Archive for the ‘Death’ Tag

Settling Into My New Life in Americus, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  My Writing Desk, Americus, Georgia

I have blacked out October 12-14, the three grimmest anniversaries I observe.

Photographer in this post = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I moved from Athens, Georgia, to Americus, Georgia, last Monday, October 11.  I have spent the last few days unpacking, setting up, and settling in.  I have completed many tasks.  I have learned that I must wait on some tasks longer than I would like because these tasks must follow other tasks, which require me to wait on others to do something.

Other people are frequently the greatest obstacles to my efficiency and productivity.  They are not necessarily malicious.  They are usually merely slow.

Above:  My Office, Americus, Georgia, October 15, 2021

I have, however, set up tangibly and physically.  I have emptied all boxes and put away their contents.  I have hung my clothes in my new closet.  And my office, containing most of my books, takes up the dining room and parlor in my mother’s house.  The space, occupied, is not crowded and cluttered.

Above:  The Bookcase for Translations of and Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments

Bonny is always with me, hence the prominence of her photograph and the photograph of her grave marker.

I have also started the process of transferring my membership to Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus.  I have left Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, to which I belonged for slightly over sixteen years.  Parting gifts–books–have begun to arrive.  Half of the expected Biblical commentaries have arrived.

Above:  Woodrow Wilson’s A History of the American People (1902), on My Writing Desk

The set = a gift from Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

I have known since immediately after Bonny’s death (October 14, 2019) that I probably needed to leave Athens.  This truth set in with greater potency the longer I remained in Athens.  Finally, with the space prepared in Americus, I scheduled my move.

Above:  The Bookcase for Translations and Commentaries on the Bible, Plus French and English Books

My Roman Catholic tendencies and past associating with Roman Catholics are evident.  Notice the Roman translations of the Bible, for example.  Also notice the “Bible Einstein Award,” which the Newman Center at Valdosta State University gave me in 1995.  (The Roman Catholics asked questions, and I knew the answers.)

Leaving Athens and Saint Gregory the Great Church was difficult and emotionally challenging.  Yet I knew that going was the correct course of action.  The time had come.

Above:  A Bookcase Containing an Ecclectic Selection of Volumes

I grew up moving frequently.  For a time, I moved every two years, on average.  I learned that home is where I live.  I never grew up in Americus, but it has become my home.

Above:  My Computer and Writing Desks

I anticipate the positive developments that will ensue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2021 COMMON ERA

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The Second Anniversary of Bonny’s Death   2 comments

Above:  Bonny Thomas

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Two years ago today, Bonny Thomas, ma chérie, walked into the afterlife.  Her death shattered my life and forever wounded my psyche.  Part of me died with her.

May Bonny be at peace.  I am not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted October 14, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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“Stuff”   3 comments

In one of his less profane monologues, George Carlin discussed “stuff.”  Our houses are where we keep our stuff, he said.  The manner in which Carlin said “stuff” indicated the low importance of what he referred to as “stuff.”

I have become less materialistic as I have aged.  Even if an object is lovely and I may consider owning it pleasant, I consider a counter-argument:  It will occupy space and collect dust.  And, when I move from Dwelling A to Dwelling B, I will have to decide whether to take it with me.  Also, given that I helped to clean out the apartments of my deceased grandmother and my dead girlfriend three months apart, I know viscerally the truth of Luke 12:15:

…for life does not consist in abundance of possessions.

The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

“Stuff” is on my mind as I make final preparations to move to the opposite corner of the state in less than a week.

I have been thinking in practical terms.  I have pared my library down to about 600 volumes, small, by my standards.  Given that I will not have my own kitchen again for a few years, I have decided to part with almost all of my kitchen supplies.  I gave some away to a family yesterday.  (They needed these items immediately.)  I have decided to put nearly all of the rest in the back of my pickup truck and haul them to my favorite thrift store on the next non-rainy day.  I have reserved a U-Haul trailer; I have granted myself that much space, plus the cab and bed of the truck.

What which matters most is intangible.  “Stuff” is merely “stuff.”  Hair is hair, and ought not to function as a statement of vanity.  That hair takes a while to grow out after each self-administered pandemic buzz cut, but so be it.  And how much of x does one person really need?  I own two sets of sheets, so I can change the bed covers without having to wait for the laundry to finish.  This number of sets of sheets makes sense to me.  Practical matters aside, relationships matter more than “stuff” ever will.  Trust me, O reader; I wish I could still spend time with my beloved Bonny, watch old movies with her, and dine with her.

