Lessons we learned from our fathers

As Father’s Day approaches, I was in a discussion about chores and lessons learned at home. In a recent column, I mentioned using a scythe. A few folks chimed in with some memories of their Dad’s or Grandpa’s prowess with the sharp, curved blade. My buddy Brian recalls that his Mom used to say it looked like his Dad was dancing as he cut through the long grass.

I could never swing it more than twice until the point of the blade stuck in the ground. If I hit a rock, Dad could hear it no matter how far away he was, and he knew the blade would need to be touched up with the stone.

I remember Dad working all the time, gardening, repairing, milking, mending fences or doing something with the animals. Maybe the six kids in the house had something to do with the time he spent in the yard. But we had our chores and they were expected to be done right and done on time. Maybe it was hauling pails of water to the trough, separating the milk and cream or filling the wood box. We never had the luxury to say, “I’ll get it later.” Work first, play after, was Dad’s rule.

I am approaching the age my Dad was when he retired and remember him as being “old.”  He lived another 20 productive years, and those were the years I got to know him. We could sit and talk, work in his garden or trim his yard and share some stories. I recall a twinge of jealousy one day when I came to his place and saw him playing hockey in the driveway with my son. I couldn’t recall him ever doing that with me.

Some words came to me when my grandson arrived just as my Dad was leaving, and reminded me it was my turn to pass things on. The seasons go round and round. At least, that’s what McGregor says.

Hand in Hand

We cross the street, the hand in mine

Is warm and soft and small;

Fingers wrapped so tight on mine,

I feel so powerful and tall.


Beside the bed, the hand in mine

Is frail and pale and cold;

A smile comes with feeble squeeze,

I feel so scared and old.


Between them both, our hands reach out

Amidst our doubts and fears;

Our strength provides a common bridge,

A span to link their years.


Many stood, where we stand now,

We never saw their strain;

We held on tight as children do,

Oblivious to pain.


Did we learn kindness, or is it duty,

Which brought us here to-day;

Where generations on both sides,

Try hard to slip away.


It’s your bridge you’re constructing now,

So best build with love and care;

So when your time for crossing comes,

There’s strong hands waiting there.

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