Sometimes when Joe Fallon got up early to open his Inverness deli, it was not uncommon for him to find a stranger sleeping on his living room sofa or in the kitchen having a drink from the fridge.
This is because his wife Barbara believed that their “door is always open”.
It was the house where his four daughters’ friends gathered, where everyone got ready for proms, where they hung out and were loved by Barbara Fallon, who had more than enough love for everyone.
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She would have extra Christmas stockings full of treats and presents “just in case”, and extra corsages on prom day.
After graduating from King’s County Hospital School of Nursing in Brooklyn, New York, Barbar…
People came to her for advice, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.
“She was at her best caring for someone,” her eldest daughter Amy Crowell said.
Barbara Ann Silvestro Fallon died on October 25. She was 71 years old.
Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Barbara was a Registered Nurse, and more.
She met her husband of 50 years, Joe Fallon, at a bus stop when they were both in high school.
They married in 1972 and moved to Inverness in 1974 to raise a family and take over their family business, Joe’s Deli, which was originally owned by Barbara’s father, Joe Silvestro.
The Fallons had four daughters from 1975 to 1980: Amy, Mandee, Becky and Katie.
During her last pregnancy, Barbara was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and battled the disease for 40 years.
“The Silvestro family were my neighbors from Staten Island and Barbara was one of many ‘lifesavers’ (when I moved) to Inverness in 1981 with two young children,” Pati Smith wrote in a Facebook post.
Smith recalled Barbara’s diagnosis “with a disease that could have knocked down others, but not Barbara or her family,” she wrote. “Thinking back to that time, the proverb, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ comes to mind, turning a negative situation into a positive outlook with an optimistic attitude…and let Me tell you, Barbara made the best lemonade in the next 40 years.
“Over the years, Barbara saw more lemons in her life, but each time that batch of lemonade she made got sweeter and sweeter,” Smith wrote.
‘You are my favorite’
Each of Barbara’s four daughters knew she was her mother’s favorite – they each had a coffee mug with that sentiment on it.
She was the “taxi mom” for dance lessons, girl scouts, cheerleaders, music lessons, youth groups, and riding lessons.
On their birthday, Barbara would call a girl at the exact time of her birth and say, “It’s a girl! And she is perfect! Or sometimes, “And she’s gorgeous!”
She was the mom who wrote individual notes to put in their lunchboxes and went on one-on-one shopping trips.
“She was the best shopping buddy,” her daughter Mandee Marconi said.
Barbara had an eye for fashion – at one point she owned Etc. of Park Avenue Boutique – and it included teenage girls too.
“We would be in the locker room, in tears, feeling ‘not enough’, and she was so patient,” her daughter Becky Caskey said. “She would bring us things to try on and we would end up leaving with clothes that made us feel so amazing and excited. She made us feel “enough”.
Her one unbreakable fashion rule: no white shoes after Labor Day.
“Every year after Easter she would take us out shopping for black shoes,” Becky said.
Among the girls, Becky was Barbara’s “flower child”.
“She always said I was born in the wrong decade,” she said.
As a young woman, Becky was diagnosed with lupus, which sometimes made her seriously ill. However, that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to live away from home, whether in Colorado, San Diego or Key West.
“So I moved to Colorado and got really sick and I called her, and she got on a plane, picked me up, and took me home,” Becky said.
Whenever that happened, no matter where Becky was, when she got sick and called home, her mom would always pick her up.
“I first met Barbara at Kmart (in Key West),” son-in-law Emsa Caskey said. “My mom is intense, but I didn’t know the definition of a strong, powerful woman until I met Barbara.”
He and Becky had been dating for a short time when Becky fell ill.
“I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation,” Emsa said. “She was in the hospital with tubes everywhere and I didn’t know what was going on – I was just the boyfriend – and I called Barbara. Hours later, this woman shows up – in heels – and she says, “I need to talk to the head nurse” and “I need to see her stats”, “I need to talk to his doctor.
“She was so caring, so loving and compassionate. She slept in a chair by (Becky’s) hospital bed for three days,” he said.
Of course, a mother would do that for her child. But Barbara did things like that for strangers, like the time her daughter Amy’s husband was in the military at Camp Lejeune. Amy was then pregnant, and her friend too.
Barbara had come to visit Amy and during that time Amy’s friend had given birth.
“My mom had never met my friend before, and they really bonded,” Amy said. “Next thing I know my mom is in the delivery room helping deliver!”
A “first friend” for many
In the days following Barbara Fallon’s death, her daughters heard many people say the same thing: “She was my first friend when I moved here.”
“I just moved to Florida, a 20-year-old girl, and met Barbara while she was working for Dr. Marcus,” Becky Beattie said. “I used to babysit for her from time to time and was always attracted to her because of her loving attitude towards people and her positive attitude.
“One day she asked me to babysit. It was my 21st birthday and everyone in my life forgot about it, so I was already a bit sad,” Beattie said. “Since I had nothing else to do, I agreed to babysit. Somehow she found out it was my birthday and when I got to her house she and her kids had thrown a cute little birthday party for me. She even made me dinner.
“It was the nicest thing anyone ever did for me,” she said. “But as I got to know Barbara over the years, it was just a typical Barbara thing to do. I was a young girl, not even a nurse, but she inspired me to go to the nursing school and she taught me what servant leadership means, because her whole life has been an example of that.
“I watched her kids grow up to be just like her,” Beattie said. “She had an amazing sense of humor and a way of putting things into perspective so you can understand life without letting it get the better of you. I know I’m a better person because I got to know Barbara I will miss Fallon and her and I will try to live my life to make her proud.
Barbara Fallon was the ultimate hostess. She specialized in creating memories that turned into traditions, like Silly String at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Barbara was known for her big blue eyes that always saw the good in others. She was the best girl a grandchild could have.
“She’s always been there for me,” her granddaughter Fallon Crowley said. “She picked me up from school every day and brought me food that I liked. If I was having a bad day, she would put on her favorite movie, “Ever After,” and we would watch it together. I always knew I had somewhere to go.
“When I had kids close, she understood and I could call her with my concerns,” her daughter Katie Hensley said. “She was like, ‘When they graduate from high school, they’re not going to do this. (They won’t use a pacifier or diapers etc.) This has always calmed me down.
Barbara was a cantor in two Catholic churches, singing despite being treated for cancer which affected her vocal cords. His favorite song was “On Eagle’s Wings” – “And he will lift you up on the wings of eagles, carry you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.”
She made the best meatloaf and ridiculous, over-the-top sundaes. She gave birthing classes in Lamaze, worked alongside her husband in the deli, believed that “it takes a whole village,” and was proud to call Citrus County her village.
“When she was sick, the community gave her thanks for everything she had given to the community,” said Sister Rosemary DeMott.
Her son-in-law Emsa said the quote that best sums up who Barbara Fallon was is from Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’: “I have always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, everything. as he or she is, not as you would like them to be.
“That’s how Barbara liked it,” Emsa said.
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