present tense

Peggi with Leo Dodd in Edmonds Woods, Spring 2015
Peggi with Leo Dodd in Edmonds Woods, Spring 2015

I really lucked out in getting Leo as my father-in-law. He and Mary are such gracious, caring people.

Leo was so PRESENT no matter where he was or who he was with. I never felt like he wished he was somewhere else or in a hurry to go. That generosity of spirit was his amazing gift to the people who knew him.

I feel like I got to know him better over the last 10 or so years as we spent more and more time with Mary and Leo. And once we retired, we were able to spend even more time with them. There’s nothing better than a walk in the woods with Leo. He identified the spring wildflowers like the May Flower and May Apple. And there are little yellow flowers that always pop up in the snow by our house as spring approaches. He identified them for us – Winter Aconite. And he printed out a photo of them for me.

He became more like a friend. I used to drive Paul and Leo to their Tuesday night painting class at the Memorial Art Gallery. I’d drop them off and go to my mom’s. Then later, I started taking the class with them. I loved watching him work on a watercolor and the confidence he had to change it as he progressed. The 3 of us talked about art and life on the rides to and from class. That was a special opportunity that I treasure.

Leo was INVOLVED with his family, community and the world around him. When we moved into our new house, he and I did the thankless job of replacing the acoustic ceiling tiles in our basement. Not a fun job. And he was like that with all his kids pitching in and helping them, supporting their efforts.

When he and Mary moved from Brighton to Chapel Oaks in Irondequoit, Leo found new magic places like Johnson Pond near Camp Eastman where he shot a fantastic photo of dozens of turtles on a log. It appeared in the panoramic photo section of the D&C. He also loved Eastman Lake in Durand where he photographed birds, flowers, moss and other plants, trees and wildlife. Atlas Eats became a new favorite restaurant along with his old favorite Nick’s and we went with them to both often for lunch or dinner. He even embraced Pudgies Pizza on Norton and Goodman that was just down Portland Ave. from their apartment. He just always embraced where he was and looked at the world with a sense of wonder, curiosity and focus and he shared that with others.

This G.K. Chesterton quote sums up how Leo looked at the world:
“We often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No, for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. I myself am of little boys’ habit in this matter.”

I’ll miss him and how ENGAGED he was with life. He is a true role model. Thanks Leo for what you shared with us.

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