Wednesday, July 27, 2016

May God Rest Your Soul, Cousin Charlie

The Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not want . . .
Stained glass window - Newton Presbyterian Church.
This is a difficult piece to write.  There is so much to say that Marash Girl cannot put into words, but she will try her best, through a veil of tears.

Yesterday, Marash Girl's dear cousin Charlie Bilezikian (better known these days as Chuck, and to  outer members of his circle of friends, as the successful founder of the Christmas Tree Shops), Marash Girl's dear cousin Charlie passed away.

Marash Girl would like to tell you about the Charlie she knew way back when they were kids growing up together in Newton. 

Her earliest memories of Charlie begin when he lived downstairs (Auntie Bea, Uncle Kay, Charlie and his older sister Nancy) and Marash Girl and her family (Peter and Jennie and Martha [before James was born], Paul and Zabelle and Pauline [before Johnnie was born], and Grandma Yepros and Grandpa Moses] lived upstairs in the white clapboard house at 474/476 Lowell Avenue, Newtonville.  She remembers playing on those steep stairs with Charlie, going from the first floor to the second and back down to the first floor again -- a game that her parents would never allow her to play, but Charlie and Nancy and the Kasparian cousins loved to play and always included Marash Girl!

Marash Girl got a train set one Christmas that she didn't know how to work -- it was set up on the third floor  (where Grandma and Grandpa lived) in her father's former bedroom  -- she was too young -- but Charlie knew now to work the train; he loved to watch that Lionel streamliner travel in circles around it's little track, and she loved to watch Charlie watch the train . . .

Charlie attended Claflin (Elementary) School as did Marash Girl.
When Marash Girl entered first grade, Charlie was in fourth grade.  Marash Girl always felt confident in school . . . Why?  Because she knew that all she had to do was reach out to her cousin Charlie if she ever needed help and he would be there for her.  

When Marash Girl entered Newton High School, Charlie, of course, was there ahead of her.  He was the most popular boy in high school, and as such had been elected the President of his class.
Everyone loved Charlie; he had a kind word for anyone he spoke with; he always reached out to those around him. . . 

When he became a man, he married wonderful Doreen, and had two children of his own; he set up shop on Cape Cod (the very first Christmas Tree Shop) and became as popular on Cape Cod as he had been in high school.  But being Charlie, he always shared that success with family, and Charlie and Doreen soon began the tradition of sponsoring huge family gatherings every summer at his home in Yarmouth.

The Christmas Tree Shops became wildly popular, and soon Charlie and Doreen set up the Bilezikian Family Foundation, Inc., which reaches out to fund worthy causes on Cape Cod and in Armenia.

To this day, folks (often strangers she meets for the first time on the Cape and in Newton) will say to Marash Girl, "You're Charlie Bilezikian's cousin? What a wonderful guy!"

Now Charlie has gone ahead of us to join his mother Bea, his father Kay, Marash Girl's mother Jennie and father Peter, and Charlie will be there when we join them all one day.  Marash Girl is confident of that.

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