I was visiting Mom and after a good night's sleep I awoke to a thumping sound overhead. Mom lived in Frank and Michele's basement apartment and everyone was gone but Michele's father. It had to be Jack making that noise. Curious, I went to the kitchen and asked Mom about it.
"Oh, that's Jack," she replied smiling.
Every morning Jack did his exercise; he put music on and as Newfoundlanders say, he'd 'give er.' He used soup cans as weights. The rhythm of the movement kept beat to the thumping that we heard. Mom found it comforting to know that someone was upstairs, and if the thumping didn't happen in the morning, she'd know something was wrong with Jack. He was eighty.
Jack and his wife, Mary, were life long friends to my parents. Then, after Dad's death in 1986, Frank and their daughter, Michele, started dating and eventually married. Our families were intertwined forever by their common granddaughter Samantha.
After Mary died, Jack stayed with Michele's family for about six months every year until he opened his cabin at Placentia Junction again. He lived for April to get to that cabin. Jack always had a project 'on the go,' painting, mowing, getting wood, repairing whatever had to be done that year. Time wasn't long enough to do everything he planned.
Most of all Jack loved it when his family visited. The cabin became a meeting place for the children, with fishing and the ATV taking up lots of time. In addition, there was great comradery with the other cabin owners, many of whom became life long friends to the whole family.
Every Christmas, Michele hosts a family gathering on Christmas Eve. She has six siblings and as many of her brothers, sisters and their children as can make it, attend the event. Like many large families I imagine, they have a great time, laughing, singing, telling stories and jokes. Jack loved this occasion. He always bought some piece of headgear for the occasion, such as antlers or a Santa hat. He got in touch with his inner child when it came to his family's Christmas party.
Jack was shoveling snow when it happened. A sudden collapse into the snow bank which a neighbor witnessed. Due to the quick response, he survived the incident but didn't recover. Days later, his children agreed to turn off the machines that kept him alive. Thinking about it now, I think that Jack went as he would have wanted, with his 'boots on,' active until the end, but allowing his family time to be there. Lucky man!
Merry Christmas, Taylor family! Enjoy the party!
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