Friday, April 30, 2010

In Memorium

On March 21, 2010, family and friends of Joseph Taylor gathered in Salem, Massachusetts to remember Joe's life.  Below are the eulogies for this amazing man, wonderful friend, and loving father.

Eulogy for Joseph Taylor
Yosef ben Moshe v’Batya

Good afternoon!   I am Rabbi Steven Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom in Baltimore.  I am grateful to Rabbi David Meyer of Temple Emanuel for allowing me the privilege of speaking from his pulpit for a second time.  I was here four years ago to eulogize Gerry Taylor.  You must be asking yourself a question, “Why is a rabbi from Baltimore speaking about Joe?”  Allow me a few minutes to explain.

I have known Joe my entire life.  He grew up in a house on Early Street in Morristown, New Jersey, just around the corner from my grandparent’s home on Speedwell Avenue.  He and my dear uncle, Herman Rosenberg, were best friends ever since the seventh grade.  They would walk to school together, hang out on my grandmother’s porch with another future distinguished Jewish communal service professional, Morris Fine, and play basketball after school.  My uncle and Joe went to Drew University and remained staunch friends their entire lives.  Gerry and Joe and my uncle and aunt saw each other regularly.  My uncle was so proud of Joe and would often tell me about his accomplishments. 

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A Unique Man   Gloria Hochman

Back home in Philadelphia, I have a thick file stuffed with things that Joe wrote and things he told me.  I call the file simply:  Joe Taylor, An Extraordinary Man.  In a moment, I’ll share with you a couple of things from that file.

When I met Joe, I was a young mother of  two-year old daughter.  He was Executive Director of the Association for Jewish Children, a prestigious multi-service child care organization that placed some children in foster care, some in adoptive families, and ran group residences for older children who were too troubled to go into private foster homes.   

All of you have, some time in your life, had the experience of meeting someone and you just clicked instantly.  That’s the way it was with Joe and me.  I went to him looking for a job in public relations, and I was thrilled when he hired me.  I could sense that while his main job at that time was heading this agency, that he had a subterranean calling, a sensitivity, a view of life, that I came to learn, he expressed through writing, some of which all of you here have had the pleasure of reading.  But I had no idea then that this was the beginning of a friendship that would last more than four decades. 

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On Love and Marriage   Madalaine Pugliese

I decided on the topic of love and friendship for many of the reasons that we have already heard and will hear more about today. My comments address three kinds of love I think about when I think about Joe: 1) Gerry, 2) Food, and 3) Family and Friends. Thankfully Joe left his remarkable memoirs so that we can celebrate his thoughts quoting selections using some of his own words.

However, I feel uniquely qualified to talk about these topics for a very special reason. Joe and his beloved Gerry shared a wedding anniversary date with my wonderful husband Carmen and I. We loved celebrating together -- and Joe had fantastic taste in campaign! Carmen and I can only hope that our young 32-year marriage will emulate the astonishing love affair that Joe and Gerry enjoyed for 64 years.   

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Playing Tennis with the Net Down    Jean Monahan 

At the start of his short essay, “Life as a Spectator Sport”, Joe wrote: “When I retired from my working life at seventy, it felt like I was playing tennis with the net down.” Joe relished the freedom of no rules or expectations throughout his retirement, which lasted over twenty years. A sentence later he says, “(at 90) now there isn’t even  a net….and living may soon become a spectator sport”. It’s remarkable to think that Joe Taylor ever worried about being merely a spectator. Like his wife, Gerry, Joe was an engaged, thinking, active citizen, with a kaleidoscope of interests and a surge of energy for the things he cared most deeply about. 

I met Joe and Gerry 9 years ago. It was a gorgeous afternoon in June. Two weeks before, I had adopted a baby girl. I went to the Salem Athenaeum to give a poetry reading, and Gerry and Joe were among the small group sitting around the table. We connected initially because  of their interest in my adopted daughter…Joe told me he had worked  with adoption agencies during his time as Executive Director of Jewish Family Services in Philadelphia. We also connected through the poetry I shared that day. Those two threads, writing and parenting, were the hallmarks of our friendship, along with a shared zest for living.

