Nearly 20 years ago, I remember waking up one morning and deciding to do a large amount of garage/yard work. While my parents hadn’t asked me to do so, I was responsible for the lawn care at our family home, and I took the job seriously because it gave me a sense of satisfaction to work with me hands.
As a then-teenager, I think that there was a part of me that liked ‘feeling like a man’ when I worked hard. I’m probably breaking a bunch of gender stereotypes when I say that, but I think it’s safe to say that some chores often fall upon the shoulders of the gender with a penis.
That day, I remember working until I was completely covered in sweat, grass clippings and grease. As I put the mower back in the garage, my Dad walked in to the garage and he commented on the amount of work I did that day, before offering me a line that I’ll never forget:
”Aaron, this is the one time I wish I could give you a beer.”
Those words meant so much to me, and I realize just how much they did, as an adult that can articulate the impact it made. In that moment, I felt a sense of camaraderie with my Father – talking about something that wasn’t allowed in our house; alcohol. I also felt affirmed as both his son and as a man.
I imagined what it would be like to see my Dad walking into the garage and cracking open two beers. It would have been the first beer we had together, as well as the first beer I ever saw him drink.
As a son who is now a Dad, I think about moments like this a lot. I remember all of the little ways my Dad made me feel special, strong, smart, talented, creative and capable. For all of the times that I broke his tools, my Dad never stopped offering me the privilege of using them.
I miss my Dad. I miss him more than I know how to write. There isn’t a single day that goes by where I don’t think about him, wish he were here to talk to or be the extra set of hands I need to work on my own home improvement projects, or business.
I thought about my Dad a lot today as I repaired a weed eater, mowed grass and single-handedly moved a washer and dryer into my multi-story home.
In collect, my Dad worked as a commercial mover to help pay his bills. In that job, he routinely worked 80+ hour weeks – moving.
Amongst the movers, my Dad had a nickname – “the Machine” given to him because he was the only man on the moving crew that could single-handedly pick up and move full filing cabinets.
My Dad. The Machine.
This week, I found an incredible buy on a local marketplace; a red front-loading washer and dryer from LG – the exact set I’ve wanted to buy for nearly a decade. The owners had recently bought a larger unit and simply wanted the set gone for $125.
Thinking I could move the units myself, I borrowed a dolly and used it to move the appliances into my car. They both fit. Perfectly.
As soon as I got home, I realized I had a problem; the units were way to bulky to move up the stairs by myself using a regular dolly.
Every part of me wanted to hit snooze on the project and simply hire a TaskRabbit to complete the move. However, I remembered my favorite piece of advice my Dad ever gave me:
”Use the right tools for the job.”
I needed an appliance dolly. I quickly headed to UHAUL to hand them $10 to rent one, and I loaded it into the car so I could try my hand at moving them up a flight of stairs at my house.
“Dad, I could really use you right now.” I thought, as I looked up the flight of stairs with the dryer firmly attached to the dolly. Halfway up the stairs, my calves and feet began to cramp worse than they ever have before. The only solution was to keep going up, and I did.
Step-by-step, I made it up the stairs and set the dryer onto my living room floor with a loud thud. The washer was next, and it went up the stairs without a hitch – paired with another salvo of teeth-clenching cramps.
After moving the units into the laundry room, I realized the dryer had the wrong prong type for the large electrical outlet. I immediately looked up plug adaptors, and noticed they had very questionable safety concerns due to grounding wires. However, I decided to go to Lowe’s to see what my options were.
At Lowe’s, I ran into an employee who had helped me on a previous trip. I explained to him my predicament, and he quickly took me to the cabling section where he advised me to install a new cord, rather than using an adaptor.
As I turned to leave, I stopped to thank him for his help on this trip and the one prior.
“Dean, I wanted to tell you a big ‘thank you’ for your help. You helped me a few months ago, and your help was the reason I now shop at Lowe’s instead of Home Depot.”
A few months prior, Dean went the extra mile to help me find plastic adaptors for my aquarium. While he was helping me, I instantly thought of my Dad and how much I miss having somebody to go to a hardware store with that knows what they’re doing / looking for. His care and attention that day helped me feel like I was somebody’s son, and that made a huge impact on me.
As a Dad, I want to set an example for Atlas. In every way I can, I want him to look up at me and feel confident that he’s being raised by the best man on the planet, and thats a benchmark I try to reach for every day I wake up.
I never had that beer with my Dad. I hope I never have it with Atlas, either.