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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fridays With Mom & Dad

I've now been a volunteer farm hand every Friday for about 6 months. Although my tasks vary, most involve manual labor of some type with a recent heavy emphasis on manure.

Much as I'd like to validate the oft-repeated notion about this being honest, ennobling work, I'm afraid that's not what usually runs through my mind. Instead, I find myself recalling what my Dad, a talented carpenter, many times said to me:  "Patrick, you're going to get an education so you can use your brain to make a living, instead of doing what I do".  I was proud of my Dad; his work was easy to describe to my friends; and when he finished, there was frequently an end product you could touch. But he wanted more from his work life and often told me so.

And when the tedium of my volunteer work sneaks up on me, I better understand what my Dad felt, notwithstanding the romance some people have with a "working class hero" archetype. It's not as though I was never bored in my work life; I'm confident my sisters and my brother, all college-educated like me, would say the same. Still, I'm grateful for the education my parents made sure all four of us got, giving us more choices about the kind of work we could do. My parents didn't have that same range of choices and I'm now reminded of that each Friday. I'd like to claim this was my original "plan" but it was not. But it is a great reason to hang in there - Mom & Dad are right there beside me once a week.

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