Plane ride fulfills dream for ‘Irving Oil Man'
TRURO - As a little girl, I remember thinking how big my dad was ... his large hand holding mine. A feeling of security and comfort somehow knowing he would always try to keep me safe.
Anyone who knows my dad, Wendell, would say he is a hard-working man; a woodsman, a gardener and a gentleman farmer who has a way with animals. Neighbours from the along the Bay of Fundy to the Wentworth Valley and to Truro also knew him as the ‘Irving Oil Man.' Back in the day, his young grandsons didn't call him Grampie Rushton. He was known as ‘Grampie Irving.'
As a child, I remember we sat down to dinner each evening at 6 p.m. When the table was set, that was my signal to wait by the porch screen door and look across the field to an opening in the trees for a bright orange truck to pass.
When I would see that orange flash, the screen door would slam and I would run as fast as I could to meet my dad at the bottom of our long lane so I could ride with him back to the house.
I remember he worked very hard, rising early every morning to care for his animals before going off to be the ‘Irving Oil Man.' He returned at night to again care for his animals and sometimes went to bed before me in preparation for doing it all over again the next day.
He rarely came home at lunch although if I was home sick from school it always seemed that he was ‘in the area' to bring me a bottle of ginger ale.
Dad has long since retired from his big orange truck and his life of farming but I sometimes would wonder if his responsibilities to the farm life left him with any thoughts of unfulfilled wishes. So a few years ago, as I admired his vegetable garden, I asked him when he looked back over his life was there anything he didn't get a chance to do but wished he could have accomplished.
After a few moments of thought, he told me the one thing in his life he had never experienced was to fly in an airplane.
So that September two years ago, on his 85th birthday, we had a celebration and my gift to him was an opportunity to fly in a small plane out of the Debert airfield to see from the air our old family farm in Great Village, the blueberry fields at his son's home in Folly Mountain and his current home in Truro.
He had a twinkle in his eye when the pilot gave him a lesson and his hands held the flight controls of the plane for the first time.
As I sat in the back of that plane watching his hands holding the controls, and thinking back to my childhood, I realized my dad wasn't physically a big man. He was just really big in my eyes.
TAGLINE: Jane Gillis, an educator, grew up in Great Village, attended Saint Francis Xavier University where she met her husband and currently resides with him in Halifax.
FATHER'S DAY FACT BOX
* Celebrated in Canada the third Sunday in June.
* Founded in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father, a Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent of six children.
* One of the most common gifts is a necktie, followed by flowers
* Rose is the official flower of Father's Day. Wearing a red rose signifies a living father, while a white one represents a deceased father.