I knew the day would come. When you’re 90 years old, unexpected things can happen. I had to pull the plug on Mother this week. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)
Let’s back the bus up
Her yard has a woods on the east side and rows of trees on the north and west sides. The neighbors and the fire station across the street all have trees. She thinks she has some kind of leaf magnet in her yard that attracts every leaf in the block.
It disturbs her.
Me, I’d say it was God’s plan to recycle the nutrients, and I’d leave ’em there.
She, however, wants them gone.
Taking the Murray for its last ride
Fortunately, the back yard butts into a no mans land that used to be a steep hill and cow pasture, so if she can chase the leaves that far, they go down where they’ll eventually fill up a gully in another hundred or two hundred years.
I left the other day and she was blowing leaves on the east yard. That’s pretty easy. She only has to blow the leaves about 75 feet to get them out of the yard on that side.
When I came back, she had started on the upper level of the back yard. I noticed that she was looking a bit tuckered out, so I offered to take over (knowing, of course, that my offer would be indignantly rebuffed). I left to run some other errands.
This time, I found that she had the 100-foot extension cord, plus the 25-footer, and was attacking the lower level of the back yard. Deciding that it was time for drastic action, I reached where the long cord plugged into the short cord and gave a yank. Within seconds, there was silence in the back yard. I had pulled the plug on Mother.
Putting up a brave front
I think even she knew it was time. She didn’t protest when I started coiling up the power cords and hauling them off.
But, that’s not the end of what happened this week. She was giving the yard what she thought would be one last cutting of the season (plus sending leaves off to leaf heaven) when she complained that “it’s not blowing.” I figured she had probably thrown the belt that spins the blades, cutting the grass and mulching the leaves.
When I went to thread it on, one of the pulleys kept popping off its shaft. When I took off the shroud that covered it, I discovered that the shaft wasn’t the same shape all the way up; it came to a point. At some point, the thing that held the pulley to the shaft had come off, the pulley had started grinding away at the shaft until it looked like a bad tooth. I wish I had taken a picture of it.
“Goodbye, Faithful Servant”
It was time to call Brother-in-Law John Perry. He’s seen and done it all when it comes to fixing things. He’d just never seen anything like THIS before. We loaded up a mess of parts and headed out to see Jake the Lawnmower Guy. He, too, had a Maude Moment – “Hey, Maude, Come here. Bet you ain’t never seen anything like this before.”
He pulled out his calculator. Well, this is Missouri. He pulled out a pad of paper and a pencil and started writing down part numbers and getting more excited all the time. He could just see himself out on the Lake of the Ozarks in his new bass boat.
Finally, tearing up his parts list, he said, with the images of the bass boat fading away, “I have a couple of used mowers you might want to take a look at.”
Taking it easy on first lap
I went back to Mother and said, “I have the solution to your lawnmower problem and it’s only gonna cost a quarter.”
“A quarter,” she said. “What can you do to it for a quarter?”
“Well, if I can borrow a gun from John, I can buy a bullet for about a quarter and I think shooting it is about the only course of action that makes sense.”
After complaining that the new mower operated differently than the old one – “I won’t know what to do with my left foot. The old mower had the clutch on the left…” – she bought a used Troy-Bilt 21-horsepower, 46-inch mower. Her old one only cut 36 inches and had 11 horses hitched to it. (I can hear her complaining about the cost of feed already, not to mention having to build a bigger barn.)
The new mower has modern safety features. If you put it in reverse, the mower blades stop. If you lift up off the seat, the mower blades stop. If you come completely OFF the seat, the mower blades stop and the motor dies. Keeps you from being run over if you’re ejected.
She needs rocks in her pockets
The only catch is that mother weighs about 72 pounds. I noticed that the blades kept kicking out. I watched her awhile and figured out that she’s so light that every time she hits a bump, the seat flies up just enough to engage the safety interlock and kill the blades. We’re either going to have to fatten her up or make her keep a concrete block in her lap.
Not bad, thought, for someone who had to overcome adversity.