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The Journey of Joe's Memoirs   Pic Michel

As I begin I can hear Joe suggesting I open with a powerful first line, so there you have it.  When Joe Taylor invited me to tea the day after he bought one of my paintings at an opening in Salem, I had no idea with whom I was meeting.  He seemed like a nice elderly man and he was, but within moments of sitting down I became quite aware of his quizzical and analytical nature.  He seemed to almost interview me, and I happily answered all of his questions.  Here and there, he told me a little about himself, how he recently had lost his wife, how his daughter Barb helped him enjoy his life as a writer by getting him around to give readings from his book Out of My Mind.  Joe sent me home with an autographed copy.  I thought that was nice. 

About a year later, Joe surprised me with a phone call.  He asked if I would consider collaborating with him to produce cartoons for which he would send me gag lines and descriptions that I would fulfill with illustrations.  I was curious and agreed to review some of his ideas.  That was the first of many ideas Joe proposed and shortly afterward I received the first manila envelope filled with pages of ideas for cartoons. Joe later explained he had developed the desire to cartoon 20 years earlier, it just took him awhile to find someone to do the drawing.  At first it seemed like just a little fun to me, but from the outset, it was all business to Joe.

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The Miracle of Joe   Barbara Taylor 

Good morning, good morning, we love to see you smile;
Good morning, good morning, let’s make this day worthwhile. 

For many, many years, every time I walked into his condominium, Joe would greet me heartily with this refrain and a big smile on his face. And I can’t think of a person on this earth who did make each day so worthwhile. I can’t remember exactly when he stopped this greeting, but it was not in the too far distant past. 

Joe’s entire modus operandi was to make every day productive and full of reasons to live.  He constantly planned new projects, lectures or entries for writing contests.  He kept up with his friends, by phone and in person.  He read voraciously, and attended operas and concerts whenever possible. 

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Happy New Year

Joe was always looking forward to something so I wasn't surprised when he sent the description of this cartoon on in November.  I thought it proper that I fulfill his request and post it this week.  Joe changed the caption a couple times. Originally it was to “decide if we want to go on”, but Joe never had any doubt about that. Later he sent another possible caption suggested I make the choice.  As I went about drawing the cartoon I took the creative license Joe offered, making Joe one of the two characters and changed the “if” to “how”.

There could be many footnotes to Joe Taylor’s life, maybe that’s because one of them would be “He wasn’t finished”. At the age of 90, in his essay Life as a Spectator Sport, Joe expressed his desire to live to the fullest extent possible for as long as he could because he found life so interesting. Many people who have appreciated Joe’s approach to life have taken the time to write and share their sentiments. Joe’s daughter Barb has graciously assembled a selection of thoughtful salutes and comforting words sent by card, letter, and internet. Words can never convey the friendship and love we found in Joe, but if each of us go on to live our lives as fully as he did, then his life will be made more complete. Joe commented that his memoir was different from others, because it was the story of a happy life. In honor of Joe, let’s do the same starting with a happy new year.

Thanksgiving 2009

Tributes from friends:

Some measure a life lived in years.
Joe lived 94 years and that is the least important thing about him.  Junctures in his life where others began retreat signaled new beginnings for Joe.
Defiance in the face of gravity an time took this soldier though space and time as if unaware of ordinary expectations.  His airy countenance and his love of the spirit and importance of the moment defied age and provided those who met him with a sense of the eternal.
I guess I never thought Joe would die.  I still don't.  Somewhere a twinkle shines and a sixth career is well underway.

Joe and I have been friends for more than 40 years.  We met when I applied to him for a job at the Association for Jewish Children in Philadelphia. When we met, there was an instant "click".  We worked together, often had lunch and talked about poetry and politics, thoughts and feelings, and shared our perspectives on life.  His wife, Gerry, and he often joined my family for holiday dinners; we still miss both of them.  Joe was warm and sensitive, a unique man with wit and humor, insight and clarity.  He could right through the most complex situation and isolate the essential elements.  I talked with him just two days before he passed away; he was his usual upbeat self and eagerly looking forward to the publication of his memoir.  I look forward to reading it.  I hope you are too.

Just an amazing man and writer and musician. I am so grateful to have met Joe and Gerry. To his family remaining, peace in the valley
He was an interesting and extraordinary man, who got the most anyone could from life. We could all learn a lot from your dad.
I was always happier for time spent in his company, or reading his blog. Joe's wisdom, warmth, and appreciation of his fellow man never diminished with age, and stand as an inspiration for us all.
Your father was one of the most inspiring people I have ever met in my life and I feel so grateful to have known him. He matched word and deed seamlessly and he will be greatly missed.A very fitting tribute to a really special man. I always felt better about life after talking with Joe.
Joe was such an incredible, loving man, a pure joy to speak with and share time with...his passing leaves a deep void in all of our lives.
I feel there's always a reason that people are brought into our lives. Joe was a mentor, a friend, and he taught me so much. What a gift.

