Clumsiness may be patrilineal link

by Kenny Lindsay

To some, it would appear that my father and I have a lot in common and… well, in fact, we do, including a fairly long list of self-inflicted personal injuries. If you don’t believe in guardian angels, you just might change your mind after reading this.

It’s been about nine years since my old man and I have had a chance to spend some quality time together. Now that he’s retired and lives in Thomasville we get to hang out almost every weekend, depending on my schedule, and do what we call “playing outside” (that usually means build, cut, fix or break something.) Mom and dad have lived here now for roughly seven months and it didn’t take but a few days for me to remember how fearless he can be (or careless for that matter.) I quickly recalled the time he built me a skateboard ramp that stood about five-and-a-half feet high. One day he decided it would be funny to park the lawn tractor on top of it and, lo and behold, I caught him out of the corner of my eye halfway up the ramp, tipping the tractor ass end up – him still on it, blade still spinning. I was certain he was a goner but miraculously he just ended up with a few cuts and bruises. I think the situation ended being funnier then he anticipated…at least for me anyways.

I could say I worry about him because he’s no spring chicken but that just wouldn’t be true, seeing as how he’s a 64-year-old retiree who just moved an entire houseful of stuff my mom’s been collecting for the last 31 years by himself. I’m still very confident he could easily mop the floor with me, not that it would happen. I honestly can’t decide if I’m proud of how good a shape he is in or completely ashamed of the shape I’m in.

My folks’ new house is beautifully set on seven-and-a-half acres, mostly wooded, a large sparkling pond and many steep inclines, so it’s no surprise there’s plenty of outdoor work to do. Good thing we have two riding mowers, couple chainsaws and a medium sized tractor named Bull Winkle, who was born sometime in late 1950 and can only be started with a loose piece of rope. She’s a good ol’ workhorse and they sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

Hmm… water, steep inclines, tractors – what could possibly go wrong? After all, dad’s a wise old man, right?

When mowing the lawn, it’s very tempting to take the mower into places that it is probably not meant to be taken. I can definitely relate. It’s like making a clean spot on a dirty surface; now you’ve got to clean the whole thing. So what kind of person does this on a riding mower with a body of water at the bottom of a steep incline?

If my father’s mother were here today I know exactly what she would say: “A damn fool! That’s who.”

Dad decided to mow between a large shrub and water and on a hill, despite the laws of physics. When the tractor decided to obey gravity it tipped over – surprised? He sure was – forcing him to bail in the only direction possible: the pond. Not not only was this extremely entertaining to witness, it was also a little disturbing, considering what else could have happened. It would have been a bad situation if it rolled over on top of him in the water, especially if nobody were around to help.

What cracks me up is that my family was banking that I’d be the first to drive something into the pond; it pleases me that this obviously did not happen.

So it’s no wonder why I worry about my old man sometimes. It took me years to figure out why similar mishaps happened to me and now I know why: I’m a product of my genes. He never shared some of the dumb things he did when he was young until he figured I was old enough to not follow suit, although I don’t think it would have made a difference at this point. Just the other night he told me about the time he skied off a cliff in a blizzard and landed in a pine tree, and how he drove his Austin Healy into the lobby of his high school. Another one I found humorous was when he was 12 and got ahold of his father’s big-ass chainsaw that he had no business using, cut down a huge tree that landed on a cottage, where his mother was in the kitchen washing dishes in the kitchen with a couple cats, creating a soapy mess and an irate little woman. Luckily the cottage was built well and there was minimal damage and she helped him clean up the mess before his father got home from work.

The amazing thing about Pops is actually how intelligent he really is, despite some of his idiotic bloopers. Over the years he’s earned six US patents, written multiple software programs, worked on classified military surveillance projects and has even had honorary ceremonies held in his name. I’m proud of my old man and couldn’t have asked for a better father and I can only hope to follow suit with my children someday.

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