Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

Today's effort consists of some information that I've previously passed along, but on this of all day's I believe that they are worth sharing again ...
In remembering Father's Day, I must painfully recall that in 2007 my own father passed away. His health had been failing for some time; but in spite of the difficulty in attempting to doing so, one of the things he still liked to take part (or at least to feel that he was taking part) in the maintenance of his home and yard. Such care had always been a source of great joy and pride for him, and on which he simply refused give up the his interest in it.

When his medical condition had finally reached a point that he was tethered to an oxygen system full time, he was (however reluctantly) forced to surrender some level of control in this process. By then such care involved my mother trimming the edges of the yard with a self-driven push mower. My nephew Patrick had acquired the requisite skills for operation of the riding mower some time since, took on the responsibilities for the bulk of the yard. This system of lawn care had been going on for a couple of years and was by now a well established routine, with my father still participating in a limited supervisory and equipment maintenance role.

In the spring following his passing, the lawn, unaware and uncaring of the changes in the household, did what it was supposed to do and grew quickly. Before anyone had quite realized it, this grass was in terrible need of a trim. Taking the bull by the horns, my mother stepped forward to perform her part of the required labors by trimming around the edges of the yard. Patrick likewise soon appeared to take on his well-rehearsed role in lawn care. This is where the real story begins.

Now the riding mower had not been run since the leaf pick up of that previous fall, and Patrick was unsure of the proper procedures to get it started after its abbreviated winter slumber, as his grandfather had normally instructed him in such situations. Stymied, he questioned my mother for potential answers to his problem with a potentially stubborn piece of lawn care equipment. Now my mother is a talented women, but basic lawn mower mechanics has never been a part of them. The riding mower had in fact always intimidated her, and she had long ago made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with it (hence Patrick's responsibilities). It was therefore not surprising that she had no advice to offer him.

In an amazingly short period of time however, the full-throated roar of that mower was heard from the garage, and Patrick was soon after making his way around the yard. He completed his work on the yard that day with remarkable alacrity and departed immediately afterward, without a word to his grandmother before leaving. His hasty departure and lack of communication went without comment at the time. They were however, duly explained a couple of days later when my sister called to fill my mother in on the "rest of the story".
It seems that as Patrick stood in the garage, scratching his head over a solution to his dilemma and completely at a loss as to how to proceed, clearly heard the voice my father from right next to him say, "Pull the choke out and start the mower".

Never questioning it for a moment, he simply did as he was told, and the mower immediately caught. Though a suitable resolution to his problem had been achieved, Patrick was more than a little distressed over how he had reached it. Worried that he might be asked for an explanation and fearing my mother's sensitivity to the issue, he kept silent, working with dispatch and departing as quickly as he was able. It was only some time later in the comfort of home and parents, that he was finally able to relate what had occurred.

Now anyone who knew my father knew that he was never a terribly spiritual person publicly, and was normally unresponsive when questioned about his thoughts on such things. He was however a good husband, a loving parent and grandparent, and most importantly ... a well recognized master of all things technical. There were very few things that he set his mind to repairing or improving in which he was not capable of achieving success (as his many years and recognized expertise in the printing industry showed).

He was also someone who was never afraid to share that mastery of all things mechanical with his spouse and offspring of every generation at every available opportunity (many times without even being asked). It therefore seems only fitting (and hardly surprising), that he should find a way to make his presence felt in such a situation when the need arose.

As for my personal take on the story, knowing my nephew Patrick to be a young gentleman of quality and good character, I choose simply take him at his word. If he believes that it happened this way, then I believe it as well. I am also quite happy and relieved to believe that my father is out there somewhere keeping an eye on the family that he so loved (not that I ever really doubted it).

I for one, can use all of the help that I can get...
Speaking of which, while I've never been able to claim anything in the way of parental skills myself, I'd like to think that I've at least been able to pass on to the three I call my own children something of the wisdom that was given to me.  I've shared it here before, and my hope is that I will continue to pass it on where it can do the most good until the day I achieve room temperature: 
*  Honesty is the best policy, even if your only reward is that of self-respect.
*  Your word is your bond and everything else is just society's crap.
*  Your reputation is the only thing that you truly possess in life, so make sure you protect it fiercely and every time it's challenged. 
*  If you work hard it will be rewarded, even if that reward is nothing more that knowing that you did your best.
*  You will, if you're lucky, make mistakes in life that will provide important lessons.  They are rarely permanent however; and it's usually easier to fix them than to admit to them.
Happy Father's Day!

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