Last week, my cousin Mark posted a photo of himself with my great uncle John and great aunt Jean at their assisted living facility. His caption for the photo was essentially that John had taken a turn for the worse and they called in hospice care for him as his end of life was near. I could tell looking at the photo it was the right call. I won’t describe the look on John’s face, it reminded me of the look on my grandmother’s face shortly before she died from lung cancer. If you’ve spent any time near the dying, it is probably a look you know well and can hold in your mind. Friday morning I woke up and got ready for work, not checking the family group on Facebook until shortly before 11 when I have my first break for the day. John had died Thursday night nearly 95 years after he was born. In over 300 years, no Taylor in that family line has lived longer.
My grandfather and John were identical twin brothers and even though when I was growing up we didn’t see John and Jean very often for whatever reason, John always held a place in my mind that was up there with Grandfather. When Jim died, John’s house was the place that everyone gathered after the funeral and I remember being together with the extended family and holding those happy memories close has been a way of honoring John and Jim, and Gramma Betty and Aunt Jean (who has Alzheimer’s and isn’t really aware that John is no longer with her). The last time that I saw John and Jean we were up in the Paradise Valley for a family reunion. John was wheelchair bound after a stroke and Jean was physically present but already mostly mentally in a different world. John’s mind was still sharp, he struggled with clear speech from the stroke, and there were some family conversations happening that were really interesting to be a part of.
That reunion was also the second time that I had cooked for the whole clan. The first time was after Grandfather’s funeral and I made enough pizza dough to cook for the 25 or so family members that were gathered in the house on Harvard Ave. I was working with my Aunt Joanie, also probably the last time that I had an opportunity to cook with her before we lost touch. I really didn’t see it at the time, but perhaps that was my memorial for John before he passed. Feeding the family in memory of those who’ve gone before. We even used the sourdough starter that Grandfather started in the 1960’s, something my uncle Pete had brought up for sourdough waffles, another family tradition and one that my uncle Paul suggested as a memorial for John this weekend. I don’t have my kids with me this weekend but last weekend we did make sourdough waffles for breakfast and the leftovers are in the freezer.
Friday night, I went over to check out Matty’s collab with Meat Paw Studios Thicc Boiz 2 and then over to Dan’s to see Courtney and Sarah Ruth and Dahlia and Rachel play in the Improv Lotto. Basic premise is that musicians were grouped randomly together and then performed an improvised set. I stayed out until after 2 and was able to make it to a 9:30 climb the next morning. My right arm as been a little funky since I slipped off a foot hold on Monday, I kept things easy and was just a little sore after. It was really nice to climb with Chris and his GF for the first time in a long while. They were the first ones to bring me into the climbing gym, Chris used his guest pass to get me in and it was fun to show the progress that I’ve made as a climber in that time.
Had lunch with dad and Suzanne, talked a little about John and his life and then had dinner with them again for Suzanne’s birthday which was early this week. Next week is packed but I’ve got the house clean, food prepped and I’ll be ready to hit the ground running come Monday. It ain’t Monday yet.