June 5, 2014

What my Dad REALLY taught me about cutting the grass

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

As a kid, I was told that I had to earn my own spending money. Dad let me use his lawnmower (and it was a nice one) to make some money mowing other lawns, as long I kept the lawn looking nice at home. It turned out to be a great arrangement.

Dad taught me how he wanted our lawn mowed at home. Clean, straight rows. Cross-cut the front yard. Nice circles around the trees. Trim as necessary around the trees, the rocks and the fence. Edge the sidewalk and driveway every other time. “Take good care of the mower,” he always said, “and the mower will take good care of you.” That was good advice to a young kid who was learning how to work . . . and how to do things right.

After learning how to do the job correctly from Dad, I made sure I applied the skills he taught me in mowing my customer’s yards. They were always pleased with my work, and no one ever had to ask me to come back and do something over. Before long, referrals started coming my way and, eventually, I had more requests than I could manage. Even then, it wasn’t lost on me that Dad let me use his nice lawnmower for my own benefit. I took good care of it, because I knew it was my ticket to earning my spending money. And, I took good care of his yard because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d lose the privilege to use his nice lawn mower.

Dad applied the same principle by letting me use his snow blower to earn my spending money in the winter months, as long I kept his driveway and sidewalk clean. When school was late or cancelled because of snow, I was usually a busy young man, traversing the streets of our neighborhood and plowing sidewalks and driveways for other people.

Looking back, it was a great teaching opportunity for my Dad and great learning opportunity for me that resulted in a most certain win-win-win arrangement. Dad won because he got his lawn mowed and his driveway cleared of snow just the way he wanted, and I know he appreciated that. I won because I earned the spending money that I wanted. And, my customers also won because they received excellent service and a job that was done right. Looking back now, though, I’m certain that I emerged the biggest winner. Back then, I thought Dad was just teaching me how to mow the lawn. I realize now that he was teaching me how to do things right. He taught me the importance of proper training, the importance of good equipment, and the importance of taking good care of things.

He also taught me the supreme importance of taking good care of my customers. Some may have heard the adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach the man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I can confidently and unequivocally state that my Dad has taught me how to “fish” . . . and infinitely more. And it all started when he taught me how to cut the grass. I earned my spending money as a kid, and I guess I’m kind of proud of that. But what I’ve come to appreciate since then is that I have had the incomparable opportunity to be taught how to do things right. And that makes me extremely proud of my Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! As long as you’re willing to keep teaching, I will be eager to keep learning.

Remember Well.

David W. Deuth, CFSP, is a funeral director and the owner of the Weerts Funeral Home in Davenport and the RiverBend Cremation Center in Bettendorf. He can be reached at (563) 424.7055 or by email at Dave@WeertsFH.com.

Filed Under: Family