Abby and I are home tonight. We spent last night in the dark, and despite the propane wall heaters in our bathrooms, it was just too cold for Abby, so tonight we got a motel room. By 8:30 tonight, though, Dorothy called to say that the power was restored, so we came home. I checked phone messages, and received some unhappy news. Abby’s uncle James Taff died two days ago after a short battle with cancer.
James and his wife Judy Taff have been hosts to the excellent Shoffner family reunion for years. They own an 80-acre patch of woods east of Duncan, Oklahoma, with a pond, a network of trails, and a large metal garage barn, making it perfect for what turns out every year to be a large, happy gathering.
In the last two or three years, James took a genuine liking to me. We played pool and cards for hours on end at recent reunions, and always had a great time.
In the barn, above the coffee machines, handwritten on one of the wall beams, is a simple message that represents James, Judy, and the whole goodness that they are. The laconic message is, “Justice – Mercy – Humility.”