COLUMNISTS

Mowing the lawn with Bob on my mind

Susan Manzke
Bob and Russell after the mower framework was added to the mower.

I was riding my lawnmower, bumping along on an especially lumpy part of the yard, when I started thinking about my late husband, Bob.

Anytime I’m mowing, I can’t help but remember Bob. He loved mowing the lawn on his zero-turn mower. The other models of mower when he had to sit astride, he hated. It hurt Bob mounting that type of mower. His bad hip almost made it impossible to ride like that.

When we bought our first zero-turn mower, he was in heaven. If things went wrong farming, Bob might have had to wait for a part before continuing with farm work. He’d be fuming at the problem so he would cool off by jumping on his fun vehicle and mow the lawn.

Of course, even with his favorite mower, problems popped up.

Too many times, Bob ran out of gas far down the road—he liked mowing so much he welcomed cutting the ditch. This wasn’t much of a problem when we had cell phones. At that point, he’d call me and ask me to bring a can of gas so he could keep going.

Running out of fuel also happened when he was on a tractor. This usually happened at the farthest reaches of the farm. Once, I brought a can so he could make it back home to refill. Instead of turning around, he went down the field a couple of times and forgot he was running on fumes. Bob was laughing when he called me for a second can. He had run out again.

If I knew he was heading down the lane with the lawn mower, I would ask if the gas tank was full. Often, he was happy for the reminder.

The mower didn’t have big mechanical problems like a tractor, still, Bob did manage to get it stuck.

One of the times Bob needed help pulling the mower out of a field.

One time, he was running next to the field. By accident, he got too close to the field and was drawn into a mud hole. Though he tried, Bob couldn’t get the machine out of the muck. Of course, he had to call his right-hand-man – me.

It took a lot of maneuvering to get that mower unstuck. It had gone into a dead furrow and was riding on its bottom, but we did it.

When Bob was riding once in the ditch near the creek, he was in a real pickle. He was so distraught that he walked home instead of calling me. We rode back together in the cart bringing chains and a shovel.

While we were trying to figure out what we had to do, neighbors started stopping by to help. With so many, the problem was quickly solved and I didn’t have to do any heavy work.

In the last summer of Bob’s life, he got the urge to mow again. Our son, Russell created a frame on the mower so his dad could get on and off easily. The hours spent on that machine were very special. My husband had worked all his life and he hated sitting when he was sick. The gift of work Russell gave Bob made him smile from ear to ear—while the rest of the family wiped away tears.

The extra step Russ made in front of the framework could be pulled up by Bob when in a ditch like this.

I’m the one mowing the yard these days. It’s just a chore for me. I wish I loved it as much as Bob had. It would make the work easier for me.

When I start, I make sure the gas tank is full. Last year, I was almost finished. I knew I should head for gas but there was this one small patch to do when my mower sputtered and stopped. I knew that I had done a Bob. Meaning I pushed a bit too far.

Every time I’m mowing grass, I imagine Bob is mowing along with me. It keeps me going, even when I’d rather be doing something else.

I miss you, Bob.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; susanmanzke@gmail.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.