Category Archives: Family

Dear Chandra

chandra2017My Dear Friends,

It is with deep sorrow that I must inform you of the passing of my sister Rev. Dr. Chandra Taylor Smith.

For several months, Chandra had been battling stage four liver cancer. Fourteen days ago, complications from her radiation treatment took a turn for the worse. I sent a friend to Philadelphia, to the hotel where she was staying near her hospital, to bring her to Ojai California. Chandra has been with me here in Ojai California, staying at a lovely home where she was being cared for around the clock.

At 10:00 PM Monday evening, Chandra ended her battle with stage four liver cancer. I want you all to know that Chandra was at peace, she was not in pain and she was not alone, she was loved. Chandra had time to get her thoughts together, she had time to receive lots of love from so many people (angels) who came by to sit with her and care for her, but most of all Chandra found peace.

There are so many people I want to thank, for a thousand miracles that took place over the last thirteen days.  To Sabine, Christina, Olivia, Alarra, Steven, Kimya and so many other angels who blessed Chandra and showered her with love, I cannot thank you enough.

To Chandra’s husband Benny, I thank you for loving my sister and playing such a major role in Chandra’s life experience.

To Mom, I cannot fully fathom the loss that you are feeling having now lost your first born daughter; I can only empathize a little having just lost my best friend.

To my sister Audreanna, again I cannot fully fathom your pain either because you have known and loved Chandra longer than me.

To her son, Benny III, she loved you most of all; you are bone of her bones and flesh of her flesh.  You are the light of her heart, the center of her joy and her greatest accomplishment. I take great solace in knowing that at the moment of her passing you heard Chandra shout your name.  She’s telling you that she’s OK, she loves you and she will always be with you.

To all who knew and loved Chandra, I thank you for providing her such a rich and wonderful life experience.

Please know that Chandra is OK now.  She’s back home, she’s with the elders, her guardian angels, with Dad and with God.

Dear Chandra,

I love you
I already miss you so very much
You got me through so much in life and you taught me so much about life
My life has been made so much better and richer because of you
You were such a beautiful and wonderful person
You are such a sweet and wonderful spirit
Right now, I cannot imagine the world without your voice, the world without your smile, the world without your love
But, I rejoice in this physical life that you lived, a life so well lived
I rejoice in your transition back to pure spirit and light
And I rejoice, for I know that I will see you again.

Love forever and always, your baby brother,
Buddy

I and my father and my sister are one.

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The Talk I Wish I Didn’t Have To Give

25 Years ago, early one morning while rushing to work in my car, I was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. I put my car in park, rolled down my window, put both hands on my steering wheel and waited for the officer to approach my door. When he reached my window, the police officer politely asked, “Do you know why I’ve pulled you over?” “No officer”, I replied. “I’ve pulled you over because you were going 10 miles over the speed limit”, said the officer, to which I replied, “OK”.

The officer then asked me for my driver’s license and it was at this moment that our encounter almost became fatal for me. With my left hand still on the steering wheel, I reached with my right hand into the left hand pocket of my suit jacket to retrieve my wallet and in the same second that it took me to perform that action, I observed the police officer reaching for his gun, so I froze.

I politely and calmly looked directly into the police officer’s eyes and said, “Officer, you did ask me to show you my driver’s license, yes?” “Yes!” the officer replied. “Well, it’s here in my wallet and I am attempting to get it for you. What would you like me to do?” From that moment on, the rest of my encounter with this police officer went fairly smoothly; however, I do think he became slightly annoyed by my repeating each of his requests and asking him to confirm before taking any action.

That experience happened to me 25 years ago. But, if I had that same encounter today, I am highly concerned and in great fear that this same white police officer would have pulled his weapon from his holster and shot me three or more times before ever giving me the chance to prevent such a fatal escalation. Am I exaggerating? Absolutely not! Are my fears warranted? They absolutely are! We have all borne witness to such a fatal outcome less than one week ago.

The truth of the matter is that I can ride my bicycle 50 miles deep into valleys and up 5000-foot mountains with only two water bottles, one inner tube, a CO2 cartridge and a cell phone that hardly works in the mountains and valleys most of the time and not have a single worry for my health and safety.

