Family

Funeral for My Mother

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Casket

Joclair Ellenberg Taylor – 1928-2014

Yesterday we held the funeral for my mother. It was a time of grieving, but also of celebration. Now, with both parents gone, our large family feels somewhat adrift. However, we’ve always been very close, and I’m sure we will come to rely on each other even more as the days pass.

I want to express my sincerest thanks for all of the warm greetings and condolences from my friends, family and colleagues. Even if I haven’t had a chance to respond personally, know that I appreciate each one that has reached out to us during this time. (more…)

Goodbye, Mom

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Mom on Harley 2

Mom on a Harley photo by Lauren Stines

At 2:10 this morning my mother, Joclair Ellenberg Taylor, lost her battle with cancer. She passed quietly in the early morning, surrounded by four of her seven children at her home in Prosperity, SC. I was not able to be with her at the end, but had been there earlier in the evening. Mom was 85. She now joins my father, Houston Taylor, who passed away in 2011.

Several weeks ago Mom had some cancerous places removed from her skin. These were found to be melanoma. Further scans showed that the cancer had spread, and that there were large tumors in her lungs. Rather than undergo aggressive treatment, at her age Mom decided to let things progress naturally. In early July we were given a 4-6 month prognosis.

Even though she wouldn’t fight the cancer, she wasn’t one to sit idly by, either. Ever the adventurer, Mom put together her bucket list, which included going on one last road trip, and maybe even getting back to do some kayaking.

Last week my brother Stephen picked up Mom, his daughter Lauren, and my sister Glynda, and they embarked on trip to New York City. The trip was a winding affair, with stops to visit other grandchildren along the way, and a drive through Amish country. As they were approaching New York, Mom slipped into silence, and begin exhibiting stroke-like symptoms. It turns out that there were also tumors in the brain that had begun to hemorrhage.

Joclair Ellenberg

One harrowing night in a New York hospital, and Mom seemed to make an astounding recovery. The family made it back to Prosperity in record time, and we were able to talk with her about the trip and all she had seen. Unfortunately, the tumors took their toll, and we spent the last week tending to my mother in home hospice. While I was not able to take her kayaking, I am ever so thankful that she was able to take one last grand adventure with her family.

In addition to the cancer, this past year had been a difficult one health-wise for my mother. She had fallen last fall, and spent several weeks in rehabilitation with broken bones. However, she took to her recovery like a champ and made amazing progress. Add to that recovery from a previous stroke and broken hip from many years ago, and her strength and resiliency is nothing short of amazing.

…and it had to be. Taking care of seven children was a hard task, but this small woman was always up to the challenge. Often with limited resources, she would fight fiercely for her children and grandchildren, making sure we had food on the table, clothing, and anything else we needed.

That fierce nature was combined with an adventuresome spirit and wicked sense of humor. Mom loved to go on rambling drives, and if a dirt road was involved, all the better. She also loved to sit in public places and “people watch.” However, even with an eye for the foibles of humanity, she also had great compassion, and would often express how her heart ached when she couldn’t correct every injustice, or help everyone she encountered who was in need.

Mother herself was the youngest of a very large family of nine – three boys and six girls. She was raised in Ninety-Six, South Carolina, the daughter of William Thomas and Annie Smith Ellenberg. Her father had passed away when she was 15, so at an early age she took on farm responsibilities, with my equally amazing and fierce grandmother as a role model. She met my father at Emmanuel College and married in 1947, after he had returned from WWII.

Mom and Dad at the beach

Mom was a talented piano player and musician. I always envied her ability to improvise on the piano while playing hymns. She taught piano, and encouraged each of us to pursue music in one form or another. Our family gatherings have always included music.

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Mom is survived by two sisters, Grace and Lois, her three sons, four daughters, twelve grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and grand in-laws.

There is so much more to write, but no way possible to sum up such an amazing life in one short blog post. So, I’ll just stop here and say thank you for an amazing life, and for being such a wonderful role model. We will miss you more than we can ever say, and hope to see you again.

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Mom and Dad on balcony at beach

Fourth of July 2014

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Canada Day Fireworks

OK, It’s not Fourth of July, but Canada Day Fireworks photo by Ben_Senior

At some point I’m going to stop beginning my posts with “It’s been a crazy week.” It starts sounding like Garrison Keillor’s standard “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.” But…it has been a crazy week, topped off by a holiday weekend.

