Rem, Kate and all the family. I’m sorry I’m unable to be here in person with you all today, but perhaps these words from England will comfort you, and demonstrate that I am certainly with you in my thoughts at this time.
I am fortunate to be able to say that I have known Taffy and Rem for nearly all their married life together, and even remember Kate being new-born. In 1976, Rem and I were fellow students reading for our Master’s degrees at Lancaster University. During that year I quickly came to know Taffy and Rem very well, as my warm, dear friends; a true friendship that has stood the test of time and geographic separation throughout the years.
I remember the first time I was invited for dinner in the small cottage that was temporarily the Aranda household in the UK. I was made to feel extremely welcome, by a couple of “swell guys” who were truly devoted to each other. I had the happy feeling then that their relationship would last a long, long time and I was proved right! The food was excellent and the company most enjoyable.
Subsequently I came to realise that I had just experienced first-hand some very good Southern home cooking, served up with even better, legendary Southern-style hospitality. I have an abiding memory of that first meeting with Taffy which has stayed with me throughout the 33 years I have had the pleasure of being friends with the family. I was struck by how serene and gracious Taffy was at all times.
When I first visited Boston in 1979, I looked up at the American Flag at Logan Airport and strangely felt that I had arrived back home. Only now on reflection, can I attribute that incongruent feeling to the anticipation of experiencing similar hospitality to that extended to me by Rem and Taffy a few years earlier, and I have to say that my anticipation was not in vain as I was warmly welcomed by all I met during that trip.
On a business trip again to Boston many years later, I visited a spell when the Arandas lived in New England. I do declare that the serenity had increased, along with the warmth, generosity and kindness shown to me yet again by this truly remarkable lady, and my old friend Rem.
Those of us who came to know Taffy were truly privileged to have encountered such a lovely person – to the family, a wonderful friend, a devoted wife and a loving mother, but to the rest of us an inspiration of just how to “be” in life. Taffy “lived respected” and we will miss her. Taffy represents to me, a foreigner, all the old-fashioned decent things that for me characterise Americans: warmth, openness, honesty, friendship, generosity, compassion, fairness, strength of character and a desire to do what’s right and proper. Taffy had these traits in great abundance.
But Taffy was such a kind and compassionate person that she would not want us to grieve for long, for I’m sure she would say “Put away those tears of sadness” for such was her generosity of spirit that she would not want anyone to be upset. Further, I would say, “Replace them with tears of gladness” for we were all so privileged to have known such a fine lady as Taffy.
So, God bless Rem, Kate and all the family now and in the future. My thoughts are with you all and will continue to be so. And for Taffy, as in the old Italian expression for what must for the time-being be goodbye, ”Taffy, Addío!” “Go with God”.
Your old friend, Aldo.