Hugh Taylor


In his own words, Hugh Taylor asks those who knew him and mourn his death to have this as his last word:

You know the part in the movie where the main character leaves “a letter to my attorney, in the case of my death?” This is that letter, mainly because my lawyer charges too much.

This letter means I’m dead. I’m not around anymore, but I think the format fits.

Also, and extra special, my wife, my Mary, told me if I wanted an obituary, I’d have to write it myself, even though I’d like to go to my own funeral. And may yet – you guys just do not know. Now about my Mary: she comes off like a street kid, but she is sooo tender, loving and I know she’s hurt, and there’s nothing I can do for her. And I’m gonna miss her. I was thinking I should mention her, but this obit, actually, is my way of loving her, our life together, the extra years, her patience with me, my health, my surgeries. This thing’s for her, because I can’t say it enough. I can only do. And she said do it.

Everyone concerned in my life knows what happened, plus I’m not that important anyhow. But my story kinda is and I hope the word’s out about my death, not for me, but for important stuff.

So here goes; this is a love letter to Mary and my kids, and their kids, so wonderful to watch grow, and Tom and Judy, and Bill, who’s gonna take the porn off my computer before giving it to Mary, and the phone times we shared over my lack of computer knowledge. A thank-you for the extra 30-plus years I did get to live, how I got them, and what I did with them.

It was time to go. For the past many 15 years, I’ve dragged around my oxygen hose and all I can say about that is I hope like hell my last words were not “get offa my hose.”

The important thing is, I haven’t peed in a closet or blacked out in a stupid way for a long, long time. And I got an opportunity to change and try in my own way, for redemption.

They (you know, “those people”) were right, you see, about the drinking, smoking, carousing and asbestos. The asbestos was from early on, before people knew how dangerous it is, but the other was all my doing. I was a blackout, dammed drunk who just could not stop.

I started drinking at 14, falling off my first bar stool at a friend’s house (you know, parents not home) and drank my way through too many adventures and years to count, filled with all those moments where, as I remember, I just wanted to punch myself in the face: blackouts, crazy stuff.

There’s this guy, Pete Hamill, an old writer for the New York Daily News, who says “Drinkers drink” and believe me, I believe it. I drank and measured most of my life by beers – how many would it take me to get from here to there, how many tall boys could I buy instead of what I was buying, always magically showing up at the 7-11 with enough beer money or drugs to keep me going, no matter what. And drinking a tall boy was no problem. “How can you drink that?” They said. “isn’t it too warm? Me answering, “I’ve never had a warm beer in my life,” I had to reply. I was a gulper.

I thought I was hopeless, but finally, when I was 44, after some struggle and fear that I could never stop, I signed up and Alcoholics Anonymous, good old AA, nursed me, taught me, and helped me see the world a lot differently. I managed to stay sober and a whole new world opened for me – a little bit at first, then a little more, then years, then decades, (35 years) always with the help of mother AA.

Ultimately, I ended up doing what I’ve done, with my new wife, Mary, almost by accident; the happy life.

Don’t want to get too sappy here, but I have been one lucky guy, who got his life back at least three times. First, I found a way to not drink, reconciled with my children and got some grandkids for me to watch, and met some very weird and wonderful people through AA and our association with folk artists all over the South. Look, AAs are really anonymous, but, being dead I can blow my cover, mostly because I want to encourage & inspire people who just can’t stop the drinking and all the drama associated with it.

I really am gonna miss seeing Blair, Trey and Dora, and my grandsons Luke and Eli grow up, telling each one of them separately that I like him the best, waiting on the argument or, better yet, the fist fight, at my wake, so I figured why not take this opportunity to make this a love letter – a love letter to my Mary, my kids and grandkids, and the wonderful AA, whose members and practices I’ve followed. To the fantastic lung surgeon who gave me some extra breathable years, although I’ve had to drag that oxygen hose around now for quite a while. And also, gonna miss trying to write “there,” “they’re” and “their”” in the same sentence, finally saying “judgie, wudgie” to a local judge, having the deputies drive me home with lights and siren when we pull in the drive.

After 10 years of bouncing around being half-assed, but sober, I found my wonderful wife, Mary, who’s not much of a drinker, but man, we’ve had some times – without alcohol – period.

Through art and common tastes and hanging out together, we’ve built a life I never ever expected to have, a life I was given in a little Cracker shack and compound in Wakulla County, one of those places that, as soon as I hit the driveway, makes me feel the “magic life,” something I never guessed I would have ended up with, a place where we have hosted each year, for more than 25 years, our BaconFest, a time to gather, meet folks, and have everyone’s favorite – bacon, served with a bit of blues and fellowship.

I’m not a brave person, but life taught me it’s ok to be afraid as long as I got it done, which I hope I’ve done right, and rather regret some things I did, rather than things I didn’t do.

I’m grateful for the extra years and the wonderful life I managed to have. Sure, I hope I’ll be missed, but I’d like people to remember me, my songs, “Louie-Louie” and “Amazing Grace” (our wedding songs), and share how I got to get all those extra years.

Life has been good. That’s it. If I’d known that life was good from the get-go, every trauma, slight, beating, mistake, experience I’ve had, I would have looked at differently. A longtime AA friend and alcoholic said, “I know there’s a heaven, because I’ve been in hell for too long,” which really sums up my drinking life. So, I’ve gotten a shot at heaven for a long time.

In front of our home there’s a mastodon – a big, gray, mastodon. In front of that there’s a sign, “Honk if you like mastodons.” Lots of people honk but only a few know that every time a person honks an angel gets its wings. So, keep honking folks. I might need some help with the wings. …

Where I am, I never thought I’d be. Looking around, I was in heaven. Just never knew it. All I’ve done, all the people I’ve hurt, or disappointed, I will never forget, and hope I didn’t die in a hospital or “of” a hospital, and I hope my last words were not “get off my oxygen hose!” And, going out with all these commas, because of my love for “The New Yorker.”

So, please – now time to celebrate and remember …with some friends, music and bacon.

Always bacon …

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