by Debbie Gaylord
He was a big guy, over six feet tall, with the broad shoulders of farmer and the largest hands I have ever seen. Since I am only 5’ 1”, getting a hug from him felt like a big (cuddly) bear was going to protect me from the world. He had two different colored eyes, one green and one brown, which he would roll dramatically when he encountered injustice or bullies. He was never afraid of anyone or anything and he spoke his mind, always telling us, “I am what I am”. He smiled and joked A LOT but he had a serious side too, quick to anger but always quick to forgive.
He loved to mow the lawn and for that reason the smell of freshly cut grass always triggers an image in my mind of Dad sitting on his red John Deer with a pipe in his mouth, tooling around the lawn for hours on end. He liked to drink Chevas on the rocks or Budweiser, loved to dance with my Mom, and always knew how to make me smile even when I was desperate with tears.
That guy, my Dad, was one in a million. In my eyes, he was the strongest, funniest, most talented Dad on the planet. I loved going out and about with him in our little town or when he visited his brothers and sisters up on the farm where he grew up. He seemed to know everyone and I would stand in his shadow and never even have to say anything as I basked in his popularity. He would just scoop me up in his arms or put me on his shoulders and give me that knowing little grin he had like we were in on something that no one else understood. I knew he would watch out for me and I would never have to worry in life.
I wasn’t the only one who thought he was great. I was the lucky daughter of a Dad who truly liked kids. He knew how to play and have fun and make everyone laugh. He organized games of kickball for the kids in the neighborhood, hit the fat bat better than anyone we knew, clear across the road, and taught me how to throw a frisbee with ease. One of my favorite memories is how we would wait for him to get home from work, usually around 6 pm and then he would change out of his suit. We would rush into my parent’s bedroom and he would let us jump on the bed and get all riled up until he was ready to wrestle. We would attack him like banshees and he’d just laugh and tickle us until we screamed with delight. This was my life, I was the luckiest girl!
Thank you Dad, you leader of whirlpools, of family reunion shenanigans, of hugs! Thank you for being YOU! Tonight, I will make a toast to you - Happy Father’s Day!
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