Tuesday Thoughts 09-15-09

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Joseph Edwin Tayl0r

1929-2009

I suppose that most people will remember my grandfather as tan and lean with head full of shockingly white hair.  They’ll remember his generosity and strong work ethic and stubbornness.  That he hated to wear anything but his Levis and liked ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch.  That he was quick to offer both his smile and his hand.  That growing up in poverty left him with an appreciation for many things, including the taste of turtle.

I think I’ll remember my Papa as the young Joe Taylor in the photo above.  Good, dutiful and determined.  The portrait has hung in my grandparents’ home all of my life, perhaps longer.  How many times did I hear him say, “See that good lookin’ fella in that picture?  Well, that’s me.  And to think your Nana told you Elvis Presley was handsome!”  We’d giggle and “Aw, papa!” before wandering off.  

What seems familiar to me in this picture is not so much the man’s face but his expression.  I know that look.  I’ve seen it hundreds of times.  I also know the words that accompany that look.  “Come on, now.”  Yes, you scraped your knee but get back on that bicycle young lady.  If you got yourself up there you can get yourself down.  Come on, we’ll fix it, find it, build it, move it.  I don’t care what you think you can do, you’re going to do what needs to be done.  No excuses, little lady, come on.  

If you’ve ever ventured into rural South Florida and wondered about the type of person that would choose to settle there, I have your answer.  It was someone like him.  A hardworking and joke-cracking, calloused-handed and tenderhearted man with dirty old boots.  A simple farmer who loved his God, his family, his neighbors and his country.  

For 80 years my Papa Joe walked this earth.  For the past 25 years, I’ve been blessed to know him as my Papa.  Yesterday, he left to walk in the presence of Jesus.  Today, I rejoice that he is in heaven and I thank God for allowing me to know such an excellent man.  

 

For my Papa (I’d intended to share this with my dad about his dad)

They say you can tell a lot about a man

By the shoes he wears

Yours are rubber boots

That might have once been white

Now a distinctive yellow

That can only be obtained

By years of wear

Tromping through fields and mud

Walking the same ground as your father, and mine

 

The say you can tell a lot about a man

By his hands

Yours are a leathery brown

Colored by the sun

Roughened from the use

Of shovels, tractors and plows

Working to keep your family fed

Before the sunrise and beyond its setting

Joining the Creator in making things grow

 

They say you can tell a lot about a man

By the set of his mouth

Yours tips upward

In a grin that reassures

That announces to the world

And to me,

“Here is a man who knows what matters most”

Who trusts his God to do what is right

And has nothing to fear

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