Jan 13, 2005

Amo abbas, amo filius

I like sweeping the garage.

Strange, eh? I thought so. My brother saw me out with my push broom, sweating in the summer humidity, oh, must have been the better part of a year ago, and I'm sure I was complaining at least a little bit about blisters and sore muscles, and he suggested that I could borrow his gas-powered leaf blower, or buy one for myself. I scoffed at him and made some joke, I'm sure, about it being my only cardiovascular exercise or something flip like that. Which it is, in a way. Exercise, that is, not flip. Tones my arms and back, and I get a nice golden tan. I know, skin cancer, but hey, no-one is perfect.

It makes me feel close to my father, you see.

My father was a very quiet man, always was. Tactiurn is not the word for it, nor is dour. My father laughed and joked, smiled when he felt it was time, but he never spoke unless words were needed. And he was no stranger to hard labour. He worked in the heat with his muscles until he fell so ill that he couldn't work anymore. I recall him buying a wide green nylon bristled push broom decades ago, when a cousin of mine was still selling things like that. It had an aluminum handle, and two sets of green and black bristles; the outer ones were stiff, the inner soft, to help sweep up everything equally. My father used that broom until the four-inch long bristles were little burnt curls about 3/4 of an inch long and the aluminum was more white than silver. But the garage was always neat and clean, and the driveway was free of pine needles.

He went through quite a few pushbrooms that way, and when he became ill all his tools, extension cords, everything he left in his shop, and yes, his push broom, all sort of...stopped. They stopped, and waited patiently for me to come along and take up his work.

So now I get out the pushbroom when the mood rides me, and I carefully sweep out the garage, moving the cars and my bike and all the bits and pieces that I tell myself I need to clean out. I work carefully, so I can get up in all the corners, and push it all out onto the driveway, stopping to tap the broom sideways on the concrete to knock the odd bits and pieces loose, just like my father used to. Then I make my way up the driveway right down the center, sweeping everything to one side or the other, and then walk down that clean alley and sweep everything to the flowerbeds to each side, and when I'm done, muscles sore and sweat pouring, I feel proud. Not a huge burdening thing, not a 'look at me' pride, just a small quiet pride in a job done well and good, knowing full well that I'll have to do it again in a week or so, and okay with that all the same.

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