Friday, March 18, 2016

Fare thee well, Janet Taylor, only 56

This is a copy of the Compass from 2002. Janet Taylor is in the last row in the blue shirt. She played a vital role in ND for many years.

Then she went to live at Project Transition. I visited her a couple of times. She lived in an apartment with two roommates.

When she died she had her own apartment which she loved, said her dad Lewis Taylor, who called me earlier today.

When someone dies, you think, When was my last contact with her?

Two months ago, I sent her a letter.

"Addressee unknown," was wrin on my envelope when it was returned.

I was so disappointed.

The last time I saw her was during a NAMI Walk at Montco Community College. I caught up with her and walked with her a bit.

She was so shy we didn't have much to say to one another.

She may have been shy, but I believe she was as deep as the ocean.

She wrote a Letter to the Editor of The Compass, saying she had a great time at our Coffeeshop Shindig in Hatboro. Click to enlarge.

She and her mom, Irene, also came to one of our Bonfires and played in a jugband, using a washboard and tambourine.


Her dad said she loved her own apartment in West Philly. The last time he and Irene saw her, she was in a great mood, laughing. She visited her folks every week on Herschel Avenue in Philly where they still live.

I remember their beautiful home! One time when I visited, she and I edited The Kaleodoscope, the literary mag of ND.

We did it on the dining room table. Mom probly brought out lemonade and cookies for us.

The interior of the house was simply gorgeous. I remember wallpaper or paintings of blackbirds. Her mom Irene had never heard of the Wallace Stevens poem so I mailed it to her

Front cover by John Creveling, who now has Parkinson's and has become an artist.

Lou said they recently had dinner at a restaurant off City Line Avenue and Janet was "happy as a clam."

She suffered a heart attack and apparently died immediately.

They say people with mental illness die much earlier than other folks.

I asked how brother Paul is doing. He is also brilliant, a former etymologist.

"He's taking c/o us now,"  Lou laffed. Lou is 91, Irene is 87.

Told Lou I wanted to read the obituary notice.

There isn't one, he said. Our pastor said we don't need one since it's just our family that's interested in her death.

Don't worry, Janet, I'll write your obit.

Her funeral is a week from tomro, Saturday.

I asked why it's taking so long.

You're Jewish, said Lou

Yes, I said, we bury our dead within two days.

Lou explained why they waited so long. Health reasons.

Funeral will be at Somerton United Methodist Church.

March 2016

Janet, this thing we call
Life gave you a hard ride
a beautiful girl strapped
like a rodeo rider to a
wild, cantankerous beast.

You held on,
tossed, over and over
down into the
chaos of a thunderous
better to have been
born blind, but
what choice did you have?

Thorns dwelt deep
in your mind, drilling
his way through your
innocence, deeper
and deeper

Until merciful God
raised his fist and
cried Enough! He allowed
you to dwell in
the land of Shangri-La.

There, you read the books you loved,
dreamt of your
lost loves, and of
Adam, who won
your heart, then
perished like a
smashed window.

Swimming in the
pool back
home on Herschel
you watched the
clouds travel
by, wondering
what it's like to be
old and fading
like your folks.

Never did you dream
that back home a
quick sharp pain, like
needles in a pincushion
would send you reeling,
all the way to
Heaven where a
gleeful God

awaited you.

Spose I've got a
lot of explaining to
do, he smiled. You've
got the stuff of
the Saints of old.

He kissed her
still warm cheek
and bid her have
a seat. She felt
whole for the
very first time
whole and understood. 


  1. What a lovely poem! Sorry that the world has lost someone else who sounds like a lovely person, and that she suffered at different points in life. I hope the suffering was accompanied by joys interspersed throughout.

    1. Thanks, Iris, I know you've dealt with many losses also. I find it comforting to write a poem about the individual. I've learned I can write a poem whenever it's necessary. "The Necessity of Poetry"

  2. I remember Janet. Your farewell is beautiful. It really captured the pain that can be associated with mood disorders. May she find peace and joy in God's presence.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. Your comment meant a lot to me. Thanks heavens you and I are doing so well!