I am so sorry to hear about your dad's passing. I am also so enchanted and amazed at the man he was and how he will be remembered. You must be so proud. Such a wonderful legacy
I thought about Joe’s unfailingly creative spirit and the outlets he found for expression…The whole process of his book’s creation engaged and energized him when so many of we, oldsters are sleepwalking.
Very impressive look at an even more impressive guy. I was amazed at your dad's energy and accomplishments when I met him, and I obviously only knew a small part of his gifts. All the more to love, and, sadly, to miss.
Your Father sounds absolutely incredible, and his blog is a pleasure to read. An amazing man!

Thank you for sharing his blog with us. I really enjoyed reading his words.
With his daughter Barb and son Paul

Joe was a remarkable man -- creative, thoughtful and wise. I enjoyed reading his submissions each year to the Marblehead Festival of the Arts and marveled at his wit, concern and imagination.
I was so sorry to hear about your dad, but am thrilled that you sent out some of his writings. I'm so sorry I never had the opportunity to experience his quick wit and immense wisdom. The selections you sent are fabulous and really touched me, so in your time of sorrow, enjoy and draw solace from the wealth of beautiful words he left to inspire all.
I was so saddened by the news of your father. I would love to have known such a distinctive man.....such an interesting life!
I am so sorry to read of the death of your father. I did read some of his blog posts and wondered if it was truly an accident that he was conceived or more of a miracle.
What an amazing guy! His wisdom and kindness, humor and smarts will endure and always color my world.
As a prospective Marriage and Family therapist, I sought him out to compliment him on his wonderful and wise essay on love and relationships….He was, and will remain, a real inspiration to me regarding what one can accomplish in one's lifetime given the right combination of persistence, wisdom and humor. What a pleasure to have had the opportunity to meet this wonderful and vibrant man.
Our deepest sympathy for the loss of your very special Dad. Joe was such a sweet, intellectual man. We tremendously enjoyed the times we spent in his company. I look forward to reading his memoirs.
In these last few years, Joe's blog and his memoirs were exciting to track.
I was so looking forward to attending his book-signing. It is wonderful he completed his memoirs and they will be ready to share with everyone soon. His footprint in life will live on forever. He was an amazing and inspirational man and I shall miss him very much.
Thank you so much for your generous sharing of your love for your Dad. It reaffirms what we know to be true... in the scheme of things... that such a man as your Dad needs to be held by us closely, dearly, diligently so that we can learn from his example of the true, honest, and real sensibilities of life and the living of it. I am grateful for your sending me this link and will read and re-read the wisdom within. Just for now his words... to recognize... " the many millions who unassumingly make our society worthwhile. We are the renewable energy of the earth," become a needed/desired mantra for those of us who need to rededicate and realign our lives to his sensibilities and try to set in motion a more vibrant and alert society. Clearly... he led the way.

Thankfully his memoirs are published and his stories and philosophies will be with us forever.

I so enjoyed him. He was unforgettable.
Thanks for everything Joe. Though you lived long, your time was too short. May your presence be ever apparent through the lives and smiles you have inspired.

I took a quick look around and quickly found your father’s blog. Wow! Just a few words from some excerpts of his work were enough to blow me away. What wisdom and insight he had, and about so many subjects. I can’t wait to read more…. It’s obvious that there aren’t many people like your father

Your father was a true intellectual with a great warmth whose range of conversation and wit knew no bounds.  I'm so glad to have met him.  He represented a generation that brought so much enlightenment to younger people.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Finish Line

On December 5, 2009 Joseph L. Taylor made his transition from this life. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him as well as those who never met him because Joe brought something powerful and amazing to every life he touched; a strength of character and conviction that was compelling and contagious.

