Archive for September, 2016
When I was a kid, my Dad took such great pride in keeping our lawn in Pasadena, California so well-manicured. My Dad thought that it was very classless to have a home and not manicure the lawn. My Dad considered himself a jack of all trades and a bit of an overachiever, so in addition to keeping the front lawn manicured he had a very impressive organic garden in our backyard that boasted: tomatoes, greens, green onions, plums, apricots, carrots, cucumbers, squash, and a grapefruit tree (he did not grow). My Dad grew up on a farm in southern Virginia in the late 1940s, so agriculture in Pasadena, California came naturally to him.
I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would get up really early, eat his breakfast (corn flakes, bananas, and non-fat milk), take his medicine, and head out to work the yard and the garden. My Dad took such great joy in growing his own food, and as an adult, I long to continue his farming tradition, but I will revisit that idea in a later blog.
Anyway, sometimes my Dad’s eyes would glisten with excitement as he got a “God Idea.” His “God Idea” was to go out and mow his neighbors’ lawns. I heard him tell me my Mom that Mr. Davis was recovering from a stroke, so he was going to mow his lawn because he knew that he would like for his lawn to be kept up, even though he was sick. My Dad mowed my other neighbor’s lawn because he did not know or believe in God and my Dad wanted his act of kindness to be a quiet witness of who God is/was.
I recognize that some people reading this will think, “Well, this is a nice gesture that her Dad made, but it is really not a big deal.” For those who will read this blog with that kind of cynical worldview, I think that it is time for me to add the next layer to the story.
In the beginning, I neglected to mention that my Dad was born with Epilepsy. His parents were told that he would not live past 18 years old because of all of the trauma to his brain. He took at least 7 medications for the majority of his life. I recently learned that due to the major earthquakes that his brain experienced, he also suffered with Bipolar Disease. Before I was born in the early 1970s, my Dad was at work using some kind of machinery. He had a seizure (which meant that he blacked out), during the black-out my Dad’s right (dominant) fingers on his right hand were severed. Someone gathered the severed fingers and took them with him to the hospital, so that the doctors could possibly re-attach them. After many hours of surgery, a specialist removed skin from my Dad’s stomach to give him skin on his inner hand, next he re-attached my Dad’s right thumb, but for some reason did not or could not attach the first through fourth fingers on his right hand.
After the finger severing accident to my Dad’s right hand, whenever my Dad did hard work (manual labor), his hand would bleed and the finger nubs would seep fluid a bit, but he never complained about the hard work or the fact that he no longer had the fingers on his right hand. He hated when kids and other people stared at his hand because he felt judged and he knew that most people did not care what happened, they would just label him as handicap. My Dad HATED labels……especially ones that defied who he was as a Black man!!!!
Now that you know a little more about my Dad, you can understand how spectacular it was that he would even think or desire to mow his lawn, manage his garden for his family, and then cut his neighbors’ lawns as a “kind gesture.” Dad’s lawn lesson gives me hope. In this 21st Century, I often find it hard to respect some of today’s men because they tend to be too lazy, too driven by excuses, and too unwilling to accept responsibility. I thought about my Dad today and I decided to highlight him as a great renaissance man who, even after losing the fingers on his right hand: he cooked, cleaned, repaired appliances, planted and harvested his garden, preached, worked at the church, worked as a Carpenter, was an ordained Minister, raised his four children, ran a home peach/berry cobbler business, was a husband for 27 years to my Mom, and helped others whenever he could.
So the moral of my story is, never forget how small random acts of kindness can really impact someone’s day or life, even if it costs you more than you think that you have to give. Love costs! If love does not cost you anything (time, convenience, etc), then perhaps you are not showing love at all.