Today, for the first time in 19 years, I mowed a yard. And not just any yard. My own yard. This one hour of good-old-fashioned sweat made me feel closer to Dad than I have in a long time.
For the past several months, my lovely wife and I went through the most dehumanizing, probing and painful experience of our lives. With apologies to US military interrogators, if they haven’t been through the home- buying process, they don’t know anything about torture!
After filling out hundreds of forms, retrieving years and years of tax returns (“What do you mean a pastor is self-employed?”), producing a year’s supply of bank statements (several times), defending every negative blot on my credit since I sold Christmas cards in the 3rd grade, then making offers that were outbid on two houses, paying for inspections, paying for appraisals, firing 2 different mortgage agents and wanting to quit over 100 times, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!
For one month, we have enjoyed our beautiful new home at 6804 North 30th Street in McAllen, and Rachel has especially enjoyed all the room to run and play. But as the rain and flash floods have poured out of the sky over the last 3 weeks, our backyard turned into a tropical jungle, with 5-foot high weeds and thick, dense grass that would humble a Tiger Woods 6-iron.
Since lawn-mowing services in McAllen charge $35 a pop, I did the math, and realized that a $99 mower from WalMart would pay for itself after three lawn-mowing sessions. So Esther and her dad returned from WalMart last week with a brand new (gasp) “some assembly required” lawn mower in the trunk.
After 3 1/2 hours of frustration, my brother-in-law Eddie assembled the mower, and I was ready for business. This afternoon, I put on an old pair of jeans, filled the tank with gas, and pulled the starter rope, and for the first time in 19 years, I heard a mower engine rumble to life! Now I mowed lawns for money when I was in high school, then mowed my Aunt Sharon’s lawn for 2 summers, but since the age of 21, I had been drinking sweet tea and watching landscape companies mow my apartment lawn from the comfort of my air-conditioned living room.
What a feeling! There is something intrinsically satisfying about mowing your own lawn, especially for a white-collar guy. After sitting in an office all week, there you are, pushing a gas-powered blade through tall weeds, hearing the blade chop and slice, smelling the freshly cut grass, and listening to the motor roar and groan. I had forgotten the satisfaction of watching row after row of tall grass come down to nicely trimmed lawn, and feeling the pride of manual labor and sweat.
I remember my Dad saying that one of the few relaxing things that he did on our 12-acre property in Alamo growing up, was clearing brush and mowing the lawn. We thought he was nuts, but if I could go back in time to the 70’s, I would find dad with his work gloves, long-sleeved shirt and cowboy hat and I would say, “Dad, from one middle-aged preacher to another, you were right. This is awesome!”