I have been reminded of the following fact, twice, during the past week: Most parents will do anything to help out their children, regardless of the age of those children.
My youngest son and his fiancé had to travel out of state last weekend to attend the wedding of one of their friends. My wife begged to house-sit for them while they were gone, as well as care for their pets. After taking them to the airport, she returned to their house and the house-cleaning began at full speed.
Trust me when I say that our kids are not slobs, but Judy, and her obsessive-compulsive disorder, can’t resist to give their house a complete makeover anytime they are gone for more than a couple of days. She even got me in on the act one day, when she called to ask me to pick up a couple of new porch lights and install them at the kids’ house. Gladly, I joined the OCD parade.
As another example, one of our neighbors (a young, single man) left with some friends for the weekend to go on a hunting trip. I’ll bet he hadn’t made it across the state line, before I saw his mother pull into his driveway and start unloading her vehicle. Brooms, mops, a vacuum, and enough cleaning supplies to start her own maid service, led me to believe that all mothers in this neighborhood are afflicted with the same syndrome.
I first became aware of this parental disorder at the tender age of 12. My sister and her husband, along with four of their five children, had moved to California to make their fortune, in the booming economy of the West Coast. They invested every penny they had (as well as a few pennies they didn’t have) in a small construction business. With that being their first venture into the business world, they had not considered the accounts payable and accounts receivable do not necessarily work in unison. They were out of business in less than a year.
My parents didn’t have any extra money laying around to help them move back home, but Dad did have the natural resources of the farm and an unmatched work ethic, plus a 12-year old son whose labor was free, if said son wanted to continue to eat and have a place to sleep.
In between the regular work on the farm that summer, Dad and I went to the cedar breaks, every day, to begin logging out Eastern Red Cedar logs that could be turned into cash at a local sawmill. Dad would saw down the trees, cut off the larger limbs with the gigantic chainsaw, as well as cut them to length. I would follow behind, trimming off the smaller limbs with an axe. When we knew we had a truck load, Dad would hitch up Old Buck, the work horse, and pull the logs out, one by one, down to an open area where we could load the truck.
It was that summer I made the conscious decision to try my best to make it to heaven because if hell was any hotter than a cedar break in July, I wanted no part of it.
By the end of summer, we had logged out enough cedar to pay for sister’s return trip to the Ozarks, and I knew three things: You do whatever you can for family, logging was not a career option for me, and never, ever, go to California.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’