May 1944 – March 2014
“The loving-kindness of the Lord fills the whole earth.”
These are the words of the Psalmist that we sang this morning. And in life, and in death, they remain out only viable option. We place our trust in the holy name of the Lord and in his loving-kindness.
These words represent the ultimate hope of both the living and the dead, as we confront the realities of our physical demise.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… all of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”
So given these realities of life and death, and given the truth of God’s word, what are we to make of the life thus far of Ivy Lynda Tapp?
She loved her cooking and her gardening—her roses and her gardenias and her tulip tree. She loved to entertain and provide warmth and hospitality for family and friends. She and John had five weddings over the years in their back yard. just a few blocks from here. She maintained a “gift cupboard” in her home so that she could engage in spontaneous giving when the spirit moved her, without having to wait on a mail delivery of items purchased from the Home Shopping Network. She wanted to be ready for any occasion, so she would buy now, and find a home for her gift later, When the opportunity arose.
She loved to organize and account for thins, so she had a dozen binders full of recipes that she would go through to earmark for future festivities.. She was, in her kitchen, a CPA a ”Culinary Public Accountant,’ so that she could orchestrate whatever feast or party might arise. One such annual occasion was a
“Pirate Party” that she and John hosted at their home complete with extravagant decorations – such as a pirate ship’s rigging that covered most of their backyard and food that would welcome a buccaneer crowd of friends and neighbors.
When I visited Lynda with the Eucharist on a regular basis, as she was in hospice care beginning a few months ago, before Christmas, I always caught the Christmas spirit whenever I stopped By.
A beautiful Christmas tree dominated the Tapp living room. Which was festooned with garlands and decorations. The Tapps maintained that tree and that spirit well into February. Their lives were filled with celebrations, even as Lynda lay in her bed nearby sometimes conscious, and sometimes asleep.
And Lynda loved her work also as a Certified Public Accountant, mostly because she loved her clients. She treated them almost as members of the family, like royalty. She would go off the clock to allow them to share their stories. She often went out of her way and out of her office to assist them in matters that were not related to finance or tax returns.
John and Lynda, in the early days of their marriage, when they first moved to country club drive in 1976, had a persistent stand of bamboo trees in their backyard, which they needed to clear to make room for their pirate parties and weddings, and so sometimes when a client was unable to pay for professional work, they would barter to have them come and root out some bamboo on the weekends, in exchange for accounting services. They called these weekends “bamboozle” weekends, though I’m not sure who was getting bamboozled. But Lynda always found a way to accommodate her clients.
And she loved her cats—the “cat lady” they called her. She welcomed a cat named “Missy” into her home, a cat that belonged to her daughter Kathy’s classmate, and Missy was pregnant. During her stay, Missy gave birth to four kittens, three of which stayed with the Tapps, and missy at the age of 16 is with them to this day. John and Lynda call their home “Tapp Inn”, a kind of bed and breakfast for stray cats and stray people, a welcome place for friends who needed a venue to hold a wedding or a party, who needed a meal or a gift to lift their spirits.
And Lynda cared for children. She helped establish after school child care programs in the Sane Gabriel Public School system in the early 1980s. She relied on volunteers and private donations, and today those programs are regular parts of the school curriculum. And before it became fashionable to do so, she campaigned successfully to get more nutrition and less sugar in school lunch programs—more apples and oranges and mil and less snack food and sodas. She promoted Chinese language studies in the schools well before the demographics of the San Gabriel Valley made them mandatory. She and
John helped the Childs’s Garden School at our church and other ministries – the youth program the Transitional Housing program for the addicted and our savior center for the families of El Monte.
She was aware from her own professional experience of the glass ceiling for women, only she called it a “spiked” ceiling. Part of the reason that John and Lynda created Tapp and Tapp in 1975, was to do away with discrimination against women in the workplace. They were able to control their own destiny of equality for all. She always encouraged her daughters to excel in school so that they could succeed in any profession they chose.
So there is much to be said for Lynda’s beautiful life, especially for her love for John and Erika and Kathy and for Kathy’s husband Colin, for a son named Fouad who lives in the Middle East, and their extended families and friends. She lived a life too short, but abundant nonetheless with her caring, overflowing with her hospitality, remarkable for her compassion.
Lynda’s life flows directly from the grace of God. However imperfect we might be in reflecting god’s grace to our families, friends and neighbors, we nevertheless represent at our best God’s hospitality extended to all. And Lynda was often at her best.
I read recently in a book by parker palmer that there is a paradox to life that is known in all the wisdom traditions, in all the varied faiths of humanity. It is certainly known in our own Episcopal belief and practice. The paradox is this: “IF you receive a gift, you keep it alive not by clinging to it but by passing it along.”
So Lynda Tapp passed along her gifts to us, and we bask in the glow of God’s grace thanks to her generous life. Whenever I think of a person like Lynda, I am constrained to believe there is a God, and there is eternal life. An obvious ebb and flow pervades all of nature and all humanity. That eternal ritual of nature is manifest for all to see in the life and death of Lynda tap. That ebb and flow eventually brings us back to the throne of God’s Grace. Our reading from Luke’s Gospel states, “do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaving, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys, for where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”
The ultimate treasure of Lynda’s life continues to flow from God, Through her witness to her family, and to all of us., her friends and back to God and God’s kingdom. Birth and death are part of the larger ritual of life. Her journey to her eternal home is now complete. Her treasure and her heart, so often given away are now forever with her God.
And, “The loving-kindness of the Lord, once again, fills the whole earth.”