SAYING FAREWELL TO A GREAT WOMAN
Tatiana Tarasova called me Sunday night. “Mom is no more”, she said curtly.
Nina Grigorievna, the widow of the great Anatoly Tarasov, passed away at the age of 92. “She lived to old age”, someone could say indifferently. Me, I still can’t take it in.
She was always very young inside. She was so at 70, at 80, and even at 90. She was always tight, active and beautiful. It never took much imagination to see how men could lose their heads over such a woman, or how Anatoly Tarasov adored her over all of their 55 years together.
History often shows us how next to a great man there is always an equally great woman. Having observed the Tarasov family over many years, I’ve often seen how Nina Grigorievna was its real heart. She was very wise, very demanding and very loyal. With such a woman behind him, a man can have courage for any decision. Moreover, he goes through everything for her sake.
Tarasovs’ oldest daughter Galina told me a few years ago, “Dad always felt responsible for everything. For example, he never to his dying day knew that Tanya and I smoked. We hid it because we knew his temperament – he could throw us out of the house. At the same time, he never raised his hand at us. He could get very angry at us. God forbid we ever upset mom! On our father’s eyes, that was the worst sin. He was very protective of her.”
People still remember fondly the Army hockey “Women’s council” that Nina Grigorievna put together when her husband managed the club. Tarasova was very adept at balancing the impulsive and explosive character of her spouse. While he led the team on the ice, she was putting together the hockey family. Everyone could share his problems with her and find understanding and support. Nina Grigorievna herself was from a small town of Epifan where her father was a head doctor of the hospital. Perhaps, this was why she so especially attentive to those who moved to Moscow from the provinces.
“Imagine”, Tatiana Tarasova told me a couple of years ago. “Mom is already 90, but she gets me up every morning with her ‘Movement is life. Tanya, get up, let’s go for a walk’. She still follows sport, reads all the newspapers, and discusses it all with us”.
I often witnessed Nina Grigorievna’s desire to be in the know. About five years ago, I published an interview where a rather mediocre hockey player from Tarasov’s days mentioned the coach’s name in a negative context. Nina Grigorievna immediately called me to complain – why publish a lie? This man knows exactly why he was sanctioned! Does he think no one remembers anymore?!
Even a decade after her spouse’s death, Nina Grigorievna still came to his defense.
She was equally demanding of her daughters. To her, the concept of “family honor” had a very real meaning.
When doctors discovered Galina had an advanced stage of cancer, the family decided not to tell the mother. Both daughters well understood that Nina Grigorievna wouldn’t live through that. Last December, though, Galina passed away.
Having buried her oldest daughter next to her husband on the Vagankovo cemetery, Tarasova started withering away. She still took good care of herself and asked that people read to her as she couldn’t do it herself because of loss of vision. You could still her steal character behind it all. According to Tatiana Anatolievna, it was her mom who helped her go on a very strict diet and keep it diligently over several months.
When I heard it from Tatiana Tarasova back in late August, I thought for the first time that she didn’t take after her father in terms of character. Rather, she inherited Anatoly Vladimirovich’s creativity and ability to “see” the athlete and lead him to victory. It was her mother who gave her that unbending steal core.
Rest in peace, Tatiana Griorievna!