David Tait: cousin and best friend. What means more?
I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my cell phone, back on Oct. 22 at 4:01 p.m., when my cousin Darlene sent me a text with news of something we knew was coming.
“Dave just passed,” Darlene’s text read.
David Tait: a slender man, with a deep voice and a work ethic that cannot be equalled.
I am still having a great challenge to what has a more profound meaning to me.
David Tait, my cousin.
Or, David Tait, my best friend.
Our relationship became cemented in 1973 in Meota, Sask. — a cup of coffee’s drive north of North Battleford — where our great grandfather and his four sons homesteaded from Scotland in 1902.
David’s dad farmed just northwest of Meota. David was a year and a half older than me, and we enjoyed experimenting with activities our parents didn’t approve of. Yet, that made things that much more risky.
On a warm summer’s evening a few hoofprints from the farm, David gave me my first cigarette. A Craven M. Perfect.
I have cerebral palsy and don’t have the best co-ordination, so David lit my cigarette in my increasingly shaky hand. “Hope you enjoy it,” he said with in a concerning voice. “Just don’t drop it and burn the farm down.”
Adventures continued that summer. David introduced me to beer a few weeks later, with his friend Derek Feschuk in his basement.
David wheeled me back to our family cabin, got me in the door, and then ran like hell before Mom and Dad could have a word with him for bringing my home in … well, I’ll let you figure out what kind of condition I was in.
Throughout the years, we became even closer. David was a masterful carpenter. When my parents retired, he built their dream home overlooking Jackfish Lake on Meota’s northeast side.
I spent my summers in Meota. I can’t count the times when, well after midnight, David wheeled me home in the quiet streets. The wind slowly whistled through the trees more times than not and David and I didn’t have to say a word to one another.
We didn’t have to. We were just content — very content — to be in each other’s company.
David was in our wedding party. He walked down the aisle so gracefully, one foot following the other in perfect harmony.
Life was sailing along for David, who loved sharing time with son Carey and daughter Stacey and his six grandchildren. Just over two years ago cancer invaded his body with a growth on his back.
Despite chemotherapy and other treatment, David couldn’t fight it. Two months after his 60th birthday, surrounded by his family, David left us.
We gathered in Meota a few days later for a memorial service. It was a terrible day, absolutely.
But it was the best trip I’ve ever made to Meota. We saw the core fundamentals of how David lived his life: loving family and friends, quietly doing whatever needed to be done in solemn times, and finding laughter in our past.
Never have I been more proud of our last name.
It’s Grey Cup weekend, and David loved football and was a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan.
I can’t believe he won’t be watching it with me.
And, I still can’t believe — but am eternally grateful — that I had such a wonderful best friend.