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Published March 29, 2011, 10:25 AM

Losing Liz Taylor

TOWNER, N.D.— The big news this past week was the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, Hollywood superstar and jet setter, at the age of 79.

By: Ryan Taylor, Special to Agweek

TOWNER, N.D.— The big news this past week was the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, Hollywood superstar and jet setter, at the age of 79.

When I think of Liz Taylor, I don’t think of the one with eight husbands, who loved a horse in “National Velvet,” who wore furs and diamonds and started a foundation for AIDS research.

No, when I think of Liz Taylor, I think of a woman who had one husband, my father. She loved horses, too — real ranch horses — and she could catch every horse on the place that would evade the rest of us. She didn’t wear fur coats, just a little fur strip on the hood of her winter parka, but she was an accomplished coyote trapper who added to our family income with her fur trapline.

She was a charitable person, but without the notoriety to raise awareness like a popular actress. She did appreciate the other Liz Taylor using her fame to raise money for charities.

My Liz Taylor wasn’t Liz Taylor until she married my father and took his last name. She knew that being a Liz who married a Taylor would give her a catchy name, and she relished the comparison with the Hollywood Liz.

She’d be in the checkout line at the grocery store, or K-mart, walking by the tabloids covered with pictures and supposed scandals of the other Liz Taylor, and when she wrote a check to pay for her stuff, the clerk invariably would say, “Wow, Liz Taylor, right here in my store!” And mom, the 6- foot-tall gray, curly-haired ranchwoman invariably would smile and say, “I bet you didn’t recognize me with my disguise, did you?”

Satisfaction and a good life

Mom and the other Liz Taylor both were born in 1932 but, aside from an occasional trip to the local beauty shop for a permanent, Mom didn’t do much to hide her age or cosmetically preserve her youth like the Hollywood Liz did.

Mom found satisfaction and a good life with just one husband. She stayed married to Dad for 49 years and 11 months before ovarian cancer took her from him.

When they first were married and Mom gave birth to my brother, the other Liz Taylor was married to Eddie Fisher. Mom still was under the influence of the drugs and exhaustion in the birthing room when the attending doctor thought he’d joke around a little with the Liz Taylor that was under his care.

“I suppose this baby has a body by Fisher,” he said, referring to the other Liz, her husband Eddie Fisher and a reference to the GM cars of the time that boasted a “Body by Fisher” emblem on their door sills. “No, doc,” my groggy, but still witty mother slurred, “this baby is Taylor made!” The doctor was tickled to see a woman with that much spunk right after giving birth.

Different circles

Both Liz Taylors were beautiful women. My favorite Liz Taylor just didn’t get the worldwide acclaim that the other one did. The two never had the chance to meet in this life. That’s really no surprise, as they couldn’t have traveled in two circles that were more different.

But in the next life, the one we hope for after death, Hollywood’s Liz Taylor could meet North Dakota’s Liz Taylor. That would be a pretty entertaining meeting.

I kind of think Mom might make the bigger impression.