It was a warm sunny Sunday morning in Dallas. A work day before meant the weekend was to be short and sweet. A six day work week made a honey-do list one that was not necessarily welcomed. As I put off doing the dishes, laundry and all other things not fun I directed my attention to the lawn. As I pulled the cord to power the lawnmower I could not help but think: at what point does doing something as simple as mowing the lawn become enjoyable? To further that when did an act of labor become an act of love and when the hell did I start turning into my parents?
My father (pops) would always sweep the sidewalk every single day when he came home after work and I would always ask the same question every day. How was your day? Like clockwork my father always said “fine” and never had a different answer and with that same retort he would grab the sweeper. Pops was a proud man and with that pride his sidewalk never had a piece of trash on it and a lawn that was mowed every single weekend. I do not recall ever seeing in my child hood overgrown grass in our yard.
My mother was the gardener, her mother had a garden and I am sure her mother did as well. I recall long hot summers slaving away in the backyard with my brother Michael digging, planting and moving many bricks to create landscaping that still stands to this day. The work was hard but as my pops always said “it builds character”. I enjoyed working together with Michael and seeing what we could do together, there was a great feeling of satisfaction seeing the finished project. Mike and I learned from both our parents that you get out of your work what you put into it.
So here I am 31 years old pulling the cord on my lawnmower with a grin thinking about what was once a chore is now a welcomed part of my life. It is funny how things go back and forth as we get older. I remember riding a bicycle to my second job and feeling the shame of not owning a car. I was 18 years old and riding a BMX single speed bicycle that I had since I was 12.
Nobody knew that I rode a bicycle to work and I wanted to keep it that way. There was nothing cool about being 18 and not having a car, or so I thought. A few months later I bought my first car and still can remember that day like it was yesterday. There are few things as liberating as getting that first car and the freedom that comes with it.
As I mowed the lawn I reminisced about growing up and where I was now in my life. Many years have since passed and here I am again back on the bike. It is with great Ironic pride that I commute to work in the summers via bicycle. As simple as things were growing up they still are now in a sense.
So again here I am getting older and becoming my parents. My favorite shorts have an elastic waist band. I tend my lawn and watch things grow in the garden with joy. I have both my parents very strong work ethic and see nothing wrong with going to bed early. I judge the generation that followed mine and criticize them. Get that hair out of your face and stop wearing your little brother’s pants you damn bums.
How we grew up molded who we are today. The next time you interface with a young person give them something to remember. Every lesson and action is another layer of information that will have impact and meaning to that person at some point. I look back on my life and all the many people that helped me get to the state of mind I am at now and to all of you I am grateful. So THANK YOU.
Now if you will excuse me I need to water the garden and sweep the sidewalk.
Cheers to my parents and their influence.