If you asked me why I did it, I would say because I didn't want him to blow up.
But, it goes deeper than that.
Let me start at the beginning.
I was driving and chatting on the cell phone with my friend. I drove past a house and saw an elderly man (80s at least) with a lawn mower in one hand and an oxygen tank on wheels on the other. I was instantly scared.
I said to my friend, "Oh my God, I just saw an old man with an oxygen tank trying to mow his lawn. Do you think I should go back and mow it for him?"
To which she replied, "Oh my God, go back and mow his lawn".
The boys were in the back seat and we were on our way to Toys R Us to create a Black Friday, oh I mean, Christmas list for Santa.
Without thinking too much, I spun my car around. I kind of felt exhilarated. Probably how the fireman feel when they are on their way to a fire. I also had nervous butterflies in my belly. I have always liked helping but this one was a little weird, even for quirky, old me.
I realized it might not go well. What if he started yelling at me? What if he was a mean, old man?
The thought of being spontaneous and doing a good deed made me feel needed. It felt better than being scared, so I pushed forward.
I stopped the car and told the boys to stay in the car. I put on a movie for them in the back seat (spoiled kids of today...) because I wasn't sure how long it would take. I knew they would be safe inside. The man could barely stand so I could tell he wouldn't hurt us. But, I jumped out of the car and walked up to him.
By now, he literally had the oxygen tank on top of the bag of the old mower. Both the tank and the mower were running. I tapped him on the shoulder. I was lucky I didn't scare him into a heart attack. He turned to look at me. He had light blue eyes and the oxygen prongs in his nose.
I shouted, "Hi, I am a complete stranger but can I cut your lawn for you?"
It took him a minute to collect his thoughts. I got nervous. Oh, God I am weird and I have done that thing where I go too far...
Then, he yelled something back.
I said, "WHAT?"
He took a deep breath and struggled.
He said, "I'll pay ya."
I told him no and grabbed the handle of the lawn mower. He stepped back. I pushed it. It was hard to push. He tapped my arm and leaned over to grab the handle. He squeezed the metal bar which turns on the self-propelling, automatic part that made it easy to push. I laughed, embarrassed and realized I hadn't mowed a lawn in 31 years.
While I mowed, he leaned on his own car. His head was looking down and you could tell he was tired. I couldn't believe he actually would have had the strength to do this today. I wondered why he might have needed to do this today. I wondered what his story was. Did he have family? Why weren't they mowing the lawn? Was he married or alone? I was impressed after seeing the state he was in. The outside of his house was extremely neat. You could tell he had pride in his home. The garage was immaculate. I thought of my own garage which, at the moment, was overflowing with too many "things".
But, as I mowed I wondered to myself, why was I doing this?
I think it was because he looked like he needed help.
I like the elderly. I respect them. They have lived a life that has journeyed from outhouses to iPads. That has always impressed me.
I wanted the boys to witness me actually being uncomfortable for the benefit of someone in need.
I wanted to give them permission to do something strange, if their heart told them they just had to.
I wanted to give back to someone in my community. I miss that part of the world today. It is fading as fast as people wearing American flag pins and knitting.
I wanted to feel the feeling of doing good not just buying good.
I thought about the four years of my life after my own heart failure and how hard it is to struggle to breathe even though your brain still works. Having the will just not the way is hard. I also remembered how hard it is to actually call a loved one over to help you.
I thought about how healthy I was now and how good it felt to get back to physically being able to power through something.
I thought about old school America. 1950's type America.
I thought about the time my dad moved three hours from my mom, my sister and I, for three years, because there was no work in our area. And how the neighbors would come over to cut our lawn, for us, when my dad had to work on the weekends, too.
I thought about my own father who died alone in his house. I wished he had someone help him or be kind to him on his last day. I will always wish it was me.
I decided as I finished that this was really the reason I stopped to help him.
As I left, the man offered again to pay me. I, of course, shook his hand. Thanked him for letting me do this and walked away.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep this moment private or post about it. I am not writing this post to get "credit" for helping him. I decided to write it in hopes of inspiring a "pay it forward" type thing. Selfishly, I miss the world I grew up in. I miss people being kind because it is just the right thing to do, not because they will are afraid of being sued.
I only ask that if you comment back to me on this post that you don't say anything about me being kind or nice. I realize now after typing it all out, I mowed his lawn not for him actually but for me. So, that does not make my deed selfless but kind of selfish. I think I got more out of it than he did.
If you would like to make a comment, please, tell me/us about a good deed you did. That would be the best holiday present for everyone. Big or small. Whatever you think may inspire someone. If there are no comments, that's ok. I know people are shy. Especially when it comes time to talk about yourself. However, if you would like to, please understand your comments are safe here because I have really nice readers.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful for you!
Rocco snapped this picture of me when I was done.