Coming home again

Published 1:49 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Andalusia High School graduate Donna Taylor, U.S. Hwy. 84 is more than just a route to travel back to her childhood home — it’s become a metaphor for life.

Taylor, who graduated from AHS in 1971 and whose parents still live in the area, currently calls Cleveland, Miss., home. But when she returns back to Andalusia at least once a month, she usually drives the two-lane U.S. Hwy. 84 all the way from near the Mississippi-Louisiana border to Covington County.

After making the repetitive journey several times, Taylor realized the route could serve as the subject for a story that touches on the importance of family, friends and faith in her life. Her 58-page, full-color book, Coming Home on Highway 84: Weaving In and Out, Through the Tapestry of Our Lives, tells that story.

“Six years ago, I realized while traveling this highway that it was filled with so many memories,” Taylor said. “The next time I made the journey, I brought my camera along, and I wrote about all the times I talked to God while making that trip so many times, and also the times when God talked to me.”

Taylor said her original plan was to write the book just to honor her family and memories of growing up, but as she continued to write she aspired to bring the story to others. Armed with her old-fashioned film camera, she took to shooting photos of everything and anything she saw along that miles-long stretch of road. The book is filled with these vibrant images, even though Taylor admits she’s no professional photographer.

“This was a challenge for me,” said Taylor, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “I’m not a photographer, but I have found that images can be very powerful in therapy. Sometimes people can see a picture and it will bring up a variety of memories, so that’s the goal of including so many photos in the book.”

Taylor’s book is split into seven chapters, each focusing on a particular aspect of her life, including “Fatherhood,” “Faith” and “Forever.” The pages are sprinkled with Scripture passages, inspirational poems and anecdotes that hold special significance for Taylor.

She said she was inspired to write the book because “every person has a story they can tell.” In fact, the final pages of the book even contain exercises and questions to answer that will allow the reader to consider his or her own story.

“Highway 84 is consequential to my life and to my faith,” she said. “It’s a boring, dangerous highway, and sometimes in our lives we face dangers as well. But at the same time, it’s a wonderful road that is filled with so many memories for me. I really feel like I grew a lot in my faith while writing this book. I think the most important thing I learned was, ‘When God speaks, we need to stop and listen.’”

Coming Home on Highway 84 is available at Peterson’s Antiques and Tabby D’s Christian Book and Gift. It can also be ordered online from Taylor will return to Andalusia on Sun., Nov. 8, for a book signing at First Baptist Church of Andalusia. A portion of all book sales go toward “Crosses Across America,” a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, maintain and construct Christian crosses across the nation.

Taylor is the daughter of Robert C. Bush and Kate Bush of Andalusia. She is and her husband of 15 years, Thomas W. Taylor, have three children: Tracy, Dave and Kyle.