Sunday, April 17, 2011
(Son/Father) High on Grass
Since I am now a homeowner I noticed our grass needed to be cut and decided to be a responsible neighbor by taking care of the unsightly growth. There is another unsightly growth I need to take care of but someone with a medical license needs to handle that. And since it is not entirely bothersome I will wait. However, grass is more easily solved so that takes priority. We obtained a lawn mower a couple of years ago that had not been used for several years. I tried to start it without luck. I took it to my dad's home where there is every tool known to man and someone with knowledge to fix such a problem.
Growing up there was not a single ounce of me that was interesting in fixing things. Then again, I didn't show much interest in anything other than girls and television and not necessarily in that order. My dad had been a mechanic in the Air Force and after serving his 4 years went out and became a journeyman electrician. Actually went to Alaska to service the oil wells for a year. Or at least that is where he said he was. All I'm saying is that his pen pal in Nebraska happens to be a few years younger than me and looks a lot like him. The point is my dad could build a house in a day. It would be small but livable.
Did I always admire him for these skills? Not really. The electric saws and motorcycle engines hurt my ears. His asking me if I had changed my oil lately was annoying. And the clanging of tools coupled with a long line of swear words left me puzzled. The poor guy tried to show me what an engine looked like and what each part did. I don't doubt that after he happily explained the details he looked over to see his son playing with his tongue and hung his head in embarrassment and shame. Could he have wondered if mom and the milkman were on friendly terms? I'm sure it crossed his mind.
So I pull in to the driveway and see dad working on the electrical system of a boat engine. I pull out my tired old mower and ask for help. He begins his work of diagnosing the problem and guess what? I'm interested. When I had to perform a hundred point check of my semi-truck to pass trucking school I did so to pass the class, not to actually know anything about what the parts did. But when dad was checking the spark plug I asked why. When he checked the air filter I asked why. He cleaned the fuel filter and checked the carburetor. Why?!!? He probably thought, "I had to wait 35 years for this?". And I thought, "I had to wait 35 years for this?". I had so many opportunities while growing up and I chose to make sounds with my bellybutton instead.
Now I'm not saying I would have gone on to rebuild a car engine for fun. What I'm saying is I assumed people were born with different gifts and either you had it or you didn't. What I didn't realize is the opportunities to expand my mind were available but the respect for my father's skills were not. Is it too late? Yes. How do I know? That is what he told me after fixing the lawn mower.