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Snow Angel

February 10, 2012


Two years ago we were invited to go on a ski trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia with Mike and Kathleen Fox, and their four children. We knew the forecast called for snow, but we weren’t prepared for the nearly six feet that fell over the course of the week. Snow always injected an extra dose of liveliness into Sydney, and this week was no exception. One afternoon, Mike was in an instigating mood and offered $50 to anyone who would go lay down in the monster snow drift outside with minimal clothing and create a snow angel. Well, Kathleen and I are far too mature to consider such childish behavior. Sydney, on the other hand, was hooked.

After 15 minutes of negotiating the particulars, Sydney ran outside, flopped backwards in the snow and waved her arms and legs wildly while laughing her head off. She then dashed back inside breathing frantically, but thoroughly entertained with herself. As if this wasn’t sufficiently ridiculous, she proceeded to refuse the payout from Mike. She said she “felt bad” and didn’t want to take it. I was incredulous. If I had done that I certainly would have had no problem taking his money.

However, Mike placed it in her pocket book, which only served to initiate another childish competition. For the next several months, any time we would see the Foxes (who Haven eroneously referred to as “The Wolves”), the holder of the cash would sneak it to the other by hiding it somewhere in the person’s belongings or vehicle.

At another point on that trip, Mike made reference to an enthusiastic salesman he used to work with who frequently encouraged his teammates to “live out loud and on purpose.” Sydney was so entranced with the drama of this statement that she immediately began overusing it. On the way back from Snowshoe, while the kids were whining and hungry in the back, Sydney spent the first hour of the trip perfecting her new voicemail greeting which said, “This is Sydney. I’m living out loud, on purpose, and off the grid.” The “off the grid” slogan came from an environmental program we had recently watched on the Discovery Channel. She admitted that she did not know what it meant, but that it just sounded good tacked on to her greeting.

The funniest part of this was seeing the joy it brought her, in countless successive attempts, to try to dictate this greeting without laughing at herself. She would first emphasize one part, and then another, until finally she had a version she could live with. She left this greeting on her voicemail for many months, and it no doubt confused many people. This caused Elizabeth Lipscomb to paint the phrase on the banner below, which was held the following Spring at the Cooper Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina.


So I challenge you today, on behalf of Sydney, do something completely ridiculous. And by all means, let it entertain you and others. Then take another look at the first photo above, and picture Sydney in your mind’s eye, flapping her wings vigorously and laughing her head off.

From → Stories

  1. Right when missing her feels inexplicable, your words give mine definition. I LOVE this so much. Todd, you are such a dear for bringing her back out of your own heart. Thank you.

  2. Crying and laughing my head off right now. You capture her so well with your words, Todd. I miss her like crazy.

  3. Bet Monastra permalink

    Love…such an inspiration for us to be the people He wants us to be. Thank you Sid!!

  4. Shannon Bone permalink

    I totally remember that voicemail and I remember thinking that it was catchy. I thought “off the grid” was hip, cool talk and had no idea what it meant. I wish I would have asked Sydney- would have loved hearing that story from her perspective.

  5. Taylor Wickline permalink

    I love this. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. Bonner Gaylord permalink

    This captures her perfectly… She found joy in the simplest things and her joy was infectious. That’s why nobody could get enough of Sydney Boone Gaylord.

  7. Michelle permalink

    I don’t know you, but I am friends with Robbie and Sara. Thank you from writing with love from your heart about your wife. Robbie and I have discussed your gift of writing and ability to reach right to the soul of the matter. You are very talented and it will be exciting to watch how God uses your abilities in the months and years to come. I am a fan!

  8. Amy P permalink

    Thank you for this and all your posts. In honor of my sweet friend Syd and your challenge I ran into the freezing cold ocean this weekend. She would have loved it. And we will send you a pic later. Thank you Todd, we love y’all.

  9. Missy Highsmith permalink

    Great photo of Sydney, love her wings and her joy especially

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