About 50 people gathered in Sacramento the day before Georgann and Ron’s 25th wedding anniversary for a ceilidh. That’s pronounced kay-lee, and it’s Gaelic for a party, which Georgann loved. Her brother, Bill Taylor, opened his former restaurant for the ceilidh, and her oldest kids—Andy, Tiff and Jena—did the heavy lifting the day before to set up the place for what turned out to be a grand gathering.
A number of folks spoke about the extraordinary human who was Georgann Taylor Turner, and we ate and reminisced, and there were certainly damp eyes. But I can’t help but think she enjoyed the ceilidh in her memory. She promised to show up for us, and I don’t doubt that she did.
The same evening I’d been invited to read at a Sacramento Poetry Center outdoor reading. I decided to read four poems about Georgann. This was one of them.
Two days after our hemisphere
shifts into autumn, your loved ones
gather for a party, a wake, a meal,
a social gathering in your memory—
though without a good Irish band
Still, you’d call it a ceilidh, as you
named a cat that you bequeathed
to me long ago. I never could
spell her name without looking it up,
but Ceilidh, the sweet calico, graced
my house until it was her time to go.
As it was yours just a month ago.
You, who saw the spiritual in the ordinary,
who preferred the overcast cool of fall
to searing summer, who bestowed upon us
her fierce devotion, who found the holy
in repetitive tasks—cooking, planting,
raising children—who loved a good ceilidh.
Yours was a vibrant light, even as
it faded, even as our side of the planet
begins its tilt away from the sun,
as the wings you’d grown lifted
you into mystery, as we celebrate you,
at last unencumbered, and carry
your essence with us as we traverse
all the seasons to come.