Gerald was unlike any other man I know. His spirit was gentle and his laugh was contagious. I wanted to spend every hour I could with him, and as a child of twelve I found myself following him everywhere. He had worked many jobs in the time I knew him, excelling equally at each. But the one I remember most was his position as mixer for the local Coca Cola dealership. I would spend long hours after school setting atop the towering bags of sugar, watching him carefully measure each ingredient into the large, luminous vats. He would describe each step to me in detail, and at the end of the day, I would be rewarded by a cold bottle of the elixir, or so I thought it to be.
I loved to listen to Gerald’s stories about interesting people in his life. There was Cousin Weekeye, a negro, or at least that was what they called them when I was twelve, who worked at the vinegar mill; and Dempsie Burns, who never worked a day in his life. There was Scissors, whose freshly picked blueberries you had to buy if you wanted to save face in the small town, and there was Dan Tips, who frequented the divorcee over the road. Gerald told stories as he laughed, but I knew from his delivery that each person held a special place in his heart. He never judged them; he just liked a good story.
I can still see Gerald standing, one leg resting on a rock, cigarette in hand, and deep in conversation with his friends. I can feel his strong hand in mine as he guided me safely around the pond on my new skates. I fill with emotion when I remember the clown nose he wore the day he got a crew cut, and his shout of “a happy birthday cake” every time my mom placed one on the table. I weep when I remember his tears when I was all ‘growed’ up and ready to leave home.
You see, Gerald was my dad, and he was and ever will be my soul mate. I thank God for his life, and give thanks that today I am just like him.
© 2012 by Maureen Newman. All rights reserved.