As I prepare to leave Athens, Georgia, and drive to my new home in Americus, Georgia, I know that (a) I am leaving much “stuff” in good places and (b) leaving places where I have forged relationships that have altered my being for the better.  I also know that this is the time to go.  Therefore, I have mixed feelings about moving.  I am simultaneously emotionally ready to move and sad to do so.  I will miss my parish of about sixteen years yet will remain connected to it via my lectionary class via Zoom, due to the pandemic.  And I will join a parish I have visited for about fifteen years.

“Stuff” is…”stuff.”  The abundance of life resides elsewhere.  We all need some “stuff.”  So be it.  We all retain some items for sentimental reasons.  Given that this practice does not become excessive and burdensome, especially to those who will have to clean out our abodes after we die, that is harmless.  We need to be careful to possess items, not to become their possessions.  How much of our lives ought we to spend in the service of inanimate objects?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

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One Year After Bonny’s Death   6 comments

Above:  Bonny Thomas

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BONNY MARIE OGLESBY THOMAS

(JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019)

My dearest Bonny,

may you have found 

the peace and wholeness

that eluded you on this side of the veil.

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Posted October 14, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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Moving   Leave a comment

And Preparing for It

I am preparing to move for the first time in thirteen years.  My new home is only four or five miles away, depending on the route, so I will remain in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.

The time for moving is right.  My lease will expire in fourteen days.  I need to leave my apartment and neighborhood, given how many memories of Bonny permeate both of them.  And, by grace, I have a much better place to which to go.

I have been downsizing in stages consistently since the summer of 2016.  A hoarder’s house scared the hell out of me.  I have never been a hoarder or close to being one, but I have had a burdensome overabundance of certain items.  I have been downsizing again with zeal as my deadline as the gap between my present day and the deadline to move out has shortened.  I resumed immediately after Bonny died on October 14, 2019.  Since that date, I have been extravagantly generous to thrift stores.  I have made plans for one more act of generosity to my favorite charity, Project Safe (which helps battered women), early next week.

My father was a United Methodist minister in southern Georgia, U.S.A..  We moved every two years, on average.  Certain boxes remained unopened and left in storage between moves.  For example, I remember one day, the day prior to a move out of a parsonage we had inhabited for three years.  We were loading the moving truck.  I opened a closet and saw boxes of books.  I remembered having placed those books in that that closet three years prior.  We had not thought about those books for three years.  Yet we moved them again.

I understand why one may choose to keep some items in storage.  I keep family archives, for example.  Good reasons for keeping certain items in storage can exist.  I intend to keep my maternal grandfather’s ring, for example.  Nevertheless, if one can live comfortably without using an item for a year, one should ask oneself whether one should keep it.  My zealous downsizing testifies that my answer has usually been “no.”

My policy with books, for example, is that they belong on bookcases, not in boxes, in the long term.  More than once during any given year, I reconsider my library and decide which books to keep and which ones to send elsewhere.  I choose to impose the discipline of limited book space on myself.  How can I best use that space?

Downsizing can be liberating.  Knowing that my move will be easier than it would have been feels good.  Certain possessions, in proper quantities, can enrich life.  We cannot take those possessions with us when we die, however.  And I have no intention of imposing a great burden upon those who, in time, will decide the fates of my possessions after I die.  Downsizing is considerate and respectful of them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Fourteenth   2 comments

Bonny's Grave January 21, 2020

Above:  Bonny’s Grave, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, January 21, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The fourteenth day of any month has become painful for me.  February 14 (St. Valentine’s Day) has become almost unbearable.

Consider these facts, O reader:

  1. Bonny moved into the apartment upstairs from mine on February 14, 2013.  I had helped to make the arrangements as she was preparing to leave the mental hospital in Augusta, Georgia.  Getting her back to Athens (where she had lived since the early 1990s) and around familiar faces was important.
  2. Bonny’s initials were “BOT.”  Every year, I bought her a small box of chocolates.  My favorite top was the one with an image of a robot and the text, “I LOVE YOU A BOT.”
  3. Barbara Futch, my maternal grandmother, died on August 14, 2019.
  4. Bonny died on October 14, 2019.
  5. My new upstairs neighbors claimed Bonny’s former apartment yesterday.  They have started moving boxes, et cetera, upstairs.

