Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Eulogy for John Cuthbert Taylor
My task, my privilege, on behalf of the family is to reflect on John Cuthbert Taylor – as husband, dad, father-in-law, granddad.
For the three Taylor sons, our childhood is defined by Dad and our Dad is defined by PNG.
Holidays using coconut palm leaves as a toboggan to fly into Lake Murray,
the family fondue and games nights – playing Careers,
the three hour church services in Gogodala,
the standards of behaviour expected at the three hour church services from the three sons of the foreign missionary.
All of us as sons were raised in PNG and it’s only in hindsight that one can begin to appreciate the way it shaped us. The values it instilled across cultures. And the costs, for Dad and for us.
For the grandchildren, Grandad meant Wethers Original lollies from his special tin. His smile of welcome. His genuine interest in their lives. And wheel chair rides.
For Mum, Cuth Taylor meant 53 years of companionship. A shared sense of call. Mutual support. In health, and more recently, in sickness
I still remember the phone call from Dad with the news that he’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I remember him struggling emotionally to share the news of this disease that was attacking his nervous system. For which there is no known cure. (As yet)
Dad was in his late 50s when he was diagnosed. It would’ve been easy to respond with anger, self-absorbed bitterness. Instead I watched as Dad used those years to grow. To find new ways to contribute – through prayer, in care. I’ve watched him go through the Opawa Baptist church phone directory, person by person. Realising that he was keeping better track of newcomers than most people in the church.
Not that dad was perfect. He could withdraw from conflict. He could hide his emotions. He could work too hard. Not that anyone’s perfect.
Last year for Fathers Day I gave dad a memory book. A series of questions – favourite childhood holiday, his first job – that might help capture his memories before they became lost in the confusion that is Alzheimers.
One question asks – What are the proudest moments of your life. Dad wrote of his first century in cricket. Getting married – to you Mum. Birth of his sons – Chris, Dave and even me. And how he coped with MS.
At first glance it’s an unusual thing to be proud of. But this is what he wrote:
“God’s goodness to me and my growth in Him since my MS was diagnosed. I used to .. ask God why he allowed old people to get sick. But I now know the answer – are we still prepared to trust God even when we are sick. Yes I am!!”
John Cuthbert Taylor – husband, dad, father-in-law, granddad. Remembered by us, admired by us, loved by us – for his character.