During the week, Harry was a lawyer, and he would advise his clients on how best to take care of their families. He was well respected as a lawyer because he cared deeply about his clients. His father and his grandfather had done the same work, and he was a member of the same law firm: Lord, Day & Lord. I remember his working nights in our living room, with a yellow legal pad of paper and plenty of pencils.
The law exercised his mind during the week, but in Roxbury, he loved to exercise his body by working outside. Our home in Roxbury is nestled on a ridgeline along a dirt road, and it overlooks a densely wooded valley. The dirt road penetrates the forest, with limbs from the trees providing a protective canopy. In front, five old sprawling maple trees grow on one side of the road, and on the other side lies the foundation of a sunken barn. The house itself is quite old, and Harry loved the way that the creaky floorboards speak to you as you walk through it. There are no true right angles in the house, as its foundation has settled over time.
Harry loved Roxbury, and he loved the weekends, because that's when he was in his element. He worked hard during the week, but he really tried to relax on the weekends. The funny thing is that the way he relaxed was by doing more work. It was a different kind of work than what he did during the week. It brought sweat to his brow, and it made him happy.
In the fall, he raked leaves and chopped wood. In the winter, he cleared brush and had brush fires. In the spring, he cleaned up the gardens and prepared for summer. In the summer, it was gardening and mowing. Every now and again, a big project or special idea would become Harry's focus for the better part of a weekend, if not a month.
No matter what the work, Harry rarely wore gloves. When planting shrubs or flowers, I remember watching him smile with a sense of contentment as he plunged his hands deep into the soil. He would sweat profusely, and at the end of the day, he enjoyed a beer. He would smile a knowing smile that said he was pleased with what he had accomplished that day.
When I was young, I didn't think this was a very fun way to spend the weekends, but as I grew older, I began to help him more often. I began to understand the pride that he took in his work. Together, my parents made a beautiful home in Roxbury.
One fall day, Harry was chopping firewood, and my brother and I were playing outside. Harry asked us if we would like to help stack the wood. Alex said, 'No thanks, Dad. We're playing. Why don't you come play with us?'
'No thanks, Alex,' said Harry. He kept working, and we kept playing. At the time, Alex was learning to read, and we were all in the habit of testing his knowledge.
'Alex, do you know how to spell wood?' asked Harry.
'Sure, Dad,' said Alex confidently. 'W-O-O-D.'
'That's right,' said Harry. 'Well done.'
After a while, Alex asked him again, 'Dad, do you want to play?'
'No, I need to get this done,' he said, as he pounded the wedge into another log.
After a while, we were distracted from watching Harry split log after log, so Alex and I went inside. Mom poured us each a glass of milk, and we sat down at the kitchen table. All three of us just gazed out the window and watched him work. It was a three-step process. First, he would stand over the log and tap the sledge onto the head of the wedge, driving the tip of the wedge into the wood. Then he would back up and give the wedge a firm smack so that it stuck in the log. Finally, he would grab the sledgehammer by its handle with his hands apart, and as he raised it in a circular motion behind him, his top hand would slide down the ash handle of the sledge next to his other hand, and he would rise up on his toes, only to bring it crashing down on the wedge in an attempt to split the log with one stroke. Sometimes that's all it took.
'Wow, Dad's really strong,' Alex said.
'He's really working hard,' I added.
n'Your father loves to be outside, and he really enjoys the work,' said Mom.
'He loves to work,' said Alex. 'It's all he does.'
Mom asked, 'So, Alex, do you know how to spell work?'
'Sure, Mom. W-O-R.'
'Aren't you forgetting a letter?' prompted Mom.
'No, I don't think so. In this family, it seems that work never ends.'
Story courtesy of www.growingupwithharry.com
Submitted by Anonymous
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