The following excerpts are taken from the chapter entitled The Finish Line in his memoir My Five Careers:

This memoir is almost finished, and before long, so the life. In one way, the end to living will be a relief. Philip Roth said, “Old age is not a battle. It’s a massacre.” I want to go before the carnage begins. Should an account of one’s life end with a rhetorical flourish, a counterpart to the long, lingering, soaring thunder and defiance in the ending to the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or should it end with a wail of sadness that one’s life is coming to a close? (The Beethoven analogy is fitting, because the music also does not want to end). What if one feels defiance in the morning and sadness at night? Or feels both ways at the same time? It doesn’t matter. All of the endings are valid but futile attempts to thumb a nose at personal fate….

….My story is both gratifying and scary in terms of the random. We come to life through the most fortuitous of events. If I had been conceived a day sooner or a day later - or even in a different minute or hour of the day of my conception - I, the person I am, would not be on this earth, for there is no chance that the same sperm and egg would meet again. That observation is humbling. I am an accident. I began this memoir by saying that I have a story to tell. It is utterly beyond comprehension to think of the billions of men and women on this earth who also have stories to tell. It takes effort to live a life. If harnessed, the energy of spirit alone, from despair to jubilation, spent every moment of time on the tawdry and the sublime, the evil and the noble, the ordinary and the singular, could power the planet…

….If this memoir has struck a blow for Everyman, I have accomplished my secondary mission. As the grave of the Unknown Soldier is a symbol for the many millions who have died in wars fighting for this country, so a Statue of Everyman should become a symbol for the many millions who unassumingly make our society worthwhile. We are the renewable energy of the earth.

Two final observations: I am prepared for death. Everyone who has ever lived has also died. That’s the deal. Death is personal, but it is not personal.

When it comes to Joe's appreciation of random events in shaping our lives, it doesn't seem too ironic that his passing coincides with the long awaited release of his memoir, My Five Careers, which includes Out of My Mind, his previously released collection of essays, short stories and verse.

If you would like to get "more later" as Joe always signed his blog posts, you can get a copy of his book by clicking here.

If you would like to add a comment to this post just click on the light gray link below which at the time of this edit was 3. You may also wish to refer to the directions in the top of the right sidebar for additional information.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Own Kaddish

This piece is mostly true but it contains some extrapolations relating to other members of the family.

The tiny infant lying in his crib, common and ordinary as a specie of human being but paradoxically awesome in the commixture of helplessness and future potential, looks up uncomprehendingly at a face he would later understand is that of his father. Father is smiling lovingly, yet hesitantly, for his mixed emotions have left him unanchored in his new fatherhood. A few months later, held in his father’s arms, son reaches out to touch father’s beard. Lowered to the floor, he tugs at father’s pants leg to pull himself up. At ten months, supported by his father’s arms, he takes his first steps. On his second birthday he and father build a replica of their house out of a pile of blocks; father reads him the story “The.Little EngineThat Could,” then they go in the backyard and father teaches him how to dig for worms. Before long they will go fishing in Redds Pond. At age four he tries to catch a ball thrown by father. Father teaches him to ride a bicycle. In kindergarten he makes valentines for mother and father. He tries to steal a candy bar in a neighborhood store, is caught, reported to father who takes him back to apologize and pay for the candy out of his own allowance. He brings his first report card home to father and mother. From his allowance buys two golf balls as a Father’s Day present. For his sixth birthday father buys him a half size violin and hires a teacher. In wood working class he makes a tie rack for father. Father takes him to see the Phillies play and Sandy Koufax pitches a no-hit game for the other team. Father and mother take him with them to the Yiddish Theater on Lower Second Avenue. Afterward they have steaks at the famous Sammy’s Romanian Restaurant. The next year father says this year for our vacation we are going to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Mountains. In his Bar Mitzvah speech, he thanks mother and father for all they did to bring him to this day. As one of his presents father takes him on a weekend fishing trip to a lake upstate. He writes his first letter to mother and father from overnight camp; mother and father come to hear his first concert as concertmaster of his high school orchestra. Father teaches him to drive an automobile; and allows him use of the car to take a girl on a date. Through a friend, father secures son a part time job in the stock room of a department store. At a Thanksgiving dinner with many relatives, father tells story of his escape from Russia in l910, leaving home, ostensibly to report for military duty, but instead traveling by train to a frontier village, where he was met by an ”agent” who smuggled him across the Polish border, then making his way to Germany for an America bound ship. Son plans with mother and father on choice of a college. Father hugs him good-bye when he leaves for school and gives him a check for spending money. Ho brings his girl friend home to meet mother and father. At graduation, diploma in hand he embraces mother, father and girl friend. He and girl friend spend a year trekking around the world. He knows mother and father worry about him, so, he writes home every week. On his return he discusses job offers with mother and father. At his wedding, after his bride dances with her father, he watches. He telephones mother and father from the hospital -- it’s twins! -- two boys. In alternate years he, wife and the children spend Thanksgiving with his mother and father and her parents; telephones mother and father from his mid-west city every Sunday morning. Writes to mother and father that with the children older, he now has time to join the violin section of a community symphony orchestra. Attends the retirement party for father and makes a speech. Gives the present of a Mediterranean cruise to mother and father on their 50th wedding anniversary. Makes a flying trip home when father breaks a hip in a fall. Takes a week off to be with father when mother dies. Goes home again when father has open-heart surgery, Every December l escorts father by plane to a retirement condominium in Florida. Every April l returns father from Florida. A few years later takes a week off to get father settled in an assisted living facility. Returns home once more to assist father in entering a nursing home. With father failing, comes with wife and children for a last visit. He recites the mourner’s Kaddish at father’s graveside. Kaddish is a Jewish prayer in praise of the dead. I recite Kaddish in praise of my father.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Women

