‘I’ll never leave her again’
[I'm working on one or two more articles from the interview with Philip and Sheree yesterday.]
Philip and Sheree Halliday don’t yet know what the future looks like. But they do know they’ll be together.
Sitting arm in arm in their dining room in their little bungalow on St. Mary’s Street, they hug each other often, they smile at the sound of the other’s voice.
“I promised her two things,” says Philip, looking at Sheree when he speaks. “I wrote her from jail that I would never leave her again. And I told her I’d hold her hand.”
Holding hands was something Philip used to find awkward, uncomfortable.
That was before the Digby man spent three years locked away from friends and family in jail on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He spent three years in prison in Spain awaiting trail on drug smuggling charges. He was found guilty last week and immediately released.
Reunited with his wife and their two sons Cody and Daren, he is intent on keeping those promises.
“She’s waited 28 years to hold my hand,” says Philip with a smile. “So that’s one good thing came out of all this.”
“I missed her,” he says nodding at Sheree. “Her and the boys. I thought of her a lot. She’s an amazing woman.
“She stuck by me. Some women would have just said, ok good-bye, or wouldn’t know how to do all the things she did for me, for us.”
Philip spoke to Sheree everyday for five minutes.
“I whined to her a lot,” he says.
But there is one thing he didn’t tell her.
“I just told her I had a surprise for her when I got home,” he says. “A long time ago, she asked me to marry her again, to do our vows over. At the time I said no, we already did that. Well I was in jail about four months when I remembered that. I knew it would make her happy.”
With Cody’s help, he arranged to pop the question again during a TV interview this week.
She said yes, and they cried.
They haven’t yet set a date.
Philip says his health is okay. They are doing some tests on his heart but otherwise things are improving. His stomach bothered him the whole time he was in Spain.
On the flight home it bothered him.
In Digby, it feels better.
“It must have been nerves,” he said. “I was always worried.”
He lost 60 pounds – he weighs 144 pounds now, down from 206 just three years ago.
He’s anxious to buy some clothes—nothing in his closet fits, not even the clothes of his younger son Daren.
He made his first shopping trip Monday—to Wilson’s Home Hardware, looking for a razor.
Sheree says he used to make three or four trips a day to Wilson’s to get some material or a part for whatever project he was working on.
Still he was nervous going in the front doors, excited to see the familiar faces.
The staff there, friends of his, hugged him and wished him well. It was the same at Canadian Tire.
Philip is anxious to return to Larches—for years he stopped in there every morning to talk to the staff.
“That’s just something I always did and I want to go there as soon as I can.”
The Hallidays have been busy getting settled, talking with visitors, with health care appointments for Philip, doing interviews.
It was two days before Philip saw his new shed out back. Daren built and got it ready for his father.
“There is still a lot of work to do out there,” says Philip, hinting at another trip to Wilson’s.
Philip is not sure how his time in prison changed him but Sheree says it has made him more talkative.
“He used to be a man of very few words,” she says with a smile. “Since he came home he hasn’t hardly stopped talking. It is wonderful to listen to him talk for a change.”
“I haven’t had anyone to talk to for three years,” says Philip. “ I love seeing people.”
“Wait three months,” says Cody, passing through the dining room. “ See how you like it then.”
Sheree is just happy to have the four of them together again.
She’s anxious for things to settle down.
That’s why she has scheduled the meet and greet for this weekend.
“So people can see him and talk to him and welcome him home and then we can start the new normal,” she says. “I’m hoping this will go away, the attention will die down, and we can go back to our boring old predictable life. I don’t know but I’m not sure it will ever be the same again.”
The Meet and Greet is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24 at noon at the Digby Firehall on First Avenue.