It is said that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My mom, who dropped a lot of apples in her 96 years, died December 30, 2010 after a long, happy and productive life. My sisters and I have been the lucky apple gleaners.
My mom’s biggest and juiciest apples were musical. I carry some of those in my pocket, but Holly has made hers into pies, cider, cakes and jam with a long musical career as half of the singing (bluegrass-ish) duo “Barry and Holly Tashian”.
Other juicy apples fell in the marital bliss department. She and my Dad met at 17 at a Unitarian church camp and never looked back. For 60 plus years they were best friends. He died in 1994 but my two sisters still carry the happy marriage apples. (I tried hard but made marital applesauce instead: husband #1 died of cancer at 31 and husband #2 after 20 years didn’t work out. Is the 3rd time a charm? I’m willing!)
The apples I’ve picked up and run with are more aesthetic – and as I reflect on my mom’s impact on me, it’s clear that Joyful Spaces has her DNA all over it.
My mom loved color [√, me too]. The first red dining room I ever saw was our own in the late 1940s. When other mothers were wearing chitchy little floral prints, my mom was swathed in a bold dress of magenta or bottle green – almost always something she had sewn herself. Even at 96, with the memory of a gnat, she dressed herself stylishly.
She grew flowers in the brightest colors and made daily arrangements of seasonal greens and flowers from her garden [√]. She loved art and fine furniture, and was very particular about how it was placed [√].
She especially appreciated art to which she had a personal connection – she wanted to know the artist or the family history associated with it [√]. (The family connection was especially important.)
In 1998 she made all the flower arrangements for my daughter’s wedding – 15 tables plus about ten others around the house, tent and garden. She was 84.
She was clear that the home was not just a sanctuary for those who lived there; it also was a reflection of who you were and your state of mind. If it was disordered, it meant something was out of whack in your life. An orderly environment set the stage for peace and productivity [√].
Mom was observant and opinionated. You never had to wonder what she thought; she spoke it directly [√ – so I’m told – my cousin says it’s part of the Bachrach DNA]. Depending on whether you wanted to hear what she thought, this was a virtue or an irritation. But her ideas were always (she believed) in your best interest to heed. My children think I carry this apple in triplicate – but when people PAY you to give advice, well, it’s playing to your strengths!
In her role as a vocal coach, Mom always had ideas on how to make the most of the music her students or choral groups were singing. Right to the end, even. Two days before she sunk into unconsciousness her grandsons sang her some Christmas carols, concluding with “We wish you a merry Christmas”. She could scarcely speak or move, but she weakly waved her hand ‘No!’ at the line “and a happy new year”…
“Not ‘Happy new YEAR’,” she whispered. “It’s ’Happy NEW year’. Emphasize what’s most important.“
Emphasize what’s most important. That will be my theme for 2011. That, and gratitude. Thank you Mom.