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Hard times forge strength, resilience and kindness for the Taylors

Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter

The true resilience and strength of a family is found when they go through hard times and for one family in Martin, those struggles helped shape the journey of what his mother refers to him as “the kindest person on the earth.” Bryson Taylor is well-known around Martin and much of Weakley County for being hardworking and kind, but not many know his entire heartwarming story.

Celeste and Maurice Taylor moved to Martin in the 1980’s, meeting after attending UTM together. Celeste moved to Martin from Memphis and Maurice moved from Halls. Together, they have two sons, Bryson and Damani.

Celeste went to work for the city of Martin in 1987 as a dispatcher and worked her way up to being the Director of Human Resources before leaving in 2013 after working for the city for almost 27 years. Taylor was the first black woman to work for the city of Martin in City Hall and the first black HR Director. She said that there were people that paved the way for me to have the opportunities I had. “Jackie Moore and Randy Brundige gave me opportunities for sure, but I think it was black people who have done extremely well in Martin and outside of Martin that opened those doors-people like Clara Hamilton who I always looked up to and several other people that-especially black women-who were influences and allowed me to have those opportunities.” Celeste also credits Beverly Claybrooks and her mother as important influences “to keep me out of major trouble.”

Celeste left to work for a company in Franklin as the HR Director for Public Entity Partners. Her company insures cities and the city of Martin is one of the cities she insures for workman’s compensation, property and liability. Maurice worked at Goodyear and retired before they closed down for good.

Their youngest son, Damani, played football heavily and received a scholarship to UTM and he now lives in Memphis as an HR associate for TJX.

Their oldest son, Bryson, had to struggle and face many obstacles growing up. At the age of four Bryson started having seizures. He was taken to St. Jude’s for the seizures who treated him for everything from epilepsy to night terrors and it wasn’t until Pediatrician Susan Brewer got him into the Semmes-Murphy clinic when he was seven that a brain tumor was found.

The tumor was a Ganglion tumor, which are tumors that start from groups of nerve cells and grow in the brain. They are usually small and noncancerous, and they do not spread to other parts of the body. They are rare tumors, and most occur in children and young adults.

What this tumor did as it was sitting on the left side of Bryson’s brain was all information had to be re-routed around, under or over the tumor. When Bryson would speak, all of his words came out of order in a sentence because that information was being re-routed so many times, making learning and communication extremely difficult.

The Semmes-Murphy clinic was able to remove the tumor and the seizures stopped after that, however, Bryson had to come a long way. A piece of his brain was taken so his communication was different from everyone else’s, and he had to re-learn how to communicate. His mother said it was a lot to overcome mentally but he was resilient.

Bryson had to go back every year to St. Jude’s until he was 21 years old to be checked and make sure that the tumor was not growing back. Bryson’s mother said that they would be at the hospital sticking Bryson with all kinds of needles and that he never made a sound and that he had only silent tears falling down his cheeks. “It would break your heart, but he took it like a trooper.”

Bryson said that he didn’t remember much from having the tumor except the staples in his head-he said he remembered those.

Bryson is now 33 years old and has worked in the Public Works Department of the city of Martin for the past 11 years. He lives in a house with his grandparents and helps to take care of them.

Bryson said that his mother and father were very influential in his life and helped him in his struggle. Their family has overcome something extremely difficult and came out stronger for it in the end.

Bryson said he loves working out and staying healthy. He eats a lot of salad and fruit and exercises regularly and he said that he loves being strong and healthy. His mother said that a lot of what Bryson went through “he ties it back to that and he wants to be the best he can be by staying healthy.”

Bryson said that he loves working for the City of Martin and one of his favorite things is in November when he gets to help decorate the city for Christmas. He takes a lot of pride in his work in what he calls “making the city of Martin beautiful.” He said that he loves Martin because it’s a small town and they have some good restaurants. He said his favorite restaurants are La Cabana and Blue Oyster. He said that even though some of his friends in Martin have moved off, he plans to stay.

Celeste said that their support system is extremely strong. Her parents have moved to Martin from Memphis and her sister moved here also and is currently a schoolteacher at Martin Middle School. “There is a saying that I think we kind of hold true and it’s ‘we were put here on this earth to help each other and if you can’t do that then at the very least don’t harm each other’ and we truly believe that and try and live that.”

Celeste said, “Bryson is gentle and respectful and kind” as she recalled one time when Bryson played football briefly in middles school. She said the coach told him to go out there and hit them hard and get mad and that Bryson responded with, “but I’m not mad.” She said the coach then told him that he just had to go out there and knock them down and Bryson said, “but their mommas are looking.” Celeste said her son has always been what she referred to as “a gentle giant.”

Celeste said, “Having a child that had to go through that and learn how to navigate his whole life and still be an extremely kind and hardworking young man and extremely honest young man, I think is black history. The whole movement is about being strong and resilient and kind and I think Bryson embodies those things.”

Both Celeste and Bryson are thankful for their family, their support system and the fact that they are so much stronger and more resilient and that they have all come out stronger because of what Bryson went through. They love their supportive community and say that the city of Martin has been so supportive and kind and full of really good people.









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