top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

How Losing Was Really Winning When Wrestling with My Father

Guest Post by J. Boyce Gleason

Award-Winning Author

Joe (far left) with brothers Jim (center) and John (climbing couch), pre-dad ambush circa 1960.

We used to wrestle with my father. And despite the fact that we had numbers on our side, it was always a suicide mission. We’d throw ourselves at his great tree-trunk legs, trying to bring him down and he would swat us aside like Godzilla dispensing with the Japanese army.

Eventually, he would end up on the floor (probably to prevent crushing one of us) and we would swarm over him, Lilliputians trying to hold him down. In the end, he would stack us up, one on top of the other, holding us down with one hand while tickling us with the other. He would laugh until tears came out of his eyes.

As we grew older, we could compete on size as well as strength. And there were more of us – six to be exact – with my brother Steve, sister Jean, and my youngest brother Bean, every bit a part of the carnage. My older brothers and I would leap off chairs and the living room couch to cling to my father’s back while the littler ones tried to trip up his legs. I distinctly remember my mother positioning herself in front of the new television set to ensure that no one put a foot through it.

It was still a one-sided affair.

My dad had this ju-jitsu-style move he had learned in the Marine Corps that he employed to overcome any and all attacks. No one was immune. His hands would spin in an odd, figure-eight maneuver, and we were forever at his mercy. It always ended the same – bodies strewn everywhere – all of us collapsed in laughter.

Now that we are grown, agreement is rare in my family. We don’t share the same political views, work in the same profession, or even all practice the same religion. Some live on the East Coast, some on the West, some in the north, some in the south. “All Chiefs, no Indians,” my mother often says.

Yet deep down, we know we are still connected – indelibly bonded by a decades-old, suicide mission to wrestle my father to the ground and make him laugh until the tears came out of his eyes.

We few. We happy few…


J. Boyce Gleason is a dad to three sons, three daughters-in-law, and five granddaughters. He is an author of award-winning historical novels for mature audiences, including Anvil of God and Wheel of the Fates, Books I & II of The Carolingian Chronicles. Before turning his talents to writing, Gleason worked as a press secretary on Capitol Hill for two U.S. Representatives and served in the private sector as a public affairs and crisis management consultant. Gleason's work on some of the most visible corporate crises in recent U.S. history earned him national recognition and made him a featured speaker and advisor to corporate, academic, civil rights, and nonprofit institutions. He earned an AB in history from Dartmouth College and brings a strong understanding of the events that shaped history to his writing. He and his wife, Mary Margaret, live in Virginia.

You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @jboycegleason.


bottom of page