Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Power Of Two. Three. Four.

The renovations upstairs have been happening for well over a month. We've assisted with various projects and tasks. During this time, and when planning our Big Painting Project next month, I have become a bit reflective. I can't help but let my mind wander back to a few decades ago when I diligently painted kitchen cupboards and popcorn walls in the 2 apartments upstairs in the farmhouse my parents bought in 1980. Those tedious weekends happened when tenants moved out. My Mom, Dad, brother and I would spend the weekend upstairs. Working.

This isn't the only time when I find myself spiraling backward in time. During the late Spring, when we plant our Porch of Produce, I think back to the days when I used to help my Grampie with his 2 enormous vegetable gardens. We'd spend the entire afternoon, in the hot sun, weeding, watering, picking, and fluffing the soil. At the end of the day, we'd dine on tomato sandwiches with extra mayo and cucumber wedges with lots of salt and pepper.

During the early season, before the vegetables were ready for harvesting, dinner consisted of green pepper pizza from the village pizza parlor sprinkled with red pepper flakes.


Dessert always came first. It was always a bag of plain M&M's that my Grampie pulled out of his shirt pocket after we walked to the pond and skipped rocks.

Those. Were. The. Days.

When I share these moments with everyone, my intention isn't to nonchalantly drag today's youth through the mud. Yes, times have noticeably changed. That became apparent when I worked in city group homes and started teaching Independent Living Classes a decade ago.

I just recently retired from teaching Independent Living and tutoring high school and college-aged kids.

While it saddens me greatly that most of the youth today, including both teens and young adults, is on a totally different realm than we were several decades ago, there is very little I can do about that. I can't compete with technology and the digital world. I no longer have the patience. I have thrown in the proverbial white towel when it comes to encouraging parents of these youth to put their foot down, follow through, and embrace tough love.

At the end of the day, my true intention is to reiterate the power of two. Three. Four. It's what happens when people join forces to get stuff done.

Usually, this "stuff" isn't fun. It's the stuff very few want to volunteer to help with because it can only get done after work or on the weekends. More than likely, it's the "stuff" that sucks. It's the "stuff" that shreds your nerves with a dull rusty knife.

Yes, there are moments when the people who join forces aren't at their best, but life happens. 


This "stuff" is what makes memories. It's the "stuff" you remember decades after it happened. It's the lessons learned. The experience. The wisdom gained. It's the work ethics you white knuckle years down the road.

I remember when I was a young teen and my parents bought a piece of land 3 1/2 miles into the woods in Pittsburg, New Hampshire. Long weekends and vacations were spent there, clearing the land so my parents could build a camp. My Mom would pack lunches in the cooler. We spent over 8 hours a day cutting brush and small trees and hauling large rocks. It was a far cry from vacationing at Disney or the beach.

But we did it. Without complaining. 

When I reflect back on all of this "stuff" it's not the sore muscles or being inconvenienced that I remember vividly. It's not about how many weekends I missed out with friends. It's not about how many Saturday or Sunday mornings I had to get up early to work.

Or, how jealous I was because the few friends I did have spent their vacations having fun. 

What I remember most prominently are the good times that surfaced during and, more so, afterward. I lost count how many times we ran down the dirt road to the beach area my parents owned on Lake Francis. A quick dip in the spring-fed lake was enough to cool off from the Summer heat.

I remember my father lighting the grill to cook hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, and buttered potatoes for dinner. Often times, he'd light a campfire so we could roast marshmallows for dessert.

Before starting another grueling day of clearing land, my parents took us out to breakfast at the old country store for giant omelets made with farm fresh eggs, pancakes with real maple syrup, and homemade English muffins slathered with freshly made jams.

Lisa has shared similar stories with me. The family house she grew up in was renovated by her father. She and her siblings helped.

Lisa's Grandparents had multiple vegetable gardens. Lisa would spend the afternoons after school and on the weekends helping them tend to the gardens. The fruits and vegetables gathered would be canned to get the family through the winter months.

She has shared story after story. And, like with mine, what she remembers most is the camaraderie, food, lessons learned, and the memories made.

Lisa is the hardest worker I know. She takes care of her family. She helps others even if that means sacrificing what little free time she has.

I'm proud of these memories and the stories Lisa and I continue to exchange even though we've shared them multiple times in the past.

I'm grateful that we were raised by hard-working, strong, motivated, and determined adults who stood their ground and didn't shy from displaying resilience towards our occasional tantrums and defiance.

I'm grateful that our parents and grandparents were strict with chores, tasks, and dictating our schedule on the weekends when there was extra work to do.

I'm grateful for the power of two. Three. Four. And, sometimes more.

This morning I sliced up a loaf of homemade bread I made yesterday. Two slices. Toasted them both in the oven. Slathered both with butter. I put local honey on one. Homemade jam on the other. That's the breakfast I presented to Lisa, along with a fresh cup of coffee, for breakfast before she headed off to work.

She bit into a slice.


I knew that single bite brought back a world of memories.

I got it.

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