by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and daughter
It was a sad week for us at Brewster by the Sea as we laid my dear mother, Doris Pincus (aka Nanna) to rest in my home town of Great Barrington, Ma.
No words can describe how much I miss her. When putting her eulogy together my mind kept coming back to her lovely gardens. She was instrumental in creating many of the lovely gardens at Brewster by the Sea.
Brewster by the Sea gardens
my tribute to Nanna…..
I speak today in honor of my mom, Doris Pincus!
This is a sad day for us all!
First of all, thank you for coming. I know Mom would be pleased that we are here to support and love each other.
These past few weeks have been the most difficult time in my life, knowing the time had come for me to say goodbye to my beloved Mother.
As with many things in life, this difficult struggle has also provided many blessings.
Byron and I have been so touched by all the love and support our family has received. Each day a special loved one would come, call, send e-mails to be read to mom or include us in their prayers. Thank you, that has meant so much to Mom and our family.
Thankfully, Mom has rested peacefully these past few weeks and as I was spending quiet time near her, I found my mind reflecting back to all of the wonderful times we had together and what a truly remarkable woman she was.
She was loved by many and touched so many lives.
Hospice care has provided much strength to our family and friends, and I was touched and comforted by a poem that was included in their literature.
To Those Who Mourn by C.W. Leadbeater
For that is the real truth;
Man is a soul and has a body.
The body is not the man; it is only the clothing of the man.
What you call death is the laying aside of a warn out garmet,
And it is no more the end of the man than it is the end of you when you remove your coat.
Therefore you have not lost your friends;
You have only lost sight of the cloak in which you were accustomed to see him.
The cloak is gone, but the man who wore it is not;
Surely it is the man that you love and not the garmet.
And so today I wanted to share some of my memories of Nanna which will remain in my heart and soul forever.
Christmas on Creamery Road where all the family gathered to enjoy each other and Mom’s great cooking. That wonderful tradition carried on at Brewster by the Sea where we continued to enjoy our expanded families love and Nanna’s wonderful turkey stuffing!
Family picnics at Nanny and Poppy’s cottage on Lake Buel. When I was a little girl I have vivid memories of the wonderful gatherings at my grandparents humble little cottage in the woods near Lake Buel. It was my first experience with an outhouse that my grandfather had built and over the years I have cherished all of the stories that different family members have also shared about their times at the cottage. One of my favorites was listening to how Nanna and her sisters reacted when Nanny and Poppy had to get all of the mice families out of their winter homes in the cottage’s kitchen. I also remember a wonderful marbled brownie that Mom always use to bring that had a delicious chocolate frosting and the wonderful deviled eggs that were usually included in our picnic feast.
Two brothers marrying the same two sisters, Aunt Madeline married my Uncle Al who were mom’s sister and my dad’s brother…….what are the chances of that! Every Friday we would go to Lee to visit the Coles family and I have fond memories of those visits…..which by the way usually included Uncle Al and my father arguing about this and that…never really mattered as everyone knew they loved and respected each other.
Knitting…..mom was a talented self taught knitter and she made me some lovely sweaters over the years. My fondest memories are all the beautiful little sweaters that she made for the grandkids or new babies in the family. This past winter I made a red sweater that was mostly made while visiting with Mom in the afternoon. She always teased me about the sweater as she has never really liked red!
My Mom was the quintessential Nanna. Bar none! She drew such delight from her grandchildren, She always loved babies and I will forever remember her smile when she held Jennifer for the first time. She was so small that her little tiny head could fit in a teacup. Nanna would always have magical ways to lull her to sleep when she first came home from the hospital.
My fondest memory of April and Nanna was when we were neighbors on Creamery Road, and we would frequently walk across the field to visit. One day we walked over when Nanna was picking apples. We were busy picking apples and we looked over and tiny April had crawled into the apple basket with this huge grin on her face……we could not stop laughing.
And our dear Nathan who came into our lives when he was in first grade. I always told Nathan that when I knew Nanna was having a hard day I would ask him to stop bye and visit. He would always put a smile on her face and afterwards she would always say to me, “what a dear child”
Nanna was just so proud of her grandkids, not only for their accomplishments but for the wonderful human beings they have become.
The power of laughter…….. when Mom’s dear friend Gloria was visiting with Mom recently I was touched with her words. It included all of her memories of their fun times together, and she always ended the story with “we laughed so hard” My memory included the story when the two moms were in our basement working on a craft project that included glue. The kids were upstairs and we heard them laughing histarically downstairs. We later put together that our mom’s had actually smelled way too much glue☺
Acts of kindness…….. my Mom had an enormous heart filled with passion, compassion and empathy. It’s ironic that in the end, it was her heart that failed her, because it was her heart that drove her every act throughout her life. When Aunt Shirley and Aunt Madeline were ill, mom would take one day a week to visit with them and help the families in any way she could. She was so compassionate and caring to everyone.
