegor spent a week in an old house at a small village. Everything we had to do was a real task: gathering wood, lighting a stove for cooking, making a fire in the woods with the children at night for warmth and fun, walking a few kilometers to the nearest store for provisions. No matter what we had to do Leonya was strong and tenacious.

When Garmaev’s camp came later there was no question that the leader of our fifteen-eighteen person “family” would be Leonid. But it was not easy to lead many difficult people, children and adults. Leonid’s leadership was a calm, firm and abiding presence. Small or big, Leonya respected and honored each individual. It seems to me now that he knew just what Father Alexander meant when he said, “You cannot really change a child. You can only shine them up.”

Leonid has bound us all together with the fragile thread of an extended family connection that can easily break if we do not make the effort to preserve, nourish and extend that thread to our children. These relationships need to be kept. It is your turn, our children, to become the thriving center of that circle!

With love and prayer,

Evelina Vaughan/Elya Alexeeva

Kennebunk, Maine

July 16, 2009

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