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The Men in My Life – commemorating all the fathers who have influenced my life

©Shers Gallagher 2015

Every good story, of course, begins at the beginning. And my earliest memories were of a man larger than life, as he was indeed a tall tree to me in my toddler years. Some of my more vivid recollections were meeting him with my mother and brother at the train station, he with suitcase in hand and loaded with a treasure picked out for each of his kids from a recent adventure. Mine during one of these occasions was an Eskimo squaw covered in soft rabbit fur. Dad had been up in Alaska, flying a pontoon plane. I don't remember why my father was in Alaska, and now too much time has passed for an exact memory. But this was my dad. For me and my oldest brother, he was a young father with an even younger wife, a man I looked up to, loved, slightly feared and admired. 

He was a maverick of a man, living by his own principals. And later in life these often clashed with mine. Nevertheless, he was a hard working entrepreneur who provided extremely well financially for his growing family, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. 

Another influence in my life was my grandfather. He and my grandmother’s was a happy home, neither rich nor poor but always filled with love and laughter. Company was key to them with good food, ample stories and the occasional song. 
Gran was proficient on the piano and Gramps was a tenor in a group of Barbershoppers. He being a carpenter had built all their sets, and I have fond memories of attending a lot of his performances. “Oh, that tiger…grrr, oh that tiger!”

Yet another was the man whose family I stayed with during the years I’d run away from home. Rather than having a horrible time, mine to me were enchanting, especially for a storyteller. Yuri, the father, was a retired professor from his homeland and honorary Smithsonian. When he wasn’t working on his ‘Free Russia’ newspaper with his other expatriate cronies he would often sit on the balcony of their old dilapidated mansion with me and point out and discuss all the local birds he knew by species and habitat…a fascinatingly lovely man and, I believe, the inspiration for me later going back to school and finishing university. 

Still another was my first father-in-law, an Irish-American ex-Texan who, along with my then husband’s German expatriate mother, seemed to celebrate life together by enjoying whatever they put their hands to, beginning with their lovely little mountain motel by a running stream that my man and I, still early married youths, helped them run. My father-in-law was an electrician by trade and yet was always involved in some kind of enjoyable side enterprise. In the days following the motel business, the in-laws operated a main street gallery, still in our mountain town. And I worked for awhile with them, learning how to mat and frame. I loved being there but, again, decided that finishing school in the midst of raising two boys was what I really wanted to do.

Besides the men in my life, the first husband, music partner in-between I had a common law relationship with, ending with my latest man I’ll probably go to the grave with, was another I truthfully barely knew but was fascinated by. This was the father of my Dutch husband, now sadly passed on. When I first met my father-in-law to be, it was later in life. So his time of greater productivity had passed and he was into his retirement years. Yet, during the several years he’d been researching history he was also photographing it. And with him I would often sit and peruse his albums of pre-WWII Zeeland – our province of the Netherlands – occupied WWII and post-WWII. History rich and ultimately engaging were his photos and tales.

Of course, there was my first man I knew when young and foolish, sharing together the follies of youth, its joys and tragedies. Ours was a constant struggle, which can be the case of two growing up together as we did in the American counter-culture. Later, as can happen, we grew apart. Still, I’ll never forget those lovely days of youth when we’d go on merry madcap adventures or just sit by the creek together, laughing, drinking and swapping zany philosophies of our yet to be found out lives. Those were the good moments, the happy moments that I’ll always treasure…along with the sons, who were our much wanted and loved offspring regardless of our later not so lovely splitting up and going our own ways, our desires and mindsets changing over the years.

My second man began as my music partner and great love. We had many happy years together playing music, performing and acting like bohemians before I again grew up and desired something more stable out of life. Perhaps such dreams are only delusions, but off I went exploring new territory as an international teacher.

And, lastly, the man I am with now and have chosen to live out my – not quite yet – retirement with is one I met while still doing music, and did do a bit of music with before quitting altogether. This partner has been rich in artistry and has designed all the covers of my six published works. And his artistic endeavours are truly beautiful. Not only that, but for 15 years now, I have been adopted into a new family, one of foreign tongue and culture not too dissimilar from my own. After all, it was their country (Native Americans aside) who first settled the New Land, calling it New Amsterdam. 

So, to all these lovely men in my life – and more – I wish you a very Happy Father’s Day!

Aisling Books


  1. What a wonderful tribute to good fathers you have known. My father was a good man as is my husband.

    I enjoyed your comment. I have a few books that have remained with me in pieces. This sounds like a book that made a lasting impression. I hope you find it so you may revisit an old friend.

    I have one that haunts me...a story of a young boy, I think, in the Appalachian Mountains, the story impressed me after all these years I only remember a dog trot in his house and a dog name Piney. Still can't find the book.

    I was raised by Depression Era parents and was told there was nothing I could not accomplish if I worked hard enough. My sisters and I have a work ethic large enough to choke a mule. Now we are aging but we still think we can work to same.

    I always have written but I've never taken that step, other than shorts, to put something out there.

    This prompt seemed to draw many into the creative zone. In fact after I wrote my entry I went to my notebook and wrote fourteen pages about this girl/woman's life. On the fifteen page, I asked my self why and when I couldn't answer I stopped writing. This was the first writing I've even thought could grow into a full length book.

    I enjoyed our visit. You are extremely interesting to "talk" to. If you need my email, just hit reply.

    Have a wonderfully creative day.


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