“I got to keep movin’!”
That’s the first thing that came out of 98-year-old Ray Taylor’s mouth when R-FH Retro ran into him doing his usual walking and savoring the smallest of moments in his Fair Haven hometown.
Set on a Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair mission last week, Taylor was a sight for sore hometown eyes. The icon is a toddling message of inspiration. So when you set foot in Fair Haven and he’s the first person you see, it’s the best of signs. And he won’t shrug anyone off. No one. He always stops, chats and soaks up every morsel of community he can — reminding anyone he encounters that there’s always a lesson to learn, always hope to be had.
Connection. Taking time. Smiling. Listening. Sharing. It’s what it’s all about. Taylor instills all of it wrapped up in his eyes’ twinkle. Tell him he’s a celebrity and you get, “Oh, yeah? Oh, well, I just like to be out and around a lot. You know, I’m 98. They won’t let me mow the lawn anymore. I got to do things. I got to keep moving. I walked here from my house (on River Road), you know. I’m making my way to my bench at the fair. You know. I get around, I talk to folks and then I sit a little.”
Tell him it’s good to be back home and see him first thing and he launches into the history of his home, how it was built during slavery and how he, as a young African-American man and World War II and Korean War vet, ended up owning it. And he’s still there. His story telling bears no despair, only an uncanny smile, pure goodness and enough light to beam trained life coaches onto another plane.
It’s pretty simple as far as Taylor is concerned. Make your way, stop and savor along that way, find your niche, your bench, and stay put sopping it all up with sunshine from home’s heart.
Lesson learned. So, if you see him walking down the street … stop, observe, listen and catch his rays! Oh, and by the way, his wife’s glow is a blindingly bright one as well. She’s turning 93 soon, she proudly told us. She doesn’t look a day over 29. Happy Birthday!
— Elaine Van Develde (CLICK on one photo to enlarge and scroll. Enjoy!)