My father is a nice guy. He’s not overly complex and he’s not too simple. He’s just a nice guy. If you’ve had the privilege of living near him or working with him, you’ve probably also had the privilege of benefiting from his knowledge. He knows a lot.
In explaining my father, I have to remember that people who are reading this right now may not know, or may never have met the man. So I’ll try to put it into words the best as I can.
Besides my father being nice, not overly complex and not too simple, he’s also helpful. He helps those who need it and he oftentimes doesn’t wait for them to ask. He has the tools, he has the brains and he has the ability. One can easily get spoiled by the amount of work my father has invested in other people’s lives. Being his son, at times I forget that he is the way he is. I take it for granted. But having lived away from him for a number of years now, I have come to appreciate the value he adds to a neighborhood.
But it’s not all butterflies and rainbows you see, so we shouldn’t get too carried away here. As his son, my father also made me work. And work. And work.
I swear, I don’t know why he made me work so much. Even to this day, I sit and have conversations about why he did things the way he did them. I say things like, “Why didn’t we finish all the log splitting in the summer? We could have spent a few weeks of each year splitting and stacking and we would have had a good system come winter. Why did we spend all year doing both of those tasks?”
I also say things like, “Why did we go outside in the middle of winter to fix the trucks? Why didn’t we do the maintenance during the summer so we could enjoy smooth running come winter? We could have had so much more free time.”
There are millions of whys, so the list can go on and on. As I get older though, I’m beginning to discover the answers to some of my questions. I think it has something to do with my father’s enjoyment of working with his hands – or his enjoyment of working, period. He also isn’t one to sit around waiting for life to approach him and ask what it can offer. If he isn’t outside working on something, he isn’t living. And he likes to live.
That really doesn’t answer the question of why he found it necessary to have me at his side for every minute of every day though. Not that I didn’t understand the value of the heat the wood provided or the usefulness of the trucks he had. I did. I just didn’t see the value of me, someone who had limited muscle, skill and talent, joining him to satisfy his appreciation of working.
As I get older though, I’m starting to learn the method to his madness. I enjoy working with my hands. I can fix things without asking for help. I value the enjoyment of splitting wood on a warm autumn day. If my father were reading this right now, I bet he’d have a small grin spreading across his face while thinking to himself, “See, you damn kids never wanted to listen…”
But there is something much more that I learned. Today I don’t have to warm my house with wood that I split myself. I don’t have to plow the driveway myself, or even do my own lawn care. I can find a better solution to those things, and I have. The real reason for my father being involved in so many things has to do with his independent spirit. He never wanted to be shackled to a mechanic or a landscaper or a tree company. He never wanted to rely on someone else to do the work that he felt was his obligation to do himself, the work that his sons should also learn to do themselves. I have finally learned through my experiences that my father was actually teaching us to value our own self worth.