Memories

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan." -- Irving Townsend

This is a collection of the various emails and quotes folks have sent us about either their memories of Fezzik or of their memories of his stories. What struck them about him and about his life and, in some instances, about how I told stories about Fezzik. I hope that they give you some flavor for who and what he was.

Liralen



Fezzik is sort of a bounding refutation of Gnosticism. It's just not an altogether evil universe that produces someone like him.
    -- Bruce Baugh



From: tibo@picarefy.picarefy.com
Date: 19 Dec 2000 02:54:34 -0000
To: liralen@eskimo.com
Subject: Re: In memory...

I'm sorry to hear that he's gone, but I'm glad that he had a gentle passing in the company of friends.

I've been thinking about it, and my most vivid memory of Fezzik was the time we were playing tug of war with his piece of anchor cable. It was at a gathering; I don't remember the occasion anymore. I was sitting down on the floor holding onto one end of the figure-eight of cable, and Fezzik was pulling on the other. Then, suddenly, he decided to help me instead, and I was off-balance to brace myself against him. Fezzik was a good puppy and I knew very well that he wasn't going to do anything except maybe push me over gently, but the back of my brain informed me that A Very Large Animal With Teeth Was Going To Knock Me Down And Eat Me! I bet I looked like I was going to have a heart attack. Luckily, John was watching and he told Fezzik to stop -- and Fezzik did, instantly. I got up and gave Fezzik a hug to let him know that it was OK, and that was the end of it. But I'll probably remember him, and that episode, for the rest of my life.
--Tibo



"Isabel Rostykus" wrote:

Dear Phyllis and John,

Finally, I had a chance to get on the computer when Dad isn't using it.
He's been on it a lot, getting the new one setup and then looking up
things on the web.   And I have a free evening.  So it is time to visit
with you and reminisce about our grandpuppy, Fezzik.

I have lots of great memories, but three are really special.  When Emma
was toddling around, we were all gathered at your first house for a
birthday celebration, I think.  We were out in the backyard and Emma was
exploring and Fezzik was following her or keeping tabs on her.   She must
have stopped suddenly and he kept going.  In any case, she fell down on
the grass; Fezzik was poised over her, looking down with a puzzled look.
Jeanette screamed, thinking Emma was hurt when she fell or perhaps Fezzik
had hurt her.  I do not remember that Emma cried or appeared upset.  Poor
Fezzik, he looked around, trying to figure out what was wrong.  His eyes
were so expressive - he seemed to know that somehow he was involved in
the drama, but he couldn't understand why.  It was almost as if he was
saying "What did I do?  I would never hurt Emma.  I like her!"

The other incident occured on Easter Sunday soon after you moved into
your 'chalet'.  You two had invited us to share in the turkey dinner you
had cooked.   It was a warm day in April, so the windows were open on to
the deck.  Fezzik had his head stuck in the window, wanting to join us at
the dining table.  John let him in and told him to lie down, which he did
----for about 5 seconds!  Then his head was up at table level, almost
resting on the table.  Again -lie down, Fez!  And Fez obeyed for 5
seconds.  This went on a few times, until John decided that Fezzik was
not getting the message and needed to be outside and wait for his turkey
treat.  John took hold of his collar and started to lead him back out
onto the deck.  Fezzik had other thoughts.  He sat back on his haunches
and dug his heels in.  His eyes said, "Come on, Dad, give me another
chance, I'll be good."    (Just like a recalcitrant child!)  John was
determined to make him mind and Fezzik was equally determined to stay.
It was a struggle, but John dug his heels in and was finally able to get
him back out on the deck where he had to wait until we finished our
dinner before having his share of the turkey.

The last one - do you remember when you brought home a playmate for
Fezzik so that he wouldn't roam so far from home?  You invited us to come
and help build the pen for the two dogs.  I don't remember the name of
the other which was part Husky, I think.  She was a dominant female and
Fezzik's feelings were definitely hurt when either of you paid attention
to her.  I still can see him stretched out next to the wire fencing with
his head down on his paws watching to see which of you  would pay
attention to that  female next.  His eyes looked so sad.  He wasn't used
to playing second fiddle and wasn't going to like it.  I was so relieved
that evening when you told us that you were going to return her to her
owner; you had realized that you couldn't make Fezzik share you two.
Fezzik was able to keep his place as THE dog in you family.  A happy dog.

