Clark I reviews books and sometimes writes them!
Pulling Taffy: TInky Weisblat
Memories are more than just precious. Memories bring smiles, tears, a warm glow and inspirational thoughts when remembering someone you cared for and loved. Mothers are the most amazing people in the world. They are mentors, teachers, often doctors, nurses and the best cooks in the entire world. Tinky Weisblat’s memories of her mom, Taffy, generated more than must the memories of my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 and passed in 2011. The events she shares, the humorous incidents and the heartfelt words, thoughts and times she cared for her mom and shares with readers will help other caregivers understand how precious you are to those who need you. A caregiver learns from the start that his/her life is about to take on many new challenges, different directions and often your time is no longer your own. The responsibilities are huge and the hope of enlisting the help of others is not always easy.
Tinky shares not only her time with her mom but her childhood memories growing up with her father, Abe a really colorful man, his job with the Agricultural Development Council,, her short-term memory skills and how all of this was incorporated in taking care of Taffy. Her mother’s memory at times did fail. Keeping her mind active through cooking was one way that Taffy felt important and it also helped our author and her mom create some mouthwatering recipes that she shares with readers at the end of each chapter. Fortunately for Tinky her mother taught her a lot about cooking, which she passed on to her brother. Added in we learn more about her relationship with her brother, her time in Jamestown and her research into learning more about Mark Twain.
The essay she shares at the end of one chapter related to Caregivers enlighten those of us that are caring or have cared with parents that have dementia/Alzheimer’s with tips that are needed and the understanding that you as a caregiver deserve time for yourself and you are special. You might consider borrowing some of the great fragrances she uses in her bath water to start your day off with a smile.
Taffy had spunk and definitely had her own flair for life. Loving her two pets unconditionally. They on the other hand adored her as she cuddled with them, talked to them and of course providing them with numerous treats. But, what shines through his Tinky’s sense of humor and her love for her mother. The incident with the piano brought a smile to my face. Not wanting to buy a new one and wanting to repair her older model really hit home. Even though the life of the piano might soon end and her mother’s too the hope that both would somehow be restored lets you know that our author would never give up on either the piano or her mom.
Caring for her mother was not her only task as Tinky had to care for Truffle and Lorelei Lee too. So, how did Taffy come down with the same infection her pets did? What happens when Tinky hears her having a conversation with someone else but no one is there? The dialogue is priceless and the incidents strike more than just a familiar chord. Remembering names becomes difficult and the moments of recognition heartfelt as the author relates that her relationship with her mother changes daily if not moment-by-moment as we continue with this upbeat and uplifting journal. Sharing her mother’s childhood helps readers get to know the real Taffy. Hearing her mother’s voice, sharing her poems, thoughts and comical moments allows the reader to take the journey from start to finish with the author. The picture of Taffy kneading soda bread on page 60 says it all. Her smile, spunky attitude as a kid and even when older comes through in every event described and each picture, recipe and story that told. But, the best news she shares is that her old Stieff piano was saved. If you want to know how the piano guy does it you have to read it for yourself.
Urinary infections seem to plague poor Taffy. That is not uncommon. Dealing with them becomes the norm. But, the funniest incident was why Tinky received a discount on the doughnuts. Will not tell anyone why? That would ruin their fun of finding out for themselves. It is truly a HA HA moment. As you learn more about her life, her college years you can see her graduation picture on page 74 and realize just how beautiful she was. The poem her friend Katharine Irons Brett wrote to her is more than just about graduation was reprinted with the permission of the Brett family. Read May: Waiting and Watching and see the picture that tells a whole story. Added in we learn about their interesting and comical courtship, the reservations both families expressed because it would be an inter-faith marriage and their willingness to work hard and stay together. She was an amazing person filled with ideas, smart, good cook, expected excellence from her and her brother, (sounds like mine), loyal and always found the good in every situation. Read the chapter titled Taffy’s Marriage and learn more. You won’t be disappointed.
Loving and listening to music helped by Tinky and Taffy thrive. As you read the chapter titled July: A Golden Month you can hear the music being played, see her at the Independence Day picnic, the smile on her face is breathtaking and the ups and downs the day described. Watching her mom gaze at the clouds on a hot day she composed this amazing poem: Title Heat Wave shared on page 119.
As Taffy’s condition changed many times our author enlisted the help of several caregivers and eventually hospice. I admire her determination to make sure that her mother received the best care and she never gave up on her and requested that everything be done to keep her alive and healthy.
Her life in India plus the poem she shares that her mother wrote about her time there, teaching seventh graders and her way of controlling difficult situations you can see this five foot one woman standing tall and taking control of every situation. With the support of her brother David and his family plus so many others Tinky was able to forge ahead, whether the difficult times and laugh at the outrageous things her mother did that would make her smile even today. On Pages 187-188 she shares some valuable caregiver thoughts or tips and her final days, where she is now and what she hopes to accomplish rounds out this outstanding memoir in journal form. Dementia/Alzheimer’s knows no limits and there are no boundaries or ways to stop its progression. Every song she sang with her mother, every poem she wrote and every painting she created helped her to thrive. Never treating her as if she did not understand, keeping her mind and body active is the best way to help stimulate her mind and you truly kept her alert for so long. Infections are not uncommon and will change the person’s behavior as I know from my mom who contracted UTI’s and had to be placed permanently on medication to avoid any more infections. What better way to remember your mother and create a special tribute or legacy to her than to write her story, share her life and remember her smiles and her songs.
Taffy, Jan Weisblat, lived to be 93 years young you might say. She never gave up on herself and she loved and lived life to the fullest. The pictures of her family that are shared and those of Taffy bring her to life for readers. Pages 195-198 read as a short bio of her life and bring it all together.
Taffy Weisblat was feisty, strong willed, strong minded and spoke of going home many times. The word Home has many different meanings. Taffy is in a different home right now with God watching over her and she is watching over her family and friends.
To those caregivers that took such great care of this amazing woman, to Tinky for sharing her story and allowing us to get to know her mother and to everyone who supported her work and her during her time caring for Taffy, I dedicate this review to her memory and to all of you.
A must read so well written, uplifting and filled with great recipes, essays, poems and much more. This is one book that I am going to cherish and keep on my bookshelf. Memories are precious: These truly are!
Fran Lewis: reviewer