Monday, February 6, 2012

Visiting Bob & Dottie Taylor By Tom Kinsella

 Dottie Taylor, June 1968

 Bob Taylor, June 1968

Dottie and Bob, August 1967

I’ve been thinking about my cousin Bob Taylor lately. I spent a long weekend with him 45 years ago, when I was a boy, and I want to try to describe what it meant to me, and what it still means. Truth in advertising – I don’t remember many details.

When I was 7, Bob’s wife Dottie spent about six weeks with my family in Rochester. She had Hodgkin’s Disease and stayed with us while she underwent radiation treatment at Strong Memorial Hospital. Ma tells me that Dottie cooked a fried chicken dinner for the family on her (Mom’s) birthday, so this must have been around February-March of 1967. Bob was working in a Waterloo grocery at the time, but of course he came up to our house as often as he could.

Bob and Dottie became close to the whole family, and after Dottie’s treatment was complete, they returned to Waterloo. I guess because I was the right age, they asked me later that year to visit.

I don’t remember just how long the visit lasted, but several days. It was at their house in Waterloo (Ma and Pa tell me it was a post-WWII home, built on a slab). I can remember meals around the kitchen table. And I remember Bob teaching me how to play pool on a pool table that he had. We had quite a bit of fun playing eight ball.

I also remember attending church with Bob and Dottie on Sunday. I think it was the Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Waterloo. I had been to Ma's Presbyterian Church before, but going to Catholic school, it was Catholic mass that I was used to. I had never seen a Protestant communion service, but that Sunday there was one. Bob was about to let me go up to the altar, but saw that I hesitated. "Have you had first communion in your church yet?" he asked. I shook my head no. "Well you better wait on this then," he said. So I had to wait another year or two.

Dottie died on December 1, 1969 at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Bob arrived at our house afterward and we were all quite broken up. I had hand-written a short remembrance of Dottie that I gave to Bob when he arrived (I think I framed it!). It was on the sort of lined paper that a nine-year-old would use. I spoke of how wonderful Dottie was, and how much we loved her. I don’t remember any of it in detail except the ending: “I fear we shall not see her like again.” I think Bob liked that turn of phrase. I didn’t tell him that I’d stolen it from a funeral oration given for John F. Kennedy, which I had found in a book Ma & Pa kept in the living room. I used to feel bad about that slice of plagiarism – I should have spoken more from the heart. But now that I look back and search the web for the exact quotation, I see that I quoted someone who was riffing on Shakespeare. Hamlet says of his father: “I shall not look upon his like again.”

I know that Dottie was a great loss to Bob. She was a great loss to all of us, I think; but at my age her death was a life lesson, too. I don’t really know why, out of all of my brothers and sisters, I was invited to visit for that long weekend, but it made me feel special. And being a part of their family life, if only for a very short time, has always been important to me. I remember Bob and Dottie with deep, sad affection.


Pat said...


Thank you so much for writing this!

We did so love Dottie. She made quite an impression on me also--a person we loved who was so young and vibrant dying much too soon. I remember praying to my favorite saint, St. Theresa, to save her. It did not work, but that too was a lesson.

Wonderful to go back in time and think of Bob and Dottie.


CB/Mom said...

I still shed tears every time I think of her!! She fought so hard and at 21 had so much to offer the world!
She had had a very unhappy and poor upbringing and at the age of 14 had had herself put in foster care. She was so very happy to think she belonged to a family with us! When Bob came for her at the end of her radiation, at her request, he brought a bag for each child, filled with 3 doughnuts! She knew that the kids loved them and did not get many!! Blessed Dottie, she lies with my parents in Waterloo now, right near where Barb Taylor is and where Harold Jack and I will be someday!

CB said...

Yes, I forgot to tell you, Bob is there also!

Nance said...


Thank you for your tribute to Dottie -- what a wonderful memory you had to tell. I always really felt for her also as she was just in the prime of her life and ready to accomplish some things, which never came about. I remember her artwork, roses and all, and she always signed it with a dot for a signature. I think I still have a piece that she did.

I remember when she and Bob came down to Florida a little later than your story, and she would come home from the hospital treatment raring to do something, but had to watch how tired she would get.

Marvelous gal!

Sue Kinsella said...

Thanks, Tom, for such sweet memories of Dottie and Bob here. I thought she belonged to the category of "grown-ups" because she was 5 years older than I was, and when you're a teenager that's a lot bigger difference than when you're older. But now when I think about her as only 21, I realize how very young and yet beyond her years brave she was.

Barb said...


Thank you for sharing this story of Dad and Dottie. I of coarse never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I wish I could have. I know she brought so much joy to my Dad's life and he was never quiet the same when she left the world way too soon. I sure do miss my Dad;. Not a day goes by that I dont think of him, but it gives me great peace that he is with his true love again.