Daydreams 4

Posted by on 04.21.10 | No Comments
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I remember April of 2002. How could I ever forget? The hoopla of it all. My ex-wife Pam was excited about

the CBS program “60 Minutes.” Both of the local newspaper- The Palm Beach Post and The Stuart News-

ran articles about the local girl on the network program. Desperately Fighting Cancer the segment was billed.

Pam had a right to be excited I guess, although I never was a big believer in Taylor being part of the show, but

then Henry Friedman at Duke University selected Taylor to be one of three brain cancer patients that CBS

followed for months and I acquiesced, figuring that Taylor would get the best care possible if the cameras were

rolling. “I think I can help somebody, dad, if I take part in the program,” Taylor said altrustically- and she did

want to be a social worker like her mother. I still remember her saying that and looking at me with those big

beseeching eyes. Her motive was purer than mine. I wanted her to get the best possible medical care and she

wanted to help someone else. And in the end she did. But not exactly how we thought she would.

As I turned the program on after the network tease with my deceased daughter part of the promo of a “story

you won’t want to miss” or something like that, the choking in my throat began and the tears followed. Taylor

had been dead for four months but there she was on the screen alive again in some surreal videotape with Pam

and Courtney and the twins and Tracey Dawn at the hospital at Duke University. Only the CBS folks don’t tell

viewers “oh, by the way, she died”, not until they’ve pulled at the viewers’ heartstrings with a double segment on

Duke and the three patients they followed. The damn thing would go on to win an Emmy for Ed Bradley, the

only statuette of his career. It was all centered on the great man, Henry Friedman,, who was Taylor’s chief

physcian, a man whom Taylor liked and I didn’t.

There were a few clips of Taylor at high school graduation receiving her diploma from the “Smiling Cobra” as

my fellow teachers nicknamed the Martin County Superintentent of Schools. There was a clip of Taylor on the

phone at her University of Central Florida apartment with the Friedmans (Henry, the neuroncologist and Alan, the

surgeon, who would later work on Ted Kennedy). Another clip showed Taylor getting the news that an

experimental treatment didn’t work, and Taylor acting stoically in an interview with Ed Bradley and responding to

his question about her fear of death with a: “Yeah, I have thought about that, defintely. It’s a very real

possibility but everybody’s got to die someday, and if I have to die, I have to die. I mean, I’ve come to grips

with my own mortality now. Nobody lives forever. If I go a little bit earlier than I was- thought I as going to go

then I do, but at least make every day count you know.” To which Bradley replied. “You’re amazing.” I thought

for a moment that Ed’s earring might fall off when Taylor smiled sweetly with a big girlish giggle and responded

with” “Thank you.” Now, looking back, knowing that Ed Bradley had been diagnosed with cancer, I wonder how

he felt about the young girl in front of him and her attitude.

Pam was all over the program which, of course, is fitting for a mother, but Pam’s performance reminded me of a

comment made about Teddy Roosevelt: “that he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every

funeral.” But then Pam won three county wide elections for school board which is truly a remarkable

achievement considering I ran once and was crushed by the incumbent, who, if she sat on me, would crush

me. But I have let bitterness enter my blog. I mean, where was I on the program?

Thankfully on the cutting room floor. I am certainly not as telegenic as my ex-frau or Taylor or her

beautiful sisters so I guess some film editor looked at me and thought: “let’s cut the ugly dad.” Oh, I was taped

in an interview at Duke with the Friedmans, Taylor and Tracey Dawn, but they cut that segment. Who wants a

chubby old daddy on television? Maybe for a lousy sit-com with a laugh track, but not for prime time

“60 Minutes.” I mean even their silly stopwatch is better looking than I.

Anyway, after too too long, they cut to commercial and then Ed Bradley came back after the commercial for a

“follow-up” at the end of the segments to tell 20 million CBS viewers what I already knew, that shortly after

filming the last segment of the experimental treatment at Duke, Taylor Black returned home to Stuart and died.

I like to think that Taylor’s courage might have helped Ed Bradley. He did send me the nicest email about Taylor

and it sits in my desk drawer with other Taylor memorabilia. I like to think that Taylor helped him in some

small way for I am Taylor’s father and like so many other daddies, a daughter is my dawn, a sweet sunrise in

every little smile. Thinking of the grin she gave Ed Bradley I truly know the meaning of the word ‘bittersweet’; it is

no longer just a word but a feeling that courses through my body: bittersweet. There is an aftertaste of sorrow.

That program had been scheduled to air in the fall of 2001, but Osama Bin Laden’s attack on September 11

not only destroyed the Twin Towers and a piece of the Pentagon but his perfidy threw a metaphorical monkey

wrench into the scheduled segments of “60 Minutes”, postponing Taylor’s segment to a post mortem. Oh, the

program is on the web, but I haven’t been back to watch it in quite some time and I have a videotape copy as I

never bothered to convert it to a DVD since I never though I would watch it again. Why should I watch those last

weeks again? They are etched into my soul, a soul which was wounded terribly when it’s sunshine was taken

away.

In my mind the Carter Family is singing, “You are My Sunshine” and I am rocking Taylor as a baby, singing

along was I cradle her in my arms for Taylor is alive again in my reverie, in my daydreams, and she is there on

internet. Just Google “Taylor Black Brain Cancer 60 Minutes.” And there she is once again, “Desperately

Fighting Cancer.”

But in my mind she is like the wizard photographs in Harry Potter, always animated. Taylor loved J.K.

Rowlings, but she didn’t stay around long enough to read all of the novels for she had a prior appointment with

her own form of Death Eater. Of course, unlike “60 Minutes” there is, as Paul Harvey, once said, “a rest of the

story.” And that is what I intend to tell people.

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