I’m sitting at my desk at the university, organizing the names of undergraduate students that are coming in to volunteer for a lecture I am putting on tomorrow. I’ve sent out emails to them telling them times and places to be. In a few of their reply’s some have inquired as to how much credit they will receive for their services, and some have inquired as to any other compensation they may receive for the one hour of work they will do.
One hour of volunteer work. That is all they are allowed to volunteer for at one time. I am told those are the university’s rules regarding undergraduates. One hour of volunteer work. My mom’s voice keeps popping into my head, “One hour?! You work ‘till the work is finished! “
When I was in junior high through high school we never had a snow day. School would be closed due to snow, but Kathy DeMarco had made me get up at 6:30 or 7am regardless. If school was closed due to snow that meant the one, or both, of the DeMarco boys were shoveling the driveways and walkways of the neighbors. It wasn’t a kid-drive business. It wasn’t a way to make some extra money. It was because my Mom always “reminded” us it was the right thing to do.
“You take that money back across the street and give it right back!” She would be surprisingly awake for that early in the morning. “You’re not doing this for money! You’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do! I’m watching you.” And she would stand in the doorway and watch the money change hands. Just to drive the point home she would occasionally open the door and tell the neighbor, “If it snows again he’ll come back and clean it again!” It would snow again later. I would clean it again.
There was Joann, Mrs. Howell, Hiram and Dorothy, the Kelly’s house (if General hadn’t beaten me to it), Dan and Judy, Stacey, Mrs. Edworthy, Ad and Mary Jo, General and Kathleen (when General got a bit older and his son would be snowed in), and especially the Kaiser’s house. You had to start with the Kaiser’s house. Mr. Kaiser would drive out three times a day to eat all meals with Mrs. Kaiser in the nursing home, no matter how bad it was snowing. I kept the Kaiser’s driveway spotless, all day long.
I can remember a couple instances my senior year of high school, and through college on winter break, waking up on snowy mornings (without my mother’s “prompting”), quietly going downstairs to not wake everyone else, putting on my boots, getting my gloves, my hat, heavy jacket, and my snow shovel. It had become routine. It was part of winter.
I cleaned our driveway last, after all the other driveways were clean. It was just what you did. It was the right thing to do.
Thank you, Mom.