In August 2006 while Katie was pregnant with Nathan we decided that our family needed a new home. We knew that our 2 bedroom townhome was just not going to be able to accomodate our growing family. We purchased this home with an acre of land and I was excited about the growth of our family and the size of the yard. We were moving to a place with just over an acre from a place that seemed to be the size of a postage stamp. A place where I would finally have a need for a riding lawn mower and from a place that I could cut the grass with a weed-whacker. We were moving up like George and Weezy. We had finally made it!
The day we moved to the new home I went out and purchased the new lawn mower. A brand new Cub Cadet with a 50 inch cut. I was so excited that I failed to buy gas for the new mower. We had to push it to the shed. I was so excited that I failed to measure the opening of the shed. Needless to say – the mower was not going to fit in the shed. My friends who had gathered to help me unload the mower suggested that I just leave it outside until other accomodations could be made. Me being the proud owner of this new machine that proudly displayed Made in the U.S.A. on the back was not going to allow this fine piece of machinery to sit outside. I quickly got the saw and cut two notches in the shed so that the mower deck could fit inside. A bit hillbillish – I admit.
I enjoyed my time cutting the grass. I have always enjoyed being able to be alone, to reflect on life, work, etc. and hash out the worries of the world. Just me and myself in my own head. A lot can be fixed in the world by a person on a riding mower. I would plug in the iPhone and turn on the tunes…….all was right in the world.
Nathan was born in December 2006 and grew to love that lawn mower. By the time he was able to walk he was ready to ride. He would sit in my lap and just be in awe of everything. I can’t recall how many times that he rode the mower with me but it was many. I remember the times that I would go out and cut the grass without him and seeing him standing at the front door looking out at me. I couldn’t help but drive up to the front and pick him up. Even it were just for a few passes through the yard – he was happy. I have many, many fond memories of cutting the grass with Nathan on my lap. It had recently reached the point that he was almost to big to sit in my lap so he would stand between my legs and ride. He had become pretty good at steering and paid close attention to where he was driving. He knew that I was particular about how the lawn was cut and he was developing the same OCD tendencies. He loved it!
I remember filling the lawn mower with gas once and Nathan telling me “Dad, I love the smell of gas.” I talked with him briefly about how it was not good to smell gas but thinking to myself – I love the smell of gas too. I mean what red-blooded American boy/man doesn’t like the smell of gas? As I filled up the lawn mower today and the smell of gas came from the can – I thought about Nate and how he was all boy.
Often we would listen to music on the iPhone as we rode. I would give him one ear-piece and I would have the other. I remember holding him in my lap as we rode and just hugging him and telling him that I loved him. He would always respond “Love you too Dad.” Those rides were times that I will hold tightly and never forget.
Today I cut the grass for the first time since Nathan’s death. I plugged in the iPhone and walked to the shed to get the lawn mower out. I struggled through cutting the entire thing. That being alone, just me and myself, in my own head was hard to deal with. I knew that I needed to be out there working through it. I mean you can’t live the rest of your life without cutting the grass. It didn’t make it any easier.
A small job around the house turned out to be one of the hardest moments that I have had to deal with since his death. As I rode around the yard I began remembering all of the times that he was sitting on my lap riding that mower. I thought about how small of a task it seemed at the time and how much of an impact that small task with my son had on my life. I am not sure that I will ever enjoy mowing the lawn like I did when Nate was around. I do know that Nathan loved cutting the grass and his OCD about the grass would not allow me to neglect it. He would have insisted that we go out and cut the grass.
Each day we are faced with small things that seem so minor during the hustle and bustle of the real world. These small things that often seem like work are in retrospect the very things that we live for. I always knew that I enjoyed cutting the grass but never realized how much I enjoyed it until Nathan became part of that small task. I imagine that without Nate being part of the equation – it would just be another chore that needed done weekly. With Nathan – it was Great. Something we both loved! He made the small things in life – the great things in life!
Go Out. Be Great. Take a moment to enjoy the little things in life.