Today I mowed the lawn, and I thought of you.
I think of you every time I mow the lawn.
I make the big yard look so pretty with its rows of green stripes.
The sun shines bright around me, the blue sky above me, the green grass below me.
After I finish mowing I clean the blades of grass from the blades of the mower.
And I think of you some more.
For some reason, this simple act of mowing the lawn encompasses so much of who you are – the things I love about you – the things you taught me.
You taught me to care for my little piece of the world and make it look beautiful – not for reasons of vanity, but for reasons of responsibility.
You taught me that beauty can be found in the simple things, in what is right in front of me, there is no need to look any further.
You taught me that work can be fun, and that art doesn’t always hang from gallery walls. I’ll always remember your smile as you “mowed” the green shag carpet with the vacuum cleaner and magically made it look just like the lawn. Now THAT was art.
You taught me to work hard at whatever I put my hand to, my mind to, my focus to. To give it all I’ve got. To get the job done. And to do it right.
You taught me that caring for things means they last much longer. So it is true of just about everything in life – from relationships to houses to gardens to ministries.
You taught me that I was more than able to help in the work of “men”. This one surprised you, caught you off guard I think, going back to the first time I asked to help as you mowed and cleaned up – but you did your best to push past the chivalry. You helped me develop skills I’d need for so many areas of life and ministry – from mowing the lawn to renovating an entire house to completing odd jobs on mission trips in Dominican. I’ll never forget climbing on the roof with you to shovel off snow or how you saved the lawn for me to mow with the riding mower at your country house. (I’ll be there this summer – make sure you let me have another turn at it!)
Beyond the lawn….
You taught me that I was worth the work. You travelled 3 hours each day to work at a job you didn’t love, so that I could have the things I needed to become who I am today. You provided for me and let me grow up with more than enough food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education. I loved the times I was able to join you at the office, to see the smile on your co-workers faces and know that you must have told them all about me. And the times I was able to work alongside you for a few days or eat lunch with you in the underground mall or even grab a pint at the local pub. My favourite was the train rides home during the year I worked at Toronto City Mission – the year I was pregnant and tired with my first boy, your first grandchild.
You taught me that you don’t have to understand someone or agree with someone to love them completely. You loved me just as much during my teenage “grunge” phase as you did during my little girl-ballerina phase. You loved me just as much when I ran off to the west coast as you did when I came home broke and confused a few months later. I have no idea what you thought of my move to the north, but still you wrap me in awesome hugs every time I come to visit you. I remember during your speech at my wedding, you said, “Don’t forget to send me a postcard.” That was when I knew you were starting to understand my love for adventure.
You taught me the value of words. I have kept every one of your letters, written at major turning points in my life. You blessed me each time, wished me all the best, told me you’d always be there, and I know this to be true from the depths of me, Dad. I always knew I could call you to rescue me. I wish I had called more often.
You taught me that you valued my independence. Fierce as it is – Mum tells me my first sentence was “My own self.” I wish I could have found it in me to lean on you a little more… this is still not an easy one for me… to lean on others.
You taught me that I am important. When I started with Environmental Studies classes and rebuked you constantly for throwing your cans in the garbage instead of the recycling – you balked at first, but I noticed over time that more and more cans were making their way into the blue bin. And now you carry two big bins to the curb every week, full of cans and bottles and paper and cardboard and plastic – thank you for listening.
You taught me that I am free to grow up – you bought me a car when I was 12 or 13, from the man in the farmhouse that I used to babysit for. The car didn’t run and I thought it was the most hideous thing I’d ever seen, and I couldn’t even summon a thank you, and to this day I wish I’d reacted alot better than I did… thank you for that little brown car, Dad, I still remember… You were always very good at giving me room to spread my wings – you let me “drive” as I sat on your lap in the church parking lot, you gave me the blue Omega when I was 18 (and I loved that car and named her Alice), then you taught me to drive stick shift for my Ford Escape with the Think Green license plate frame and black smoke coming from the muffler. You drove me to the dorm at university, to the airport to board a plane to Calgary, and to the church to marry my Joshua.
Sometimes you don’t say much, Dad, but you are truly a living example of the phrase Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
Your actions have always told me that you love me.
I love you.
Happy Father’s Day.