SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2012 AT 12:40PM
When I was 7 years old, my family’s house was destroyed by a flood. In the summer of 1968 there had been a huge forest fire behind our home in the foothills and in January of the next year it rained for “forty days and forty nights” and the hills didn’t hold the water. The creek behind our home overflowed and because we were situated on a corner of an otherwise very tame, but very deep creek, the water backed up, jumped the corner and went right thru the back of our house and nearly pulled it off its foundation.
In order to ‘save’ the house the men of the neighborhood circled around behind the water flow and knocked holes in the walls just at floor level. When they knocked the whole in my parents bedroom, where my little brother and I stored our Legos under their bed, the little muddy Lego blocks came pouring out of the hole along with all the mud and water.
During the clean up process, after digging out all the mud, tearing up the floors, digging out the mud in the crawl space, and eventually rebuilding it all with the help of my older brothers, my father taught me a valuable lesson.Dad was digging a ditch in our backyard for a sprinkler system. He had this shovel with him, not a shovel like it but THIS very shovel. I stood with him and watched him work. He was meticulous about his technique. He would cut down the right side, then cut down the left side, then cut the end of what was going to be one shovels length then slip this stub nosed shovel under the turf and dig out one perfect patch of ground. He did this across the entire length of our lawn. It was a big lawn.
As he worked, he talked to me and one of the things he told me, I will never forget.
“Christopher, I don’t care what you do with your life. You can do anything you want. But, no matter what you do, even if you are just digging ditches for a living, do it the very best way you can!”
When my father passed away in 2006, I spent the evening with my mom that first night and the next morning, I walked out into the garage where a few of my dad’s old tools were stored, he had long since given most of them away to my other brothers who ACTUALLY USE tools! I reached up on the hooks on the garage wall where the shovel was hanging and I took it down. I told my mom, “This, more than anything my father could have given me, is the most important possession that I want to have.”
The shovel sits in the corner of my home office, I look at it every day when I get ready for work.
Happy Fathers Day dad. I miss you.