Mrs. Taylor

by P.K. Hill

Monday, I went to the park and sat on a bench and took photographs of anything that moved and quite a few things that did not move. The day was glorious. Seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit and not a tinge of my arch enemy, humidity. The sky was as blue as a robin’s egg and dotted with occasional fluffy white clouds and a host of birds; birds that swooped, soared, and skimmed the surface of the ponds catching flies in midair. I needed the break. 

This is a good time to thank the followers of Pk for your support as I have found my survivor’s voice and have taken on the task of writing a memoir. I started this process with little concept of the time and energy it would take to get the proposal completed and into the hands of potential agents and publishing houses and despite my extremely poor file management skills and only with the assistance of three quite amazing people… we are making progress beyond my wildest dreams. 

I never knew I could write. In one year, first grade, my marks went from A’s to failing and stayed in that range for most of my life. I thought I was stupid. It was the same time period that the priest’s hands were grabbing and groping at my body. 

Mrs. Taylor, a teacher from my high school and who the book is dedicated to, told me in the late 1970s that I should write a book. I was at her home on Lincoln Place in Waldwick, New Jersey. I remember exactly where I was sitting and who was in the room. She said I was a great storyteller and in her words, “I should put pen to paper”. She offered me the use of her basement office and her typewriter but I doubted myself and never took her up on her offer. I wish she were here today she would be so proud of me and her opinion of me meant the world. I cared for her deeply and when I needed a place to get clean and sober in 1979 she took me under her wing and introduced me to Alcoholics Anonymous. I owe this woman my life.

Her backdoor was always unlocked and my frequent visits warmly welcomed. Later when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s her husband moved her back to Scranton, Pennsylvania, the place of her birth and eventually her death. Before they sold their home, which was done quickly and quietly, I was driving down Franklin Turnpike after spending yet another Saturday at The Celery Farm in Allendale, the last quaking bog in New Jersey and my most favorite birding spot in the world. I had arrived at the bog before daybreak and walked the trails with both binoculars and bird book in hand ticking off ‘lifers’ in the margins of my Peterson Guide book to birdwatching. 

What had started as a lark, forgive the attempt at humor, had quickly become a passion for me? Since my first official bird watching adventure in 1978 I have documented every new bird sighting in the margins of that dog-eared Peterson book that lives in my car next to my binoculars and I have followed the migration of birds while traversing 38 countries, five continents, and 44 states.

More than once Mrs. Taylor walked with me along the Dunkerhook River in Ho-Ho-Kus or the Campgaw Mountain Reservation in Mahwah. She really never said no to me about anything. I loved her deeply and respected her more. 

But this day as I drove back toward Ridgewood I saw Mrs. Taylor standing halfway in the street looking confused and trying to weave her way through traffic and cross the road on foot. I admit I was baffled but I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s so instead of asking her questions I picked her up and drove her home. I was just happy to be with her. I never saw her again after that day.  

Mrs. Taylor was my teacher in high school. She taught typing and steno and Gregg shorthand and for those that do not know what shorthand is…it resembles Egyptian hieroglyphics and is a language of its own. In 1983 when I relocated (geographical cure for childhood sexual abuse) to Europe for a teaching position with the Department of Defense, Ann would send me letters written in shorthand. Her thoughtfulness was matched only by her sense of humor. I truly adored this woman. 

As I write this book and struggle with memories good and bad as well as my horrendous file management skills, I think of Ann often. I have two pictures of her in my room and I have been known to run my fingers down them while talking to her out loud, thanking her, reminding her how important her guidance and friendship was to me, and telling her how much I miss her… and that the book is being dedicated to her with tender loving care. 

So today, in need of a break from deadlines I went into nature. I turned to water and sky and birdsong. I took the time to breathe and listen to the sounds around me.

I heard “drink your tea, drink your tea’ the song of the Rufous-sided Towhee. I watched the pond dwellers, the turtles and fish and the family of young Canada geese as they pooped their way across the grass. 

I have so much to be grateful for today but I do wish Mrs. Taylor was here to help me straighten out my files and tell me again that I should write a book… and to give me a Mrs. Taylor hug. (See pic❤)
And the journey continues…✍✍✍

CSA Survivor Advocate LifeCoach-writer
Storyteller and Truth Teller
Trauma-informed speaker a/v @hill642

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