My dad always said: “If it’s worth doing, its worth doing right”. What generally followed was the colossal chore from Hell which I’m convinced was designed purely for the purpose of killing me. The fact that I survived to tell the story is a testament to his Excellency’s perseverance! Dad was the best at everything he did and instilled an ironman work ethic in me for which I’m both eternally grateful and lucky to have survived. Dad always said “Preacher or Pirate; be the best at it” He also said those two professions were more alike than they appeared; he spoke his mind, that’s for sure. I never received overdoses of praise, but that wasn’t necessary with my Dad. The fact that he asked me to tackle the job was reward enough. This meant he believed in my ability to do it right and I knew that if he didn’t, he’d direct the order elsewhere. My dad always said “Son; you’re pound for pound the strongest man on my crew”. And there I stood; five foot nothing; tipping the scales at a whopping 82 and ½ pounds…feeling big as a mountain! His confidence in me fueled my ambition and commitment to the task every time. Making every move count; this was his forte and he was amazing to watch. The affable skill displayed in every task from his graceful operation of a tractor to his tending of a cantankerous grandchild was purely masterful; he took his time. Dad always said “Don’t get in a hurry; that’s how things get broke” He never believed in rushing anything. Working on Dad’s landscaping crew was like juggling jars of nitroglycerin. He didn’t give second chances; one slip up and Dad always said “I’ll just do it myself’. I labored every summer doing my eminent best; surveying my work for imperfections; always finding it flawless. Dad would quietly gaze over the terrain as if he could see beyond the dirt, into some secret dimension where all things are revealed. Then he would lean towards me and drop his head a bit to sight down his pointing finger; “Now Lee; if you want this to work, you’ll need to cut her down a little along this side here. That way she’ll come on out of there like she aught to”. I’d focus on the precise location he’d singled out to see what I had missed and somehow…he was always right. There it would be, right in front of my eyes. “Dad, how did I miss that?” Dad always said “You were watching the clock and not your work son”. I’ll never forget the first time he said: “That’ll do”…because Dad didn’t always say that. My Dad’s retired now, living in a sleepy little community in South Carolina and says very little. “Never say more than is needed” Dad always said.
Thanks for the lessons Dad.