Things Tilly Taught Me: Remembering a Dear Friend

My friend Tilly gave me shelter in her home in beautiful Santa Cruz, California for nearly three years while I struggled to make a life for myself in my early twenties. Although we lived a continent apart, we remained close friends for more than forty years. She died last year, so this poem is written in her memory.  I think about her all the time, and here’s why…

Things Tilly Taught Me

I learned so many things from Tilly

She taught me that…
Gardens are one of the great joys of life
Nothing is as sweet as a raspberry just plucked
Every conscientious homemaker has a compost heap
Even bruised apples are useful
Homemade jam is the greatest gift

She taught me that…
Swimming can be another of the great joys of life
Ocean swimmers are a special breed
They take vacations in oceans around the world
The pursuit of the perfect swim is endless

She taught me that…
Writing and reading poetry is a passion
Words are worth their weight in gold
Poetic voices linger in our ears and in our hearts
Poetry is the celebration of life

She taught me that…
Using the right tool is an important skill
Kitchen knives must be kept sharpened
Funky tools are the best, like jar funnels
Tools are beautiful and should be cherished

She taught me that…
Cooking is a lifelong passion
As are well written cookbooks
and cooking with those you love
A cupboard can never be too well stocked
Meals can be thoroughly enjoyed while standing
One must never put a new stick of butter in a used butter dish

She taught me that…
Art is an essential part of life
Every home should be filled with art
This can include expensive one-of-a-kind print
as well as children’s art on the refrigerator door
Traveling the world to see art is a joyful retirement activity

She taught me that…
Friends are a really important part of life
There is no one too unimportant to become a friend
It is important to have all kinds of friends
To have a friend you have to be a friend

Tilly, my dear friend, I miss you.


Priscilla W. Shaw 9/25/1930-7/21/2015



16 thoughts on “Things Tilly Taught Me: Remembering a Dear Friend”

  1. Such a beautiful tribute! I feel like I got to know Tilly and would have really liked her! How blessed you both were to have each other!


  2. Love the scaffold, Barb. Can use that with any age. I love the silly things Tilly taught you the most- the fresh stick of butter gets put into a clean butter dish. I feel the same way, but don’t know why…


    1. Yes, she was very quirky and could be very lax about some things, but not others (like butter dishes). But aren’t the quirky things so interesting in each of us?
      I’ve missed you lately. Have you been posting regularly?


      1. I have not posted all summer, but I read and respond every week to a few posts. My focus has been on pt to get rid of this ongoing sciatic issue. Wrote about it in March but had a major flare up end of April. Sitting aggravates, as does standing and sleeping. But, I can walk 5 miles without any pain. Go figure!

        Quirky is fabulous, in my book. Cookie cutters are only good at Christmas!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That generation had so much to teach us! I love the way you captured the particulars of her amazing influence. My favorite line was about the butter dish. My mother taught me that, too!! Thank you for sharing these very dear memories.


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