Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Remembering a dear family friend.

Just two weeks ago was the 4th anniversary of the death of a close family friend, Marianna. All of her friends called her Tia, and although she was forty years older than us, she encouraged my brother, sister, and I to call her this as well. For Tia, friendship had no age requirement, and she counted us among her closest of friends. Tia was an incredibly artistic, romantic woman. She lived her life surrounded by fine arts, music, and the theater.  I count her as a great influence in how I look at life, art, and culture.

Tia was my father’s student about 50 years ago. Through the years, they developed a close friendship and were confidants during difficult parts of each other’s lives. Tia was very fond of us kids, and we were of her. She reminded me of an incredibly cultured, slightly eccentric and befuddled, zaftig Auntie Mame. Maybe with not the energy, but definitely with the artistic exuberance. She became an arts educator and in her spare time, wrote poetry, collected and created works of art, grew her unruly yet beautiful flower garden, and constantly attended art gallery openings, museum shows, the theater, and the orchestra. Tia was beloved by my family. She would often send you little poems with photographs, or present you with a seashell, testing you to look and find the beauty in it. To Tia, the simple things in life were beautiful. She could see the beauty in the ugliest oyster shell or horseshoe crab.
During my adolescence when it seemed no one understood the pains of growing up, one would not think a woman like this would be of comfort, but to me she was. She soothed my adolescent angst, telling me it would get better, and that life was wonderful! She also implored me not to grow up too fast. She would often write when we did not see each other, enclosing photographs and pieces of her own poetry. I laughed at some of it when I was younger, not recognizing the Romantic and Victorian overtones. Now I reread it seeing the maturity, wisdom, and emotional depth and I am truly amazed.

Tia lived in the same apartment in Glassboro, NJ, for decades. It was just like her personality. Filled with modern art, antiques, and natural artifacts from her walks in the woods and along the beach. It was cluttered, slightly messy, intensely colorful. Some things side by side did not go together, but as a whole, it worked, as it showed the living history of this wonderful woman. From pieces of driftwood from her summers in Stone Harbor to her favorite piece of modern artwork by a close friend of hers, it all formed a vibrant mosaic of this woman's life.  From spending time with Tia, I learned how to respect and revere this remarkable woman. I admired her creativity, her romanticized view of the world, and her positive outlook and zest for life!

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