This post really has little to do with Labor Day, but then my last post really had little to do with Indpendence Day. They both have more to do with… well… life.
I think I have mentioned before that I have significant memory deficits. I can’t remember.
Kidding. But seriously.
We call our youngest brother a savant. Even though I’m not sure it’s really the right word. He remembers everything. His memory of childhood events is truly uncanny.
For me, I have few memories before age twelve, which I know full well is not a good thing. But the ones I have… or the ones that are brought back to life by my little brother… they are as vivid as if I were there right now.
Our dad was career Navy. He enlisted in 1942 at the age of seventeen and he served for thirty years. Then he had a few civilian jobs, then he worked for the Veterans Administration Hospital, and then he retired.
Mom worked for as long as I can remember, first as a waitress for many years and then in dental offices for many years. And then other jobs until she reached retirement age.
They both worked so hard and as tumultuous as our childhood was we wanted for nothing. Ever. And they instilled in us a strong work ethic.
One of my most vivid memories of my dad was when I was helping him wash his car one summer day. I remember telling him how much fun it was and he reminded me that it was “work.” I remember telling him that I hoped work would always be that much fun. I couldn’t have been much more than eight years old.
Another vivid memory I have is when dad bought a Wheel Horse riding lawnmower. I have crazy vivid memories of that machine. I remember that he bought it from Stewart’s Lawnmower in our hometown and I remember that it cost $800. A small fortune for he and mom. And I remember that my dad taught me to use it. I couldn’t have been much more than ten years old.
And then after mom and dad divorced, I continued to help out with lawn care, along with my other siblings. It was always fun for me… never work.
Fast forward forty years.
Nearly two years ago we lost our dad and less than fifteen months ago we lost our mom. They divorced when I was twelve. Mom always stayed in our home town until just a few years before she passed when she moved to the next town over. Dad retired to the south when I was a teenager. South Carolina for many years and then Georgia. Ironically, they both wound up in emergency rooms for bronchitis and neither of them were ever the same… due to a number of complications.
Three years ago, while mom and dad were still with us, I moved to Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner.” I was offered a job and was lucky to find a wonderful place to live. My home, a rental, is a 500 square foot cottage on twenty-six acres of land that I call “The Bungalow.” I have loved this job, but I have LOVED my home.
At the start of this summer, I offered to my landlords that I enjoy lawn work and I would be happy to help in any way I could. So I frequently help with the lawn mowing.
I think they think I am crazy.
These days, life is not easy. I thank G-d every day for good friends and family members who love me. And for “The Bungalow,” which is like going to a vacation cabin every day. But the sadness of losing my parents is overwhelming most days; work is not as great as it was…funny how losing both parents within eight months can have an impact on a performance evaluation; and my relationships with some family members… well, I have heard that sometimes families are not the same after the loss of parents.
Today… Labor Day… I had plans. But it was one of those days. I was overcome with sadness. Sad that my mom and dad are gone. Sad, in thinking about the history of Labor Day, that I am not happy in my job. Sad that there is, what I consider to be, irreconcilable differences with family.
So I lost myself in lawn mowing.
All the while, thinking about mom and dad.
Crying about the loss.
Thinking about the work ethic they both instilled in me.
And smiling at the prospect of lawn care being my next career path.