Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mowing my dad's lawn

I can only remember mowing my parent's lawn one time. I was 22. I wore a black tank top and a black pair of terry cloth shorts. My dad was out of town while he tried to find a job in Las Vegas, where he could live with my uncle and aunt. It was a hot Saturday morning and mid-way through my two oldest nieces showed up and we drove to Brookside gas station for cokes. It wasn't fun and I remember it being hot, and the particular way that the mid-morning sun dappled the backyard lawn through the trees.

I thought about this singular experience on Friday when I mowed it for the second time. I thought about how personal the grass seemed, like it was a reflection of my dad somehow. A reflection of his service and vision and hard work. If there was one thing my dad was good at, it was yardwork and yard design. I thought about my mom, who was planting flowers in the east flower bed, the one with the rocks that had just the perfect surface area for my feet to walk on in incessant circles on hot summer days.

The side yard on the west was a mess of overgrown trees, both intentional trees and many volunteers. I took the shears and cut and cut away at the burgundy-leafed branches that hung over their allotted space. The best moment was when the branch would spring just a little higher after my cut, free of the weight of so many leaves. My dad would have done the same trimming with more intention, I'm sure, but I have no doubt he would have approved of the reemergence of grass and curbing.

I was happy to see the rose bush I butchered on the day my dad died blooming. There are no reminders of the volunteer tree I cut down. I can't remember now why I escaped to the yard and indulged in therapeutic trimming, but it's still a fond memory of that day.

Father's Day was never a big focus. It should have been, but in a family of 6 where 5 are female, the man tends to lose most of the battles. I know we often combined my dad's early June birthday with Father's Day. He didn't mind. He was happy to receive the new book Amy would find for him, the shirts my mom would offer, the kisses and hugs from the grandkids and the German chocolate cake (his favorite.) I can't remember the last Father's Day gift I gave him. But, on Friday, I knew I was giving him a gift. Of my time. Of my memories. Of my kids pulling weeds and blowing tree pollen from the patio and driveway. I wish I had more time to do these tasks, or that I lived closer. The lawn has to be mowed every week, after all. I'm not the only one of his progeny who have or will mow it.  But for at least one week, it was done my me. Which I hope counts for something.


Amy Sorensen said...

I understand completely. The yard he planted is something that lives on beyond him, so working in it is a way of connecting with him. A conversation, almost.

heidikins said...

This is beautiful. Love.