Our family did not have any dogs when I was growing up, and, as you know,
John, your family didn't either.  I did not know until Fezzik became a
part of the family,  what an impact a dog can make.  He was a treasure
and I loved him.  I will miss him, when we visit, but what wonderful
memories he provided for us.  He will never leave us completely!

Love, Mom



To: rosty@xilinx.com, Phyllis.Rostykus@xilinx.com
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 23:56:43 -0800
Subject: Memories of Fezzik
From: "George J. Rostykus"

Hello Phyllis and John,

I have been thinking of all the joyous times spent with Fezzik. Even just seeing him in your VW van when he was a few weeks old and was left to watch over 8 to 10 pounds of freshly picked blueberries. He was blue around the mouth and his tummy was well pooched out like a fat football. I don't think his legs could even reach the floor.

I enjoyed his presence at the many gatherings at your home with others. He always seemed to be so friendly with all of the guests; no matter if they were adults, children or various animals. His appetite was always ready to clean up most any morsel at a moments notice.

I remember him at the family picnic at the park over looking the Anacortes area where he was harnessed to a cart and pulled our grandchildren, Emma and Yuri, over the grounds.

I was great to be with him when we took him for for walks or jogs when you lived on the three wooded acres in Redmond. We always started down the middle of the road but always ended up following his sniffing and the various and unusual paths. It was just as enjoyable to join for a walk or jog on the various roads in the Erie area and enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountain view.

We miss Fezzik but will always have fond memories that last forever.

Love, Dad



Subject: Hi! Just few words.....
Date: Sat, 9 Dec 2000 22:27:42 -0800
From: "K.P. Li"
To: "Phyllis Rostykus"

Dear Phyllis:

It was a sad week for us after hearing about Fezzik. I went back to read your journals, and printed the last four days on the web site. We read every word of it. We did have a good cry. Yes! The gentle giant will live in our heart forever. The image of Fezzik and I walked in the woods at Redmond will never fade from my mind. In addition, we are very proud of you two to handle the situation so well, and made such difficult decision at right time. You two did everything what you can. The efforts are admirable. Well, now take care yourself.

Love and many many Hugs,
Dad



Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 13:15:55 -0800
From: Kathryn Tewson
To: liralen@eskimo.com
Subject: Re: I'm so sorry

From: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 12:25:40 -0800 (PST)

> I'm so sorry about Fezzik. Although I never met him, I almost felt I
> knew him from your stories about him. He was clearly a Dog Beyond
> Dogs, and he clearly had such the life that such dogs should have.

That is very good to know that it did come through that clearly.
You once had a story about him not wanting to go somewhere, and he
just sat down and would. not. move. And I laughed and laughed and
laughed and laughed, remembering when my dog would plant and it would
take me and my mother pushing and pulling to get her to move even a
fraction of an inch, and my mother collapsing against the wall and
proclaiming that no substance on earth had a higher coefficient of
friction than a stubborn Labrador.

That's very wise. It's been good, today, hearing from a lot of different
people about their favorite stories about Fezzik and realizing that so much
of his life he was hale, hearty, and a very intelligent dog with a real
personality and way of doing things. It helps to keep it all in
perspective and really did help me figure out just how much of him we'd
already lost in the last month or two, and even in the last six months.
:-) you named him well. He was rollicking and fantastic and clever
and could love a person with an almost fierce intensity. At least
that's the impression I got from reading your words and speaking to
Regis. He was a hundred and ten pounds of Buddha nature.

Thank you, very much, for listening and giving me this. It helps a *lot*
to know someone really *knows* what this is like.

Enough so that I've been telling people stories about *my* dog all
day. I'm remembering her very keenly now.

--kathryn



Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2000 16:21:46 -0700
From: "Bob Hamilton"
To: Phyllis Rostykus ,
John Rostykus
Subject: Re: In memory...

I remember my first party encounter with Fezzik... It was a Synario barbecue at the "house". I was on the deck, waiting in line for one of the burgers that John was cooking. I had a hamburger bun in my hand, and was holding it around waist-high. Now, not knowing Fezzik very well, I had made some assumptions about him:

  1. He is a LARGE dog, and is easy to spot when in the vicinity.
  2. He doesn't like bread.
  3. He's too large and happy-go-lucky to be crafty.

