It was never hard for me to understand exactly what my parents were telling me when it came time to work. One reason was the fact that most of the time they were working either beside me or nearby on the same job.
By following their lead or example, it always assured me of getting the job done correctly or at least close to what they had in mind.
My brother and I usually worked in the fields together with my father hauling hay, topping tobacco, chopping weeds from the corn, planting the spring crops, milking the cows, as well as just about any other chore you have to accomplish on a family farm.
Whenever it came time to take a breather, my father was usually planning what we would be doing as soon as our break was over. In fact, many times he would say, "While you are resting, how about doing something else."
That could involve shelling corn, going after a bucket of water, or any other job that would not include heavy manual labor. He was a strong believer in the old adage that idle hands and minds were the devils workshop.
Having been a boy himself once sort of gave him an inside idea of what could go wrong when two boys were placed side-by-side.
Most of the time he was right. Let me rephrase that. All of the time he was right.
I have heard him say many times, "Put one boy doing a job and you have one boy. Put two boys doing a job and you end up with a half boy, and put three boys doing a job and you end up with no boy." Yes, he knew us pretty well.
When it was too wet to work in the fields, there was usually a fence row that needed cutting out or there was corn in the crib that needed to be shelled. There were very few days that there was not something that had to be done. I can never remember complaining that I was bored. I knew better.
If I had uttered those words, it is certain that either mother or father would have found me
something to do.
Yes, many times this meant that we put in some long hours and some hard work, but the greatest thing that I can remember about those days was working along side my father.
He never asked us to do anything that he would not do himself. He led and taught us by example, which is something I don't see as much of these days. Modern society does not lend itself to opportunities allowing children to work along side their parents.
True, we don't have as many people doing hand labor on the farm as we did when I was a youngster, but the stressing of the importance of working hard is not being taught as much as it was in years past.
I can remember the feeling of being extremely tired after a long day of picking corn by hand, but I can also remember the feeling of accomplishment of doing a good day's work. There is something really restful about a good hard day's work, especially if it involved major manual labor.
I guess the thing that really has set me off into reminiscing about yesteryear is the way people today carelessly use the two words "I'm sorry" everywhere I go lately. Rather than trying to do a job right, many times they had rather say I'm sorry and continue to make the mistake again and again.
Now, don't get me wrong. When you mess up you should say you are sorry, but don't use it as an excuse to halfway get the job done.
Instead, make the error right and do your best. Do the job as if your mother or father were working right along beside you. In a way they are.
Just remember, that success only comes before work in the dictionary.
Pettus L. Read may be
contacted by e-mail at email@example.com