I was not celebrating yesterday.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

Posted February 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.

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Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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Christmas, Joy, and Grief   7 comments

Above:  Part of the Christmas Village I Assembled on My Coffee Table, December 20, 2019

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Advent and Christmas are supposed to be happy times, are they not?

They have been for me.  Through last year I found December and the first five days of January to be an almost magical, but definitely sweet period of time.  It was not about presents, whether giving or receiving them.  No, the time was inherently joyous.

This year, however, I have worked harder than usual to find the joy.  My experience has been bittersweet because of two recent deaths–those of Bonny and my grandmother.  I have joined the ranks of those for whom this season is mostly blue.

My prayer for all of us who feel this pain is that, as we work through our grief, is that we will know the peace of God, present with us.  Our feelings may be irrational, but they are also real.  For those of us who strive to be as fact-driven as possible, the reality of emotions we know to be irrational and stubborn is especially is especially difficult to reconcile.  Guilt we know to be misplaced remains a burden.  We cannot deliver ourselves from it.  No, we must turn it over to God.  Yet it persists.

We are all broken; that is the human condition.  We are all broken.  Some of us seem not to know that.  Others of us know it better than others.  We are all broken.  May we trust in God and be kind to each other and ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AND WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CHAEREMON AND ISCHYRION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, CIRCA 250

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, FIRST ANGLICAN NATIVE PRIEST IN NORTH AMERICA; MISSIONARY TO THE CREE NATION

THE FEAST OF ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted December 22, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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Reflections on the Possessions of the Deceased   2 comments

I have helped to clean out two apartments of deceased people since the middle of August.

Last August, in Americus, Georgia, I did much of the cleaning out of the apartment of my maternal grandmother, Barbara Futch, who died at the age of 89 years.  My grandmother was aware that she was leaving much–especially clothing, as well as tubes and bottles of various creams and pills–for others to go through.  However, she lacked the energy level to dispose of more of it than she did.

I knew Bonny Thomas for over a decade.  I also understood that she had mental illnesses.  Bonny, under the influence of those illnesses, became the fifth victim of a police-involved shooting in Athens-Clarke County, since March 2019.  I also knew a compassionate, vivacious woman who had a whimsical side and enjoyed watching films noir with me as we ate pizza and drank coke, and who liked to watch Columbo episodes with me as we ate Hamburger Helper.  When she died, on October 14, one pillar of my world collapsed.

Yesterday, a few members (just enough to be about right–not too few, not too many) of my parish and I emptied Bonny’s apartment.  (Her family had taken the last of what they wanted a few days prior.)  Bonny had died, never to enter her apartment or mine again, but her possessions remained.  Most of them have gone to benefit a local charity that helps battered women.

Life is short and precious.  Much of it consists of that which is intangible, which is more important that the majority of that which is tangible.  Nevertheless, packing up and deciding what to do with the possessions of the deceased is an uncomfortable task.  It is also a tangible reminder of that person’s departure.  Completing that task can simultaneously be comforting and sad.  On one hand, the task is done; one can move on from no-longer unfinished business now.  Yet the emotions of loss can come to the fore.

I understand the Roman Catholic fixation on relics of saints.  After all, I keep relics of friends and relatives.  I have two chests and one tall bookcase full of photographs, school annuals, documents, books, et cetera.  That which is tangible, despite being less important than that which is intangible, has power.  The deceased have moved on, but an object one can hold has sentimental value.   Now my archives include relics of Bonny Thomas.  But if I could have her back, I would, of course.

One day (not any time soon, I hope; I love life) my turn to be the deceased will come.  Others will have the responsibility of disposing of my worldly possessions.  I am preparing for that day, with the intention that their task will require just a few hours–the more the helping hands, the fewer the hours.  I live comfortably in about 600 square feet.  My abode has relatively large empty areas in it.  Yet I review my possessions periodically and ask if I should donate to a thrift store or give to a person.  After all, they should be possessions; they should not possess me.  I do not want them to become a burden to anyone, including me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, LITURGIST, AND EDUCATOR

In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli….   4 comments

Photograph (dated October 27, 2019) by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BONNY MARIE OGLESBY THOMAS

JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019

Adieu, ma chérie.

Je t’aime.

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Posted October 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

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