Sunday I was online doing a little catching up on my email and Facebook when I came across some photos showcasing the handiwork of my good friend Taylor Ingebretsen in a photo album called ‘Taylor Made’. It was great seeing that he is still doing what he has always done best, creating beautiful things with his hands for others.
Looking over the pictures of his art brought on some very pleasant memories. Back when we first met he was just beginning his florist business which included ‘Canyon City Florist’ in downtown Azusa and ‘Glendora Florist’. His catch phrase when taking a customers order was always “that will be Taylor-made just for you,” and it was! His floral arrangements was a thing of true beauty, beautiful because everything he created was from the heart.
As I perused the photos of his craft particularly one that included a shot of Taylor, (he always reminded me of Donald Sutherland) I remembered an unexpected phone call I received from Tay nearly two years ago. A call that moved me to write a blog post about my old friend Tay. What follows is a reprint of that post.
“Sometimes Life is Taylor Made – Just for You!”
Sunday evening I got an unexpected phone call from my old friend Taylor. It was really good hearing from him. The last time we spoke was in late February or March right after my brother died. It sure was good talking to him under better circumstances. The purpose of his call? Simply to let me know he’s thinking about me. Pretty cool huh? He really is a good friend.
Aren’t those just the best kind of calls? Out of the blue the phone rings, you answer and there’s this voice you haven’t heard in ages and suddenly time stands still. There is an instant connect and it doesn’t matter what you were doing or what kind of mood you were in, you pause the TV, close your laptop and play catch up with your amigo. Yeah I love when that happens!
Funny thing is, I was just thinking about Tay on Saturday. I’d been working out in the garage and came across some of my brother’s belongings and decided that it was as good a time as any to finally sort through them, I mean it has been 9 months since he passed. I came across a couple of things from the days when my brother and I worked for Tay. There were some really good times, but there were several very dark periods as well, when my brother’s problems caused a real uproar, eventually costing him his job as well as a valuable friendship and his relationship with me. Yeah the memories were really flowing. When I think about that period of my life I have to smile. Except for those few years when my brother worked for us, working with Taylor was a blast. I’d love to be able to put aside the bad times and remember only the good, but I’m not there yet. There was simply too much turmoil. when my brother worked there. I’m not quite sure how to accurately describe those days. It was kinda like an impending storm was always overhead. There would be brief periods of sunshine and blue sky, but mostly it was stormy. Taylor put up with an awful lot of crap from my brother, more than he should have. I’m sure part of the reason he went the extra mile was because it was my bro, but also because Tay has a big heart and had a genuine concern for him. It’s a shame it didn’t work out. In June of 83, I had just returned to college full time and quite by chance met Taylor and went to work for him part time as a delivery driver. He allowed me to build my work schedule around my school hours and even let me bring my kids in with me so I wouldn’t have to pay a sitter. It was the perfect arrangement and it worked out well for both of us.
He was incredible at what he did, a real artist! And I, being the son of a truck driving Teamster, knew my way around the valley and was an expert at reading the Thomas Guide. He made the product I got it there quickly. We made a great team! I remember the first few days I worked for him, he would quiz me on locations or on routes or pull out the Thomas Guide and have me look for particular locations that he had secretly marked. He’d give me a street name and address with no city and ask me to find it or he’d ask me to route the shortest way to get from point A to point B. He just couldn’t seem to accept the fact that I knew my way around and didn’t need him to do the delivery routing for me. Eventually he backed off. In time we became an even better team. I was soon helping him with payroll, a tasks he didn’t particularly care for. It was like pulling teeth to get him to sit down and write out my paycheck! I’d have to stand right there with him until he was done or he’d get distracted and move on to something else. Finally one day I told him that I could handle payroll. Truth be told I’d never done it before, but I’d seen him do it often enough, I figured if he could do it so could I. Under his supervision I sat down and figured out my earnings including all the deductions. He was ecstatic! From that day forward I did all the employee payroll, all he had to do is sign the checks. Not long after that I also took over accounts payable another job he disliked. He already had someone doing accounts receivable, so with me doing payable, it freed him up for some business building P.R. and other creative endeavors, something he really enjoyed doing. I work for him on a part time basis for over fifteen years but it never really felt like I worked for him, he made it feel more like a partnership, two friends working together. Oh believe me, we didn’t always see eye to eye, especially when it came to running the business. I always thought he could be so much more successful if he would just follow some basic business principles and exercising some common sense decisions like setting a fair prices and sticking to them instead of nearly giving things away. Oh he made a living, but with his talent he could have been so much more. Yes we had our differences, but we always managed to work through them and our friendship remained strong. We really were a good team.
Only later did I realize that the satisfaction Taylor got from the joy and happiness he brought to others was all the success a person really needs. No amount of money can buy that kind of heartfelt success. Thanks Tay for teaching me that. Thank you for being a true friend and helping me on my dream quest. I truly value our friendship. Oh yeah, and thanks for calling!