TAIT: Easter hosts left lifelong impression

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This weekend Easter dinner gracefully extends life’s lessons of people who made impressionable imprints on our lives, who help host such an important feast — like Roy Gouchey.

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Growing up, the five Taits and the five Goucheys shared Easter dinners, hosted by the Goucheys in their comfortable St. Albert home on the east side of the quiet Gladestone Crescent.

Mr. Gouchey greeted us with a tastefully picked shirt and tie, and was extremely hospitable before he carved the turkey.

After his final slice, he said: “One sec, please. I’ll be right there.”

We were all seating around the  decorated dinning room table when Mr. Gouchey gracefully strolled to sit at the head buffet wearing a deep green blazer.

I’ve never forgotten that gesture which, thankfully, challenged my own thoughts, morals and manners.

Mr. Gouchey’s donning of that sports jacket immediately dispatched so many cues I could embrace for the rest of my days: the paramount meaning of Easter dinner with family and friends, the unconditional respect of guests and how an effortless act can immediately elevate any environment.

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Yes, dear reader, I try to challenge myself with Mr. Gouchey’s example … but, perhaps none like Saturday.

That’s when I learned of Mr. Gouchey’s passing on March 28.

And, although I have not seen or spoke to him in years, his passing has poignantly reminded me of how to embrace his teachings.

The tale starts in northwestern Alberta. Mr. Gouchey and his wife of 68 years, Fern, met my mother when they were young.

Their friendship followed, down Highway 43 from Grande Prairie south to Edmonton. I was an instant fan: maybe it was his calm voice of teaching, or how every sentence was crescendoed with encouragement — a significant staple in his impressive 35-year teaching commitment.

Early on in our friendship, for whatever reason, Mr. Gouchey and I gravitated to a corner, away from the obvious conversation.

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I shared with him about my love of writing. To no surprise he encouraged me.

In Grade 10 as a scrawny 15-year-old, I wrote a fictional junior hockey story. Mr. Gouchey was teaching at Victoria Composite High School and asked one of his students, Marion Campbell, to type my 120-page manuscript.

Her answer: yes.

And then Mr. Gouchey arranged with the school’s printing department to print 200 copies of my story, The Whistle Blows.

I think of that every day and how he did not have to do that.

I mean, I didn’t attend Vic — never mind being a student in one of his classes.

Yet, he saw something, perhaps.

And I honestly question how my writing career would have altered if I would not have had Mr. Gouchey’s encouragement.

And, a dry, dry sense of humour.

One night during a family gathering — well before cellphones and the internet — Mr. Gouchey returned to the dining room table after answering the family telephone with rotary dial.

Mrs. Gouchey was curious. “What did they say, Roy?”

Mr. Gouchey gently raised his cup for a last mouthful of tea.

“Hello,” he answered before looking silently to his left, and the tinge of a smile.

It’s that image, embedded with one small word of audio, I will forever think of when my memory engages Roy Gouchey.


Not goodbye … in a green sports jacket.

Happy Easter.

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