|Lloydie on wheels. Making good use of my step-brother’s old bike. Sometime in the 1980s.|
I still remember our first glimpse of this man who was to become such an important part of our lives, a farmer and a widower we’d been told, arriving to take my mum to dinner on their first date. Our mum who had never been on a date before, not in our memory anyway. I remember our anticipation, my sisters and I crowding into the bathroom to fix our hair, the knock on the door of our apartment, Lloyd appearing in the living room wearing a suit, topcoat, and hat. We sat on the sofa sizing him up, and discussed him endlessly after Mum ushered him out the door. “A hat! He wears a hat! Like Humphrey Bogart. How old fashioned,” we shrieked. Teenagers are so judgemental. Poor Lloyd.
I remember how we laughed when we heard that his friends and neighbours called him Lloydie. It seemed an odd diminutive for an old fashioned name. And we laughed even harder when we heard that in the small rural community where he, and later all of us, lived there were three men named Lloyd. And everyone referred to them as farmer Lloydie, backhoe Lloydie, and ferry Lloydie. Our Lloyd was “ferry Lloydie” because he ran the farmer’s ferry in the summer. I did too eventually, as a kind of summer-replacement help. But that’s another story, and one I’ve told before.
|View of the Saint John River from the farmers’ ferry|
|Part of Lloyd’s old mill, ramshackle once again|
|Lloyd walking me down the “aisle” at my wedding. Wonder what happened to the rest of his tie.|
I remember their wedding. The reception at my grandparent’s house, my uncles marking the places at the table for the bride and groom with brand new, shiny, matching pitchforks, decorated with pink and blue ribbons. Such jokers, my uncles. Then the happy couple drove off on their honeymoon with one of my sisters in the back seat. They were driving her back to school in another city before heading out for … wherever they went. Where did they go, anyway? I have no recollection. I was too excited about my new kitten, the prospect of moving to the farm, and that tiny back bedroom with its own staircase down to the kitchen which would soon be mine.
|Mum and Lloyd and the hay wagon.|
What a perfect step-parent Lloyd was. And how seamlessly our two families fit together. To me, as a kid, it seemed such an easy transition. But when I think about it, the huge transformation that took place in both Mum and Lloyd’s life must have been difficult.
Mum, after years as a single parent, moving lock, stock, and barrel into someone else’s house. The endless hours of work she put in sprucing up the old farmhouse, papering and painting, plus adjusting to a new husband after many years alone. And Lloyd, taking on a whole family, a new wife and four kids. Granted my brother was married by then, and both sisters were away at school during term time. The first winter that Mum and Lloyd were married my brother had a brain tumour, and had to be flown home from Newfoundland,where he and his young family lived, to be operated on in Saint John, and then home to us on the farm to recuperate. That would be a difficult winter for everyone. And Lloyd, he just took it all in stride, supported my mum, and made room for one more.
It’s hard to believe that my kind, strong, endlessly patient stepdad has been gone for ten years. But we have so many wonderful memories, that, really, it’s like he never left us.
I thought of him when I heard this on the radio today. A song about cows. You know, as a kid it seemed as if everything was better when we moved to the farm. I guess I think everything is better with some cows around. And I know he thought that too. Have a listen.
♫ Happy Birthday, dear Lloydie ♫
from Hubby and me.