Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Celebrating Sixty Years

“Mama, you paid that kid way too much for mowing our lawn!” my oldest sister complained. 
This topic was revisited forty-something years after the event.  On the occasion of our parents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary, my sisters reminisced about Mom & Dad's parenting techniques.
My sister continued, “Mom answered, ‘How much do you think I should have paid him?’”
“One dollar.”
“‘Alright, you’re hired.  I’ll pay you one dollar for mowing our lawn.’”
“So for the rest of . . . forever, I had to mow our lawn for just a dollar.  Take into consideration that the neighbor kid got to use a power mower and ours was just a push mower.”
“Don’t forget the hill!” my next-oldest-sister chimed in. “It was fine going down but then you had to DRAG it back up.”
“And the grass had no respect for the push mower,” my oldest sister was on a roll.  “For the power mower, the grass stood stiff at attention to get its buzz-cut.  But for ME, the lawn was like an unruly mob doing the wave, bowing down before the blades and thumbing its nose as it sprung back up behind me.”
We all laughed at my sister’s imitation of the rebellious laugh the grass seemingly bellowed as it taunted her efforts to tame it.
The value of the shaggy-trimmed-lawn-job was way more than a dollar. 

There were a lot of lessons we learned from our parents over the years—some of which we even valued at the time we learned them.

Warren & Arlene
May 1951

A few of the lessons we learned from our parents:
“Do the duty that lies nearest to you and already the rest will seem clear. ”
“Let’s fight the war from here.”
“Don’t shame the family.”
Responsibility—if you sign up to take cookies to an event, you take the cookies even if something comes up that prevents you from attending the event.
Respect others—no matter how young or how different, whether people or pets
Keep in touch through letters
Cultural heritage: listening to folk songs; attending cultural events and then talking about it over ice cream.
The value of well-prepared and presented talks
Watching and listening to, and then discussing movies, plays and books
Appreciation of the arts, music and theater
Creativity—turning a squiggly line into a picture, drawing, writing, painting
Loving life-long learning—the kind of education that feeds your soul
Colorful meals with table topics
Hard work
Principle of the pentagonal man who firmly maintains the five strengths: emotional, social, intellectual, physical, & spiritual
Autumn colors and fallen leaves
Enjoying the outdoors and instilling a love of nature
Teaching how to wash dishes— if the dishes weren’t washed properly, the child who had done a sloppy job found the soiled dishes at her place setting—and next time she did a better job 
Projects—even after things fall apart, they can be pieced back together again
Examples of selflessness,  love, courage, resourcefulness, and perspective
Being there
The value of family heritage through telling our own and our ancestors’ stories
Creating beautiful and useful things with material:  wood, cloth, yarn
No matter how overwhelming life feels, we can pull through to the end
Thanks Dad & Mom.  I love you.


  1. Once my Dad offered ten dollars to the child that would scrape the barnacles off our 30 ft ocean-fishing boat. He could do it chemically, but the chemical cost $10. That was a lot of money! So the next Saturday found me lying atop a saw horse with a putty knife and a garden hose in my bathing suit. Since my Easter lily legs stuck out underneath, it was like being paid to sun bathe, right? But barnacles are rather known for holding on. . .TIGHT. Every square inch was a separate project. The shards flipped into my eyes and the sawhorse was painfully narrow.
    After five hours, I was badly sunburned on my thighs with the rest of my skin crusted in flakes and bits of oily ocean debris. The boat was not quite half done. I went in to my Dad and told him I quit. He had to go buy the chemical and it still cost $10. I never got a penny. I thank him for that. How many parents today would have the wisdom to refuse to pay a child that had worked hard but left the job unfinished? An unfinished job is a job you haven't done.
    Thanks for your dollar-lawn story. I'll remember it!

  2. I love your parents and your family. Your parents raised beautiful, gifted, intelligent women. I both envy and admire all of you. I remember your mom being patient and kind, and always with a smile on her ageless face. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with the rest of us!

  3. Thanks for the memories and reminders. Makes me teary. Here's one more.

    Do the job right. Don't just give it a lick and a promise.