My Lawn Mower

Like most suburbanites, I have a lawn mower.

It is not a fancy self-propelled front wheel drive variable speed with electric start, mulching blade, four on the floor, air conditioning, and whatever else lawn care equipment has evolved in to these days.  My lawn mower looks like something you might find sitting in the front lawn of a house that hasn’t cut the grass since the summer of 1997.  The kind of lawn mower that you would expect to see sitting in the front yard of a house with missing shutters and surrounded by old Maxwell House coffee cans and over-sized tires.

My lawn mower is a Lawn Boy.  It used to be Silver Arrow.  Now it is a mixture of dull silver, rust, and years of mud and lawn staining.  The pull cord looks like the rope we had in gym class, knotted repairs every 4 or 5 inches.  The front wheel on the right side hangs on by the tatters of the plastic axle and grim determination.  The spark plug continues to fire because of the green electrical tape I began putting on to it 10 years ago.  The collection bag was lost in the summer of ’09 after a long battle with tears and the ineffectiveness of my duct tape being able to hold it together.  It hasn’t held a full quart of oil since Clinton has been Commander-in-Chief and the blades are no sharper than a pair of scissors you would find in a preschool (it rips the grass more than cuts it).

It is a sad, tired looking machine that shows every bit of its 25 years of cutting grass.

Three years ago I was ready to put it on the curb to be sent to a landfill somewhere.  I said my goodbyes.  I made my peace with it. I published a eulogy.

But the lawn mower never made it to the curb.  It stayed in my garage, denting my car every time my kids opened their doors.  It cut grass the following summer.  I made excuses of all kinds as to why I should hold on to it.

I played the cheap card.  I had better things to buy with the $150 it would have taken to buy a new lawn mower.

I played the logical card. It was still running I might as well keep it.

I played the masculine card.  That lawn mower could run over moon rocks covered in titanium and keep going.

I played the patriotic card.  That is genuine American craftsmanship you can’t just throw that away.  What’s next, we burn the flag?

I even played the sarcastic card. Why not keep it in the garage; it had already dented the passenger door on my Accord.

I had made every excuse as to why the lawn mower needed to stay except for the real reason.  The lawn mower didn’t start out as mine.  It was my Dad’s.

Since he died, I have kept every item I could get my hands on that sparked any sort of memory of him.  I’ve kept cuff links of his for shirts I don’t own.  I have tie tacks even though I don’t wear ties.  I have a compass of his despite not even using the compass app I have on my phone.  I have jackets of his I outgrew when I was a senior in high school.  I keep all of these things because as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, I don’t want any memory of him to fade.  I keep his spirit close to mine.  I try to think of all of the memories I have of him every day but after 9 years, it becomes more difficult to remember everything.  So something as trivial as an old insert from his wallet can be enough to preserve the clarity of my father’s memory.

So it stands to reason as to why parting with my lawn mower has been such a challenge.  If a wallet insert is able to rekindle and stoke the flames of my memory, his lawn mower might as well be his biography.

So this Spring, as the grass came back from our winter and grew long enough for my wife to start bugging me to cut it, I wheeled out the old Lawn Boy for another lawn cutting season.  Cher hasn’t been on her retirement tour longer than my lawn mower.

It’s still stained, tarnished, rusted and ugly.  I can’t cut my entire yard without smoke coming from the engine.  I have to pull on the cord with just enough power and English to not snap it and the electrical tape on the spark plug has so many layers on it, it could be used as body armor for combat missions.  I have to go over lap my cut lines more than most because the wheel that hasn’t fallen off yet bobs the front end up and down.

But my lawn mower still does it’s job.  It starts.  It cuts the grass.  It can run over anything smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle and it reminds me of my Dad.  When he was alive and telling me my cut lines weren’t straight.  And the truth is, even when my lawn mower stops running, cutting, and navigating over large cumbersome items, I have no plans on getting rid of it.  Because even when it can’t do all of those things doesn’t mean it won’t still work.

Happy Father’s Day.



The Beginning
About jetts31

Husband, father to two girls, dog walker, living with male pattern baldness. In addition to writing on his own site, Jimmy contributes to DadsRT,, and the Southern Berks News. He is the world record holder in his house for 'Best Hiding Spot' during Hide and Go Seek.

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