Posted on Apr 02, 2015
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Our new emu, Benjamin Earl, was named in an auction on social media. A woman named him in memory of her late dad. Our Benjamin Earl carries the memory and the spirit of this wonderful man, so we asked her to tell us what her dad was like. This is what she wrote:
“My dad, Benjamin Earl Sherman, was a very simple man. He was born in the house he was raised in, which is also the house that I was raised in, located in Portsmouth, RI. He got a job as a printer right out of high school, was drafted into the army soon after to serve in Korea after the war. When he got out of the army, he went right back to working in the small print shop. He worked there, for the same family, for about 40 years.
Dad was very good at the things he loved. One of the things he loved was landscaping. Our yard was far and away the prettiest around. Every Saturday morning (aside from the winter months), I would wake up to the sound of our lawn mower and the smell of freshly cut grass. He took so much pride in manicuring our little bit of the earth and he wouldn't rest until every leaf was picked up and every bush was perfectly trimmed. I always felt like the bushes and grass loved him as much as he loved them. There was something about our yard and what he did to it. I felt so nurtured there. In the evenings, we would be out enjoying his hard work, playing catch or soccer until it was too dark to see. Some nights, he would sit on the porch and watch me do gymnastics in the grass, the same made-up routine, over and over until I got bored. I'm sure he was bored long before me, but he'd stay there until I was done.
Another thing dad loved was singing. The only real regret I have so far in my life is that I didn't think to record my dad's voice. I've never heard anyone sing like he did and I have a hard time believing I ever will. I know it's not a shock for a daughter to think her dad was the best, but I really think he was, at least on our little island. I used to sit in the back of the choir loft during rehearsals and listen as I did my homework. All the directors we had would say the same thing that made me so proud. "Men, listen to Ben." He had perfect pitch, effortlessly. And when all the other men found their notes, that's the time I really started listening to dad. His talent wasn't in following sheet music; it was how he could make it his. He harmonized like no one else I've ever known. He was amazing and I always made sure I sat close to him when he was doing his thing.
He didn't express love easily. I can only remember a handful of times when he actually hugged me, but I always knew he loved me. He was ever-present. Always quietly paying attention without intruding. He expressed his love when he watched my favorite TV shows with me. He expressed his love when he wanted to listen to my music with me.
Dad taught by example, which is the way I learn best. I'm not sure if he saw this in me from the start or if I learned this way because of how he taught. Either way, he knew I was watching him. I learned from him how to be financially responsible by watching him pay the bills. The big lesson: having money isn't as important as what you do with what you have. He taught me to be trustworthy every time he put his trust in me. I had more freedom than any other kid I knew. My friends took every chance to break rules, which usually resulted in them getting in trouble. Since I really didn't have rules, I felt a responsibility to hold onto my freedom, which basically meant I was always doing the right thing. What a great way to teach your kids, right?!
One of the big lessons I just came to understand recently. He taught me to drive in a New England winter. I learned in a huge, empty, iced-over beach parking lot. At the end of my lessons he would let me do donuts. We both had a blast! I just came to realize that we weren't just having fun while we spun on the ice. He was teaching me how to control the car in dangerous conditions. Genius! I had no idea that I was learning then, but I have always been an excellent driver in bad weather. :-)
Benjamin Earl was a man of integrity. He knew who he was, what he was good at, and he knew that it was more important to do what he believed was right instead of listening to the opinion of others. I'm so grateful to have had him as my dad.”
We are honored to have named our emu after such a fine man, to hold such a fine memory! Every day that we spend time with Benjamin Earl and stroke his fluffy neck and delight in how gentle he is with visitors, the late Benjamin Earl will be on our minds and in our hearts! Of course when we do naming auctions we worry a little if the animal will get a name that suits him/her, but this time it could not have been more perfect!