Because of these assumptions, I wasn't prepared for the quick tug that seperated me from the aforementioned bun. I was later to learn some truths about Fezzik:

  1. He likes bread.
  2. When a morsel of food is detected by his scanners, he can suddenly go into "stealth mode", and he will sneak up on you and strike before you know what happened.
  3. He likes bread.
  4. He can grab and swallow a hamburger bun faster than the eye can detect it (if you've ever seen a slow motion film of a rattlesnake strike, you get the picture).
  5. He likes bread.

He also has the amazing ability to act completely innocent after executing the strike. At first I wasn't even sure that Fezzik took the bun. He was standing next to me, but he was looking around in a distracted sort of way, like nothing happened. I looked around the deck to see if I had just dropped it or something (maybe I just imagined the tug), but there wasn't a single crumb to be seen. Of course, after I got to know Fezzik better, there was no question in my mind where the bun went...

Lucky for me, I have many other memories like this. The French Bread incident (he likes bread). The great chicken rescue (dog hero). Watching him eat ice cream at his birthday parties. And my favorite times, when he would just come and put his head on my lap, and let me scratch and pat him to my heart's content.

God, will I miss him...


--Bob



From: "Quixote One"
To: <liralen@eskimo.com>
Subject: RE: In memory...
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 20:39:25 -0500

Liralen,

I sit here, trying to find the right words to say, but they won't come. But the feelings, yes, they come flooding back, all of them. I guess they'll have to do.

I grew up as an only child. Or maybe it would be closer to the truth to say as an only _human_ child -- the other "children" in our house were Mouch, our lovable, sweet, and loving Big Dumb Mutt of a dog, and Smokey, our cantankerous jet-black longhaired poof of a cat, who spent most of 19 years skillfully hiding the fact that she was the real head of the household.

What is it about us humans, that we take in other species not only as our companions or our helpers, but as members of our families? Why do these bonds form -- so strong, and so doubtlessly mutual -- between us and those of God's creatures we choose to bring into our homes?

I don't have an answer for that. But I do know that there are times I miss my "sisters," very much. Like right now.

Peace to you and yours, and deeply felt sympathy. Remember the good.

--Daniel "DanQ" Quackenbush



cec_allison wrote:

John and Phyllis,
        It's tough to lose any member of a family and those of us who have had to
make the decision you just had to make feel for your sadness.  We had to
make the same decision with our first dog and know that sometime in the
future face the probability we'll have to do something similar with our 12
year old dog.  The saving grace is that we can help to make those last days
as good as possible for our 4 leeged family members and provide them an
escape when there is no meaning to prolonging the agony.
        Pets are special, and dogs are wonderful.  You'll always have great
memories of Fezzik even as you start your new family, hopefully including
Fezzik II.

Cec and June



Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 11:28:15 -0800
From: Carl Rigney
To: liralen@eskimo.com
Subject: Fezzik Quotes

So my 3 favorite direct memories of Fezzik are meeting him for the first time in the twilight. I'd just gotten out of the car and he came gallumphing up looking very bearlike and was rather alarming, but very friendly.

And being woken up most unexpectedly by having my nose licked, when I slept over and was at a convenient height for such. I can't really blame him for that; if I were a dog and he were a guest I wouldn't have resisted the temptation either.

And watching him eat his ice cream cone while he kept half an eye on John's ice cream cone just in case it came within range of a quick slurp. That was very entertaining.

"There is something viscerally appealing about feeding a really large mammal with big teeth something that seems as delicate as an ice cream cone." -- Liralen Li, 2000/4/30

"[I]n the water he was all grace, like some mournful looking seal with a huge nose." -- Liralen Li, 2000/8/6

So someone -- I forget who -- once said that parents are our shield against mortality, and a big transition from the immortality of youth to understanding that someday we too will die comes with the death of a parent. So I think that one of the important lessons of having a pet, is learning about death, and how to deal with the loss of a loved one, and that's why it's good for kids to have a pet. So it's very sad that Fezzik is gone, but even in death he taught things worth learning, as in life.