And yet when I get in my car to leave my home and drive less than two miles to my favorite restaurant, in that five-minute trip, my physical and mental experience is quite different from that of my bicycle rides; it is stressful because I’m a black man in a car. I know that if I’m pulled over for any reason, for any reason whatsoever, in that next five minutes my life can very possibly come to an end.

I must live with this concern every single time I get into my car. Every man and woman of color must live with this concern each time they drive their car.

When I spoke with my son on his birthday only a month or so ago, he told me that his mother bought him a car; so, after congratulating him, I had to give him THE TALK, the same talk that my father didn’t want to give but had to give to me.

Son, now that you have a car, I must tell you these three things and ask you to take them to heart.

One, never ever, ever drive your car intoxicated.

Two, please know that in your early experience driving your car, you do not fully understand the laws of physics, centrifugal force, laws of inertia and the energy present when driving your car. So, please observe and follow all speed limits especially around curves for your safety as well as the safety of others.

Son, this third one is the most important; listen very carefully. When driving your car, if you are ever pulled over by a police officer for any reason, any reason at all, even if you think you’re in the right and there was no good reason for the police officer pulling you over, I want you to take the following steps:

  • Pull your car over to the curb
  • Turn your car off
  • Place your car in park
  • Turn on your hazard lights
  • If it is dark out, turn on the ceiling lights in your car
  • Roll down your driver side window and if you have electric windows, roll them all down
  • Place your hands on your steering wheel
  • When the officer speaks to you, always respond with “Yes officer” and “No officer”
  • When the officer asks you to do something, before doing it, repeat back to the officer what he or she has asked you to do and ask for their confirmation; doing this may annoy them, but it should keep them basically calm and you safe.

Son, at all times you must be in control of your interaction with the police officer. Even if the officer is disrespectful to you, calls you outside of your name, raises his voice to you or tries to provoke you into conflict do not, I repeat, do not lose your composure; do not raise your voice to the police officer and do not argue with the police officer; remain calm, at all times remain calm and in control of your environment.

Son, please remember this; if a police officer is being disrespectful to you in any way, shape or form, but you are continuing to converse with the police officer calmly and respectfully, at no time should you ever consider or feel that you are having to compromise or to swallow your pride.

Son, please hear me on this; if you are walking alone in the woods and you happen upon a wild or injured animal, what do you do? You freeze and calmly assess the situation; for you know if you’re not in control of your encounter with this wild or injured animal, it may attack you because it is weak, in fear of you and in fear for its life. Thus, if you ever have such an encounter with a wild or weak animal, you know the actions you’re taking have no effect on denigrating your pride; on the contrary, it is your pride and your survival instincts that will kick in so that you can take charge of your situation allowing you and the wild or injured animal to survive your encounter with each other.

Son, not all police officers are weak and dishonorable, not all police officers that you may encounter during your lifetime will treat you dishonorably, but you must be prepared for the ones that are and the ones that do.

Son, please comprehend this; if you are ever in a situation where you are being victimized by a police officer, you are NOT the victim; the police officer is the victim. The police officer is a victim of his or her own fears and prejudices that have been drummed into them from others and by a societal set of ill-fated norms and incorrect beliefs systems that have yet to be fully dispelled and dissipated, but have permeated the mind of the police officer and restricted his or her ability to think correctly, function responsibly and to see you as a human being equal in all rights and respect, honor and sovereignty equally afforded to them. Even if the police officer is taller than you, is larger than you, weighs more than you, is wearing body armor and carries a weapon that can maim or kill you, that police officer is more afraid of you than you are of that police officer.

Son, your goal in all encounters with any police officer is to be respectful as humanly possible, always remain calm, present, in control of the situation and to the best of your ability, stay alive.

To all men, women and children of color I implore you to remain calm, present and in control of your situation; stay alive and come home to your children and your parents each evening; live to see another day.

Though you may be victimized by a police officer, you are not the victim; the police officer is the victim.

