Good Food and Warm Hearts


As my brother pointed out on Saturday, our mother loved a good party. So did our father. Here they are celebrating in Delhi in 1971.

Last Saturday about 60 people gathered to remember my mother at the Play House here at Singing Brook Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts.

Up until the last minute we weren’t entirely sure how many people were coming. I did ask people to let me know … but I wasn’t worried when I didn’t hear from a lot of them. I knew there would be plenty of food–there always is at pot lucks–and plenty of good company. Of course, I was right. (I usually am.)

In the end we were missing a few people we expected (a couple of them called a day or two later and asked me to remind them when the party was!) but gained a few we hadn’t expected but were thrilled to see.

The day was pleasant enough to enable some guests to sit outside to eat lunch. We all came inside when it was time to remember Jan/Taffy officially.

Many of the speakers and guests were relatives. My mother’s siblings Lura and Bruce were in attendance, full of memories and good cheer. Aunt Lura was particularly thrilled that all six of her children had come, along with several grandchildren and even a couple of great-grandchildren.

Bruce and Lura (Courtesy of Cousin Toby David)

We also had honorary relatives—several of my childhood cohorts from Singing Brook Farm; my sort-of cousin Eric, nephew of one of my mother’s closest and most colorful college friends (We’ll always have Paris, Eric!); dear Anna, whose father went to graduate school with mine and whose children were like grandchildren to my mother; and Amy and Lyzz, childhood friends whose mother was my mother’s business partner and who looked pretty much the same as they did when they were kids. Lots of neighbors showed up—and my mother’s  beloved caregiver, Pam, brought not only herself but enough tea sandwiches to feed the whole crowd.

People spoke of my mother’s literal and figurative equilibrium, her … forthrightness (a much more diplomatic word than rudeness, don’t you think?), her brains, her humor, and her giant smile. My sister-in-law Leigh noted that Taffy viewed her as adding to the family rather than taking my brother away, a good attitude in a mother-in-law!

I didn’t speak officially, but Alice Parker Pyle and I led the group in a couple of Taffy-appropriate songs … and I concluded the festivities by reciting one of her favorite poems, “The Owl and the Pussycat.” She always performed this verse with great gusto and drama; I like to think I replicated a little of her style.

Here my cousin Pat imitates my mother’s style of oratory.

As I looked around at the group in the Play House my heart warmed. There I was, surrounded by people I loved … my own playmates and my mother’s playmates, plus people of a variety of ages down to the very young Michael, Elijah, Audrey, and Malia. It felt as though we were all joyfully eating, drinking, and talking inside a kaleidoscope of the past, present, and future.

At the center of that kaleidoscope was our mother, who as my brother pointed out early on always enjoyed a good party.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

If you’d like to hear my recitation, click on the play button below. I apologize if the poem is a little hard to hear; I’m still working on recording technique!

Visit my food blog for a recipe from the day’s feast. And if you have any memories of my mother to share, please leave them in a comment!

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12 comments on “Good Food and Warm Hearts

  1. markemccann says:

    I felt extremely privileged to share memories of Taffy with you, Tinky.

  2. betsyanne says:

    It sounds like a great celebration. I am so glad you shared this with us.

  3. Cindy says:

    What a nice way to celebrate your mom — a party she would love!

  4. Buckey Grimm says:

    Very Nice Tinky. The only memories I have of Taffy come from your writing, as I unfortunately never got to meet her, but she always will reside in my favorite place–my mind.

    All the best,

    Buckey

  5. Susan G.L. says:

    Your mom (and dad!) was the greatest. I laughed when I saw the two of them in the picture with a glass in their hands. When I was pregnant w/ Steven, your mom insisted that I have a drink, as everyone always drank during pregnancy in her generation. After all, we came out alright, didn’t we? She then proceeded to pour me the BIGGEST glass of Bourbon that I have ever seen! I took a sip and she left the room. Kelly and I looked at each other, tiptoed into the kitchen and poured it down the drain. Too funny.
    Sorry I missed the party; I was visiting my own dad who is in the last stages of Alzheimers, as you know. I bet the affair was a blast!
    Lots of Love,
    Susan

    • tinkyweisblat says:

      What a great story, Susan! We missed you, but I’m sure your father appreciated the visit.

      Thinking of you…….

  6. Grad says:

    What a lovely couple. I wish I was a neighbor and could have popped on over with a bowl of chicken salad. I wouldn’t have had a story to share, but I would have loved hearing everyone else’s. And Tink, you have a lovely, lovey speaking voice. I would love to play your recording when my grandson comes to visit and I can pull out my childhood poetry books. The Owl and The Pussycat was a favorite of mine, and you did it great justice!

  7. tinkyweisblat says:

    Thanks so much, Grad. I think I’ll alter my memories of the day to include you and your chicken salad.

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