Gary Boyd -- by Lorraine (Boyd) Eden
I have many memories of my father. Some of my favourites are of him:
….at the piano, playing and singing old-time favourites, classical music, hoe-downs, his own compositions, you name it he could play it, and play it wonderfully well. Music was alive for him in a way it is for few people. His songs, the ones he wrote, are old fashioned songs with lovely melodies that make you want to hum along. I could never play the piano like he did, but he complimented me just the same. Now when I play, in my head I can still hear his hands running effortlessly over the keys making music.
….on the telephone - politics, gossip, recipes, events, how to fix something, he lived on the telephone. He talked to everybody and all the time...even to Peter Gzsowski on "This Country in the Morning". He loved to talk, to tell stories and jokes, the longer the story the better. It was Dad's way of keeping up on the local news and keeping in touch with people.
….at the kitchen table, smoking a cigarette and drinking tea, waiting to talk about the happenings of the day. Businesses didn't hire blind people for full-time jobs in those days so he was home when I came home from school. He was always ready to hear about my day, talk about his day, offer advice, and prepare dinner. He was a good listener and good to come home to.
….walking very fast down the street with his hat on, led by his Seeing Eye dog, getting his exercise walking up to Milltown and back. He really enjoyed walking. Sometimes I went with him and he'd slow down for me and we'd talk. Before he got his dog Peyton I used to walk with him regularly. My favourite memory is of one Christmas Eve, walking in new falling snow with him to deliver a Christmas basket to his old, retired music teacher. It was a picture perfect night. I also remember walks over to Calais, Maine, for (much cheaper) cigarettes and (then illegal) margarine.
….fixing things - he was always puttering around the house, with his tool box, looking for things to do. He worried about the house. Windows, doors, loose things, plumbing, he could fix them all. He ran a small refrigeration and plumbing business, mostly because he liked to putter with his hands. He helped me build a scale model of the Greek Parthenon for three years in our basement (hard to believe!) and taught me all I know about carpentry.
….listening to books being read aloud on the Talking Book Records distributed by the CNIB. He got the equivalent of a university education - or better - through listening to books. Politics, law, history, autobiographies, novels, he "read" them all and he was always looking for people to discuss them with. Discussing ideas, not just people and events, was important to him.
….at the typewriter, even though he couldn't see the keys he could make the typewriter fly. He wrote a newspaper column for the Saint. Croix Courier for a few years and I have a scrapbook of his columns. He wrote short stories; I particularly remember the one about hunting for the non-existent "New Brunswick panther". He wrote Letters to the Editor. He authored and typed up the proposal that is now law, allowing Seeing Eye Dogs to travel with blind people on buses, trains and planes. He wrote letters to me at university and to all his many friends. He wrote constantly. The typewriter was an essential part of his communication with others.
….at important events in my life. He was always there, rooting in the background. Offering advice and being supportive. He thought I could be anything I wanted to be, for him being a female was no barrier -- my father was a real "women's libber" and thank goodness for that. Now when I go places, do things and meet people around the world, I wonder what my Dad would have thought about it. He has become a measuring rod for me, a way to "benchmark" my life against his values and dreams.
Life dealt my father several major blows. He was placed in an orphanage at age 5, adopted a year later, blinded at 38, ulcers in his 40s, psoriasis and partial deafness in his 50s, strokes in his 60s (he died of a stroke at age 64). In spite of these troubles he never gave up. He loved his family - my mother, Bryan, David and me. He loved life and tried to make the most of what he had been given. My Dad was a very special human being. I loved him and I miss him a lot.Columbus, Ohio, August 10, 1993