By Dilek

I spotted those pretty fabric placemats laid on one of the tables when we were setting up for the “Books, Toys, and Small Household Items Exchange” IN Day. The blue and bright yellow floral patterns on one side and grapevine on the other caught my eyes instantly. As I approached to stroke my hands to feel the soft fabric, a soft voice whispered behind my shoulder: “Take them. I have purchased them during my trip to southern France and barely used them. Why don’t you take them?”

Tina was a vital part of the IN Day Planning Committee from the day she got involved until the pandemic upended our IN Days four years later… Often the first one to come for set up on IN Days and the last one to leave after cleanups, she was always reliable, and did everything with an eager, cheerful attitude. She brought a big smile, humor and good spirits wherever she went and whatever she did.  Tina’s work ethics, practicality, and more importantly, open and friendly manners exemplified the best of American values to newcomers in our International Neighbors community. Unfortunately, she left us too soon.

Placements on table

The pretty placemats adorned our patio table frequently this past summer at our backyard dinners. I thought of Tina each and every time I laid them on the table, and each and every time I thought of taking a picture to e-mail to Tina to show her that her placemats were being put to great use! I never got around to it and it never occurred to me that I should have done so before the end of summer. Weirdly, this was the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the most unexpected news that Tina was in the palliative care with Stage IV cancer and failing kidneys. I will treasure Tina’s placemats more than ever. I can see her smiling at me through the bright cheerful patterns.

Potluck lunch [caption: Good memories… Right before enjoying our potluck lunch after an IN Day Planning Committee meeting (2017). Tina is the first on the far left.]