Chorale Concert

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the collaboration between the Furman Lakeside Concert Band and the Greenville Chorale. It’s of our most popular concerts, certainly the best attended. We had rehearsals Monday night, then Tuesday with the band. The concert was Thursday. (more…)

From Monck’s Corner to Brazil

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Saint Thomas Church-009

Saint Thomas Church, AKA The Brick Church, AKA The White Church

This weekend was a Lowcountry Unfiltered weekend, and we had a paddling trip planned for the Lower Santee River. I decided to head down early and take some photographs in the wilds of Francis Marion Forest and Berkeley and Charleston Counties.  My brothers, Stephen and Houston, would be down later that afternoon, and we would see what trouble we could create.

I had marked a series of locations in my GPS.  Most of these were historic churches, but there were a few other locations I wanted to check out.  With the car loaded with kayak and photography gear, I headed on down Friday morning.

I got away later than I had thought, and traffic was heavy, but I made it down there right about noon.  Lunch was a sandwich I brought along so I could stick with my diet.  I had that along the banks of the Tailrace Canal, just south of Moncks Corner.

Tailrace Canal-002 (more…)

Gadding about in Florida – Part Two

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Kissimmee Prairie

This is one of those weeks when I forget when I did what. We’re continuing our travels in Florida, mostly kayaking, but getting out and doing some other exploration.

I’d been out paddling most of the morning Thursday morning, but by the afternoon it was time for something different.  All of us loaded up in the car and headed to Kissimmee Prairie on the interior of the state. (more…)

Gadding about in Florida – Part One

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Indian River near Fort Pierce, Florida

We’ve been spending a few days down in Fort Pierce, Florida, at Laura’s sister’s place. Amy had to go away on business, so we cam down to keep her mom company. I brought toys. The Subaru was loaded with more camera and kayak gear than luggage.

Every morning I’ve been getting up and down a short paddling trip before the heat and afternoon thunderstorms hit. I’ve also managed to get in an evening paddle.

I brought the Tsunami because it handles rougher water with ease and is quick enough that I can go some distance. First trip out I headed out to the spoil islands. The morning was clear with a light breeze. The water was relatively flat.

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Indian River-007 (more…)

Momentous Weekend

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As a follow-up to my “too busy to post” post, thought I’d explain some of the goings on that I couldn’t discuss prior to the events. In that previous post I mentioned that Furman Commencement and the Greenville Chorale Concert were scheduled for the same time. What I didn’t mention was that I was supposed to be at both of those events.

Here’s the deal – Laura won the Meritorious Advising Award for Furman University this year. The award recognizes professors and administrators that have worked with students in planning their coursework throughout the year. In 2009 Laura had won the Meritorious Teaching Award. Now she has received both of Furman’s top honors. (more…)

Picker’s Paradise in Newberry

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As See on American Pickers

Two times in less than a week I’ve been drawn in by an “as seen on TV” sign. First time was a rather bad experience at a restaurant in Gaffney. This time, C. T. Summer Hardware Store in Newberry turned out to be a real winner.

It was my sister, Beth’s birthday, so Glynda and I drove down to take her out to eat. We had dropped by Prosperity to pick up our mother, and then drove back to meet Beth at The Cabana Cafe. We had a great lunch (sorry, no cafe review this time) and were surprised by Beth’s son, Mason, who had come in for lunch during his work day.

Glynda and Beth
Mason and Beth

During lunch Beth mentioned that we needed to check out the hardware store next door. I had spotted antiques in the window, and had seen the “American Pickers” sign on the front window. Having been burned once recently by a TV show advertisement, I was skeptical. Glynda and I said we would be back on a less cold and rainy day. Mother, on the other hand, said she wanted to go right after lunch. Looks like we were visiting a hardware store. (more…)

A Mid-Week Athens Road Trip

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Union Baptist Church with Texture

Old Union Baptist Church in Madison County

As mentioned in the previous post, my sister Glynda and I headed down to Athens, Ga to meet with our brother, Houston. We had lunch at the famous Weaver D’s Automatic for the People, but we also took some time for other adventures. Here are some of the other things we spotted along the way…

Shortly after crossing the SC-GA border in I-85, we hopped off the Interstate at Lavonia. This had always been just an exit ramp to me. I didn’t really know anything about the town associated with the name, so we decided to check it out. We found a quaint little town square lining a railroad, with a colorful depot now serving as a welcome center.

Lavonia Depot
Lavonia Depot (more…)

A Taylor-Wright Christmas

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Wright Family Christmas 2013-8

Christmas was a whirlwind. With Thanksgiving so late, it came and went faster than I could imagine. Last year was marked by stress and serious illness. This year, we had much to celebrate.

A Taylor Family Christmas

First up was the gathering with my family on Sunday evening. The Taylor Clan gathered at the family home in Gray Court, and most of us were able to be there. At least all of my siblings were there…

Taylor Family Christmas 2013-029 (more…)

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