Though you may be being mistreated by a police officer, cursed at, spat upon, beat down, shot at and brought to your knees, you are not the weaker vessel in your situation; the police officer is the weaker vessel.

Though you may not see justice done to the police officer who has persecuted you or done worse to you and is set free by a judicial system that is unbalanced, unconcerned and slated in the officer’s favor, judge not lest ye be judged.

You are already exalted by the creator, the one who transcends all religions, race, sex, color, creed and knows and loves you even as equally as the misguided, feeble minded police officer who has wrongly harmed you; your pride has not been altered nor shaken and your spirit cannot be broken; it is the pathetic police officer who has no pride, whose spirit is lost and in great need of rescue and the one we must pray for even as we deal with our own pain and anger and pray for our own dead and wounded.

Hycel B. Taylor III
I and My Father Are One

51 A Year In Review

To day, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart. Last year, year 51, was a very challenging year:

It was a year of having my faith-tested daily
It was a year of exhaustion and very little sleep
It was a year of unprecedented uncertainty
It was a year of intense loneliness, letting go and reaching closure
It was a year of powerful cleansing and physical rehabilitation
It was a year of painful and honest self-reflection
It was a year of forgiving others but most of all, forgiving myself
It was a year of many high moments and many low ones
It was a year of much joy and just as much sorrow
It was a year of deep meditation and learning how to be still
It was a year of climbing many mountains mentally, physically and spiritually
It was a year of constant reminders that I was living in the no longer but the not yet

Hycel51_06_26_2016

It has been a year of massive spiritual, mental and physical transition
It has been a year of letting go of my past and looking to my future
It has been a year of closing old doors and watching hundreds of new doors open

It has been a year of learning how to live in the present moment
It has been a year of witnessing the seemingly impossible, made possible
It has been a year of watching my thoughts being brought to fruition and manifested into physical form

It has been a year of observing the “no longer” fade into darkness and seeing the “not yet” shimmering in the light at the end of the tunnel

It has been a year of new business relationships and new friendships that have spanned the globe, from India to Pakistan, Russia, Romania and the Philippines

It has been a year that I chose both Villanova to win the college national championship and the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA finals. Dude!

It has been a year of communicating with my father; for when I was at my weakest moment, when my soul and my strength were taxed to their very limit, when I thought I just couldn’t make it any further, I felt him reach out and touch me on my shoulder and in his low, melodious voice say to me, “Buddy! Don’t give up! Keep the faith! Keep fighting the good fight! You’re almost there!”

It has been a year of waking up each morning, stepping out on faith and watching the Universe work miracles; for “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen”.

In essence, it has been a wonderful, beautiful and unbelievable year.

My Cup Runneth Over.

Hycel B. Taylor III
Born June 26, 1964

Living My Dad’s Faith & Freedom

I hit a newIMAG0811_1 personal best yesterday reaching 48.6 MPH descending down the mountain, shattering my old record of 46.1 MPH by 2.5 MPH. If dad were physically here, I would have called him to tell him the news and he would have said, ‘Grates Got Man! That’s awesome!’ And that’s all I would have needed to hear him say to make my day.

In light of the events over this past week, he would have been very proud because he taught me and others to be defiant, not to cower in the face of tragedy, not to fear in the presence of evil but to choose love in the face of hate and forgiveness instead of holding on to anger for what this lost soul has done.

Holding onto fear and hate weakens all of us; choosing love and forgiveness strengthens all of us.

Dad would say, now is the time to be emboldened and to be our very best. Nine people gave their lives being their very best; we should follow their lead in being unapologetic in our moral and ethical convictions, being in community with each other and to know that when we are severely spiritually challenged to be steadfast and assured in our faith and freedom.

Happy Father’s day Old Man,
Love Son.

Remembering My Dad On Father’s Day

DadAnMe

When I was a young boy, I used to love taking walks with my dad and listen to the stories he would tell me about important events in his life. Dad would say, “Buddy, now listen carefully, because I want you to learn something from what I’m about to tell you.” I would say, “Yes sir, I’m listening”.

On this occasion, dad told me about the time he and mom were driving through Tennessee in their green Chevy station wagon, on their way to Kansas to visit mom’s sister Trudy, when he started to get hungry.

