“Hold the light just over the spark plug. Not there, here and pay attention. I need the light to see what I’m doing.” My husband Jeff and his older brother Jerry and younger brother Roger were recalling the thousands of times they heard Al Taylor, their Dad, make this request when he insisted they help him work on a car engine, or fix a mower or install a light switch. They laughed at how annoyed Dad would get whenever both their attention and the light wandered from the ‘spot’. All three brothers acknowledged that, even though they didn’t realize it at the time, these were teaching moments. Rather than ‘tell’ them, Al would show them. In the end, all three became self-sufficient ‘masters of tools’ who could repair an engine, wire a house, and, most important, avoid paying anyone to repair, replace or rebuild almost anything.
During his 97 years, Al had many ‘light’ moments with his sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends, and neighbors. You see, Al Taylor himself was a ‘light’. Whether you were a lifetime friend from the church, a fellow worker from the Maryland Transit Authority or a stranger he just met, Al made you feel that you were the most important person in the world. He listened without interrupting, focusing all of his attention on you. He laughed at your jokes, cried with your grief, gave advice when solicited and always ended the conversation with one of his famous hugs. It was always about the other person – seldom about him.
Al was a quiet and private man who rejoiced in your accomplishments but seldom shared his own, unless a teaching lesson was needed in the form of a ‘light’. Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a saint. On some subjects he had a black or white view and try as you may, there was no changing his mind. He loved to debate – was always respectful, never arguing or raising his voice however, when the discussion came to a standstill, he’d shrug and say “case closed”…and that was the end of it.
Ten days after his 97th birthday, Al Taylor turned into the arms of his Savior and left this world a little dimmer and the heavens much brighter. Over two days, hundreds of people of all ages attended his services sharing stories of his kindnesses, generosity of time, and teaching moments.
His ‘lights’ will remain with us always as will his infectious laugh, his strong shoulders, his deep faith, and the love he demonstrated in every action.
God speed Al Taylor.