Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Eulogy to Robert Taylor... cribbage player

From the Gloucester Daily Times - MA, USA

Jim Rees, on behalf of he and his wife, Mary, made the following presentation at the First Baptist Church in Rockport at the Feb. 2 memorial service of the late Robert Taylor.

"I first met Bob over nine years ago under very trying circumstances. I was very ill and frankly the medical community could not help. Bob Taylor had a huge hand in helping me get well again. In the process Bob became like a second father to me and a very trusted friend to the entire family.

During the first three years of our friendship we would see each other almost every day usually for three to five hours. I was very fortunate that I found someone who had all the skills that Bob had who could also devote the time needed to help me get well again.

But, what I'm telling most of you about Bob, you already know. He was a man who would give selflessly of himself in order to help others. For those of you who didn't know Bob well here is a brief list of the ways in which Bob helped out in the community over the years.

· He worked as a counselor with both NUVA in Gloucester and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo, NY.

· He worked with Wellspring

· He volunteered at the Middleton Correctional Facility

· He cooked suppers at Trinity church

· He volunteered at the food pantry and with other institutions where people needed help

· He assisted countless people associated with AA, helping to heal entire families.

· Lastly, he would listen to anyone, friend or stranger, who was having problems and do what he could to help them

Now here are some things most of you probably didn’t know about Bob. Did you know that he was a triple threat? I’m not talking about singing, dancing and acting. I mean the big three.

1. Golf

2. Cribbage

3. and Pool

Let me explain:

Bob was a member of the New England PGA during the 1950s and '60s. As a teenager he caddied and would play for hours at his home course in Reading, one time winning the club championship. When we first met we would play some of the local courses and as Bob got older our golfing time was spent watching it on TV together.

Regarding cribbage, I don’t think there was a cribbage tournament held in the North Shore that Bob didn’t enter. I know that whenever I went over to his apartment we would play cribbage for hours. He was a very accomplished player who won some tournaments and usually finished up near the top.

And finally pool. Bob and I must have hit every pool hall on the North Shore. I’m not talking about once in a while. I mean 3-4 times a week. It was during one of these games, as Bob was about to run the table and win the match, he looked up at me and said, “You know I have a nickname”. He then calmly made the shot, looking at me the whole time, and finished by saying, “its Hollywood”. For those of you who don’t know there was a famous movie actor named Robert Taylor …

Another part of Bob you may or may not have known about was his love of parakeets. Bob lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen and living room. The living room was actually an aviary. Some people have a parakeet or two they keep in a cage. Bob had 17 that he hatched from eggs who had free range of the living room. Not only that, each had its own name and distinct personality.

When I first met Bob we would meet in his living room. The birds would all be lined up on the curtain rods silently gawking at me, the interloper. It was a little bit spooky. As the birds became more familiar with me they would compete with me for Bob’s attention by trying to squawk louder than I was talking.

But it gets better. One night, a snowstorm left me stranded over Bob’s apartment and the only place to sleep was on the couch in …the living room. By the way I hate birds but never told Bob this. During the night I could hear the birds talking to one another and sometimes would hear them fly through the room. When dawn came and I awoke there were parakeets watching me from the curtain rods, parakeets on the floor surrounding the couch, parakeets roosting on my chest and as I turned my head there were, yes, 2 parakeets staring at me on my pillow. I never spent another night at Bob’s again.

As Bob got older the friendship that had developed between us evolved. As a result of the life skills that Bob imparted to me, I was now able to be of help to Bob when he needed it. A perfect example of this was when Sylvia, Bob’s longtime companion, became increasingly ill in the last couple of years of her life. When Bob needed someone to talk things out he now could turn to me. When Sylvia died Bob was heart broken but he was not alone. All the people that he had helped in the past were now there for him. That’s what Bob taught us all. To be there for others in need.

In the last week of Bob’s life we were talking. Out of no where Bob mentioned a few people that were very dear to him. He suggested to me that I should check up on them occasionally. Bob had never mentioned this before. After the fire this was the first thing I thought about. It was almost as if Bob had had a premonition of things to come and was giving me his last instruction.

You hear people talking about legacies, typically politicians. These are usually empty, self-centered goals and ambitions. Bob’s legacies, however, are the people in this church today. His quiet, gentile spirit lives on in the people he knew. The individuals he helped in AA. The people that he helped along the way expecting nothing in return. These people will perpetuate the guiding principals that Bob taught them and he himself lived by.

· Live one day at a time

· Progress not perfection

· Give freely what has been given to you

· Live life on life’s terms

· And always help someone in need

These ideals have stood the test of time and made Bob Taylor the man that he was."

Original artical

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