Sunday, April 6, 2014
Because we have a family member who is struggling with dementia, my good friend Barbara recently lent me her copy of Pulling Taffy: A Year with Dementia and Other Adventures, by Tinky Weisblat. The author, a part-time resident of Hawley, MA, is not only a writer, but a singer, a humorist, and a food lover – and is especially attuned to how all of these good things can lift spirits and create community. Barbara reminded me that we met Tinky briefly about ten years ago when she was selling her Pudding Hollow Cookbook at an outdoor summer garden fest in Deerfield.
It was a surprise to find that what might be a tough or depressing subject in other hands became delightful reading in Tinky’s. This is not to say that she minimized the difficulties that both she and her mother had to endure in their last months together; but to a potentially heavy brew she added humor, insight, honesty, and a rich smattering of stories from her mother’s life. The result is a work that is both touching – and uplifting.
As a Feng Shui practitioner, the thing that struck me most about both Tinky and her mother Jan (affectionately called “Taffy”), was the quality of their personal energy, or chi. When a person’s chi is low, life can be hard or overwhelming; but when it is bubbling and moving, even the most challenging situations can be managed. It seems to me that both mother and daughter were able to find a vital source of refreshment within themselves, in spite of times that were certainly gray and bleak.
Tinky includes several photos of her mother in a variety of moments throughout her long interesting life. Here is clearly someone who was in LOVE with living! There is one of Jan as an infant sitting on her own mother’s lap – with a smile that spreads from ear to ear. This same smile lights up her 93-year old face, and makes us realize that it is a person’s ability to welcome life that defines their essence.
There are people among us who are inspiring because of their general cheerfulness and ability to appreciate the things around them. Tinky and Taffy were able to embrace the moment in their joy of simple things -- music, poetry, pets, food, sunshine and fresh air, the kindness of friends – certainly a recipe for good chi.