Monday, February 07, 2011


I'll Miss You, Uncle Tom

My Uncle, Tommy Taylor, passed away unexpectedly last Friday. At the last minute last night, I was asked to eulogize him at the funeral that took place earlier this afternoon. In memory of him, and to ease my mind as well, here is a fairly accurate transcription of my words.

Uncle Tom never met a stranger. Actually, that's a gross understatement. Uncle Tom never met anyone who was not already his best friend. And in case you were confused about how good of friends you already were, he would shake it out of your hand, slap it out of your back, or hug it out of your neck. You might say he was the friendliest unlicensed chiropractor you ever met. I know my back always felt better after one of his treatments. And once you met him, you already loved him. I know several University of South Carolina fans that wore the closest things in their wardrobe they had to Clemson colors, orange and purple, both yesterday and today, to show their respect for Uncle Tom and their support for our family.

He was one of the sweetest, most genuine men I ever met. No matter what you needed help with, he was always quick to offer a hand to help out. Especially if you were hungry, or just looked kind of like you might be hungry...or maybe would be hungry later. He loved to feed people and cook for them. I can think of many a meal that I ate with him after I had just eaten, just because I knew he was not letting me leave that house until he was sure I really wasn't hungry. Then, for good measure, he would send you home with leftovers.

I have so many memories of Uncle Tom to share, but we only have so much time, and some of them may not be church-appropriate. My earliest memories are of just sitting in his lap, watching TV, or him scooping me up and taking me for a ride around the neighborhood in his “big truck,” as we all called it then. One that stands out the most in my mind is when I got a Vanilla Ice tape for Christmas one year. Yeah, I said Vanilla Ice. Gram wanted to hear it, so we put it on, and she started to do the Charleston along to “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Not one to be outdone, Uncle Tom got up and started dancing right along with her. I wish we had that on video.

When I was in school at Clemson, I would randomly get a call from him that he was in town to watch a baseball game. I'd go out to meet him and spend the day. We rarely had tickets, we'd just stand out in the parking lot, have a few beers, and watch it through the fence.

We recently moved out to be his next-door-neighbor. He would drop by on the Gator to offer us some produce, or just say hello. When I was out in the field walking the dogs in the morning, I would frequently hear my name, and look over to see him waving his arms. One day, the dogs made a jailbreak out of their kennel, and headed up to his house. Probably to chase one of his many cats. He hopped on the Gator and brought them home. “Got to save those babies,” he said. I knew we were in good hands with him next door...and we still are.

I know he's looking out for us, and I know he'll be the guy to nudge that ball through the uprights, or make sure that receiver stretches out just a little more when the Tigers take the field this fall. I'm just glad he got to see our recruiting class this year.

Thank you all for coming out today. I know he meant a lot to everyone here, and I know you all meant a lot to him as well.

I'm gonna miss you, man.

JT out.

Thanks JT. I wish more people called me Cotton Top like Uncle Tom used to. Love to the rest of our family, please pass it along for me.
Sounds like he was a wonderful man and by the way you turned out, you can tell he was a great influence. Best to you and your family.

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