What Dad Did for Me

Father’s Day 2020

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about my parents.  It may not be a conscious thought, but there’s always something that makes me feel their presence.  It might be something I see in the garden; they ran a greenhouse business for over forty years.  It might be something that pops out of my mouth that one of them frequently said.  Or, it could be touching an object I inherited that meant a lot to one of them.  Since it’s Father’s Day, I’m especially reflecting on my dad and the things he did for me. 

Dad had some heavy burdens.  Sometimes he was grumpy.  Running a greenhouse business is “worse than having cows,” my mother used to say.  On hot days, the plants in five greenhouses needed watering multiple times over.  That sounds simple, but it’s not.  Too much water, the plants end up rotting.  Too little water for too long and the plant withers and dies.  Worse yet, water the blossoms and the flowers lose their appeal to customers.  This was his precious inventory and it was difficult to hire someone who could take his place.  Along with this, he was interacting with customers, answering questions, and retrieving plants from the back greenhouses to fulfill a customer request.  On top of all that, he had to plant the sweet corn and potatoes and train and manage other employees to plant the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, melons, and more, at the busiest time for selling flowers.  During the spring and summer, it often felt like a three-ring circus at our place.

But there were other times.  I will always remember the first time I was allowed to ride with him on the tractor with his arm securely holding me right in front of the steering wheel.  He tapped Maple trees and kept a fire going outside to boil down the sap just to give me the experience.  He showed me the north star, the Big Dipper, and the Milky Way.  He woke me up in the night so we could see an Aurora Borealis.  We camped along the Susquehanna River.  Many times, he was making something for the business or our house while I watched and asked him lots of questions about what he was doing.  He showed me how to do things and it made me feel capable.  Out of nowhere, he pulled me back from potential disaster while I pulled a running riding lawnmower from behind to get it out of a swale it was stuck in.  Just a few seconds before I had seen him across the road at our business.  He yelled at me afterward, but he probably saved me from a life on crutches.  He taught me about growing and caring for plants, how to make change, and how to be a good employee by caring about the business.  He laughed while retelling my mother about when I hit a baseball the length of our front lawn and a boy playmate said, “Well, that’s pretty good.”  He respected me as a person and was prouder of me than I ever realized.  

Life is a trek.  Sometimes it can be difficult and disappointing.  But, in the end, the small acts of kindness persist in our hearts.  If you can, hug your dad today, even if he is grumpy sometimes.

Julie <3

Everett Fleming