BELCHERTOWN - “I hope we all here together this time next year.” That was how he always made his toasts. Sometimes, the routine was groan-worthy in the predictability.
In all his callous-causing hard work, and all the kooky inventions created out of plywood, screws, and bungee cords, the all-nighters filled with food, wine, music, and songs, (one of them published and recorded), the achingly tender poems, the gargantuan tomatoes, collards, and pole beans, the kegs of homemade wine, and in the dozens of choiriças smoked... of all those things for which he could claim bragging rights, Artur’s family was the reason behind everything.
He borrowed money, and pulled up stakes from his small village in Portugal where he had to covertly woo his sweetheart, Madalena, because neither his family nor hers would allow them to court openly. Being of a higher social caste, it was unseemly to “marry down”. He taught her how to read and write so they could hide their love letters behind a loose stone in his father’s outdoor bread oven. They fought to be married against everyone’s blessings, so they married on her 21st birthday. That way no one could stop them. They worked hard, and brought two of their three daughters into the world of the Villa de Azere. Political situations being what they were at the time, they decided that as much as it would be difficult to leave their country and entire family behind and immigrate to “América”, they did it to ensure 7 year old Isaurita and 1 year old Alicita had a chance at a better life. Madalena sold her long, luxurious hair to a wig maker so they would have enough money to buy 4 SwissAir plane tickets. They knew nothing of the culture, language, or the expectations of this place. They worked factory and construction jobs, all along the way, making lifelong friends of those who earned their trust, helped them learn the ropes, and shared their in generosity. They learned and they taught. They bought and paid for homes, weddings, tuitions, welcomed in-laws, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. They both suffered - and survived - cancer, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, diabetes, and the heartbreak of burying some of the people they loved the most. They had a working farm where they had chickens, rabbits, sheep, honeybees, and that damned woodchuck! They grew vegetables and So. Many. Flowers! Artur and Madalena did everything – EVERY thing – together.
Artur and his brother-in-law Rui had dreams about things that they wanted and they worked hard to make those dreams come to fruition. They started a special Portuguese cultural dance troupe “O Rancho Folclórico” and they started the Portuguese school in Ludlow in the coatroom of the Grémio Lusitano club that has grown into the splendid building it is today. My dad loved “his country” and “this country”, but more than anything in the world, he loved his Madalena and their children. When he lost the light of his eyes on March 23, 2020, it was almost unbearable. He gave life without her his best shot, but it seemed the one thing they could not survive together was COVID. One year and four days after COVID took Madalena, his weakened heart couldn’t handle the strain of recovery and the lonesomeness of widowhood, so he followed her back to Azere. He died seeing images of flowers, stars, little birds, and candles. He pretty much watched all three of his daughters take their first breaths, and they were all there, holding his hands and stroking his head as he took his last.
In addition to his true love, his parents, Carma “da serra” and Alfredo Tavares, his brothers Antonio and Lionel Tavares, and his best friend, brother-in-law, and partner in crime, Rui Tavares, were all waiting for him to join them for deeps hugs and kisses, and “uma rica pinga” back in their beloved ‘terra’. He leaves behind his daughter Hazel Tavares with whom he would battle but in who he was endlessly proud of how she could read the newspaper at seven years old and who became an accomplished gentle woman farmer along with her husband John Kunhardt; Hazel’s children Peter Charron, his wife Carli and Carli’s son Luca; Angela Espeseth and her husband John Espeseth; his equally nutty, musically inclined, and artistic daughter, Alice Genereux (aka Sita), her husband John, their daughter Emily Lamb, her husband Rich, and their “meninos” Avery and Zackary; and his daughter “she a TEECHAH! (teacher)” Mabel Madsen, her husband Jeffrey, and their amazing daughters Elise and Julia. His sister Mabel Santos, and his eldest brother Alfredo Tavares, Jr. will mourn the loss of their ‘Arturito’. He also leaves behind dozens of nieces and nephews, and more friends than anyone could count. You were their friend, whether you knew it yet or not.
Remember Art by buying a world map, taking time to listen to the Portuguese music he loved, sharing good food, a good long drink of wine in front of a fire, enjoying your friends and family, and working hard, keeping in mind that “When you have to work, work hard. But remember…there will ALWAYS be time to work.”
In lieu of flowers, he would love contributions in his and Madalena’s memory to TJ O’Connor for the “poor abandoned animals”.
He would be honored to have all those who knew him and loved him to greet his family on Wednesday, March 31 from 5 to 7 PM at Lombard Funeral Home 3 Bridge St. Monson, MA, to share stories and laughs and maybe some tears (but mostly laughs). He would be honored to have you join him in his burial, too, ironically so “we can all be together the same time” on the one-year anniversary of Madalena’s burial, Thursday, April 1 at 10 AM at Lombard Funeral Home with a funeral procession to Saint Aloysius Cemetery in Indian Orchard. Family and friends will be invited to really celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary sometime in July.
To send sympathy gifts to the family or plant a tree in memory of Artur Dias Tavares, please visit our tribute store.
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