Tuesday, May 12, 2009

That's Dr. Taylor to you...

“I often dream of nights I’d sit and watch the rising son
And I spoke to you of life, and of the battles I had won…
I search find the meaning of the path that I am on
And I hope that my direction will not make me walk alone…”
Axe, “Battles”

This is one of those “soundtrack-of-my-life” songs. During a very uncertain time of life for me, I discovered Axe, the very fine hard rock band from Gainesville. And their excellent song, “Battles,” which captures my mood back then. “Let me go from this lonely land, before my dreams all vanish like water in the sand.” (of course, the superb & lengthy guitar solo in “Battles” helps…*smile*)

Thankfully…gloriously…blessedly, my direction has not made me walk alone. Obviously, there’s my best friend, who put this ring on my finger 25 years ago in a couple of weeks. I cannot even imagine where I’d be apart from her impact on my life…But there are also a few others…well, quite a number of others, but just very few at the level I’m talking here. Friends in the sense of the word from before it meant a TV show about who was sleeping with whom. From before the word was cheapened so very much when the phrase “with benefits” was added after “friend.” Soul brothers. Co-laborers, to use Paul’s excellent description. Accountability partners. People who love you but are not impressed by you, to use Howard Hendricks’ superb phrase. Safe people, with whom you can share your deepest darkest secrets & struggles and know they will keep them secret and will pray you through them.

One such guy in my life is Clay Taylor who is one of my dearest, most treasured friends. Ours is a friendship where either of us may find ourself saying “I don’t really feel like doing anything tonight…let’s just go over to the Taylors/Madarises” without the slightest hint of insult. We are utterly & completely at home & at peace sitting on each other’s porch or around each other’s table.

Clay knows much about me that he doesn’t share. And vice versa. We have laughed together, cried together, dreamed together, struggled together, ministered together…We have watched football games between our respective alma maters, each of us hoping the other’s school would lose. (He’s an MSU grad/fan) And yet, after the game & regardless of who won, we enjoyed that same fellowship or camaraderie under the tent eating tailgate food & breaking down what happened in the game. We have traveled together a bit, though not nearly as much as we plan on in the future (see “dreamed together”…) He has loved on & encouraged my children immensely, and I hope I have done likewise for his.

Clay, Sheri, & their children Lee, Jana, Caroline, & Jack.

So, Saturday morning @ the Turner Center on the campus of Ole Miss, I was one of the proudest guys in the room when Clay received his Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. My quote to him was David Crosby: “it’s been a long time comin’.” His to me was Jerry Garcia: “what a long, strange trip it’s been…” You see, Clay has spent 5-6 years re-booting his science education so he could get into the pharmacy program so that he could pursue a long-delayed dream of becoming a pharmacist. Did I mention that Clay—though younger than I—is substantially older than many of his classmates? And that he’s married? And has four kids? And that he owns a home near Laurel? And yet, there they were, moving the whole tribe up to Oxford a few years back & living on rice & beans/beans & rice (as Dave Ramsey says), all in the name of pursuing a dream. The four younger Taylors were uprooted from their schools & their friends for two years. And not by moving across town…4 hours away! After those years, Sheri & the kids moved back to Jones County, while Clay moved to Jackson for the dreaded P5 year of clinical stuff. Then a year of rotations…and Saturday’s announcement: “Dr. Clay G. Taylor.”

(Clay's the tall guy in line there smiling @ his daughter)
Now, off to a new job & career @ Forrest General Hospital as a pharmacist; not a student rotation, but a sho-nuff “the-buck-stops-here” pharmacist. His paycheck will go up, but that seems almost insignificant; the real heart of the matter to me—and to you—is that a dream suppressed may just be a dream delayed. Over 25 years ago, Clay set out to become a pharmacist. A series of events led him to a different career path there for a number of years. But no longer. I would love to have been standing there in the FGH pharmacy when he arrived @ 8:00 Monday morning for his first day’s work. And I would love to have sat around the firepit up @ Jones County Monday evening to de-brief the day.

Instead, I was there in a classroom, watching students take an exam while writing this. And nearly bursting with pride for my friend’s INCREDIBLE accomplishment & perseverance.

The Associate Dean of the Pharmacy School @ Ole Miss said after the ceremony, “Clay, I enjoyed calling your name today…” Clay and his two brothers said “We enjoyed hearing you call it!” I didn’t say anything, for fear of cashing in a large number of my man-cards by blubbering right there in front of everyone; my heart was just too full, remembering all of the shared planning, praying, phone chatting, emailing & dreaming about this day. But I’ll say it now: CONGRATULATIONS, DR. TAYLOR!!! Well-fought & well-earned, bro. I very much enjoyed hearing your named called by Dr. Wilson Saturday too.

I am so very proud of you…and just a bit in awe! Thanks for inspiring me—and others, including my son—with your words…but much more with your life. Thanks for the burgers…& fries…& cookies…& Lau-Tori’s lunch meetings…& Lake Serene Grocery breakfast meetings…& prayers…& games…& the first of many road trips to Atlanta to watch the Braves. Thanks for pulling my son toward his dream which he shares with you. Thanks for being my friend and letting me share with you the battles I have won…and lost...and for not letting me walk alone. I am a better man, husband, employee, parent, churchman, and just, well, dude because of your influence on my life. Thanks for all of that.

Now let’s get to work on our bucket list, shall we? *huge grin*

With much pride & love,

p.s. - Not only all of that, but he can also catch a rice ball in his mouth when tossed by a knife-wielding cook @ a Japanese celebration...*huge grin*

1 comment:

3boysinBama said...

So proud for him (and don't even know him). Mark did tell us about him before we took our leap of faith into med school. It takes so much courage as an adult with kids to go back and pursue a dream. I can't wait until I hear "Dr. Clark" this time next year. There will be a party!!!