Rick was middle aged. Maybe forty five, perhaps even fifty. His father Andrew did not stop pushing the edger along the sidewalk, neatly partitioning grass from concrete.
“Dad, you need to turn off the machine.”
Andrew let go of the trigger, and silence descended to the street.
“Oh! Hello Rick! Good to see you.” Andrew eased himself down to hands and knees and used a stick to work loose a chunk stuck in the blade.
“Dad.” Rick pointed to the machine, “You need to put that away.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” The old man used the handle for support and got back up. Then, he returned the edger to its groove. “I may not be strong enough to run the mower any longer, but I’m still perfectly capable of doing the smaller chores.” He fired the engine back to life.
“Jesus, Dad. You’re going to cut off your toes!” But his father kept moving forward. When the noise stopped again, Rick got in front. “Put it back in the garage!”
Andrew lifted the machine. “Son, get out of my way. I’ve been edging this yard since I had to do it by hand. I don’t think I’ve forgotten how it works.” He knocked another bit of sod out of its blade.
“No you haven’t.”
“No, I meant you haven’t been edging this yard that long.” The son shifted from foot to foot, his body blocking any forward motion.
“Now you see here. Your mother and I moved into this house in 1953, and I ought to know how long I’ve been taking care of my own yard.” The old man eyed the trigger, but he did not start it.
“Dad, this isn’t your yard.”
“Isn’t my…now you see here.” Andrew shook the shaft from side to side and thumped his machine back down again, dislodging more dirt and grass. “My mind is as solid as this sidewalk. Stronger.” He indicated a long crack running from yard to street. “I don’t have any of those in here. My old ticker may not be what it once was, but I know exactly what I am capable of. You won’t be taking away anything from me until I’m cold in the grave. I’d remember if I’d signed any of my powers of attorney over to you.” Now he did start the engine again, forcing his son to dance out of the way as he continued to create his organized little furrow.
When he stopped to clear the dirt again, his son said, “No, Dad. I’m not trying to take your house and freedom. I’m not even trying to take away that noisemaker.”
“Now whose mind is going? You just said as much.”
“No! I said it’s time to stop trimming . This isn’t your yard, Dad. Would you look up for half a minute? Your house is back there. You’re over on the neighbor’s property.”
The old man cocked his head, craned his neck, and squinted. “Well,” he said. “So I am. Howdy Mrs. Kennedy!” He waved to the woman peering out her front window. “Well, all right,” he said to his son. “Help me get this job done then. I can’t leave it half cut can I?”
“No,” said the son. “I don’t guess so.”
And so the father handed his son the edger and stood back. “As long as the work gets done,” he concluded, “I don’t guess it matters who does it in the end.”
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.