Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Yard Work

Print Print
James Martin
Sunday, June 9, 2013

I miss doing yard work. With this statement my father is rolling over in his grave chortling and my wife is simply rolling her eyes.

As a child, I would female dog and moan when it came to mowing even our small postage stamp yard. Of course it was so long ago that we used a manual mower, and the fantasy phrase "self propelled" was a dream beyond the reach of my small imagination. That mower was where I learned the true meaning of hard work. Eventually we upgraded to an electric mower. I used that mower to destroy many extension chords; another example of the hidden costs of environmentalism. Kermit was right, it's not easy being green.

When we got our first home in Elkhorn, it came with a large yard that necessitated a riding lawnmower. That is one of those items filed under "first world problems." So I bought me one of them there small lawn tractors for takin' care of my 1/3 acre homestead. Driving that mower made me feel one with nature, yet powerful, exerting my will over the land. But instead of Oliver Wendell Holmes, I was Oliver Wendell Douglas, Eddie Albert's character on Green Acres. All the more fitting that our subdivision was called Green Acres. It was ..... the place to be.

Our next home had a smaller yard and my riding mower stayed behind when the U-Haul truck pulled away from the old house. The new abode was new construction, so there was not much lawn mowing going on that first year. Eventually the lawn was lush and required attention. Fortunately that fantasy of "self propelled" had become a reality. Though my propensity to whine about yard work continued, I donned my earphones, popped a cassette into my walkman, and rocked my way around the yard. For you youngens, a walkman is an antique I-phone that plays up to 14 whole songs by one artist, yet is unable to serf the net, play games, make calls, or even text : ( But it did play my favorite music. To this day fresh cut grass reminds me of The Eagles Greatest Hits and Seven Bridges Road reminds me of the side yard of that house. The soundtrack of our lives.

By the time we arrived in our present home, I had turned into my father and our first wave of kids became teens. It was now my duty to have my kids do the work I did not want to do. And by golly if they did not want to do it they heard about the manual mower of my youth, regardless of the relevancy. Why in my day.....Hey you kids, stay of the lawn...getting old really is a cliche.

The teen years for some reason result in what I refer to as "chore blindness," the inability to see (without parental prompts) the yard needs to be mowed, shoes picked up, dishes put away, etc. Some may argue this blindness is simply a by-product of testosterone that is never outgrown; to that I assert the fifth. Nevertheless, with parental prompts, the yard was always done (though with varying degrees of attention to detail). It appeared that weed whacking was a separate chore that required additional prompts. Maybe someone will invent "chore lasik" so teens can see those undone chores.

On the rare occasion the mood struck, in would go the earbuds and out I would go, to mow the lawn and do yard work. And it felt good. With yard work there is a visual job to be seen, progress easily measured, and most importantly the satisfaction of working hard and a job well done. I do not get to experience that feeling any longer.

It is interesting to me the things that I miss.

Last updated: 8:23 am Monday, July 29, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

Print Print