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                                            Oct 22, 1939 – Aug 29, 2010


Cathy, Mike, and Karen's celebration of their mother's life.
      (Delivered on September 7, 2010)

This past week we’ve been saying that there just aren’t enough positive words to describe our mom.  And it’s true.  She was amazing.   We did find one word we can all agree on – that does describe her perfectly:  IRREPLACEABLE.  There is no one like her. 

She was a wonderful mother and friend to so many.  She was also an author – but what she really was - was a story teller.  She told happy stories about her family.

We think she would have wanted us to tell her story – but we know we could never tell it as good as she would.  But, she wouldn’t want that.  She would want us to tell it our way – to at least try.  (although, she would have loved to review and edit it …)  

But - this is the saddest story ever written.  It’s the story of a wife, a mom, a sister, an aunt, a grandma and gma who was loved so much.   And she should still be with us.  Here.  Now.

This story would be a book – a very big book.  And this book would be a best-seller.  We’re all familiar with specific chapters in this book.  But, let’s start from the beginning – we should all know the story from the start…

There would be the first chapter about when she was born, in Vancouver, Canada.  A second one about her life there with her sister Lynn.  The third would be when she and our Grandma moved to California.  The 4th and 5th would be growing up and going to college.  Chapter 6 would be her life at Cal and all the good friends she made there.  Chapter 7 would be all about our Dad – it would be an interesting chapter – with many, many pages.

Chapters 8, 9 and 10 would be titled “Karen”, “Cathy” and “Michael” – in that order.

Chapter 11 would be all about their lives together in Berkeley, San Jose, Kansas and Foster City.  It would be a full chapter about all the wonderful friends she made (and kept) along the way.

And then there was Chapter 12 – when she moved to this amazing town just outside of Placerville – called Camino, in Apple Hill®.  Our mom met many friends here.  And – to clarify – she didn’t just make friends - she developed friendships – lasting friendships with everyone she met.  All of you, here today.

She attended every sporting event, recital, play and event – no matter what.  She did, sometimes (oftentimes) forget to pick us up from school.   But it soon became a bit of a game to guess how long we thought it would take her to remember that she forgot.  (this was before cell –phones…).   So we would sit, and wait – and guess how long it would take her to remember.  The average was about 40 minutes.  It was actually when dinner was ready – and she realized none of us were there.

She made everything extra special – A classic example was Christmas time - she didn’t want to just give the kids presents for Christmas – she made it a treasure hunt.  She’d hide the gifts for each grandchild and give them clues on how to find it.  Sometimes, she’d forget where the first clue was – and that was usually a problem – but we eventually figured it out. Paper hats and noise makers were mandatory at every holiday.  These are things we will continue to do.

Chapters 13 through 16 would be her first four grandchildren – Michael, Nick, Matt & Lindsay – who loved their grandma very much.  They weren’t ready to see her go.  She loved them so much and showed them every time she saw them – which was often.  She never missed a sporting event and encouraged random lunches and shopping sprees.  They particularly remembers our mom doing her “Yo Yo Go Yo Go dance”- which might not surprise most people here today…  Which inspired her to buy a Zoomba CD, which she was excited to try out.

These inspired Chapters 17, 18 and 19 which were titled “Mike & Nick and the Pumpkin Patch”, “Nana Gets a Cat” and “Grandmother’s Bell and the Wagon Train.”  She loved writing – especially about her grandkids.  She was so creative and such a positive influence on all of us, and everyone that was lucky enough to spend time with her.

This was also when she started giving us what we soon labeled as classic mom presents – including:   VCR’s (before videos were available), cross country skis (we NEVER cross country skied), Tempurpedic pillows – until our dad finally took over the responsibility of gift giving… and Her latest purchase was a vacuum cleaner – that was more expensive than we’d want to admit.  But it was apparently a REALLY nice vacuum cleaner that aside from picking up dirt and dust, would totally clean out the air too and more.

