REMEMBERING TOVA S. TAYLOR (1974-2015)
DALLAS — Tuesday will mark exactly one year that I moved away from Memphis to Dallas.
While this undoubtedly has been a year filled with an assortment of blessings, challenges, new opportunities, and newly-established friendships as one of this city’s newest media members, I’d be remiss if I did not recall what had transpired two days before I officially bid farewell to my family and close friends in Tennessee.
On Saturday, April 19, at approximately 9 a.m., I stopped to pick up breakfast at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis.
To my surprise, I ran into fellow longtime Memphian and friend, Tova S. Taylor who, after greeting me with a hug, expressed to me how saddening it was that Memphis was losing what she deemed “one of its best sportswriters.”
Although I took a moment to poke fun at Fairley High, Tova’s high school alma mater, considering our respective high schools — I am a Whitehaven High alum — are neighborhood rivals and a few football passes away from each other, she made it point to say to me, “Make sure you represent Memphis well in Texas.”
While that was the last — and unfortunately the final — time our paths had crossed, I couldn’t help but recall 363 days ago just how complementary Tova was as I was preparing to leave Memphis.
Which, of course, is among the reasons that on the day before the one-year anniversary of my move to Dallas, I can publicly confess that I am indeed affected by Tova’s untimely death as a result of a horrifying car crash Sunday night. Without question, many of us — most notably on various social media platforms — who befriended this bighearted, compassionate young lady will forever recall along with her wealth of beauty, her unyielding love and affection and admiration for her family, will forever cherish her tireless contributions to Alpha Kappa Alpha, the African-American flagship sorority that was founded at Howard University in 1908.
Which is to say why her sudden, heart-dropping demise has undoubtedly sent shock waves throughout the social media world, let alone the LeMoyne-Owen College and Whitehaven communities.
Someone, all too soon, has lost a faithful, loving wife, which means that wedding anniversaries will never be the same.
Someone, all too soon, has lost an unconditional loving mom, which means that Mother’s Day will never be the same.
Someone, all too soon, has lost a high school classmate, which means that class reunions will never be the same.
Someone, all too soon, has lost a fellow sorority member, which means the familiar rants and chats of “Skee Wee” courtesy of Alpha Kappa Alpha will never sound the same.
And, for me personally, well, going to Chick-fil-A from now on will never be the same, in large part because 363 days ago, Tova, an avid Tennessee Titans fans who exemplified such familiar pleasantries Memphians had come to embrace, took the time to not only extend to me well-wishes as I prepared to bolt the Bluff City, but she paused to share something about which I had never heard in my 15-year professional print journalism career.
That is, Memphis was losing what she labeled as “one of its best sportswriters.”
Tova, you will be surely missed, in large part because you didn’t take for granted how precious, but fragile life is, because even when facing the toughest of life’s obstacles, you steadfastly demonstrated more grit and assertiveness and resilience than your Titans had shown last season.
So thanks a bunch, Tova, for propelling me to high spirits during a time I needed it the most.
Surely, it is a foregone conclusion that come Tuesday morning, the one-year anniversary of my relocation from Memphis to Dallas, I will drop in and pick up breakfast at Chick-fil-A.
Only this time, like wedding anniversaries, Mother’s Days, class reunions, and sorority chants, it won’t be the same.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.