And having read your 12/6 journal, I don't see how anyone could claim it was killing him. You helped him die when that's what he needed, just as you helped him when he needed anything else. You took responsibility for seeing that he died comfortably and not in pain, and that's just as much a part of the responsibility of having a pet as feeding and watering them.

And he did a nice job of training you for a baby by waking you up in the middle of the night, and needing help, and teaching you how to cope with worrying late at night (very handy when the kid reaches his teen years), and by lurking under the table patiently waiting for you to drop something. OK, maybe not that last. And you'll have to figure out burping on your own, but hey, he wouldn't have fit over your shoulder anyway.

If you haven't decided what to do with the ashes yet, there's always scattering them into the wind in the next really big thunderstorm, so the thunder won't miss his barking so much. Or scattering them where he loved to run and play, so that he's still shared with other dogs. I'm sure you and John will think of the exactly right thing to do; you're good at that.

--
Carl Rigney
cdr@telemancy.com

"Old dogs don't ever complain. They don't whine or get depressed or decide they don't want to do anything 'cause they can't do what they used to do. They're willing and eager and loving and brave."
-- Liralen Li, 2000/9/26



Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 15:58:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Johanna Colgrove
To: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>
Subject: Re: In memory...

*BIG HUG* (if you want it)

My favorite memory of Fez is going to Marymore park with the two of you, Fez, John and I and Shadow. And we threw sticks for Shadow in the pond and she'd fetch the sticks and Fezzick would swim after her. She looked like his little sister. But the stick was always her, cause he couldn't care less.

I will very soon share an ice cream cone with Shadow (cold makes Fingal's tummy unhappy). Maybe she'll even get her own.

Love and hugs,
Johanna

------------------------------------------------------
turner@reed.edu Johanna C. Colgrove
Computer User Services Reed College
"Why can't you be a non-conformist like everyone else?"



Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 10:25:44 -0600 (CST)
From: Paul Knappenberger
To: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>
Subject: Re: In memory...

> > All of my stories of him are from your journals, sadly...
>
> Those count! If there's one that you particularly remember would
> be really keen. As not all of my journal entries are on his site. A lady
> who followed my journal said that her favorite was when, as a puppy, Fezzik
> decided he could move no more, so he just. refused. to. move. So I had to
> pick him up and carry him home. So if there's just one that you really
> remember and liked for some reason of your own, I'd love to know.

I remember stories from, I dunno, mid-year of 98, when I was actively keeping up with your journals. Like the beef brisket, which Fezzik liked, and that was a good enough review for you. Stuff like that.

Sorry, I'm lousy with specifics. I just remember he sounded like a great bundle of energy, and more of a friend than a pet.
-paul



Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2000 19:27:00 -0800
To: liralen@eskimo.com
From: Jason Langlois
Subject: Re: [Eag-L] In memory...

At 01:33 PM 12/5/00 -0800, you wrote:
>Last night, at 7:30 MST, we had to put Fezzik to sleep.

I am saddened, and offer condolences and best wishes. My impression of Fezzik has always been, honestly, of a big bear. I remember meeting him and not quite comprehending the sheer size. Yet he was the friendliest, comfiest, best behaved dog I've met. I didn't get to know him in the brief visit, years ago... but I learned to love him from reading your journal entries and putting those stories together with such a large beast. In many ways, I think Fezzik was the product of you and John's love. I am sure his spirit will look down on all three of you (baby and all), with fond memories of the kindness and gentleness you showed him through out his long and good life.



From: "Geoffrey C. Grabowski"
To: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 23:03:36 -0500
Subject: My Memory of Fezzik

I only met Mr. Fezzik toward the end of his life, when he was a big and lovable dog, but very sick. I had heard the stories of all his youthful adventures, but didn't actually meet him until just October of 2001.

I remember when I first arrived at Li's house, having just gotten in from the airport with John, and he was waiting out on the yard like a big shaggy boulder. I remember him wandering by in the morning and sticking his nose into the window -- barking to be let it. I remember when he stood at the bottom of steps looking anxious after Li and I watched King of Masks, and was unsure if he could make it back up with his weak hind legs. I fed him cookies and petted him ubt clearly had no way to handle the situation. Then Li came along, said, "come on Fezzik" and he walked right up the steps, leaving me unsure if I'd been the victim of a canine confidence scam or just seen something really amazing. He was a good dog around little people, even sick as he was, and was very well-behaved at his birthday party.

