The lawnmower man (no, not that one)

The lawnmower man (no, not that one)

“Put me in one of your books.”

In all fairness, I really should. His story needs to be told. But he doesn’t reeeeeeely fit in my demented fruit-bat world, so I’ll just tell it here.

Years ago, I had a gentleman come to the door and ask if he could mow our yard. It was summer, it was hot, and I said I’d give him a shot. He came every two weeks (sooner if I called him) and would mow, run the weed eater, and even trim the trees for us.

I only had one rule for him, and he swore he’d follow it.

“Never show up drunk..”

We hadn’t been sober that long, and I wouldn’t have alcohol or anyone who’d been in it on our property. Besides, a drunk and a weed-eater don’t mix.

I’ll never forget the day he broke his word. He pulled up in his truck, parked almost in the middle of the street, and was so wasted that he could barely drag the mower from the back of his truck.

I hit the door like a heartbroken freight train and I fired him. I didn’t yell, I didn’t show any anger. I told him I knew there was a good man underneath the booze … but until he figured it out for himself, he had to go.

He cried. I wouldn’t let him see me cry. I knew he needed to be around someone who’d decided on sobriety, but I had to stick to the rule I’d given him. I had to.

Less than two weeks later, a friend of his came to our door to ask if we still needed someone to mow. I told him no, and he told me my guy had been sent to prison. Again.

I cried for him again that night.

Flash forward almost nine years, to the knock on my door.

You see where this is going?

I didn’t recognize him. Nice haircut, new glasses, some meat on his bones, Light in his eyes, and a smile like a happy little boy. I attack hugged him in our front yard and we cried on each other’s shoulders.

We talked for a long time that day. He told me what he’d gone through, how he’d finally made the decision to get clean, to give it up and live instead of just exist, and …

“I just wanted you to know I heard you. Everything you said that day, I heard you.”

Oh stop it. I’m not crying, you are.

I saw him at the store this afternoon. He seems to turn up every time I’m questioning my purpose here on this earth.

He grabbed me in a huge hug and thanked me again for believing in him when he didn’t. He just cleared eleven years clean and sober, he’s got a good job, and he’s “never been sick, not once.”

That’s not all his story, but someday soon, I may ask him to sit down and tell it again so I can write it.

I guess the reason I wrote this is — be kind. You never know whose life you might have helped save.

1 Comment
  • Sharon S
    Posted at 08:41h, 16 August Reply

    I love this. It is so true. And you, Leigh, unknowingly change a lot of lives. I’m so glad you exist, never quit, and trudged on bc you inspire me to be and do better.

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