Saturday, September 11, 2010

One of My Most Important Lessons...

I remember it like it was yesterday. And, even though the year was 1956, and I was 12 years old at the time, every detail is etched into my brain. That's how it is with important lessons in life---when you really learn them, they stay with you.

My dad decided that since I was now 12 and well on my way to "becoming a man", as he put it, it was time I began to take some responsibility around the house. How would I like to help a little with the yard work?

Yes, my heart leapt at the thought. I pictured myself pushing the lawn mower. That would certainly announce to the neighborhood that I had arrived as a man. "Well, no", he said---he thought I should start out with the hand clippers and learn how to trim the grass growing beside the fence and around the sides of the house. Once I showed him I could do that job, he would see to it that I got my chance with the mighty lawn mower.

This, of course, was not what I had in mind, but it was a beginning, so I agreed to take the unglamorous responsibility of trimming the unsightly grass by the fence and the house. My dad told me I was responsible for completing the chore each week before Sunday.

Well, it rankled me to know that this task was beneath my considerable abilities. I really should have been given the job of directing the all-important lawn mower. I began to procrastinate. On Thursday, the weather was good and it was a perfect time to do my trimming chore, but I thought it best to put it off until Friday.

On Friday, it was a great time to accomplish the one-hour job, but I reasoned that Saturday would also be a good day for it. Saturday was a glorious day, but my friends were calling me to play baseball with them. In short, I procrastinated my way through the time I was supposed to have the task finished.

On Sunday after church, my dad inquired if I had done the job I had agreed to do.

"No sir", I said.

"Why not?" he calmly asked.

"I guess I forgot", I lied, not wanting to admit that I had simply put it off indefinitely.

"Son", he said, "I want you to remember this all your life---don't ever agree to do something and then not do it". Then, in a stern voice, he continued, "Now get out there and do the work you were supposed to already have done."

"But dad", I responded, "I can't do it now---it's raining".

"I'm only going to tell you this once more," he replied. "Get out there and do your work."

So, there I was, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Houston, soaking wet, sitting on soggy ground, clipping grass beside the fence, silently cursing my father's harshness and my mother's lack of intervention.

I finished the job in about an hour, and I came inside to change clothes. My mom said the neighbors had called and wanted to know if she was aware of the fact that Clinton was outside doing yard work in the rain. She said she told them, "Yes, we are aware of that. Clinton is being taught an important lesson in life."

It is a lesson that has stayed with me. I sure glad I had great parents. And, now that I'm much older, I can report that the lawn mower is much more appealing when you are 12 than when you are 62.

1 comment:

  1. A lesson well learned ... I need to heed the advice in this story. (Please, no comment :-)