I wasn’t yet born. It was July, 1961 and my oldest sister Chandra, was only four months old. Chandra was the reason why dad and mom where in Tennessee and now on their way to Kansas; they were traveling to different states where their relatives lived to introduce them to the new member of the Taylor family. Dad spotted a Krystal’s restaurant on the side of the highway, pulled off the road and parked in front.

Before I continue his story, I should let you know that my mom was born in Chattanooga Tennessee and understood the norms and behaviors of the south at that time, but my dad was born in Columbus Ohio and grew up in the north. The treatment of African Americans in the north was no bed of roses in 1961, but it wasn’t the south and there were things you could do in the north that you just couldn’t or shouldn’t do in the south.

Back to dad’s story.

When dad pulled off the road and parked the car in front of the restaurant, mom immediately told dad that he was not supposed to park in the front, but on the side of the restaurant and go to the side window to place his order.

Dad just stared at mom for a moment, got out of the car and walked into the front door of the restaurant. As soon as he entered the door every one froze and all eyes were immediately fixed on him. The chef, just as surprised and startled by his entrance, looked at dad and a conversation between the chef and dad ensued:

Chef: What do you want!
Dad: I want some hamburgers.
Chef: Well, how many do you want!
Dad: (short pause) Thirty.
Chef: You want thirty hamburgers?
Dad: Yes, I want 30 hamburgers.
Chef: Well, stand over there against the wall!

Dad stood against the wall and glanced out the window at mom who was still sitting in the car, holding Chandra, petrified with fear. He looked around the restaurant and every one was still frozen and quiet; they would look at the chef and at dad; they would glance back at the chef and then back at dad again; and this went on in silence for 10 heart pounding, terrifying, interminable minutes.  Finally, when the chef was just about done fixing the burgers, dad looked at the chef and said, “I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want them” and walked out the door.

When he got back to the car, mom looked at him and asked, “What happened?” Dad said to mom, “I told the chef to make me 30 hamburgers and when they were about done I just told him to keep’m.” Mom, then very firmly and emphatically said to dad, “If we don’t leave here right now and very, very fast, there’s a good chance they’re going to string you up on a tree”.

They left the restaurant and made it to Kansas in about half the time that it should have taken to get there and they did not eat that day.

When dad finished his story he said to me, “Now Buddy, what have you learned from my story?” To be quite honest, I didn’t know what to take from his story, so I just looked at him, dumbfounded.

Then my dad with his very tall ominous stature, his big beady eyes and his low firm voice looked down at me very sternly, peered directly into my eyes and said, “Don’t you ever stand for anyone to treat you unequally and anything less than a man.” He paused and I held my breath, trembling in my shoes from the wisdom he just imparted, my eyes afraid to move from his. Then he smiled at me and said, “And always have a good exit strategy.” We both busted out laughing and continued our walk.

I’m remembering my dad, Rev Dr. Hycel B. Taylor Jr., today because he is no longer with me here in physical form though I know he is always with me in spirit.

I’m remembering my dad today especially because of the important things he said to me about being a father. Dad often said to me, “You won’t know the awesome responsibility that falls upon you to be a father until you are one. It is your greatest obligation and at the same time it will be your greatest privilege, honor and joy.”

Dad made sure that in no uncertain terms I understood that as a father it is your solemn responsibility to make sure your kids absolutely have three things: a roof over their heads, clothes on their back and that they never go hungry. And if you should fail in any one of these responsibilities it was not because you didn’t do everything physically, mentally and spiritually within your power to meet that goal. And whether you succeed or sometimes stumble and fall short, never ever let them see you sweat; it is not their burden to bear; it is yours and yours alone.

He also cautioned me this; if you meet these goals, if you supply your children with all of the things they need and many of the things they want and if you never let them see you sweat; they may not fully understand the sacrifices you have to make and the price you may personally have to pay on their behalf and they may not always appreciate what you have done for them.

And when you inevitably fall from your pedestal, and on those special days when they may not remember you, if you have prepared the way for them to stand on their own two feet to survive in this world, it’s all the thanks you need.

