It has been a little over eighty days since Dad passed away. This post is about family and memories. Nothing more. Just a way to resurrect the past. To remind us all to find the joy in our hearts. And to remember to love, always. <3
In 1956, Vasil Tashkovski came to Syracuse, New York alone, as a sixteen-year-old boy, a runaway who escaped the Iron Curtain fleeing Communist Yugoslavia for Greece, an incredibly dangerous journey that led him to a refugee camp where he lived for a year while waiting for permission from the American Consulate to live his dream. It is the story of legend – the boy who dreamed of being an American.
He was my father. Dad married an American girl and had three American daughters with whom he only spoke English. Yes, he helped many Macedonians from his village come to this country including his own brother and his family, and you can argue that his life’s purpose was to help them. But if this is true, then the desire was fueled by a belief that these others would see what he saw – opportunity, liberty and freedom to live an authentic life in the greatest country in the world.
To just be. Dad was always there for us. Always healthy and strong. I truly thought he was indestructible – until he got cancer and suddenly passed away. I mean, I just never thought about a time that he wouldn’t be with us. He was seventy-nine. It happened last week, so the wound is fresh and raw. There is never enough time with the ones you love.
Eagles are currently wintering in Syracuse. About seventy at last count. It seems like the most obtuse idea. For many years, Onondaga Lake has been the number one most polluted lake in the nation and yet our national bird is here living off fish from said lake, with families in tow soaring around in all their glory, wonder and perfection.
It is simply amazing – and ironic to see these majestic creatures here now. I don’t think I had EVER seen an eagle in real life before this moment. Our national bird! It feels like they are here for Dad. I like to think they are. And that Vasil Tashkovski is soaring with them. I know he is.
You can park at Destiny Mall and see the eagles in the trees across the railroad tracks or drive to Onondaga Lake Parkway in Liverpool, New York to see them wading on the shoreline. Bring your cameras preferably with telephoto lenses in order to paparazzo them. There will be a guided birding walk on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 – 11:30 am. It is sponsored by the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps. This link is to their Facebook page.
The incredible photographs accompanying this post are by my über-talented friend Julia C. Banach. She is an award winning (and currently self-described amateur) photographer. I am in awe of her work here. Just so magnificent! Thank you, Julia, for capturing the majesty of these creatures.
Find more photography by Julia on Facebook. This is the link to her “Like” page. Become a fan. She has recently updated her page to include incredible animal shots from trips to the local zoo, as well as gorgeous sunsets and full-moon illustrated landscapes. Really beautiful work! I have no doubt that Julia’s photographs will appear in nearby art galleries and museums very soon. <3
Often when I meet other artists, they will reveal that their mother or father, or a grandparent is also an artist. That is not the case with me, although my grandfather could draw horses really well for some reason. He was a carpenter who once built all the bread boxes for The Columbus Baking Co. in Syracuse.
We are all creative types, though, the kind of people who like working with our hands/making things.
My grandmother did fine crochet work, as I mentioned before – she won first place at the New York State Fair every year in the senior citizen’s category. She would spend the entire year creating a bedspread or tablecloth, like hours and hours of work, and if she made a mistake, she would remove three months of work just to make it right.
My mother can knit and crochet too, and as I mentioned before, she creates jewelry. My little sister has an interior decorating business, which includes furniture refinishing. My older sister is a kinesthetic artist – she is a gymnast who at fifty something can still rock a round-off/back handspring/back summy tumbling pass, as well as glide kip into giant swings on the uneven parallel bars.
My dad’s art is his garden. Every year that thing produces buckets of produce – cukes, tomatoes of all varieties, peppers, onions, garlic, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini….etc., etc., etc.!!!
In addition, he has landscaped the homestead in DeWitt, NY with English walnut trees that have literally taken over the back yard, as well as a pear tree, apple tree, mulberry tree and I can’t remember what else.
The harvest is often given away because there is such a surplus. The real fun begins when he and Mom, and Sophie make tomato sauce and salsa, and all sorts of other things that exist in a foodie’s paradise – the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak.
So here are some pictures of said garden. Dad is not on social media nor has he ever attempted to use a computer, so it is fun to know that Vasil S. Tashkovski does exist in cyberspace.
And if the world ever starts to implode, and you wish to seek refuge with our family and these fresh vegetables, the secret word into our creative “speak-easy” is a compliment (as in, wow, this is the best garden in town!). Lol-so true. <3