The Root of It All, our Mom, died last Saturday. Yesterday I spoke at her services. Here is what I had to say:
Today is the day to celebrate the root of it all: Mom.
As you have heard from others, she was a force of nature. She always told me that I could do anything; that I could be President of the United States – most of the time I believed her.
She shaped the everyday life of my immediate family, too. As many of you know, we (Laddie, Chris, and I) live and work on our ranch, Long Meadow Ranch, in the Napa Valley.
Anybody who has been on a tour of the ranch has heard me start the narrative with: "My mother was an organic gardening pioneer in the 1940s."
On Mother’s Day I spent the day with the source, Mom. Although our small family farm in Potter Township is long gone (we left in 1961), Mom was still going strong (at least in terms of her ability to tell me what to do about farming and everything else).
On Mother’s Day we reminisced about her early start with "organic" gardening. Her father and mother (my grandparents), Frank and Rose DeHass, operated a small grocery store in Beaver. It was a neighborhood store with a confectionary and sandwich shop. Mom isn't sure about its proper name because everyone called it "the little store." But, we think it was officially known as DeHass Grocery.
The family provided fresh produce for the store from its own gardens just a few blocks away. As children, my mother and her two brothers and sister worked in that garden. There was always a compost pile and my grandfather mixed a variety of potions, including soapy water and tobacco juice (my favorite), for pest control.
Sadly, my grandfather lost the store to bankruptcy in 1936 when he could no longer pay his own bills after providing credit to so many of his customers. Mom still cried when she talked about it. I think this may have been at the root of her enduring generosity. But, even with the store gone, the traditions and skills of growing for the market were already in place.
When my mother and father were married, they soon acquired a small rural property and, as they say, the rest is history. The bible, according to Mom, was "Five Acres and Independence," a book first published in 1935 which became popular with young couples following World War II. And, independent she was. One of my most prized possessions is my mother and father's copy of the book, which Mom presented to me a few years ago.
Mom reminded me that afternoon that I turned a compost pile for the first time when I was five years old.
Thank you, Mom.
Posted by Ted Hall