The second post I wrote for the blog back on November 13, 2006 was a eulogy to one of my dearest friends in the world Ryan (Ron) Taylor. Ryan was not happy with the name Ron and those of us who met him in Ottawa at a certain time in his life knew him as Ryan; his family and earlier friends knew him as Ron. No matter what name you knew him under you knew a charming, erudite, maddening, learned, witty, irritating, gentle and loving person.
By that strange alignment of the stars that we call serendipity a post about books by Old Lurker reminded me of the last note I received from Ryan. It came in a neatly (being from him of course it was) wrapped parcel containing a book. The book was Boy’s Like Us – an anthology of short coming-out stories/essays – and the note simply said “Darling boy, I won’t need this anymore.” The next day I received a phone call telling me his body had been found in the Niagara River.
I was fortunate to be able to keep in touch with some of his family: his cousin Dayle, his niece and, again through serendipity, his brother who lived in the building we moved into when we returned from Italy in 2011.
On May 30th, a day after reading Luker’s post, I received an email from Dayle telling me that she had taken Ryan’s ashes to England and he had found his final resting place: the small village of Grasmere in the Lake District. In the nearby church yard is the grave of William Wordsworth, a poet who’s works he treasured.
And when the stream that overflows has passed, A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory; Images and precious thoughts that shall not be And cannot be destroyed.
William Wordsworth The Excursion
At the time of his death I said something that is as true today as it was thirteen years ago: If you had any faults – and like all of us you did – the greatest was that you did not love yourself enough to realize how much you were loved. You are greatly loved. “The lad” and I miss you. Your “darling boy”
Today I can add: I am joyful that you have found a place of peaceful rest.
Strangely June 4th is Tailors Day – granted a different spelling but it will do.
Sadly the upcoming trip means that I will not be able to attend the Memorial gathering for one of my oldest and closest friends, Ryan (Ron) Taylor. For those of us who loved him, his death this past October has meant our world has been diminished.
I met Ryan 31 years ago this summer just past. It was a bright sunny Sunday afternoon and I was walking down the canal in Ottawa whistling a Rossini aria. Suddenly one of the most melodious baritone voices (think Leonard Warren sings Verdi) I had ever heard said: Di tanti palpita – Tancredi. I knew that I had to become friends with anyone who recognized that piece of operatic ephemera.
And friends we became – despite living in different cities, often on different continents. It was the sort of friendship that meant we wouldn’t see each other for a year or two but spoke, wrote (he was always better at it than I), or e-mailed once or twice a month. As with all friendships there were periods when a certain coolness developed. I recall a frosty ride on the Underground from Salder’s Wells to Baker Street seated at either end of the carriage – the icy glares freezing unsuspecting Londoners in mid-doze over their late-edition Daily Mirrors.
But those periods never lasted very long and were quickly pushed aside by happier events. “The Lad” – as he always called Laurent, Ryan and I in MossBros tuxedoed splendor heading down to Glyndebourne on the afternoon train from Vic Station. Christmas Eve celebrated with family and friends in the McClaren St. apartment under the watchful eye of Queen Alexandria. Ryan avowed that the portrait was an early example of Photoshoping – Alex’s head on a Tiller Girl’s body. A sunny weekend in Cooperstown, happily combining two of his passions – opera and baseball. The Cracker – that odd mixture of Times Obit, book reviews, books-he-had-read quotes that arrived every Christmas. A surreal vodka-drinking visit to a political cabaret in Krakow – he was the only person I know who would take Polish lessons for a two week visit. Trashing all the singers but our beloved Ewa Podles over late night port and desert after the opera in Toronto. Simply sitting before diner on his last visit in May, listening to and revelling in the most infectiously funny recording of Perichole’s drunk aria – in Russian!
A week after learning of his death I watched the first episode of his TV programme, Ancestors in the Attic . I wanted to reach into the TV and hug him for all those wonderful memories then slap him because he had robbed me of experiencing more. A gentle note from his cousin Dayle reminded me that the slap was a selfish reaction and the hug a loving one. Thank you Dayle – you’re right, the hugging feels better.
If you had any faults – and like all of us you did – the greatest was that you did not love yourself enough to realize how much you were loved. You are greatly loved. “The lad” and I miss you.
Your “darling boy”
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown