Opinion: Column: Mow, Mow, Mow Your Grass…

Opinion: Column: Mow, Mow, Mow Your Grass…

…Not gently by the stream, and not by yours truly, either. Yet another task that seems beyond this homeowner's ability.

Which is fine by me because the older I get, it seems the less capable I become, and the less inclined I am to risk life and limb in the pursuit of that which that doesn't make me happy. Throw in a lung cancer diagnosis and the last thing my re-wired (figuratively speaking) brain will allow me to do is anything which doesn't put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. And avoiding yard work ranks up there with most household tasks that a typical able-bodied homeowner takes pride in doing him or herself.

It's not so much that I take pride in avoiding it, it's just that I know my limitations, unlike Hal Holbrook in "Magnum Force."

Sharp objects, mechanical objects and/or electrical/spinning/rotating objects, objects with multiple doohickeys (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), objects which require assembly/reading instructions are all challenging for me. Moreover, none of it fascinates me in the least.

What fascinates me more is the level of interest and passion with which so many of my brethren are engaged in the process; from start to finish.

I just don't get it. Nor have I ever gotten it, and neither do I expect to get it in the future.

Perhaps this total lack of interest comes from the experience of being a life-long renter. Never during my pre-college daze was my family ever responsible for yard work, home repairs (inside or out), or had much of a need for tools, other than the most rudimentary: hammer, screwdriver, pliers, etc.

No power tools. Nothing electrical that required a plug/proximity to an outlet. No plumbing, and of course, nothing like a chainsaw.

My parents were children of the Depression and all they had time for was school, play and some work; yes, even as children. And living in tenement/multi-level housing hardly lent itself to anything but doing what was necessary to survive.

But as my parents so often said: everyone else they knew was experiencing similar hardships, so they didn't really realize what they were missing. Tools? Repairs? Amenities? Conveniences? Hardly. Toilet paper was a Sears catalogue cut into squares and hung on a nail in the bathroom down the hall – outside of their apartment.

They didn't have money or time for any of it. What money they earned was for food, rent, utilities and clothes; the most basic of basics.

It is through these experiences that my parents passed on their instincts and priorities to the their two Baby Boomer-era sons. There was ample love, affection and importance of family but not so much time and/or energy for interior and exterior home repairs, yard work, tools and what to do with them/how to use them as well as a variety of other homeowner-type tasks.

As a family of renters, it was never our responsibility. I suppose that was a match made in Depression-era heaven, because very little in our family's past prepared us for this new future.

When my father returned from his service in World War II (working in Washington, D.C., actually), he had, unlike Liam Neeson, no unique set of skills. He had to find some vocation/avocation that would provide for his family – which he did, as a salesman.

After living in Dorcester, Mass. for their entire lives (since their parents immigrated to America in the early 20th century), in 1958, my parents moved the family to Newton Centre, Mass. – for the schools. We spent the next 15 years as renters, and other than taking out the trash and the rubbish, I did very little to hone my homeowner-type skills.

I wouldn't say I've been stigmatized by this experience, but I learned very little that became useful in the maintenance and upkeep of the 275-year-old home my wife Dina and I have occupied for the past 25+ years. Other than knowing how to ask for help, that is.