James Taylor is a master wordsmith. When his mother Gertrude “Trudy” Taylor passed away this weekend at the age of 94, he wrote a beautiful tribute. You’ll feel like you knew her when you read this:
“I’m deeply grateful for all the kind words of sympathy and condolence that people have been sending in these past two days.
Gertrude Woodard Taylor (1921-2015) was the daughter of a Massachusetts fisherman and the wife of a North Carolina doctor. She devoted her life to her marriage and her five children, four boys and a girl, all born in the span of six years between 1947 and 1953.
She raised us in the home she built in Chapel Hill, NC and, since she never lost her Maritime New England roots, made an annual summer migration to Martha’s Vineyard Island.
Her two homes, in Chapel Hill and Chilmark, were works of art into which she channeled her constant creativity. But she was also an accomplished painter, a weaver (spinning her own yarn), a photographer, a distinguished horticulturist and a killer cook, whose talents in the kitchen were celebrated by anyone fortunate enough to sit at her table. This included the illustrious James Beard who introduced the world to her “Chilmark Bouillabaisse.” Everything she put her hand to became a work of art.
As the wife of the Dean of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, she shouldered the burden of official hostess with a warmth and sophistication that was an invaluable asset to my father, as he built a world-renowned School of Medicine and assembled its faculty.
She ended her days in her simple, elegant cottage overlooking her beloved Stonewall Pond, surrounded by dear friends and four generations of family. As she liked to say: “Life is finite, but love lasts forever…”
Isn’t that beautiful? He’s a national treasure, and if you know his life story, you know there were some bumps along the road, especially when he was a young man. No doubt his parents were accomplished people. His love and admiration for his mother are quite evident in those words he wrote.
Posting this story gives me a golden opportunity to share a James Taylor song. I could go for one of his many hits that you’ve heard over and over, and I couldn’t go wrong. We all love “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Shower the People,” and all his other familiar tunes. So let me pull this one out of the hat. It’s called “Secret o’ Life.” The opening and closing line says it all: “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” In honor of his mother, of whom James said, “Everything she put her hand to became a work of art,” here’s a wonderful JT song. I’ll bet she liked this one.