I did not know nor fully comprehend all of the challenges, sacrifices, struggles and the price that my dad paid for me and my two sisters to be our father; but we always had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food in our stomach, all of the things we needed, many of the things we wanted and YES, I did take him for granted.

Dad is my foundation; he is the reason why I am a successful man, a strong man and a loving father. I owe him everything and I did not say thank you to him enough. So, I’m going to say it to him now, even though I can’t see him and even though I can’t put my arms around him and hug him; I know he can hear me still.

Dear dad, in your imperfections you were perfect. You are and will always be my father and I will always be your, proud, very grateful and loving son.

Hycel B. Taylor III

Sometimes The Best Birthday Present Is The One You Don’t See Coming

A couple of days ago I received a letter in the mail that made my day so much that I’m still smiling about it today, on this my 48th birthday.

Here’s an excerpt of the letter.

****************************************************************************** Almost ten years ago, I met you during a summer job sweeping streets in the Ashmont area. I remember on that hot summer day, you stopped and even though you didn’t know me, you did want to know what I wanted to do with my life. When I told you about my school closing down and about how I would have to pay to get in school, you wrote me a check.  But it wasn’t for the amount I told you I needed to get enrolled; you covered the full cost of the school.  Through your unselfish act of kindness and the time you took to get to know me and believe in me, from that I’ve accomplished so much.

I graduated high school, attended Northeastern University for Emergency Medicine (EMT) and later returned to the Institute for Emergency Medicine to complete three years of school to become a Paramedic.  I’ve worked for the Department of Homeland Security, reserve Police Officer in Somerville Mass and five years ago now completed the Boston EMS academy.  Recently I’ve started taking flying classes at Horizons Aviations in Norwood, MA.  I’ve been married for the past three years with and have a 10-month-old baby girl.

If it wasn’t for you putting your trust in me, I can’t say I would be where I am today.  I struggle to find the words to thank you for what you did.  Your generosity has led me to “pay it forward” by volunteering at the Special Olympics as medical staffing for the past 8 years.

I haven’t forgotten you or your family and I hope you haven’t forgotten me.

“Our finger prints never leave the lives we’ve touched”

Best regards,
Kenneth Edwards
******************************************************************************

On my birthday, I don’t look for presents; I look for someone I can give a gift to. I don’t know what the gift will be and I don’t know to whom I’m going to give it.  I let the universe work that out.  And that’s the fun part; just being and letting it happen.  The gift is not always money.  Sometimes it’s simply a warm smile to a sad face, a hug to a lonely person or just taking time to listen while someone is getting something off his or her chest.

Every Sunday, just before the offering, Dad would always say, “When you give, give generously, not begrudgingly nor out of necessity; for God loves cheerful givers”.

Amen to that, Old Man.  Amen to that.

Photo By: Candace Bolinger

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I watched the sun rise this morning and I was wondering if you were standing next to me watching it too?

Or were you viewing the earth from a distance, watching it slowly twirl like a tiny Christmas ornament nestled within the fabric of space, falling gently around the sun?

Did you dance on the moon, skip gleefully across the surface of Mars, peer beneath the clouds above Jupiter and bathe playfully in the rings of Saturn?

Did you hear a cacophony of galactic noises and sounds resonating like a sweet and soft melodious jingle?

Did you sing a new song that roared like the thunder of a thousand colliding asteroids?

Did you become huge, vast and so immeasurable you could hold the planets of our solar system in the palm of your hand?

Did you clap your hands and, through its immense energy, give birth to a brand new sun?

And with a swath of your fingers, did you gently caress the stars of the Milky Way?

Did you take wing and screech across the heavens and the universe ten thousand times faster than a photon, weaving in, out and through an infinite array of galaxies, engulfing and consuming them all in an instant with the fullness and completeness of your being?

Did you transcend space and time?  Can you contemplate all things in a single thought? Is there life on other planets?  Will we meet again?

This morning I watched the sun rise, all the while trying to fathom a world without you in it.  I was wondering if you were standing next to me watching it too?

Love,
Son

Hycel B. Taylor III