It's not a lot, but it's enough to make me cry. Fezzik was a good dog, and I'm sad I didn't know him longer.

G.
--
Geoffrey C. Grabowski raindog@raindog.org http://www.raindog.org Swing Heil!
Beware he who would deny you access to information,
for in his heart, he dreams himself your master.
--Comissioner Pravin Lal, Alpha Centauri


Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 18:06:42 -0800 (PST)
From: Jane Beckman
Subject: Re: In memory...
To: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>

Even though I never met Fezzik in the physical, he was such a fixture of your old stories for Callahans and elsewhere that I feel like I knew him, anyway.

Life is a collection of memories.
Life is a collection of stories.

Jilara



From: Liralen Li <liralen@eskimo.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 13:57:46 -0800 (PST)
To: liralen@toybox.flick.com
Subject: Dr. Biller's story

Her favorite moment with him was the one day when he'd had a relatively short chemo treatment but we couldn't get by to pick him up until fairly late in the evening. He'd been having problems with his hind legs on their slick floors. So when no one was looking he'd gotten up, pushed aside the unanchored pen walls and went to the office that had carpeting in it. He hadn't caused any trouble or done anything but lie down on the carpeting and watched people walking in and out of the office.

"Not many dogs do things like that." So she'll remember him for that.



From: Rick Floyd
Date: Sat, 06 Jan 2001 16:00:17 -0500
To: "Li, Liralen"
Subject: Fezzik memorial

We introduced the dogs to ice cream cones today, in Fezzik's memory. They seemed pretty enthusiastic about the idea. Attached is a picture (L to R: Loafer, Carla, James, Rick, Sandal).

There's actually a whole sequence of pictures showing the dogs getting used to the idea of ice cream cones and then searching for more. We'll put some out on a web page and send a pointer soon.

Sorry we never had a chance to share a cone with Fez or to introduce Sandal and Loafer to him. What a dog...

     rick, carla, james, sandal & loafer


Last night I read his web-page/obit, knowing that Fezzik would be quite an age for a Newf based on when I met him; the realization (horrid as it was) that he had probably passed on meant I had to find out. Liralen's journal entries made me cry very hard, not just for Fezzik, but because of that secret lurking fear at the back of mind that one day my own bigs dogs (Leonbergers) -- Galen and Bella -- will no longer be with me... Its why I live *with* my friends/animals. I make every moment matter (or try to)... I then read the puppy stories and his life was framed not by his death, but by how he lived and I went to bed clutching a book (with far too many squiggles in it) about gravity and dark matter to soothe me (yes I know its a weird choice of comfort book but when I like to ponder on the big things I like to ponder on the really big things).

I realised that I wanted to say thanks to Fezzik. When I visited Liralen and John when they lived in a forest in Washington State (on a trip along the Pacific Northwest from San Francisco to Seattle via Portland with Meadow, an ex of mine) many years ago, meeting Fezzik planted a little thought in my head about my life was starting to become too "cut loose", and how I needed to have a "charge", a meditation and a responsibility. In fact now I think about it, I can backtrace my decision to move back to the UK, get a BIG dog (now two!) and buy a small farmhouse with long walks in a forest like Liralen and John's old place back to that visit.

...and how grounding a companionable dog can be! I think Galen and Fezzik would have gotten on really well (maybe they will if there is a waiting space at the Rainbow Bridge)... Galen is a big friendly dog who always smiles, is always happy and always on the lookout for treats, games and other "cool fun stuff"... Galen's not the same as I remember Fezzik, but Galen has developed to be his own person in the same way. Fezzik was no-ordinary dog, and I think meeting him in my dream was a way of saying goodbye, and thank you and also hello to his presense in a world becoming increasingly more real at the same time.

And then the first thing I saw when I woke up was two big beautiful eyes of Bella wanting to get on the bed, nudging me awake so I could let her on...

Which I did.

Goodbye Fezzik. Or rather thank you. I'm so very glad I met you.

- Tanais Fox tanais@livejournal.com


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