Ray Tolley, my father-in-law (hereinafter known as FIL) was a man of integrity. Honest, forthright and industrious, he worked the land on his farm near Fort Macleod, Alberta with skill and patience, gleaning a good crop from the dry land every year but one until his death at the age of seventy.
FIL was a man of faith. Of deep thinking and wisdom.
He was also a man with a wicked sense of humour. Because, let’s face it, how could one have endured the hours he did sitting on a tractor, without one?
From using a ruler to measure ability (which was inevitably ‘nigh onto nothing’), to posing the conundrum, ‘which would you rather be – dumber than you look or look dumber than you are?’ to which the forgone conclusion was always, ‘How could you?’ (Yeah. Try to get out of that one . . .), FIL personified the image of weather-beaten farmer, tanned of face, hard of muscle and clever of tongue.
He had many sayings, most gleaned from family, neighbours and reading, but my personal favourite was when he’d come home and dramatically exclaim to his grandkids that, “I almost saw a coyote today!”
Inevitably, one or more of the younger kids who hadn’t heard this one before would get caught up in the conversation. “Really, Grandpa?” Then the reality of the statement would sink in. “Ummm . . . how do you almost see a coyote?”
The slow grin. The uh-oh look. The sure sign that someone had taken the bait and was about to be ‘had’.
Then, the punch line.
“If he’d been there, I’d have seen him!”
FIL left us over thirty years ago and, if he were still alive would be well past 100. But when one of his sayings crops up in a conversation, we know he’ll never truly be gone.
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