Karyn and Mary are the two most courageous and admirable people I have ever known. They are both wheel chair bound, yet they are the two most cheerful and outgoing people in our condominium of about 200 residents. Karyn is able to walk for a very short time with the aid of a walker, but the only occasions upon which I have seen her doing so are a few times when she has come to my apartment two floors below, in our elevatored building, to have dinner, or to bring cookies she baked, or a Belgian dessert sauce she made. Occasionally we go to lunch in a restaurant.

Karyn has a window of two hours a day when, on her good days, she is able to get out of bed or her wheelchair. Karyn, in her early fifties, looks much younger than her years. She says that one effect of her illness is to reduce the appearance of aging. I think she is the most beautiful woman in our condo. She has clear blue eyes, long blond hair and a glowing complexion. Karyn made partner in a Boston law firm at an early age. When a member of her extended family has a problem, Karyn is the person they turn to. She accompanies them to the relevant community resources and applies her considerable skills to the desired ends.

Karyn wears a crucifix on a necklace chain at all times. Her Catholic religion is what gives her the faith and grit that is so remarkable. But as the hard-headed realist she is, I think she would also say, “What else should I do? Become a lifelong shut-in?”

Mary, a strong, sturdy personality, is older than Karyn. When I am with her, my own energy level rises because of her openness and enthusiasm. She has two children and four grandchildren. Mary, too, is a college graduate and by occupation was an automotive consultant. Her job took Mary all over New England. She was active in political campaigns and played tennis avidly, often competing in tournaments. She says it is “sheer desire” that sustains her in who she is and what she is accomplishing

Most women experience stress if they can’t find the right party dress or if the washing machine breaks down, delaying the laundry for a day or two. Psychologists tell us that the way people behave on the surface is often a defense against forces that threaten self-esteem. Do not make the mistake of confusing “defense” with weakness. An effective defense is a sign of a strong, tough character. Becoming a life-long shut-in is also a form of defense, but what a difference! One is the key to living at the maximum of personal potential; the other is surrender to undermining forces. Therapists probe deeply into a person’s defenses, for the defenses tell us how a person is handling problems.

Whatever it is that fortifies people to cope, Karyn and Mary have it in abundance. An aggressive denial of incapacitation, such as they have, helps. The student voted as “most likely to succeed” might glide through life as though it was a bowl of jello. But for the Karyns and Marys, daily living is a combat with hostile forces. Karyn and Mary help the rest of us to see our lives in a healthy and rewarding perspective. Think of that when you pass a man or woman on the street in a wheel chair. In particular, give Karyn and Mary a secret salute.

Photo courtesy of schipulites photostream: Ms Wheelchair Texas at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Invisible Pile

There is a big, big pile some where in the world. It is the most enormous pile ever stacked up, disappearing into the infinity of the sky, but you cannot see it. Everyone on earth helped make this heap. Everyone felt real good when they tossed their contributions onto the ever-growing pile, and most people felt bad when, although the pile never stopped growing, it never achieved its purpose. The pile is made up of a very common yet admirable product that, despite its enormity has no visible body. This product has a short expiration date. The most popular growing time is from midnight of January first every year to sometime during the next two weeks. The best of worlds could be constructed from its throwaway contents. It goes by the name of “discarded good intentions.”