Chapters 20 through 35 would be the 16 clubs and organizations that she was involved with in this community – not including the membership card she had for the Red Hawk Casino (technically a “club”)… and the penny slots that made her feel good if she needed to just relax…

And then there was Chapter 36, called “Mike & Mindy” – along with chapters 37 and 38, titled “Mark” and “Mia.”  Only four and six, they already knew how wonderfully creative, fun and adventurous our mom was.  “ marbles?”  Yes.  “swimming?”  Of course.  “Gingerbread houses?”  Absolutely.  She always said yes – and she made everything fun.  and they loved their G-ma so much.  They weren’t ready to see her go either.   But they learned so much from her…and will have hundreds of happy memories.

This would also be the time she wrote the 3 page, single-spaced, typed letter to the Highway Patrol (Pville division) – explaining how the laws of gravity and a car-full of Shakespeare Club ladies lead her to speed down North Canyon Road.  She was trying to fight the ticket – it didn’t work.  But it was classic mom.

Chapters 39 – 59 would be the many wonderful trips she took with our dad and vacations together with their close friends.  Driving through Tuscany, sea-side hotel in Acapulco, tropical Hawaiian islands, Exotic Africa & India and coastal France - just to name a few. 

These inspired chapter 60, titled “Christopher on Safari”.  Her fourth picture book.

She could entertain kids (and us) with her “fly away Peter, fly away Paul” skit– that was so simple, but so magical to kids.  And funny to us, because she’d be laughing so hard that she could never get through the whole thing.

She was so close to doing the re-write of her cherished project – also known as, chapter 61 – “Okei-san.  The Girl From Wakamatsu.” – an historical novel.  She actually finished it, but was enjoying the research so much that she revisited every aspect of the book so many times, and was on what seemed like the 28th re-write.  She met so many wonderful people researching and writing this book.  Her friendship had no limits to geography or language.  She was a cherished friend to the many people involved in this project, and proud to be part of the People to People organization and inspired to make the trip to Japan to learn more about the people, culture and history.

 She was kind, thoughtful and generous.  She was funny, smart and beautiful.  She wasn’t afraid to burst out into song – loudly – at certain functions.  She sang opera.  Yet, she couldn’t sing opera.  It was classic.  She would laugh so hard, she would cry – almost every day.   She took bag-pipe lessons for 6 months, and still couldn’t play them.

She still had so much she was going to do – and it doesn’t seem possible that she won’t be here to do it. 

Most people have address books.  She had what we call “the white binder.”  It’s huge.  And overflowing with contact information on just about every person she’s ever met.  It’s divided into sections – family, friends, friends of family, Cal friends, Karen’s friends, CASA, Sac Writers Group, High School Friends and more .  And there wasn’t just phone numbers – but intricate details about each person – including birthdays, anniversaries and photos, if available.  She truly cared about everyone.

You would never be left alone at a party – if our mom was there. She would make extra efforts to make sure everyone felt included and special.  This was just her style.

She loved the garden and landscaping that our dad had recently created for her – and fully intended to watch it grow and bloom for many, many years.  This garden will always remind us of her – not that we need reminders, but it will be beautiful, just like her.

She is irreplaceable.  But we will all remember her every day, because she’s had such a positive and profound impact on our lives.  We feel lucky to have had her as our mom – and will do everything we can to make her proud.

When we started writing this – we thought it was the sad ending to a wonderful story.  We now know - it is sad only for the people who didn’t have the chance to meet her. Because we all know, you only had to meet her once to know she was genuine.  It was as if she knew her purpose in life was to make other people feel good.  And that’s exactly what she did – every, single day.  There were no strangers to her, only friends she hadn’t met yet.

There is no final chapter in this story about our mom… the stories will continue to be told – happy stories that will make us smile and laugh, and positive stories that will inspire and encourage us to do more for others..

She was who , we all should be.


 

               

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