Our time together at the inn- when we were living in Houston and Mom was alone, I prayed for years that somehow we could be together as she grew older. My prayers were answered as we have had almost 11 years together and no words can describe how much that has meant to us. When she first moved in she was a bundle of energy and spent tireless hours creating new gardens, helping us cook in the kitchen and baking cookies. We use to call her the cookie fairy as she would bake thousands of cookies in her little kitchen and store them in the freezer. Whenever we needed cookies they would miraculously appear. Over the years all of our dear guests started calling her Nanna and it just became her name to all, including our chocolatier, delivery drivers, our employees and handy man, just to name a few. Her love was a sunshine that reached far and wide.
“You are what you eat”……Nanna taught many the importance of eating good food and to take care of our bodies. She loved her vegetable gardens and taught me the true meaning of “how does your garden grow”?
Keeping a clean house…..it was the Huggins tradition to keep our houses very clean……now when I say clean I am talking about a deep cleaning in the spring and fall that goes beyond what most would do. As a young woman I kept that tradition going for awhile but relaxed my standards over the years.. Nanna and I had a few good chuckles as her eye sight began to weaken, and she could not critique our cleaning at the inn as well as she had when she first arrived.
In November I decided to take a day and deep clean her apartment with one of our housekeepers…….Nanna’s old fashion way, scrubbing everything from top to bottom. Nanna moved upstairs for the day, and I will always remember her smile when she came back down to see her apartment sparkle and decorated for Christmas. I had found a small ceramic Christmas tree in her closet and set it on her dresser. It was the type that had a small bulb on the inside and lit up all the colored bulbs on the outside. Mom later shared that her mother use to place that tree in her kitchen every Christmas…..a new tradition I will start next year.
The Power of friendship- Mom had many dear friends and I was always impressed how she kept in touch by phone. She always told me that the phone was such a great invention as it allowed her to stay in touch with the people she loved. Mom was especially close to my aunt carrie and every day they would talk at 4pm. They would both catch up on the weather and their day and I know she always looked forward to the call. Aunt Carrie, maybe we could start a new tradition of talking at 4 pm each day?
Buying quality- Mom always believed that it was better to buy quality less often, then to buy more of lesser quality. I would always chuckle when someone would comment how pretty her outfit was and she would often say “oh, I have had this for years” and you know, she took such good care of things, and yes, they did last for many, many years.
Cashmere and Pearls- for most special occaisions mom would wear her beautiful cashmere sets and pearls. Recently one of her favorite sweaters had a hole on the elbow and she was so upset as she told me they just don’t make cashmere like this any more. I was able to take it to our taylor and she lovingly sewed two matching patches on the elbows, and Mom was so pleased.
Raspberries and more raspberries- We have 2 wonderful raspberry patches at our inns that were started from small plants from Nanna’s garden on Creamery Road. We make 100’s of jars of raspberry jam each summer and this all started from Nanna’s recipe. I love to share this story with our guests as everyone loves Nanna’s raspberry jam!
Gifts in life…. As I grow older I find myself praying often and looking for the gifts that surround us in the present. Mom frequently told me that I should slow down and “enjoy the roses” so to speak. Thank you Mom, for I have such clarity now as to what you meant. The gifts can be seen in our children, our husbands and wives and our friends. It’s important to just take the time to hug them, to really listen to them and to be in the moment. Mom spent the past few years primarily in her apartment as it was difficult for her to walk very far. It was the simple acts that she received during that times that meant the most. Ann, your cute little Halloween card that you sent pleased her so much and it sat beside her chair until Christmas time. She told me the picture just made her smile. And the calls and visit from everyone always made her day.
The power of a hug…..when I was thinking about what I wanted to say to mom in our last few days, I asked her to give my dad a great big hug and to tell him I wished I hugged him more when he was alive. Mom said she would and commented that in the Coles family while all of the kids knew they were loved they didn’t do much hugging. I have always loved to hug but you know moving forward I think I’ll hug a little more!
Byron’s love…. To my love and sweetheart, thank you for loving mom so deeply and for helping me care for her so lovingly these past years at the inn. That time was an answer to my prayers, and I know it meant so much to Mom.
Last but not least, was Nanna’s love of flowers – everyone that knows Nanna knows how much she loved flowers. She and Leonard had beautiful gardens that surrounded their home, and we actually have transplanted many of the perenials at the inns. Her favorite is a deep deep red peony that we brought from her garden and is growing by the pool at the Captain Freeman. She has taught me so much about flowers, and I will forever cherish her favorite garden tools that she recently gave me.
And so in closing, I wanted to share a poem by Helen Steiner Rice entitled ‘Spring Garden’ that represents to me the “essence of Nanna”
So when I looked at those flowers,
I was looking at God
For they bloomed in His sun
and grew in His sod
And each lovely flower
was a “voice from above”
That whispered a message
of Kindness and Love
For I feel in my heart,
and I know you do, too,
That God speaks to us all
through the kind things we do
And when I looked at those flowers
I couldn’t help but feel
That they brought heaven nearer
and made God so real.
God bless everyone and may Nanna rest in peace.