The first time I mowed this year I cried. I didn’t cry because it was the beginning of summer meaning I would be mowing nearly every week. No, I was crying because reality struck hard, again.
Saturday morning, bright and early before I would have ever thought to wake up, my momma was outside on the mower with the biggest insulated mug she could find filled with iced tea. She would spend hours mowing on that old green mower before it got too hot to deal with life outside of anything that didn’t have air conditioning.
A few summers we had a garden with family friends Rick and Nancy. Evenings were spent weeding, watering, and general gardening care and love. This was only after weekends spent tilling the land, planting, etc.
Mom and I would plant flowers. Mostly they were the cheap seed packets you could buy at WalMart but sometimes we’d buy pretty blooming ones and repot them to show off on the front deck. We took extra care with her rose bushes and made sure they were fed the best rose food we could find.
Some evenings we ate dinner on the front deck with Dusty and Missy laying at our feet waiting for something to drop. The favorite go to during the summer was BLT sandwiches with fresh tomatoes from the garden. Or, typically, just BT sandwiches because why have lettuce when we could have extra tomato?
The first time I mowed this summer it was like a walk down memory lane.
Underneath the oak tree in the front I remember how dad put the garden hose up in a branch so the water poured down one particularly hot summer. The dog and I played for hours in the shade with that hose in the tree. It was better than any sprinkler he could have bought us.
The old garden patch, the pain that is now growing so thick and tall whether or not it rains, made me cry the hardest. Not only is my mom and dad gone but so is uncle Rick. There were countless memories made there and laughter that still echoes to this day.
The spot by the barn where my brother has parked his fifth wheel reminded me of when we had a fifth wheel and all the trips we took across Kansas in it with Dusty. One summer we spent my entire summer break in that fifth wheel and only came home for a day or two at the beginning of the month to pay bills.
The north spot north of the barn reminded me of the summer we had tilled and expanded the garden up there. Neighborhood kids had come around and we spent a day playing in the mud. Mom was furious when she got home because we were all covered head to toe in mud.
The reality hit me, again, that day as I mowed; mom and dad are gone.
My momma isn’t here to prod my ass up out of bed on a Saturday to get outside and work.
Dad isn’t here to continually and faithfully bring me water or iced tea as I make circles on the mower.
Momma isn’t here to tell me “I told you so.” when I get sunburned after forgetting to put sunscreen on after she had already reminded me twice.
Dad isn’t here to make burgers for lunch and to sit on the front deck and eat them with a cold Pepsi.
It’s just me and the memories.
And a dog who isn’t smart enough to lay in the shade instead of the sun.