My name is Dinah Taylor, mother of one, Jim (deceased) and wife of a university president.? I have always been defined as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, president?s wife; but the greatest badge I have ever worn was that of Mother.? When our son was killed in an auto accident, I lost my greatest role that of Mother.?? Jim was the child I shouldn?t have been able to have.? He came into this world with pneumonia and had a lot of challenges early in life so we assumed he would live forever after combating so many challenges at such a young age.?
I was designed to be a mother ? a master?s degree in early childhood education, an aunt who loved her nephews, a wife who wanted to be a stay-at-home mother and the honor to finally have a child; the only one we would have.?
“Practice What You Preach”
“If you make decisions based upon how comfortable, easy and painless your choices are, then don’t expect great rewards. Pay a big price and expect a great return. Turn tragedies into triumphs, obstacles into opportunities, problems into possibilities. At times you may feel like quitting. Don’t throw in the towel. You must have darkness to see the stars. The birds still sing after the storm. Life is bittersweet. Experiences are neither totally good nor totally bad. You cannot have good times without bad times. One makes the other possible, just as night provides a contrast to day. Happiness is a by-product and not a goal. Happiness comes by getting involved with others. In this life we only have what we give away. Life is made up of 10% of what happens to us and about 90% of how we respond. I hope you will accept the challenge as I have: When faced with a mountain I will not quit. I’ll go over it, around it, through it, dig a tunnel underneath it or simply stay beside that mountain and turn it into a gold mine. Problems will never leave you where they find you. When a problem comes your way, you will never be the same. It is impossible! The greatest heat tempers the strongest steel. The greatest irritation creates the finest pearl. It is not the easy times; it’s the hard times that make us and develop character. How do I know? I know because my life is a living testimony. Problems will never leave you where they find you. You will either be bigger or bitter. You will be a better person or a worse person. The future is purchased by the present. Our lives will follow the pathways created by out thoughts… To make deep mental paths we must think again and again the kind of thoughts we wish to have dominate our lives. We will either live constructive lives or destructive lives. There is a relationship between sacrifice and success.”
On May 19, 1991, these words were spoken by my husband, Jim Taylor, at our son’s High School Baccalaureate. My husband was so honored that he was chosen to be the speaker. It was such an exciting day for our family! Taylor challenged these graduates with these words, but little did he know that in less than 24 hours, we both would have to “practice what he preached.”
Honors Night May 20, 1991, changed our lives forever. It was the day before his high school graduation, which would end his life as he knew it in the nucleus of our small town, Williamsburg, KY, as a high school student, but it would begin a new and challenging life in that great big, exciting world called adulthood!
Instead, that date became the rebirth date of our only child, our 18-year-old son, Jim… into eternal life.
May I introduce you to our son?
James H. Taylor, II
July 26, 1972 – May 20, 1991
He was a young teen who had to struggle with traditional methods of learning. He was besieged with frightful headaches, the source of which was never determined. He was the boy who hid his pain with laughter (the best medicine in the world). He was the young man we watched with pride as he took honors as a rider and trainer of saddle-bred horses, and as a champion cattle roper at competitions across the country. Jim was a friend of the underdog. If somebody was picking on you, he took your side. Jim really gave of himself to others.
But on May 20, 1991, Jim was on a mission of love when he had his automobile accident. Our nephew’s wife had just walked out of his life, and Young Jim insisted that he had to be with his cousin rather than attend the Honor’s Night’s events. Jim was approximately 3 miles from home when the accident occurred. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. His mission was to go and comfort the cousin that he loved so dearly. He was driving approximately 25 miles per hour on a rain-slicked road when the passenger side wheels of his auto slipped form the pavement. The road had eroded to the point there was no shoulder, and huge poles had been placed at the edge of the road to keep it from eroding any further. The police surmised that because of his slow speed, the car had fallen over the edge of the road onto one of the poles. The pole had gone through the right front passenger window, out the back left window and had just, by an inch, grazed his right temple, killing Young Jim instantly.
We thank God, each day that we had Young Jim for 18 years, and we are doing all we can to be sure that he is not forgotten, and that his life had a purpose. We have made many reinvestments: A stained glass window has been dedicated to him and is in the chapel on the University of the Cumberlands campus. The window is composed of the many facets of Young Jim’s life. Three trees have been planted in our yard by friends; many of the helpful books we have read on grief have been placed in both our Church and College libraries in his memory; we have placed Hymnals in our church in his memory with the inscription “Into our lives he brought the melody of laughter and the harmony of love;” friends have placed Hymnals in the chapel at Cumberland in his memory; the University of the Cumberlands football field bears his name and there has also been a scholarship fund established at Cumberland in Young Jim’s name. Seniors graduating from Williamsburg High School (were he attended) and Whitley County High School have received his scholarship. There have been, to date, 59 recipients of partial or full scholarships. These students are already changing the world. Three have become medical doctors. Young Jim’s life…and death…have made a difference.
We hope you will look at the many dedications in all of our children’s memories.