I will be calm and reasonable with my three adolescent children; I will absolutely remember our wedding anniversary date and send flowers, the roses that I noticed recently have thorns; I will remember to take out the trash every night without being reminded; be assured that I will take the time to vote for my town’s selectmen because all politics are local and a democracy must start from the bottom; I will not be late for work again (actually, my job is on the line). I will take those two night courses that I need for the job promotion; attend regularly all meetings of our Neighborhood Improvement Association, even those dealing with budgets, and will greet my neighbors in our condo elevator, warmly, as though I meant it. I will even be friendly to Nosy Nancy because I need to charm up my reputation and people will notice. I will visit my mother and take her out to dinner more often and also send her flowers on her birthday. I will patch up the differences I had with Fred, my fat brother-in-law and send New Year cards to all my relatives and friends. I promise to replace every burned-out light bulb immediately and vow to start making a playroom in the basement (the fingers I injured last time I began on it healed a long time ago). No more excuses. I will not honk my horn in traffic and I will get my car inspected on time to avoid penalties. I will make myself a better person of myself in all ways.

There, that says a lot and shows that I am sincere, because it will be a big job. The best thing I can do now is to quit making noise about my good intentions and start the good-intending. I need to go find my tool box. See you on January 1st.

More later, Joe

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Laurie retired from her job after a long stint as Director of a school for learning disabled children. She felt that she was burned out. Today, Laurie works part time for a group of doctors, evaluating children for learning and psychological problems; she is a docent at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA; at the Audubon Society on the North Shore of Boston she teaches children about the marshes and animal footprints in the snow; and she was in the leadership group for the extensive volunteer program at her son’s high school Jamie, Laurie’s eighteen-year-old son, is a freshman at George Washington University in Washington D.C. As a child actor, and later in high school, he had leading roles in musicals and stage plays, He sings beautifully (Accepela Choir in high school), tap dances and has an appealing presence. He acquired an immediate celebrity status at George Williams, when, during the first week, he was selected in competition with 300 other students as one of three new voices for the Accepela Choir.

In September, during the second week of classes, Jamie developed Swine Flu. Laurie immediately flew to Washington, had her son transferred from his dormitory room to a hotel suite, nursed him, participated with college personnel in arranging his schedule for after his return, did a host of errands related to his illness and his doctor, and five days later -- including a weekend -- Jamie was back in school. He had missed only three days of classes. After a visit to Alexandria, Virginia (across the Potomac River) to explore a crafts fair, Laurie returned home. She resumed her normal activities the next day. No time out for her.

It will not appear in any record of the medical treatment Jamie received, but I have no doubts that Mother Love was a crucial factor in Jamie’s rapid recovery. That, plus Laurie’s competence, organizational skills and poise under stress, enabled Jamie to utilize his personal resources to combat the illness, free of guilt and other distractions. Mother Love does not come in a pill. It is among the most primitive and ancient of human qualities, and no matter what course evolution, including mutations, have taken place, Mother Love has survived, even grown in its importance to child development. But there are mothers who are emotionally cold, even frigid and rejecting of their children. The most extreme case I saw in my work in a child treatment center was a single mother who did not even want to look at her new born child. There must be many such mothers we never know about. A relative took the child and we never learned what happened subsequently. Many years ago it was the custom to prohibit unwed mothers from seeing their child after birth, under the theory that even a fleeting bonding would damage the child and mother. The noted child psychiatrist, Melanie Klein, believed that maternal rejection was a core element in the development of emotional and mental illness in children, and that bonding occurs immediately, much more quickly than had been thought. Jamie was one of the fortunate children who have a mother who loves him deeply.

I have a photograph of Jamie and me, standing side by side, receiving awards for our prize-winning essays in a literary competition, the youngest and the oldest of the writers. Laurie was a Hospice volunteer in our home, visiting twice a week during my wife’s terminal illness in 2005-2006. We have remained good friends, lunch together frequently, and have dinners along with her husband and my adult daughter and son. Sometimes Jamie would join us for dinner in a restaurant. Random events, such as the Hospice assignment of Laurie, simply happen, but our lives become better when we utilize chance to our advantage.

photo courtesy of aussiegall under a CC2.0 license