November 2005
Sage Grass & Cedars

A Time to Reflect and Be Thankful

by Darrell Thompson

This past summer, my oldest son, Dustin, had to quit the full-time job that he had worked at for almost three years. He had been working full-time and going to college part-time during this period.

In the spring, he had applied to and been accepted as a student at Auburn. He was excited about this but in order to be ready to go to Auburn in the fall, he had to take some courses at a community college during the summer. The classes that he had to take were not offered at night and a suitable schedule could not be worked out so he could work and go to college. It then became necessary to quit the full-time job to focus on college and studying.

He now had the problem of getting a part-time job to pay the payments that he had plus some spending money. I made a wild suggestion that we start a lawn care service. This would give him flexible working hours around his going to school and studying. Besides this, since the time that our Co-op had started handling the "zero turn" mowers, I had been trying to figure how I could justify owning one of them. With the creation of D & D Lawn Service, two birds were killed with one stone.

The partnership of father and son is an entirely different story in itself. It was a learning experience for me, having a son as a partner. I’m sure he also had adjustments to make having a partner who knew everything and was never wrong. We managed to pick up enough jobs to keep him (and sometimes me) busy enough and provide adequate spending money. I think I’ve not yet realized how blessed I am to have a son who would take me on as a partner.

One of our mowing jobs was an acre-and-a-half to two-acre yard belonging to Aunt Kat (Kathleen), one of my great aunts. Neither Dustin or myself ever left her house without being told "I love you" several times and getting several hugs no matter how sweaty we were. It was always more like an enjoyable visit rather than a job to be done.

Another job that we got was a two-acre cemetery in our community. This job was a source of a lot of reflecting and thinking, at least for me. I probably could have done the trimming a little quicker if I hadn’t taken the time to read the tombstones. (This may be another issue that Dustin might want to take up concerning the partnership.) It seemed that each tombstone had a story to tell.

I was astounded to realize that at least half the people buried there had died during my lifetime. It kind of put things into perspective that I was probably a little closer to joining them than what I thought.

Many names I recognized as past customers of the Co-op. I knew that I hadn’t seen some in quite a while but didn’t realize they had passed away. Others I knew had passed on but didn’t know where they had been buried. As we worked, I had time to reflect back on enjoyable personal and business experiences of years gone by and be thankful for some relationships that I had enjoyed.

There were also the graves of at least two teachers that I had in school. Both had been outstanding examples of character and dedication. One of these teachers had been voted by my senior class to speak at our high school graduation; a service that normally a community preacher would have been asked to speak. I can still picture him in my mind and still hear the words of wisdom that he admonished our class to live by.

Also buried here were some people I’d gone to school with who had died tragically about the time of their high school graduation or shortly after. I saw the graves of some young people that my own children had gone to school with. I still felt sorrow for their parents but felt thankful that someone somewhere was not standing beside a grave and remembering my children, as I was theirs.

There were also buried here war heroes from several wars. In particular, I noticed the grave of Harold Laverl Pool. He died in Vietnam at the age of nineteen; killed in the service of his country before he was even old enough to vote for those who made the decisions about the war. I remember attending his funeral conducted in our high school auditorium and thinking in a few years I might be in Vietnam too. The inscription on his tombstone reads "He gave his today for our tomorrow." We can’t be too thankful for him and others, who likewise, died for their country and our future. I’m sure that he had dreams and ambitions for the rest of his life just like the rest of us. However, his dreams will forever lie unrealized but will allow our dreams to live on.

Darrell Thompson is the manager of Lawrence County Exchange in Moulton.