Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The thing is the thing that reminds you of someone who loved you



Material objects.


Some of us try to accumulate  them.


Some of us measure our worth by their price tag.


I've heard millionaires play a game:  He who dies with the most toys wins.


Deep down we know the truth.


Objects mean nothing.


St. Peter's  heavenly clipboard has no check-off box for property owned.


But that doesn't mean  objects can't be infused with meaning.


Take my ancient and decrepit  riding lawnmower.


My Dad rode that thing for  30 years  up until he passed away not too long ago.


He was always sending me on a mission to find parts for that old  piece of junk.


A wheel here.


A bolt there.


Dad was  good lawyer who helped people, usually not charging enough fees.


Still, he did pretty well.


A child of the depression, he remembered the poverty of his youth.


The memory of grown men driven to suicide because they couldn't support their families haunted him.


So he worked hard and cut his own grass.


With that blasted green and yellow always-in-need-of-repair riding mower.


Every Saturday.


Finished, he would come in, covered in sweat.


Next came a cold Stroh's beer and a liverwurst sandwich.


Great memories.


My older brother inherited that mower after Dad died.


I inquired.


Too far gone, he said.


Old green and yellow was headed for the trash heap.


Like Dad, grass cutting  days over.


My wife stifled her objections when I rescued that thrown away tin heap.


She sensed what it meant to me.


Into my garage, where I began a series of missions just like I used to.


A wheel here.


A bolt there.


My neighbor sports a shiny new Craftsman extra-wide with double blades and a giant capacity grass catcher.


It's quite impressive.




I'm cutting my grass on the old green and yellow.


I have to coax the engine to start.


A coat hanger improvises to hold the chute open so it won't clog.


Front fender dented.


Dad hit a tree once.


Am I channeling Dad?


No, not really.


I must be a sight as I chug along, row after row.


But I do think of him.


How he loved us kids.


All nine of us.


I want to be a good father and a loving husband.


Like him.


I don't know if I'll get there, but I feel his presence urging me on.


Praying for me.


From heaven?


Yes, from heaven.


How else can you explain it?


Old yellow and green is hanging in there as I will it to keep running and cutting.


Do you have something that belonged to someone you've lost?


It's okay to cherish those old things.


Not because of their value.


Because of their meaning.


And because they remind you to love as they loved.


Thanks, dad.


I'll follow your example.


Just don't expect liverwurst.






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