This entry deviates from my normal posts. My father died 6 days ago. Today, Monday August 12th we held a memorial service to honor and celebrate his life. This is the tribute I read.
Charles (Chuck) R. Taylor: February 15th, 1944-August 6th, 2013
I stand here today proud to be my father’s daughter. I loved him with all my heart, and still do, and am forever blessed that the last words we spoke to each other were “I love you.”
My father never wanted much fanfare or too many tears, so my tribute today represents only a minutia of the love we shared. There’s so much to say today, yet much more will remain locked in the treasure chest that joins my heart with my father’s.
I am my father’s daughter. My father and I shared a special bond, an inspired love. He taught me so many life lessons. He taught me how to drive, not too far from here, in the parking lot of Ralphs on Moorpark and Janss. If I close my eyes, I can recall how patient he was as I attempted reversing time and time again. He taught me, through his own actions, the value of having endless courage and an indefatigable spirit. He took a leap of faith when he decided to start his own business— a leap of faith in himself— for he knew the truth of Walt Disney’s words: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And he was relentless in his pursuit of his dreams, the most important of which was just spending time with family. When I close my eyes, I can still remember all the childhood Christmases where he’d look forward to seeing me open all my presents, the most precious of which were Nancy Drew books. I have a picture somewhere of one Christmas where I’m sitting beside our Christmas tree surrounded by at least a dozen Nancy Drew books. He fostered my love of reading, not because of its educational value; rather, because it’s what I loved. And my happiness mattered to him; it still matters to him.
He taught me how to find humor where others might not. When he was in rehab a month ago he proudly and delightfully boasted to the nurses that he taught me how to fart. Yes, of all the things he taught me, he felt most proud of that. And then there were the movies and tv shows I learned to appreciate from the times we’d spend watching them together: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Night of the Lepus, the original Friday the 13th, and every other campy horror film you can imagine. There’s a reason why I always grade essays while watching TV shows like Get Smart and the original Star Trek: it’s a bit like having him with me, and that will be true even more so now. He was so proud that I’d become a college professor, and it’s my honor to always have him with me as I impart my knowledge to others.
And then there’s Disneyland—he taught me to love Disney. He and I share a mutual love of all things Mickey. For the past several years, my mom and dad would buy me a Disney annual pass for Christmas. We didn’t have the time to go together though, but I’d always take pictures and text them to him while I was there, and he’d always text back with “Say hi to Mickey for me!” My dad wanted to experience Disney—well Club 33—with me and he was trying to make plans for us to go for my mom’s 70th birthday. The outfit I’m wearing today is the exact outfit—down to the tiara—that I planned to wear that day. I was going to be Dad’s Disney Princess and we were going to have our pictures taken with Mickey. So I wear this outfit today for him, and the next time I go to Disneyland, I’ll wear it then too and take him with me in spirit, texting him pictures in the astral. And this January, I’ll be running in the TinkerBell 10K through Disneyland, and I know he’ll be with me as I cross the finish line.
The last few weeks of his life, he experienced an increasing physical burden. On most days, he handled it well, but toward the end he’d had enough. It was his time to go. He wanted release from the confines of his physical body.
The most meaningful moments of these past few months were the times I’d just be with my dad. Just him and me. Moments where few words were spoken but so much was said. He died knowing how much I loved him, and I will live the rest of this incarnation knowing just how much he loved me.